Home Blog

Local Bartenders Share Seven Holiday Cocktails That Will Keep You Warm


The warmth of bourbon. The fizz of champagne. The perfect cinna-blend of allspice. Holiday cocktails are a treat for the senses, especially when you make a recipe in bulk. Local bartenders share their favorite holiday cocktail recipes, ideal for serving by the pitcher at your next holiday gathering—even if that’s just a special night with those in your immediate household.

Raspberry Lime Champagne Punch

Jessica Meyer, event manager at The Globe Covington, says the bulk of this cocktail can be made ahead of time. Add the champagne just before serving to keep this drink nice and bubbly.

3/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups tonic
1/2 cup vodka
1/3 cup water
1 bottle champagne
1 lime, sliced
2 cups raspberries

Mix first five ingredients together in pitcher and stir. Immediately before serving, add champagne. Garnish with lime and raspberries. Serves 8 to 10.

Pumpkin Hot Toddy

As the weather continues to cool down, Lauren Strasser, assistant general manager and bar manager at Bouquet Restaurant in Covington, turns to a warm beverage—even those that get a little boozy.

3/4 cup pumpkin ginger puree
1 1/8 cup bourbon
3/8 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups hot black tea
Honey or simple syrup, to taste, if desired

To make pumpkin puree:
1 14-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup mixture of white and brown sugars
Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cook over low to medium heat until sugar dissolves.

To make hot toddy:
Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook over low heat for several hours, occasionally stirring. Stir well before serving. Serves 6.

Boozy Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

If you’re looking to save a bit of time here, Strasser says, replace the DIY cinna-bourbon with cinnamon whiskey.

1 1/8 cup cinna-bourbon
3 cups hot chocolate
Whipped cream and cinnamon and/or cocoa for dusting, if desired

To make cinna-bourbon:
1 cup red hots candies
1 750-mL bottle bourbon
Combine candies and bourbon in a container with a tight lid, and keep the empty bourbon bottle. Let candies dissolve in the bourbon for 1 to 2 weeks (the bourbon will quickly become a bright red color, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready). Strain out the candies, and return bourbon to empty bottle.

To make hot chocolate:
1 quart half-and-half or non-dairy supplement
1 quart water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over low to medium heat, slowly stirring until cocoa and sugar have been dissolved. Be sure not to scorch the half and half/non-dairy supplement.

To make Boozy Cinnamon Hot Chocolate:
Add bourbon and chocolate to a slow cooker, set to low for up to several hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with whipped cream, cinnamon and/or cocoa dusting, if desired. Serves 6.


This recipe is a family favorite, Strasser says. Though she can’t be with her family this year, the tradition will make sure her holiday smells like home.

For maximum cheer, make this ahead of time, in a large slow cooker.

“The smell when that huge lid comes off and the steam from the wassail spreads all around the room—trust me,” Strasser says. “It’s worth the bigger container.”

2 quarts apple juice or cider
1 pint cranberry juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon aromatic bitters
2 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 small orange studded with cloves
3 cups dark rum

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker on medium heat, mixing occasionally. Wait for the sugar to dissolve and the aromatics of cloves, orange, cinnamon, allspice, and spiced rum to fill the room. Turn down to low for serving. Serves 6.

Main Street Cooler 

This is a current favorite cocktail at Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, created by whiskey expert and bartender Adam Mitchell. It’s a perfect mixture of spicy, sweet, and sour.

2 cups bourbon
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup Aperol
1/4 cup cinnamon simple syrup
Lemon wheels, for garnish
Orange zest, for garnish
Whole cloves, for garnish

Mix first five ingredients in a pitcher. Garnish servings with lemon wheel, orange zest, and/or cloves. Serves eight.

Night Drop Nog

Last season, before the coronavirus forced restaurants to limit their numbers, this was a favorite holiday cocktail at Night Drop in East Walnut Hills, says Giacomo Ciminello, Night Drop’s bar manager. This recipe uses rum, but Ciminello says it would also work well with brandy.

4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided, or one bean, split
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups rum
4 cups light cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.

Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Serves 12.

Winter Sangria

For this pitcher recipe, James Beddie, beverage supervisor at Coppin’s Bar inside Hotel Covington, recommends using inexpensive versions of red blend and champagne. Leftover champagne? Use it in the morning for mimosas!

5 tablespoons cinnamon syrup
1 bottle wine, red blend
5/8 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 bottle champagne, divided
Blueberries and blackberries, for garnish

To make cinnamon syrup:
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 quart hot water
4 cups sugar
Steep cinnamon sticks in water for two hours. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Save cinnamon sticks for serving. Syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To make sangria:
Add syrup to wine in a pitcher. Add orange juice.

To serve, pour mixture into a glass and top with 3/8 cup champagne. Add ice, blueberries, and blackberries. For a more robust cinnamon flavor, add a piece of broken cinnamon stick from syrup into glass. Serves 5.

Once Again, the Bengals Win by Losing

So here we are, right back where we were a year ago at this time, with dueling mindsets as we watch Bengals games. Root for the team to win, or hope for the close loss so as not to worsen the high draft slot? In the moment, I’m always rooting for the W, and my violent outbursts and fist pumps this past Sunday were in the normal ratios. But in the back of my mind, I know that the better outcome in the big picture is a loss.

This dichotomy was encapsulated by a single moment in the game against the Giants. Closing the gap to 19-17 (after roughly 58 minutes of horrid offense), the Bengals forced New York to punt. Alex Erickson, who hasn’t had a decent return in two seasons, at long last broke one. For a fleeting moment it appeared he would actually score or, even better, get deep enough into enemy territory for the Bengals to run down the clock and kick a last-second, game-winning field goal. But Erickson was brought down by a desperation lunge at his heels near midfield.

