First Watch expands its cocktail program to more locations

Written by Scott Joseph on .

First watch bloody

This is just what 2020 needed.

First Watch, the Florida-based breakfast and lunch brand, has announced that it is expanding its cocktail program to most of the Central Florida locations beginning Friday, Dec. 11. Twelve more First Watches (Firsts Watch?) will join the Waterford Lakes location, which had been a pilot for the program along with a few other locations across the nation. The soon-to-open Winter Park restaurant, in the former Cinco Tacos + Tequila building, had already announced that it would serve cocktails.

First Watch’s booze initiative does not include a full bar, nor will there be any bartenders on hand. You won’t be able to request a scotch and soda, say, or a dry martini. Instead, the alcohol selection will be limited to the curated cocktails, including the vodka kale tonic, morning glory (vodka, orange juice, lemon, turmeric, ginger and agave nectar), and the Million Dollar bloody mary (pictured at top), made with the popular Million Dollar bacon.

Initially, 13 of the area’s 18 First Watch restaurants will offer the cocktails (others are still awaiting licensing). To see if your location is on the list, check FW’s brunch cocktails page.

Alcohol to-go could be made permanent; and SCOTUS may have created a restaurant loophole

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Prato to go

In March, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order that allows restaurants and other food purveyors with a liquor license to offer alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery. Now two state legislators, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg and Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, have made motions to allow off-site consumption permanently.

The booze would have to be in a sealed container and part of a food order. DeSantis has indicated that he approves of the measure to make the change permanent.

A similar rule has been in place for years. The so-called Merlot to Go rule allows patrons who order a bottle of wine with their dinners to take home any wine leftover, providing the wine is recorked (or the cap screwed back on) and placed in a sealed plastic bag with the dinner receipt showing the wine was part of a full dinner purchase stapled to the bag.

It’s not clear how cocktails and beers might be packaged under the newly proposed provisions.

In any event, it probably would not be made permanent law until June.

No one has pointed this out yet, but a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States may have offered restaurants a path to stay open and serve as many people as they wish, inside or out.

Newsy Nuggets: Knives, toast, whiskey and they call the cookies Mariah

Written by Scott Joseph on .

KnifeSpoon dining

  • Knife & Spoon, the steak and seafood restaurant now in residence at the Ritz-Carlton, is nominated for USA Today’s 10Best list for Best New Restaurant. The John Tesar-led restaurant, which I reviewed in October, is currently no. 2 on the leaderboard behind Charleston’s Tempest. The only other Florida restaurant on the list of 20 finalists is a Pensacola barbecuer called Water Pig, which is my nickname for the guy a couple of blocks over who runs his irrigation too much. You can place your vote until noon Dec. 21 for Knife & Spoon here. You may vote once a day, which seems totally fair.
  • Virtual Dining Concepts, the Orlando-based business from Robert Earl and his son, Robbie, is looking for local restaurants to cook its brands, including two newly announced menus from DJ Pauly D and Mario Lopez. VDC offers delivery-only foods prepared in existing kitchens. It’s sort of like the growing concept of ghost kitchens though the company prefers the term virtual kitchen because it partners with restaurants that may also cook their own menus for the public – ghost kitchens aren’t in restaurants. The two new concepts are Pauly D’s Italian Subs and Mario Tortas Lopez. They will join Tyga Bites from the eponymous rapper and Wing Squad, which is not attached to a celebrity. If you’re a restaurant owner and want to learn about being a virtual – not ghost – kitchen, visit the Virtual Dining Concepts website. Speaking of Mario Lopez, you may recall that he was involved in Winter Park’s Cinco Tacos + Tequila, which is now a ghost restaurant.

Epcot presents a "Taste" of its Festival of the Holidays

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Festivalholidays top

Walt Disney World is continuing with its roster of attenuated Epcot events with its current offering of Festival of the Holidays, now through Dec. 30. Or Dec. 31, whether you believe the Festival Passport or the website.

Officially it’s called Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, sort of the way Stephen Colbert’s program is currently called A Late Show instead of The Late Show. It’s a way of acknowledging that things are different during the pandemic.

And speaking of the ongoing pandemic, I should mention that this Taste of A Festival is sponsored by AdventHealth. Perfect marketing. Go directly to the people most likely to need your services.

I attended a media event to showcase the festivalette inside the social distanceable World Showplace where we were able to spread out and have our very own table. (Still, some of the attendees decided to cram in together around one small table, so I hope there was an AdventHealth representative there to hand out cards.)