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Tips for Drinking in Japan
Just as water is served automatically at a restaurant table in the West, green tea appears magically on every restaurant table in Japan. But what about a more… spirited beverage? Japan’s consumption of alcohol is legendary, and involves its own beverages and etiquette.

Here’s what you need to know before you order.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Sipper-in-Chief, BestTrip TV

Japan has embraced both beer and whisky from the West, and proceeded to develop excellent and well-know brands of both.

But for more local flavor, the two main contenders for an evening’s entertainment in one of the countless bars and restaurants and karaoke lounges throughout Japan you should consider are: sake (sah-kay) and shochu (show-choo). 

Shochu


Shochu originated in Japan at least 500 years ago, and may be even more ‘Japanese’ than sake, even though sake is better known in the West. In fact, while the West sees sake as the essential Japanese spirit, in Japan itself, far more shochu is consumed than sake.

Shochu is sometimes confused with Korean soju, and there are some similarities. They are both distilled beverages made from rice, or sweet potato. Japanese shochu can also be made from barley. Each has its own quite different taste.

If you drink it neat/ straight up or on the rocks, shochu is a stronger drink than sake, averaging 25-30% alcohol.
However, it’s often mixed with cold or hot water, or fruit juice/flavored water, and as a mixed drink, its strength drops substantially.

Sake


Sake is made exclusively from rice, with roots in Japanese tradition dating back to at least the 700’s, and possibly in its earliest forms close to 2000 years ago.

Where shochu is distilled, sake is fermented. You sometimes hear it called ‘rice wine’, but that’s not a good description. In fact, sake is more similar to beer than wine, as it’s made with grain, and brewed and fermented with yeast. Unlike beer, sake then goes through a second fermentation with a certain type of mold.

The results can range from sweet to dry, from clear to cloudy, and are weaker than sochu, with only about 15% alcohol. Although sometimes in the West, cocktails are made with sake, in Japan, it’s almost exclusively consumed on its own.

There’s nothing to warm you up on a chilly winter’s day on one of Japan’s ski hills, like hot sake, served in tiny cups with no handles that warm your hands up in no time.

I’m a big fan of warm sake, but it’s also served at room temperature and also chilled. Right now in the West, the trend-setters and tastings focus on cold sake. It is true that heating can kill subtle flavors, so it’s reserved for less refined varieties. If you are really intent on discovering the differences between different types of sake, room temp is the way to go.
 

Japanese Drinking Etiquette


Never pour your own drink. Your host/ friend/ colleague/ fellow drinker at a communal table will pour your glass for you. You should hold your glass lightly with both hands while your friend pours. 

Similarly, do pour drinks for your friends. 

Here’s where it can get tricky. Alcohol is served in small glasses. Your friends top you up often. So it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’re consuming. 

You know where this is going. So to keep your head on your shoulders, it’s helpful to decline being topped up until your glass is empty, then at least you know you’ve had, for example, three full glasses and it’s time to quit.

It’s hard to decline a drink in Japan; a sense of hospitality, combined with the work-hard/ play-hard psyche of many Japanese people, keeps the drinks flowing. However, holding your hand flat above the top of your glass, or leaving it full, will deflect another hospitable top-up. 

Kanpai! (kahn-pie!) = Cheers!


Start your Trip!

 
Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


If you haven't been to Montreal recently, the Golden Square Cocktail at Montreal's new Four Seasons Hotel (VIDEO ABOVE) is just one reason to book a trip or a pre or post cruise stay in the second-largest French-speaking city in the world.

Montreal still has its European lifestyle, credentials as the fashion capital of Canada, and a UNESCO City of Design.
It's still the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, and a global city of festivals ranging from the Canadian Grand Prix race to the Guinness World Record-holding Montreal International Jazz Festival. And its culinary scene has been celebrating 'local' long before it became a trend.

Celebrating its 375th birthday, Montreal also developed new, high concept attractions, including an observation wheel at the water's edge, a high-tech sound and light walking tour of Old Montreal, and a breathtaking sound and light music in the heavenly Notre Dame basilica.
 
A re-imagined Montreal is breathing magic into Old Montreal, the Old Port, and its signature neighborhood, the Golden Square Mile.

Montreal was once home to ¾ of Canada's wealth, and the Golden Square Mile is where that wealth and prestige lived. This historic neighborhood has been compared to New York's 5th avenue. Streets beginning at the base Mount Royal were lined with the mansions of Canada's elite: Scottish-immigrant shipping and railroad tycoons, bank founders and nation builders.