You know what happened subsequent: Brandon Allen, deemed less terrible than Ryan Finley in getting tabbed to replace Joe Burrow, was strip-sacked on the next play, and Big Blue escaped with a narrow victory. Or should I say, Cincinnati escaped with a narrow defeat.

With a win, the Bengals might have seen its draft position tumble all the way to seventh, a spot that would leave them unable to get a crack at Penei Sewell and have a knock-on effect for the other rounds as well. Sure, there are times when this winds up counterintuitively working in a team’s favor, but at this point I’ll take the third pick, thanks. A dramatic victory over the Giants would have felt nice, allowing this native New Yorker an opportunity for a bit of (unearned, but whatever) smack talk to the G-men fans back home. But come April, and more importantly next September and beyond, we’d be ruing the loss of Sewell and/or whatever other impact players might come as a result of the meaningless win.

I’m not breaking any new ground here, merely stewing in the fact that, because of one single instant in Washington D.C., it’s Groundhog Day in Cincinnati. At least in 2019 the prize at stake was a franchise QB. Now we just have to hope we can get a moose to help keep Burrow upright and continuing to fulfill the promise he displayed all too briefly.

Will Burrow be playing for Zac Taylor when he returns to the field? Last Sunday’s loss dropped ZT to a gruesome 4-22-1 record since taking over as head coach, with related stories of player unrest and questions about his staff. Forget Dave Shula and Dick LeBeau, the icons of Cincinnati head coaching ineptitude—Taylor is down in the depths of all-time worst starts to a coaching career. It isn’t completely impossible to fight back from a terrible start (did you know Tom Landry was 4-20-3 in his first 27 games?), but it isn’t statistically likely either. Presuming five more losses to conclude the year, that would leave Taylor at 4-27-1, scarcely better than the 1-31 record turned in by Hue Jackson in Cleveland that Bengals fans love to mock.

Taylor clearly isn’t Hue or Shula or Freddie Kitchens, though. He’s seldom been badly overmatched and has actually done plenty of good things on the sideline, virtually all of which has been undone by his horrific record in close games and on the road, where he’s still seeking his first victory. Sunday was a good microcosm of the Taylor Era: In a winnable game against a bad team, the Bengals were the ones making the critical mistakes. Two more critical fourth-quarter turnovers (giving Cincinnati seven on the season; only the Broncos have more) gave the game away.

Brief aside. Drew Sample was responsible for the first turnover, coughing up the ball after a reception. He’s had a decent enough season blocking, but let’s face it, his signature plays this season are Sunday’s fumble and having Myles Jack rip the ball out of his clutches to turn a touchdown into an interception. This is the fella everyone told us was poised for a big leap in Year 2, and it hasn’t happened.

Sunday’s game left me wondering, and not for the first time, what would have happened if special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons had been hired to the big job. It’s impossible to know about the CEO aspects of the gig, but in terms of actual game prep, Simmons continues to be one of the top overall coordinators in the NFL. The Bengals almost stole the game Sunday in the third phase, with Brandon Wilson providing the long kick return for a TD, the fake punt run by Shawn Williams, Erickson’s punt runback, etc. That it came against a special teams coach who took a head coaching job (Joe Judge of the Giants) made it all the more impressive.

I’ve long nurtured a (small, but growing) worry about head coaches who call plays—on either side of the ball—lacking the overall perspective necessary to see the big picture. Taylor has ceded complete control of the defense to the shaky mitts of Lou Anarumo while throwing himself entirely into boosting the offense. Simmons, or any coach who divorces himself from the play-to-play emotions of game day, has the 10,000-foot view of the game and the team perpetually in mind.

And it’s certainly fair to wonder why, after stipulating that any offense lacking its franchise quarterback will struggle somewhat, the Bengals offense—with a supposed offensive wunderkind as head coach—was so godawful without Burrow. Cincinnati actually had 50 more return yards than yards from scrimmage against the Giants, seldom a good sign. And that’s including the Shaun Williams fake punt run in the scrimmage category. QB Allen, unsurprisingly, was indistinguishable in the main from Finley. Another priority for 2021 should be acquiring a better backup.

So now the final Sundays of this most horrible year are reduced to hoping some other teams—Dallas, Philly, L.A. Chargers—win a few games and isolate Cincinnati in the three hole for Draft Day. Jacksonville screwed us doubly on Sunday by not only losing in close fashion but doing so to the hated Browns. The Bengals have a far stronger strength of schedule compared to most of the other weak sisters in the league, and the Eagles tie looms as a non-loss that could haunt Cincinnati in the draft order. So it behooves the team to remove any suspense and lose out, hard as that is to countenance.

It stinks that this is what we have to concentrate on over the final month of the season, but it gets worse. Once the 2020 campaign is over, we’ll be reduced to many months of obsessing over the current status of Burrow’s knee rehab. That’s going to make this painful period seem edenic by comparison.

Robert Weintraub heads up Bengals coverage for Cincinnati Magazine and has written for The New York Times, Grantland, Slate, Deadspin, and Football Outsiders and authored four books, including his newest, “The Divine Miss Marble” from Penguin Random House. You can follow him on Twitter at @robwein.

Five Cincinnati Ice Cream Shops That Offer Vegan Options


Last month, Graeter’s Ice Cream announced the launch of six new vegan ice cream flavors, the first in the company’s history. By using animal-free dairy proteins, the “Perfect Indulgence” line—black cherry chocolate chip, chocolate, chocolate chip, cookies & cream, mint chocolate chip, and Oregon strawberry—caters to ice cream lovers who are vegan or unable to eat dairy. With the launch, the 150-year-old ice cream chain joined these local stores that offer vegan frozen treats.

