Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine Distilling — Bringing Sexy Back!

When you’re born with the suave Italian name Rifino Valentine, you’re destined to do one of three things – rock the screen as a star in the adult entertainment industry, rule the neighborhood as a gangster or take on the beverage industry as an award-winning, hand-crafted distiller.

It was option three that this Michigan-born-and-raised entrepreneur opted for in 2009 when he returned from an 11-year stint on Wall Street to launch Valentine Distilling Co. Drawing inspiration from the 1920s-era, the Valentine Vodka brand exudes sex – complete with a pin-up girl dressed in a tight red corset and fishnet stockings, holding a dirty martini – as a salute to Detroit’s pre-prohibition history.

But Valentine isn’t just a pretty face!

Today, Rifino utilizes a world-class Christian Carl Still to craft his traditional vodka, an elderflower infusion called White Blossom, Liberator Gin and Woodward Ltd. Bourbon.

The brand has accumulated a handful of prestigious awards over the past few years, most recently a 94-point ranking from Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel magazine – proudly placing higher than noted international brands like Belvedere, Ketel One, Grey Goose and Absolut. Liberator Gin was named 'Best American Gin' by the American Distilling Institute and Liberator Old Tom Gin was awarded 'World's Best Cask Gin' out of London.

“Returning to Michigan to start this venture, my goal was to craft a product that competes with the elite imported brands,” Rifino says. “With this latest ranking from the most well-respected wine and spirits reviewer, it really is satisfying that we were able to do just that! Now, we can truly say that you’re not just buying local, you’re buying better!”

Valentine products are currently found at more than 3000 retail stores, restaurants and bars throughout seven states, France, Belgium and Italy. For the full experience, be sure to visit the “speak-easy” style martini bar and production facility at 161 Vester Street in downtown Ferndale. Hours: Tues-Thurs, 4:30-11; Fri-Sat, 4:30-1, Sun 12-6.

SEX…L. Mawby's Pink Bubbles in a Bottle

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you can waltz into the L. Mawby tasting room in Suttons Bay, or any number of restaurants, bars or retail shops around the state of Michigan, and purchase SEX…legally?

This brut rose sparkling wine has been hand-crafted on the Leelanau Peninsula in northwest Michigan under the M.Lawrence Brand since 2002. Its vibrant salmon hues and soft, fruity flavor give way to tiny bubbles which dance on your tongue in a delicious and excited fashion. While SEX meets French standards for its brut designation, it is not bone dry as one might expect. In fact, it’s quite mouth-watering.

SEX is a “provocative blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes that are hand-picked and carefully whole-cluster pressed. The juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks, then blended with reserve wines and fermented a second time in a closed tank [the cuve close method]. The wine is then filtered, dosaged, and bottled.”

The vibrant personality behind the L. Mawby and M.Lawrence brands is none other than Larry Mawby – who has been mastering his craft of winemaking since his first crush in the fall of 1978. Since that time, he’s been regarded as one of the masters of his industry – making wines not only for his own small-lot brands (with an annual production of less than 16,000 cases) but also for other Michigan wineries.

Each year, about 3500 cases of the award-winning SEX are produced at the hands of assistant winemaker Michael Laing – who was officially introduced to the agricultural and winemaking industries in 2005, when his family began selling grapes from Leelanau County to Mawby.

By 2007, he was working at the winery. A trip the following year to New Zealand gave Laing the opportunity to work in a custom winemaking facility – making Pinot Noir. A new career tract in mind, he returned to Michigan and began working beside Larry, concentrating on the M.Lawrence brand – including SEX.

In addition to his work with Mawby, Laing also owns a brand of sparkling and table wines with his brother, Peter, called Big Little Wines (est. 2011).

For some, SEX may be considered a novelty wine. Yet, for true Mawby lovers, it is a conversation starter (or perhaps a clever pick up line) like no other. “Let me buy a round of SEX for the house” or “I’m having SEX at the bar tonight” are among the common phrases uttered with pride by Mawby’s more vocal and confident fans. Even visitors to the tasting room often walk through the front door clamoring “I hear Mawby has the best SEX around” and “We were sent here for SEX.”

Now, you might wonder how an alcoholic beverage with the name of SEX could make it through the strict licensing and labeling laws that the federal government enforces. Even Mawby himself wonder how this came to be, but only for a moment. Now, he just basks in the glory that is SEX.

Now that we’ve whet your appetite for SEX, you’ll need to know where you can find it – with regularity, of course. A visit to will provide a list of retail outlets and restaurants around Michigan that serve SEX. Currently, SEX is available at nearly 40 locations in the greater Grand Rapids area.

“We’re very glad that you are able to have SEX whenever you want it,” Mawby says. We’ve been working hard for several years to bring that about.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sexy Foods to Put You in the Mood

Throughout history, food has served as one of the great sexual indulgences. Aphrodisiacs – named after the Greek Goddess of sexual love and beauty, Aphrodite – are substances that lead to the awakening of internal desires. In the form of smells, drinks and foods, aphrodisiacs trigger chemical reactions in the brain, which in turn lead to the stimulation of the sexual organs of both men and women and intensify one’s urge to engage in pleasurable physical activities.

Now, some foods are simply sweet or hot and spicy, delivering an overwhelming sensation of flavors, textures and aromas which can create the most arousing effects. While others have proven nutritional effects which can stimulate or recharge the body, and are thus believed to enhance the physical attributes of love, lust and sex.

Cleopatra tantalized Mark Anthony and Emperor Julius Caesar with aphrodisiac scents and “potions” made with cinnamon, cardamom and basil that were said to drive her male suitors wild. Figs were also said to be her favorite delicacy.

