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It was fun trying to spot the people on New Year’s Eve who were planning to participate in Dry January – they were the ones ordering doubles all night.

Dry January, of course, is the annual endeavor by people who feel a need to cut down on alcohol consumption by not drinking for the entire month. I’ve said it before: Dry February would be a much better idea because there are three fewer days, but that’s just me.

Drinking less is actually a pretty good idea and it has become something of a year round trend, evidenced by the growing number of zero-proof alternatives offered by brewers, winemakers and even your favorite local bars and restaurants.

The Wilson, the restaurant and bar at the new Meliá hotel in Celebration, is featuring a list of mocktails – also called lie-bations – being served there and at other IGC Hospitality properties. Its contribution to the list is the Taki It Slow, Kokomo, pictured at top, which uses zero-proof rum, banana, passion fruit and lemon.


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It has always been my intention that this website be available free of charge. I never want to put it behind a paywall (in part due to the fear that no one would pay). And thanks to the many sponsors whose banners you see on these pages, I won’t have to.

As you know, I have a very strict advertising policy (and if you don’t know that, you can read it here). And if you think that’s all just talk, Nicole Spooner of Mpact Orlando Marketing – the sole authorized advertising representative for SJO – can tell you how many potential advertisers are turned down each year simply because they don’t qualify (and how many over the years were not asked to renew when their quality flagged). It’s a promise I made to you when I began this project nearly 14 years ago: The ads you see here are only for businesses I recommend.


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Twenty-twenty-two will be remembered as the year Michelin came to town, bringing recognition and deserved legitimacy to restaurants in a way the James Beard Foundation Awards never could. Sure, some of the Michelin inspectors’ choice caused some head scratching, but for the most part all who were named were deserving.

Here are some other highlights of the year as noted on these pages.


MX Guac

MX Taco is the Milk District taqueria from chef Ryan Manning featuring the authentic Mexican cuisine he learned while chef de cuisine at the former Ritz-Carlton Cancun.

Tacos, of course, are the menu’s mainstay, but guacamole plays a big part in many of the presentations. In this edition of Local Flavor, the column I produce in partnership with The Community Paper, Manning shares the recipe he used in Cancun and continues to make at MX (pronounce it “Mex”) Taco.

There’s an art to selecting avocados at peak ripeness, and they tend to grow overripe rather quickly. Most of the avocados you’ll find at the supermarket, the Haas variety, will still be too green to use. Let them sit on the counter or in a fruit bowl until the flesh darkens and the skin gives just a bit when you gently poke it with your finger. If you’re not ready to use them right away, put them in the refrigerator — they will last for days.