Buona Terra

Buona Terra offers a fruit-based Italian desert called sorbetto, which contains no dairy and is fat free. Vegan sorbetto flavors include lemon blueberry and blood orange.
1028 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout, (513) 386-9356, buonaterragelato.com

Simply Rolled Ice Cream

Simply Rolled Ice Cream offers both vegan vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream. The vanilla is made from organic cashew milk and coconut cream while the dark chocolate is crafted from a blend of pure cocoa, cashew, and coconut cream.
32 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-287-7716, simplyrolledicecream.com

Hello Honey Ice Cream

Using fresh ingredients free from artificial flavors, Hello Honey Ice Cream’s current vegan flavors include organic Thai coconut milk, banana coconut, and strawberry sorbet.
633 Vine St., downtown, 513-399-7986, hellohoneyicecream.com

Dojo Gelato

Dojo Gelato always offers at least three dairy-free and vegan sorbetto options at their locations. Current vegan sorbetto options include blueberry cinnamon, lemon, and pink grapefruit.
Locations in Over-the-Rhine and Northside, dojogelato.com


Eishaus offers vegan versions of its spaghetti eis—ice cream that is shaped like spaghetti noodles. You can choose from four options: spaghetti marinara (eis with strawberry sauce, coconut flakes, and a cookie), spaghetti cacio pape pairs (eis with coconut flakes and a cookie), spaghetti schoko combines (eis with chocolate sauce, coconut flakes, and a cookie), or spaghetti erdnuss incorporates (eis with peanut butter sauce, coconut flakes, and a cookie).
117 Park Pl., Covington, 859-360-3272, eishauseats.com

Best of the City 2020 Winners: Kids & Pets

A new cat café, a science cheerleader, interactive theater, and hand-embroidered pet portraits make our list of the best kid and pet offerings the Queen City has to offer right now.

Pet Portraits: Stitching Sabbatical
For the pet owner who has it all and wants more, Michelle Staub offers a unique gift: a hand-embroidered, lifelike animal friend portrait suitable for framing. Her work is incredibly detailed and occasionally three-dimensional, with each piece typically taking 45 hours to complete and costing between $950 and $1,900 (depending on size and complexity). More basic outlined portraits start at $85, and all work is done on commission through an online waiting list. Her Stitching Sabbatical Instagram feed has more than 138,000 followers admiring her “thread paintings.” • stitchingsabbatical.com

Pandemic Trend: SPCA Pet Adoptions
There have been few silver linings to the months of downtime we’ve spent by ourselves at home (hello, sweatpants!), but an unforeseen benefit was the surge of local pet adoptions since March. SPCA Cincinnati reports more than 300 dog and cat adoptions each month in May, June, and July (there were only 68 adoptions in April). Once people realized the pandemic was going to last longer than originally thought, they sought out furry friends to quarantine with—a win/win for them and for overloaded shelters. The SCPA says adoptions were down slightly in August (212) and September (190) but still well ahead of pre-pandemic levels—and that’s after the organization closed its Northside facility to consolidate in Sharonville. • 11900 Conrey Rd., Sharonville, (513) 541-6100, spcacincinnati.org

New Cat Café: Purrfect Day Café
Northern Kentucky native Chuck Patton has opened his second Purrfect Day Café in the bustling Pike/Madison area of Covington. Like the original in Louisville, the space is equal parts cozy café and cat adoption center. The front café has cat-themed tea, coffee drinks, and pastries as well as wine, local brews, bourbon, and specialty cocktails, while you can reserve time online ($15 for 50 minutes, eight masked visitors at a time) to play with a dozen or more cats in the back room, managed by Kenton County Animal Services. Set up an adoption or just hang out with the kitties. Since opening in 2018, Patton’s Louisville café has arranged more than 3,500 adoptions. • purrfectdaycafecovington.com

Interactive Theater: The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati
Like all arts groups, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati has been trying to find new ways to engage without the ability to perform for families and schools. Seeking outside expertise in virtual programming, they partnered with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College’s audio video production program, which recommended an interactive video platform called eko. Together they created Pick-A-Path, a series of streaming educational shows featuring interactivity that allows viewers to make active choices on their screens and send the story in different directions. The shows (Harriet Tubman: Straight Up Outta’ the Underground; Jacqueline and the Beanstalk; and Martin’s Dream, about Martin Luther King Jr.) were performed and staged by Children’s Theatre staff and filmed and edited by Cincinnati State students. Each show was rewritten a bit to take advantage of the eko platform, but Producing Artistic Director Roderick Justice says The Children’s Theatre is now commissioning new plays to take full advantage of the interactivity. • 4015 Red Bank Rd., Columbia Twp., (513) 569-8080, thechildrenstheatre.com

Science Cheerleader: Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson’s YouTube series Science Around Cincy has introduced students to a new generation’s Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, goofy-joketelling version of TV’s Bill Nye the Science Guy. His 10-minute interviews of local scientists, naturalists, and animal specialists have been picked up by Cincinnati Public Schools for use in virtual science classes and are broadcast on KET public television across Kentucky. Anderson’s goal is to fight the disturbing rise of science denial by presenting elementary- and middle-school students with fun visits into the everyday lives of Cincinnati scientists, who, he reminds us, are real people trying to solve real-world problems. • sciaroundcincy.com

The Young Ones: Five ways to help the kids and pets in your household.