The food of choice for Catherine the Great of Russia was caviar and she is widely quoted as once saying "Bring me some caviar, and tonight at supper, send me the best built of my officers." In 19th-century France, bridegrooms were served three courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinner, to aid in wedding evening bliss.

In more modern times, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger carried on an erotic love affair in the 1986 movie 9 ½ Weeks – with the most remembered scene taking place in front of an open refrigerator. Throughout the short three-minute scene, her eyes are closed as he feeds her countless items that drip out of her mouth and drizzle down her chin, her tongue hungry for more.

In the 2008 movie Sex and the City, an always-sexually-charged Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), tried to surprise her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day by laying naked on the table – her body covered only in pieces of hand-rolled sushi (watch out for the wasabi).

As you prepare your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, consider a menu of these tasty aphrodisiacs and see how lucky you get!

Asparagus — Michigan is a leading grower of this member of the lily family, which is said to stir up lust in both men and women. Maybe it’s the phallic shape, but this vegetable is chock full of vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, thiamin and folic acid – which is said to widely known to boost histamine production needed for both sexes to reach orgasm.

Almonds — Regarded as a symbol of fertility, the aroma of almonds is said to arouse passions in females. With abundant doses of vitamin E, fiber and magnesium, they’re sure to generate energy to keep you going all night long.

Aniseed — Sucking the seeds is said to increase the female libido.

Avocados — The Spanish found this voluptuous fruit so obscenely sexy that Catholic priests prohibited their consumption. The Aztecs’ name for the avocado tree was Ahuacuatl – or "testicle tree" – because the fruit hanging in pairs was said to resemble the male’s “crown jewels.” Said to be associated with male sexuality – despite the fact that cut and pitted it resembles a feminine shape – avocados are high in folic acid, vitamin B6, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids and oleic acid.

Bananas — Shapely and nutritional, this fruit is loaded with magnesium, B vitamins and potassium, as well as chelating minerals and the bromelain enzyme which are known to enhance the male libido. Hindus regarded the banana as a symbol of fertility, while Central Americans drink the sap of red bananas as a well-known aphrodisiac.

Basil — Considered a royal herb by the Greeks and noted as a token of love in some parts of Italy, this fragrant member of the mint family has an aroma so potent that it is believed to cure headaches. Basil is said to have a warming effect on the body, while at the same time promoting circulation.

Caviar — Fish and their by-products are linked to the myth of Aphrodite – the Goddess of Love. Persians were the first eaters of this tiny, salty delicacy – calling it chav-jar which loosely translates to “cake of power.” Caviar is believed to cure a variety of ailments and improve stamina and because of the highly-medicinal properties it enhances nerve cells and heightens romantic instincts.

Celery — Containing androsterone (a male hormone), this female aphrodisiac is believed to increase sexual arousal and desire in women.

Chili — This natural aphrodisiac contains capsaicin, which is a chemical that releases endorphins in the body and stimulates the nerve endings, making the body highly sensitive to even the lightest touch, while also increasing one’s pulse.

Chocolate — Giving the same high as endorphins, can be consumed in liquid or solid form or in combination with strawberries, champagne or red wine. Eggs — An ancient symbol of fertility, eggs are high in B6 and B5, which fight stress and balance hormone levels. Eaten before sex, raw chicken eggs are said to enhance one’s libido. Figs — Erotic literature often uses this sweet purple fruit to symbolize the female sex organs, because of its suggestive appearance and texture. Ancient Greeks valued figs – which are widely associated with fertility – as more precious than gold.

Fois Gras — A food of luxury, often depicting wealth and fine living, this decadent delicacy boasts a smooth, butter texture. Considered to be an aphrodisiac, given its perceived ties to the well-to-do lifestyle status, it is sure to put you in a rich and a sexy mood.

Garlic — One of the oldest aphrodisiacs on record, despite its pungent aroma, eating raw, crushed garlic is believed to increase men’s sexual desire.

Ginko — Both the leaves and seeds are said to arouse a woman vaginally and heightens orgasms.

Ginsing — This energy-enhancing herb, with its mild stimulating effect, is known to resemble the male organ and even its name means “man root.” Ginsing also relieves stress and opens up sexual possibilities.

Honey — Known as the nectar of Aphrodite, this sweet, sticky, buttery treat is one of the most seductive foods available across the globe. It’s natural sugars contribute to increased energy, as the B-vitamins, enzymes and amino acids help pump energizers through your system. Honey is as much a sensual experience (especially when drizzled warm over one’s body) as it is a delicious indulgence (such as rubbing it into the skin or, well, consuming it from off the body).

Oysters — Casanova is said to have eaten 50 raw oysters every day – the most commonly known aphrodisiac. Research reveals that raw oysters are very high in zinc – which raises sperm and testosterone production, thus boosting libido. They’re also full of omega-3 fatty acids – which increase one’s overall well-being and are known fight depression. And as a bonus, they’re a source of dopamine – that gratification feeling that one gets during “The Big O.”

Vanilla — When someone refers to “vanilla sex” it is meant to convey a sense of ordinary. But, ironically, vanilla flavors and scents actually deliver an overwhelming euphoric effect – on both genders. As far back as the 1800s, the scent of vanilla was said to increase a man’s sexual propensity and more recently, a study conducted at the Chicago’s Smell and Taste Research Foundation found that vanilla beans are one of the best aphrodisiacs for men. If consumed, vanilla can help one overcome sexual debilitation and improve the performance of the central nervous system. Add a few drops of vanilla essence into steaming hot bath water, use a vanilla based oil for a full body massage, light vanilla scented candles or as an added treat, try adding a few vanilla beans to a glass of champagne.

Wasabi — This Japanese horseradish increases blood circulation in the body and stimulates the nerves of the body, especially in women. Of course, many believe that sushi itself has aphrodisiacal effects.