Remaining mansions have been incorporated into prestigious McGill University, become museums, cultural institutions, galleries, boutiques… and luxury hotels like the new Four Seasons.
 
Here are our favorite luxury hotels in Montreal's Golden Square Mile.
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Four Seasons Hotel Montreal

Montreal's Four Seasons Hotel is uniquely at home in its neighborhood, Montreal's 'Golden Square Mile'.
In the heart of the historic Golden Square Mile, it's a high concept, modern building. The Four Seasons shares a dramatic façade with Golden Square Mile landmark, the luxury department store Ogilvy. There are interior entrances for hotel guests and shoppers can enter the hotel directly onto the fourth, lifestyles floor, where the New York-based celebrity chef Marcus has a namesake restaurant, and already one of the hottest lounges in town.


Inspired by the neighborhood and also very on-trend luxury design, gold and a blush – yes, the color often called 'Millennial Pink'  are a recipe for instant instagram fame. Check out the video for the other ways the Four Seasons Montreal Hotel makes your stay 'golden'.

The World's First Ritz-Carlton

The 'Grand Dame' of Montreal's luxury hotel scene is the Ritz-Carlton. Built in grand style in the early 1900's when the Golden Square Mile was at its height, it was the first hotel to bear what is now a legendary name.

Over its hundred-plus years, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal has welcomed the powerful and famous: Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, Sofia Lauren, who made homemade pasta in her suite, the Rolling Stones who were turned away from the dining room and returned wearing jackets, Elizabeth Taylor, who married Richard Burton for the second time in the hotel's epic, lavender-and-gold Oval Room. It opens out onto the most famous terrace in the city and an urban courtyard garden with its famous duck pond.


Recent additions to the Ritz-Carlton include a namesake restaurant by Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud, and the world's only Dom Perignon champagne bar that shares the legendary Palm Court with the hotel's epic afternoon tea.

Le Mount Stephen Hotel

But one of Montreal's newest boutique hotels has an equally historic pedigree. Le Mount Stephen hotel occupies a National Historic Site; the former mansion of an immigrant who became the President of the Bank of Montreal, the first President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and a founder of Canada's textile industry. George Stephen became Lord Mount Stephen, and his elegant, limestone mansion was considered the most opulent home in Canada, complete with elaborately carved exotic woods, onyx fireplaces and gold hinges that make today's visitors gasp as they walk through the door.


The historic property has undergone a luxe, eye-catching re-purposing that elevates the historic design. Its former main floor parlor and dining rooms have been transformed into one of Montreal's can't-miss bars, Bar George, with plush teal sofas, a life-size bronze pig acting as a lounge table top, with curling stones and other classic Quebec winter sports equipment decorating the restaurant. The hotel lobby and guest rooms are in an attached ultra-modern tower that affirms the city's design credentials.


Montreal's Golden Square Mile has attracted sole Canadian outposts of a number of luxury hotel brands. In two cases, it's a French connection.

Sofitel

Mid-century French luxury hotel brand Sofitel established itself in Montreal in a modern building erected where a Golden Square Mile mansion once stood at the foot of Montreal's vast, city-center green space, Mount Royal.
French 'art de vivre' is the essence of the hotel experience, and staff is trained to take initiative to personalize guest stays. 

The hotel cultivates relationships with cultural institutions and events so it can offer exclusive, VIP experiences in Montreal to their guests. The acclaimed, creative French restaurant at street level is named Renoir after a painting by the French master loaned by a Sofitel executive to the Fine Art Museum down the street.


Climb the mid-century stairs to the mezzanine to look at the custom lobby carpet that's a tapestry of Montreal signature festivals and events.

Le Meridien Versailles

The sole Le Meridien in Canada stays true to the brand's mid-century roots as Air France's hotel brand and reflects its design and lifestyle priorities with art installations including an aerial map of the Golden Square Mile, and an art partner, the Canadian Center of Architecture, located in an historic mansion nearby. It has a bicycle partnership so you can sign out bicycles and even pack a picnic lunch to explore the city.


It also continues the Le Meridien tradition of serving a locally-inspired, signature éclair; Montreal's has maple and Montreal's famous steak spice.

Loews Hotel Vogue

The only Loews-branded property in Canada is right across the street from the new Four Seasons.