DIY Craft Lady: Jen Dalton
Local 12 morning traffic anchor Jen Dalton moonlights as Cincinnati’s unofficial kid craft curator, highlighting easy DIY craft and science projects to keep kids’ hands and minds busy. Find videos and instructions on her Instagram feed. • instagram.com/jendaltontv

Help for Hard Conversations: Susan Steinberg
Clinical psychologist Susan Steinberg provides practical advice for helping guide children through these uncertain times, focusing first on acknowledging what they’re experiencing and following up with positivity and problemsolving techniques. More than anything, she says, parents need to be good role models. • drsusanjsteinberg.com

Dog Training: Harper
Trying to provide your puppy with structure when you’re just as crazed and unfocused? The digital training app Harper offers more than 30 step-by-step training guides and 100-plus games that help you and your new friend bond at your own pace. • harper.dog

Amusement Park Reopening: Kings Island
Finding a middle ground this summer between Florida’s crowded theme parks and California’s complete shutdown, KI finally introduced its new Orion rollercoaster in early July. They welcomed back families with temperature checks at the gate, timed tickets for popular rides to control lines, and aggressive cleanliness, for a small slice of summer normalcy. • visitkingsisland.com

Pet Defender: Animal Abuse Tracking
Cincinnati City Council passed a motion in October to have city administrators work with Hamilton County officials to build a searchable database of people convicted of animal abuse. Those names will be available to animal shelters and adoption/foster organizations so they can vet potential pet owners and avoid repeat problems.

Best of the City 2020 Winners: Food & Drink

Whether you’re searching for a subscription box, craft chocolate, cheese curds, or fantastic to-go options, this list breaks down Cincinnati’s best food and drink items of 2020.

Food Challenge: Yacht Ones, Northside Yacht Club
Northside Yacht Club has never been an establishment to shy away from the silly, crude, or ridiculous in the name of entertainment—and of course, really great bar food. This May they continued this fine tradition with Yacht Ones, a hot wing–eating challenge in the spirit of a similarly titled, enormously popular YouTube series. It went something like this: $40 for two sets of eight progressively spicy wings doused in hot sauces, created by them and their buds at Ché, Longfellow, The Pony, Mazunte, Soeul Hot Chicken, Django Western Taco, and Moerlein Lager House. Mimicking the original, carryout diners were encouraged to split the wings with a “quarantine”-mate and answer a list of accompanying irreverent existential questions written by local trivia aficionado Justin Schafer. • 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, (513) 541-0528, northsideyachtclub.com

Cheddar Curds: Urban Stead
In 2018, Scott and Andrea Robbins left the corporate world to make “cheddar for the better”—that is, the farmstead way, in small batches, supporting local farmers and sharing their leftover whey to feed their suppliers’ livestock. It’s a long process making their truckles (wheels) of cheddar, which are aged 12–18 months before fully mature. But the fresh stuff? Separated from the whey, those teeth-squeaking curds are good enough to eat right away, straight out of the bag or on top of poutine. Find them in Urban Stead’s Evanston cheese shop, on restaurant menus, and at more than a dozen local specialty food retailers. • 3036 Woodburn Ave., Evanston, (513) 828-0830, urbansteadcheese.com

Craft Chocolate: Maverick Chocolate Co.
Engineer Paul Picton was inspired by his globetrotting work trips, where along the way he’d pick up chocolate for his wife, Marlene. When his job ended in 2013, so did the couple’s supply of international fine chocolate. They began experimenting, making their own bars, and Maverick was born at Findlay Market the next year. Six years into the business, Cincinnati’s only bean-to-bar chocolate producer—which ethically sources its cocoa from co-ops all over the world—has two brick-and-mortar factory stores (Findlay Market and Rookwood Commons) and sells its bars in more than 40 stores nationwide. We’re particularly fond of the 70 percent Belize dark chocolate, with its smooth texture, bright acidity, and notes of cherry and roasted nuts. • maverickchocolate.com

Team Effort: Restaurant Relief
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March left restaurants grappling with how to continue serving their customers as the governors of Ohio and Kentucky ordered dining rooms closed. One thing was universal, however: Fewer customers meant fewer staff members would be necessary, and restaurants that would come out on the other side would need to downsize in order to remain solvent. Roughly 8 million restaurant workers were furloughed nationwide by mid-April, according to the National Restaurant Association, including many in our own backyard. When Louisville-based restaurant nonprofit The LEE Initiative, cofounded by chef-restaurateur Edward Lee and managing director Lindsay Ofcacek, approached their friend Jose Salazar, chef-owner of Mita’s, Salazar, and Goose & Elder, to be a Cincinnati partner in their Restaurant Workers Relief Program (in partnership with Maker’s Mark), he was all in. Between March 19 and the end of May, Salazar’s team at Mita’s served about 14,000 meals (200 per night, seven days a week) and distributed toiletries and nonperishables to furloughed restaurant workers in need. Their efforts supporting those who have made their industry possible when they needed it most reminded us that, yes, we really are all in this together.

Food Subscription Box: Findlay Kitchen Curated
If there is a positive to come out of a global pandemic, perhaps it’s that we can get a taste of our favorite Findlay Market Kitchen entrepreneurs’ eats from the comfort of our own homes. In October the incubator kitchen debuted a curated subscription box filled with sweet and savory handcrafted goodies, including bagels from 513 Bagel Company, meat seasonings from Afromeals, hand pies from City Belle Fried Pies, chocolate chip cookies from Like Mom’s Only Vegan, botanical infusions from Nectar Springs, and sea salt caramels from Sunshine Caramels. We honestly can’t think of a better form of self-care in these weird times. • findlaykitchen.org/curated

To Go, Please: Five clever takes on carryout that are getting us through the pandemic.

Japanese Market: Kiki’s
Over the summer this ramen spot scaled back its dine-in capacity and hours for customers’ safety. In an unused section of the dining room, a Japanese market was added, selling sake, Japanese beers, Calpis sodas, regional sweet and savory snacks, and grab-and-go deli items like the eggy tamago sando. • kikicincinnati.com

Delivery: Boca Restaurant Group
While the dining room at Boca is closed and seating at Sotto is limited, foodies can get the restaurant experience in The Chef’s Table, part of its Domo (Italian for “at home”) delivery program, with five seasonally rotating, chef-driven meals brought straight to your front door. • domoathome.com

Carryout Picnics: Goose & Elder
These family-style meals come in three varieties to suit your mood and hunger level: The Flock, with fried chicken and mac and cheese; The Bodega, with ham and Swiss croissants with chips; and The Vegi-Curious, with hummus, veggies, and avocado toast. BYOB—basket, that is. • gooseandelder.com

Adult Happy Meals: Dunlap Café
This OTR bar and restaurant serves up a nostalgic spin on fast food. Packed in a familiar folding kiddie box, a burger and fries are paired with beer, hard seltzer, or a cocktail, to lift your spirits. • dunlapcafe.com

Booze Box: Lost & Found OTR
Don’t feel comfortable going to bars just yet? To enjoy the experience at home, the craft cocktail maestros at Lost & Found have created the Booze Box, a package of house cocktails and bougie snacks of your choice, plus a zine with a curated playlist so you can vibe while you imbibe. • lostandfoundotr.com

Best of the City 2020 Winners: Services

A 30-minute spa treatment, a virtual paint party, a running group, and five specialized service providers make our list of Cincinnati’s best service-related items of 2020.

Running Group for Beer Lovers: Fifty West’s Running Clubs
the cancellation of this year’s Flying Pig marathon may have quashed some ribbon-breaking dreams, or at least put them on hold. But for those who are still looking to stay in tip-top Pig shape, Fifty West’s 16-week training program pairs runners with a set of coaches to make full and halfmarathon dreams a reality. Training runs take place twice a week on the Little Miami Scenic Trail and down the picturesque streets of Mariemont, and conclude with a beer on the house—you know, in case you need a little extra motivation. The $115 program fee also includes Fifty West and JackRabbit discounts, a pre-race-day carb party, and two off-site runs that feature, you guessed it, beer at the finish line. Not quite ready to commit to marathon training status? The brewery also offers a more relaxed, recreational option with its free Thursday night running club, led by Fifty West staff. Thursday’s runs start at the Pro Works location on Wooster Pike and clock in at a much more manageable three to five miles. • 7605 Wooster Pike, Columbia Twp., (513) 834-8789, fiftywestbrew.com

Home Classroom Reno: School by CASA
When they spotted a growing need for kid-friendly study spaces, local design duo Aubrey Wallen and Christine Trimmer, also known as CASA Design Consulting, jumped at the chance to help local families reclaim their kitchen tables—and their peace of mind. For a flat fee, CASA will send childhood development experts to your home to assess you and your child’s specific needs and transform a room into a functional, well-organized oasis. The consultation also comes with a specially curated list of ageappropriate toys, learning materials, and recommended tutors to make your life just a tad bit easier, no matter what your child’s school situation looks like this year. • casadesignconsulting.com

30-Minute Spa Treatment: Oasis Face Bar OTR
Got half an hour to spare? You’ve got time to drop in for an appointment with Oasis Face Bar, the uber-convenient Walnut Street spa that specializes in quick, customizable facials that fit neatly within your lunch break. The Columbus-based spa debuted its OTR location in 2018 with a slimmed-down menu of just six targeted treatments that clock in at only 30 minutes apiece. Customize your experience by adding on a few extra non-invasive à la carte treatments, book a girls’—or a guys’—night out, or check out their membership program to carve out a monthly space for some self-care. • 1345 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 348-5627, oasisfacebar.com

Memorial Jewelry: Bellevue Beadery
Instead of leaving flowers from your special event to wither, why not make them into a keepsake that’ll stay with you forever? Bellevue Beadery specializes in creating custom pieces to commemorate life’s big moments, turning flowers into intimate and personalized pieces of jewelry. Bring in blooms from your wedding, prom night, loved one’s funeral, or even from your own backyard, and beadery owner Michele Roeding will turn them into an item of your choosing, from necklaces and bracelets to rosaries and bookmarks. Pick from a broad selection of more than 40 flower bead colors to pair with sterling silver, pearls, or Swarovski crystals. • 402 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, (859) 292-0800

Virtual Paint Party: Soul Palette
If this was a typical year, the husband-and-wife duo behind Soul Palette would be gallivanting around Cincinnati, bringing their customizable paint parties to eager audiences. But this is no typical year. Lucky for us, the mobile-based art company has adapted. With in-person paint parties and private sessions on standby, Soul Palette moved online, hosting lighthearted virtual painting lessons on Facebook for artists at every age and skill level. Tune in, grab a palette and a canvas—and maybe a drink, if you’re there for the adult class—and get ready to channel your inner Bob Ross. • (513) 227-4836, paintwithyoursoul.com

Make It Better: Five service providers that can meet your very specific needs.