When Loews took over the existing Hotel Vogue, it doubled down on the fashion magazine heritage, incorporating framed layouts in guest rooms. Grand entrances into its conference rooms mimic the blue arched doors of iconic couture house Chanel's atelier in Paris.


The new hotel restaurant is a French bistro complete with hand-laid mosaic tile floors and French Belle Epoque design.
 

Start your Trip! 


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Warm Up Indoors with 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails in Canada

InterContinental Hotels in Canada are warming up a cold Canadian winter with 12 festive cocktails through the month of December.

You can celebrate or commiserate over the winter weather while enjoying flavors of the holidays in style at all three InterContinental hotels in Canada: Toronto Centre, Toronto Yorkville and Montreal.

Barchefs at the hotels have created a dozen cocktails marrying seasonal herbs and spices such as cinnamon, rosemary and thyme with the delightful yuletide tastes of cranberries, lemons and apples, pairing them with specially selected rums, gins, liqueurs, vodkas and other spirits. So whether you travel to Toronto or Montreal for business, family, or a winter holiday escape this month, there's a seasonal cocktail in town calling your name.

In the spirit of the season, the barchefs have even given us the recipes, so you can warm up your guests at home in style! Here are three of our favorites.

Cheers!


 

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

A Wee Dram or Two at Glenmorangie Distillery, Tain The beauty of distillery’s whiskies and their distinctive taste and style. read more
Salsa Lessons in Old San Juan When the sun goes down and Old San Juan pulsates to Latin rhythms all over town. read more
A vibrant nightlife awaits you at Clarke Quay, Singapore

After enjoying the number of attractions of Singapore during the day, you must head to Clarke Quay, one of the best places in Singapore to enjoy food, drinks and clubbing.

A maze of a retail stores, restaurants, concept bars, and recreation outlets, Clarke Quay is where you will be dazzled by the beautiful people of the city, flashy lights, and an array of attractions that comes alive at night. Named after the country’s second Governor and Governor of the Straits Settlements Sir Andrew Clarke, Clarke Quay is actually the name of the road along the quay. It was initially developed and officially opened in 1993, and ten years later, it was redeveloped into a major social and tourist area by redesigning streetscapes, facades, and superior shading and cooling systems. Today, Clarke Quay consists of five blocks, and welcomes more than 2 million visitors annually.   

Clark Quay features a number of cafes, food kiosks, restaurants where you can have a taste of the best of Singapore and western delicacies. Some of the restaurants have bars where you can have a happy hour or a drink while enjoying live entertainment. If you want to party, you can dance, drink and interact with the locals in a number of bars, lounges, and dance clubs. You can also sing your heart out at Tang Music Box which features large TV screens, state-of-the-art Karaoke systems. Clark Quay is not only for those who want to paint the town red, it has retail shops where you can purchase stuff while enjoying the bustling atmosphere. 

It will not be surprising if you spend all your nights at the Clarke Quay. After all, it is the coolest place to be in Singapore. Consult your travel agent for more details. 

The 5 Best Roof top Bars in LA Californians love their libation. In fact, apart from maybe Las Vegas, there is no other place in the world where you will find as many merrymakers as in LA. If you ever find yourself in the city, check out the following roof top bars - this might be the highlight of your trip there. read more

Beach Blanket Babylon Cover

 

Whether you’re a Snow White fan or not, Beach Blanket Babylon’s version of this Disney princess searching for her Prince Charming all over the globe will surely make your stomach ache from laughing.

If you want to see Snow White’s story being continuously made more alive with the mock guest appearances of stars like Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Madonna and President Barack Obama, then the $25 to $130 tickets sold at Club Fugazi is worth your travel cash.

Learn more about the Beach Blanket Babylon in this excerpt review written on travel-focused website, called Frommer’s:

The show is a comedic musical send-up that is best known for outrageous costumes and oversize headdresses. It's been playing for over 30 years, and almost every performance sells out. The show is updated often enough that locals still attend. Those 20 and under are welcome at both Sunday matinees (2 and 5pm), when no alcohol is served; photo ID is required for evening performances. Write for weekend tickets at least 3 weeks in advance, or get them through their website or by calling their box office.
 

Catch the rest of the review here, and see if you want to get a good laugh in San Francisco at a night out in Beach Blanket Babylon.
 

So contact us now for more ideas on what to do in a night out in San Francisco!

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