Florist on Wheels: Daisy Jane’s Flower Truck
Daisy Jane and Pearl Rose have been two very busy ladies this year—and their drivers have been, too. The charming 1960s Fords are filled to the brim with colorful blooms that have brought us some much needed joy in these dark times. • daisyjanesflowertruck.com

Zoom-Powered Workout: The Movement Studio, Covington

When COVID-19 forced gyms to close their doors, The Movement Studio went digital, taking its high-powered classes into the Zoomverse so you can practice TRX, pilates, yoga, and more, all from the comfort of your living room. • 118 W. Pike St., Second Floor, Covington, (513) 328-4110, nlptf.com

Bridal Keepsakes: Floral Preservation & Designs
Looking to keep that showstopper bouquet looking like new, even years after your wedding? Floral Preservation & Designs uses a special freeze-drying technique to preserve your arrangement in a shadow box that’ll keep your big moment frozen in time. • floralpreservationanddesigns.com

Fender-Bender Doctors: Wood’s Collision Center
Even in the era of COVID-19, accidents still happen. With three locations spread across the Greater Cincinnati area, Wood’s Collision Center offers comprehensive repairs with contactless pickup and delivery, and even complimentary detailing services. • woodscollision.com

Welcome Zoom Interruption: Cincinnati ZOOm Calls
Bored of seeing the same old faces on your office Zoom meetings? Spice things up with a special appearance by Fiona the Hippo. Proceeds go directly to the zoo’s emergency operating fund, so really, it’s a win-win. • cincinnatizoo.org

Best of the City 2020 Winners: Shopping

A sustainable fashion boutique, plant-based skin care products, a welcome expansion, and five standout local Etsy sellers make our list of Cincinnati’s best shopping-related items and entrepreneurs of 2020.

Sustainability Warrior: Shop Wolfpack
In 2016, after reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion, a book by Elizabeth L. Cline that exposes the downfalls of the fashion industry, Katherine Dalton knew she had to change her consumer habits. She took her journey a step further in September 2018, when she launched Wolfpack, an online retailer of ethically sourced and sustainably made clothing, accessories, home goods, art, and gifts. The following spring, she opened a storefront on Main Street, which she relocated to Elm Street in April. Despite the location change, Dalton’s goal remains the same: educate shoppers about the waste and unethical practices tied to fast fashion and empower them to buy ethical, sustainable products. She does so by carrying items that are handmade in the U.S. by woman- and minority-owned small businesses and independent artists who pay their employees living wages. Wolfpack also uses recycled and biodegradable packaging materials, plants one tree for every order, and pays a monthly fee to neutralize the carbon emissions from each package it sends to customers. • 1813 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, shopthewolfpack.com

Plant-Based Skin Care Products: Flora Lee Naturals
Inspired by her passion for skincare and a desire to live a more natural lifestyle, Nia Baucke launched her natural skincare line, Cypress Beauty, in 2017. A year ago she rebranded her business to Flora Lee Naturals, a tribute to her late grandmother Flora Lee, whom Baucke grew up with in Michigan and who inspired her appreciation for natural remedies. Today, Flora Lee Naturals carries a handful of cleansing and toning products, which are made from plant-based ingredients inspired by Baucke’s grandmother’s garden. Her best-selling cleansing face scrub-slash-mask, for example, is made with aloe vera, lemon, lavender water, grapefruit, carrot seed, sunflower oil, and other “powerful, brightening ingredients.” Her mission? “To brighten your day and remind you to care for your already beautiful skin.” • floraleenaturals.com

Brand Reinvention + Expansion: Handzy Shop + Studio
Best friends and UC DAAP alumnae Brittney Braemer and Suzy Hinnefeld opened Handzy Shop + Studio on Covington’s West Pike Street in July 2016 as a stationery gift shop and graphic design studio. Two years later, after realizing their inventory was too specific for Covington’s demographics, they transitioned Handzy into a lifestyle boutique, offering cards (designed in-house), prints, gifts, clothes, and accessories. Last November, they moved Handzy into a larger space next door and debuted Gumdrop, a children’s clothing, toy, and accessories shop, in the former Handzy space. Last month they opened second locations of each concept in the historic West Fourth District downtown. Since 2016, Braemer and Hinnefeld have worked hard to reinvent Handzy to fit the needs of the community, but they’ve successfully maintained their brand’s unique, lively identity, which keeps customers coming back for more. • 15 and 17 W. Pike St., Covington, handzyshopstudio.com, gumdroptots.com

Etsy Breakout Star: Circle Circle Jewelry
Before Jill Goulait started making jewelry full time, she worked as a funeral director in Latonia. Jewelry had been a passion of hers since she was a little girl, but it wasn’t until she took a weekend soldering class that her “world opened up” and she started making pieces for friends and family. In 2009, she launched an Etsy shop named Grey Goose Gifts to sell her delicate designs. Her new business quickly took off, and she left the funeral industry just one year later. Nearly 19,000 Etsy sales later and Goulait’s company now goes by the name Circle Circle Jewelry (complete with a standalone website) and specializes in reasonably priced, dainty necklaces, earrings, and bracelets crafted from gold and sterling silver. • circlecirclejewelry.com

Standout Female Business Owner: Spruce Nail Shop’s Molly Nagle
In September, local entrepreneur Molly Nagle was named Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year by the Columbus District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Nagle launched Spruce Nail Shop in Over-the-Rhine in March 2016, with just five employees. The salon has since outgrown its flagship Vine Street storefront and relocated to a larger space at Findlay Market, added a mobile salon service to bring the “good, clean fun” straight to your doorstep, and expanded its staff to more than 20 employees. Nagle has also added a line of skin care services, including facials and cacao-based spray tans, and continues to offer nail care using only safe, eco-friendly polishes. Talk about a glow up. • 1818 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 818-8749, sprucenailshop.com

Made by Hand: Five more local Etsy sellers we love.

Science-Themed Gifts: Kim & Kimberly
Science nerds will appreciate this shop for its amino acid–themed greeting cards and prints featuring the molecular breakdowns of beer, bourbon, and other alcoholic favorites. We personally love the duo’s beaker terrarium kits for air plants and moss balls. • etsy.com/shop/kimandkimberly

Antiques: Antique Revolution
Jon Wood sources antique items from all over the country for his shop, from graphic T-shirts to industrial drafting tables to Depression-era multi-drawer cabinets. He typically restores his rare finds before selling them and occasionally handcrafts industrial benches and desks of his own. • etsy.com/shop/AntiqueRevolutionLLC

Linocut Prints: The Diggingest Girl
Erlanger-based artist Emily Louise Howard reproduces her distinct linocut prints using hand-carved linoleum blocks to transfer oil-based inks onto heavyweight tagboard paper. Her mostly black-and-white illustrations often feature animals; nature; and strong female subjects like Medusa, Venus, and Idun. • etsy.com/shop/TheDiggingestGirl

Custom Jewelry: Old Hills Design Co.
This woman-owned, Middletown-based company specializes in handmade jewelry featuring clean designs with natural gemstones and precious metals, including absolutely stunning custom engagement rings and wedding bands. It also offers ceramic mugs and custom wood signs and cutting boards. • etsy.com/shop/OldHillsDesignCo

Soaps And Sundries: Orange Fuzz
With 10,000-plus sales since 2009, this popular shop sells handmade soaps, candles, deodorant, laundry detergent, and face and shaving products made from all-natural, eco-friendly ingredients. Find them locally at Deerhaus Decor, Lentz & Company, and Toko Baru. • etsy.com/shop/orangefuzz

Best of the City 2020 Winners: City Life

A traveling light projection show, a victory lap of a graduation ceremony, and five ways to have socially distant fun make our list of the best city life items and experiences the Queen City has to offer right now.

Neighborhood Resource: Cincinnati Free Fridge
The brainchild of Jordan Tuss, Siri Imani of the Triiibe Foundation, and Toncia Chavez of ETC Produce & Provisions, this rainbow-colored refrigerator popped up in October at 1313 Vine. Based on a project in New York that created a regional network of the mini food pantries, the fridge landed in space shared between the More Free 2020 voter registration project and the Triiibe Foundation’s support center for people experiencing homelessness. Local restaurants and Findlay Market vendors (and donations) helped keep the shelves stocked, and at press time, the fridge was in search of a more permanent home. • @thefridgecincy on Instagram

Light Show: Projection Connections
When the Haile Foundation’s Eric Avner asked for ideas on how to stay connected during the pandemic, Doug Borntrager answered the call. The sound and video designer for Know Theatre, Borntrager had an idea for a sort of mobile BLINK, a traveling light show he called Projection Connections. With support from Know and WavePool, he began collaborating with other artists, then hit the streets in early May. His first route took him around Northside, and after a few test runs to work out some kinks (streaming issues, projector power, mapping fails), Borntrager began a summer odyssey through Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Neighbors and families gathered on porches, in front yards, and even in parking lots to catch the show. Borntrager also live-streamed each event on his Facebook page, where he also highlighted many of the collaborating artists. Storms occasionally chased him off the streets, as did curfews following protests in June, but he continued through the early fall. We can only hope that this Connection stays strong—and comes back next year. • Projection Connections on Facebook

Gift Card: Cincy Card Connection
Usually you think of 3CDC as a developer—their banners line construction fences all around Over-the-Rhine. This spring, though, in partnership with P&G and Empower, 3CDC launched something different: the Cincy Card Connection. If you bought a gift card from a downtown or Over-the-Rhine business and sent in a photo of the receipt, you’d get a matching gift card from another similar business. Cool idea—so cool the original funding was maxed out in 24 hours. A second round focused on retail and personal services, with the matching cards coming from minority- and women-owned businesses. In total, the project raised $650,000 for downtown businesses. Shop local, indeed. • 3cdc.org/cincy-card-connection

Graduation Ceremony: Taking Laps at Kentucky Speedway
It started with Gallatin County High School. In May, that school announced a partnership with the Kentucky Speedway (also located in Gallatin County) that would allow its seniors to take a “victory lap.” A month later, graduates from Cooper, Conner, Ryle, and Boone County high schools queued up in groups of 40 cars, took three laps around the track, and posed for photos (in their cars) at the start/finish line. They didn’t set any speed records—pace cars going 45 mph led and followed each group—but it was a memorable way to cap off a high school career. • kentuckyspeedway.com

Parking Spaces: Covington Carryout Parking
Do you remember March? Back in those very early pandemic days, when state leaders in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana ordered bars and restaurants to close, it was a blow to individual establishments and the industry as a whole. But the closings also sparked creative efforts to offer help and support. Later that week, Covington announced that it would change some metered parking spaces in front of local restaurants to carryout-only spots that would provide 15 free minutes for folks running in to pick up to-go orders. A small change with a big impact. • covingtonky.gov

Together, Apart: Five ways to have fun while staying socially distant.

Outdoor Hangout: Bridgeview Box Park
Unveiled in June at Newport on the Levee, Bridgeview’s shipping containers create spaces for small business—including Wooden Cask Brewing, Ché on Wheels, and Leaf & Limb—and space for social distancing. • newportonthelevee.com/bridgeview-box-park-hours

Skateboard Crew: Dad Skate Squad
Between Memorial Day and Halloween, this group of rad dads hit the streets on their boards for a weekly ride. The brainchild of Jonathan Wilis, the idea was “making connections with people,” Willis told us earlier this year. Keep an eye on Instagram for further shenanigans. • @dadskatesquad

Socially Distant Drama: Fannie Lou Hamer Speak On It!
Know Theatre took this two-actor production, based on rallies by civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, to 14 parking lots across the area. The productions also served as voter registration drives. • knowtheatre.com

Movie Night: Hollywood Drive In Theatre, College Hill
The College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CHCURC) decided to bring movies back to the neighborhood’s Hollywood Theatre, projecting films on the back of the building to benefit its redevelopment projects. • hollywooddriveintheater.com

Home-Based Trivia: The Approximate Knowledge Institute of Cincinnati
When bars closed, trivia night moved online, and Justin Schafer took his AKIC to YouTube, developing a touchless option, and giving away gift cards to Queen City Radio and Northside Yacht Club. (Schafer also wrote the questions for NSYC’s Yacht Ones hot wings challenge.) • akioc.com

A Swami Inspired Cincinnati Seekers in the 1920s


Back in the 1960s, as young people explored Eastern philosophy and religion through Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation and A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s Hare Krishna movement, some older Cincinnatians experienced a wave of déjà vu. Forty years earlier, in the Jazz Age “Roaring Twenties,” the Queen City became infatuated with another Indian philosopher, Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the best-selling Autobiography of a Yogi. He filled Cincinnati auditoriums, made headlines, and entranced the cream of society.

Cincinnati wasn’t the his first American stop. Yogananda arrived in Boston in 1920 and quickly attracted attention and adherents. He established his headquarters in Los Angeles, where he became the darling of the Hollywood crowd, but traveled constantly. In 1927, he met with President Calvin Coolidge in the White House.

In the autumn of 1926, announcements heralded the Swami’s upcoming arrival in Cincinnati. One advertisement in The Cincinnati Post [September 20, 1926] claimed:

“Want to be young again? Swami Yogananda, educator, metaphysician and mastermind of India, is coming here for the first time early in October to tell you how to attain ‘Everlasting Youth.’ Learn from him the secret of drawing dynamic energy from the cosmic supply all around you—the secret Douglas Fairbanks has already learned. Swami will bring light, life and health to this city. Swami comes here direct from New York City, where he has proved a sensational success—and does not conflict with anyone’s religion.”

Yogananda lectured daily to mostly full houses at Music Hall during his six-week stay in Cincinnati, from October 1 to November 15. His lectures promoted Yogoda, described as a “new science” of self-realization, based on the practice of Kriya Yoga. Throughout his visit, the local newspapers reported in detail on his teachings and opinions. The Enquirer [October 2, 1926] captured this gem:

“The American woman is a combination of the spiritualism of the Hindu woman and her own materialism.”

Yogananda announced plans to build a “How to Live Center” in Cincinnati. According to The Enquirer [December 1, 1926]:

“The plans as presented by the Swami at a luncheon Wednesday noon at the Sinton Hotel, call for a children’s and adults’ moving picture house, with lecture hall, gymnasium, library, concentration rooms and café, with health officers in charge who will tell what kind of food to eat.”

The Swami lectured frequently on personal magnetism, as reported by The Enquirer [October 10, 1926]:

“We hear people say, ‘That young man is very magnetic, a live wire,’ &c. By effort of will and constant application of will each man can magnetize himself as a wire is magnetized by electricity.”

There is no question that Yogananda displayed a magnetic personality, especially to women. His Cincinnati visits almost always included luncheons and teas hosted by society ladies, and he accompanied local women to the opera and other cultural events.

Throughout several trips to Cincinnati, the Swami was never accused of any improper behavior, but husbands in Cincinnati and elsewhere resented Yogananda’s influence on their wives. The police chief of Miami, Florida, prohibited Yogananda from speaking there and mobilized armed officers with “gas bombs” to enforce that order because of a Miami husband. According to The Enquirer [February 4, 1928]:

“The order for the ‘mystic’ to leave town was issued by the Chief of Police after a Miami man had complained that his wife was so ‘under the influence of the Swami’ that she threatened to continue attending the lectures ‘even if it breaks up our home.’”

As it turns out, Swami Yogananda actually did break up one Cincinnati marriage. According to The Enquirer [January 19, 1934]:

“Too much time spent by her as a follower of Swami Yogananda, Hindu philosopher, and too little attention to her husband and home, was charged against Elsie Dietrich Becker, 47, 18 West Ninth Street, by Wayne A. Becker, 46, Boomer and Reemelin Roads, in fighting his wife’s suit for a divorce, before Judge Charles W. Hoffman, in Domestic Relations Court yesterday.”

Mrs. Becker, her husband complained, left him for weeks at a time whenever the Swami called, keeping a life-size portrait of him in their living room and composing passionate poems about her spiritual leader. For her part, Mrs. Becker filed the initial complaint to attest that her husband had multiple affairs, refused to support her, and had threatened her with a pistol.

Mr. Becker was an engineer who specialized in designing swimming pools. Transcripts of the divorce hearings suggest that he was involved with many of the larger swimming pools in the Cincinnati area, including Coney Island’s Sunlite Pool. Mrs. Becker worked as a cake and candy decorator until she began doing bookkeeping for Swami Yogananda.

While employed by Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship, Mrs. Becker resided at his Los Angeles headquarters along with 15 or 20 other personnel, mostly women, who traveled with the guru for business or vacations. That was the basis of Mr. Becker’s complaint. Although Mrs. Becker took great pains to testify her relationship was strictly professional, Mr. Becker insisted he did not claim otherwise, but only objected to her absences and ongoing infatuation.

Judge Hoffman sided with Mr. Becker, dismissing Mrs. Becker’s complaint of adultery and granting Mr. Becker the divorce. As part of the settlement, Mrs. Becker got the house on Reemelin Road. She sold it in 1945 and moved to Utah, her spiritual quest having led her to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.