Coffee Bean Debuts Ice Blended Truck This Summer

From May 20 – September 2, 2013, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® will keep their customers cool during their landmark 50th anniversary celebration with the introduction of a new Birthday Cake Ice Blended® beverage.

Available nationwide, the drink will be offered alongside the brand’s limited time summer Rocky Road and signature Mocha flavors. The Original Ice Blended® drink from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® pioneered the frozen coffee craze. The innovative handcrafted beverage was created in 1989 when a team member at the Westwood, CA store brought a blender from home, borrowed ice from the store next door, and blended together coffee, chocolate powder, milk, and ice.

Today, over 20,000 Ice Blended® drinks are served daily worldwide and over 7 million annually.

Marking the new Ice Blended® flavors’ debut on Monday, May 20, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® hosts its 50th Birthday Celebration with Buy One Get One Free Birthday Cake, Mocha, and Rocky Road Ice Blended® beverage daily June 3 – 7 from 2pm-6pm at participating stores across California and Arizona.

In addition, the brand will designate Thursday, June 27, 2013 as ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® Day’ in Los Angeles, CA.

 “We were ahead of the curve when we first introduced the Ice Blended® beverage, sparking the future of iced coffee drinks” notes President Mel Elias. “In honor of our 50th anniversary and continuing to keep our customers cool and refreshed, we want to tap into our favorite childhood flavors to create new memories with our guests, those young as well as those young-at-heart.”

Treating loyal The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® fans throughout summer 2013, the company’s new Ice Blended® mobile truck will tour Southern California cities including Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego sharing free Birthday Cake, Rocky Road and Mocha Ice Blended® samples.

Coffee Bean Ice Blended Truck Summer Tour

The truck will also participate in various outdoor events including KIIS FM Wango Tango, the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, and the X Games. Fans can track the truck by following @TheCoffeeBean on Twitter and using the hashtag #IceBlendedTruck.

Tying a food truck, and thereby adding mobility, to an already-established brand is an ambitious idea, one that seems fruitful considering the summer tour lineup. Utilizing a hashtag will allow fans to track its whereabouts and streamlined any shared images of the experience.

Will you visit the Ice Blended Truck this summer?

Art, Culture, and Caramel Flan

To add an element of culture and art to the debut of their new beverage, Starbucks took to San Diego to share this exciting new dessert drink with customers.

Beginning January 3, San Diego Starbucks locations unveiled the new Caramel Flan Latte, an espresso beverage inspired by the traditional and much loved dessert, flan. The limited-time, handcrafted espresso beverage is still available in San Diego stores through through March 4.

Caramel Flan Latte

The new Caramel Flan Latte adds a delicious twist to the traditional dessert by combining Starbucks® signature Espresso Roast, freshly-steamed milk, and rich flan syrup, topped with caramel whipped cream and a soft layer of sugary, caramel flan drizzle.

Customers have the option of enjoying the Starbucks® Caramel Flan Latte either Hot, Iced or as a Frappuccino® blended beverage, making it perfect for every occasion.

To celebrate the launch, Starbucks held a special taste event, along with a series of cultural events for the Southern California community during the months of January and February including Noches Culturales (Cultural Nights) and social gatherings by Las Comadres Para Las Americas.

San Diego Starbucks Art

For the Caramel Flan Latte taste event, customers were encouraged to bring friends and family to their nearest participating Starbucks to share moments of togetherness, and experience a bit of their culture and tradition. The event was held at the beginning of the month, during merienda time between 2 and 4pm, and customers were able to try a special 2 fl. oz. sample of the Caramel Flan Latte.

The Noches Culturales (Cultural Nights) highlighted music and art in the San Diego community, and kicked off on January 18 with an art exhibition by Fabi Munguia, then closed on February 8 with a wrap event featuring a performance by Los Hollywood. In addition, Starbucks joined forces with Las Comadres de Las Americas to hold two Comadrazo discussion sessions in January and February.

“We’re always looking for ways to bring unique offerings and in-store experiences that will enhance the customer experience,” said Gretchen Turner, regional director, Starbucks Coffee Company. “We are excited to offer the delicious and time limited Caramel Flan Latte to our San Diego customers.”

Caramel Flan Latte at Starbucks

The innovative coffee company took opportunity to encourage their consumers to celebrate culture and tradition, in addition to a new beverage. This was a great way to get the community involved and stimulate buzz about a brand and new product.

Which unique dessert flavor should Starbucks sample next?

Get Wine Educated at Total Wine & More’s Tech-Savvy Stores

Total Wine & More is America‘s largest independent retailer of fine wine. They currently operate over 85 superstores across 14 states and are growing rapidly. The typical store carries more than 8,000 different wines from every wine-producing region in the world.

In addition to a world-class selection of fine wines, the typical Total Wine & More also carries more than 2,500 beers, from America‘s most popular beers to hard-to-find microbrews and imports, and more than 3,000 different spirits from every price range and category.

Total Wine & More

Total Wine & More is committed to having the lowest prices on wine, spirits and beer every day. In addition to associates, their staff includes 600 wine professionals, who must demonstrate comprehensive wine knowledge before joining the team.

After coming on board, all wine team members undergo an extensive initial training program, participate in weekly team wine tastings, attend monthly wine-producer seminars, and many travel to prestigious winegrowing regions on company-sponsored trips.

Earlier this year, Total Wine debuted their “next-generation” retail experience in Southern California. The new Laguna Hills store is centered around the latest technologies to enhance its customers’ experience.

Next-generation elements include iPads which allow customers to interact with an app that recommends wine and food pairings, a fully-equipped education center to facilitate wine, beer, and spirits tastings, and flat panel video screens which provide continuous educational content on wine, beer and spirits makers and their trade.

Their main Facebook page has 35,000 fans, and they also have various pages dedicated to specific regions. Fans can learn more about wine and find other related goodies on their Pinterest page, and they also have a great wine blog that helps educates newbies on various aspects of the beverage.

Which wine is your favorite?

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Big Train Takes Healthy Drinking to the Next Level

In a short period of time, Big Train has made great strides in the social space.

The brand, which provides coffee, tea, chai and frappe mixes for both stores and at-home, provides the ability to subscribe, read reviews and purchase products easily straight from the Big Train Facebook page.

When their popular fit frappes debuted, they used Klout to allow social influencers to sample products and relay the verdict to their friends and followers. Because this particular beverage is so unique and is appealing to a wide audience (both the coffee one as well as the health-conscious one), this is a great way to stimulate buzz and create a loyal audience around it, at a relatively low cost.

If you look at their website itself, they’re very transparent about their social media and blog presence. Not only do they have social icons apparent at the top like most do, but they also have a “Social Station” at the bottom where ALL their networks are listed, including lesser-used ones like EAv AND Google+ AND Pinterest, etc. They are everywhere.

On the Big Train blog, they share a variety of content including recipes (and you can also submit your own), news, deals and event highlights.

big train giveaway

If slimming down is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, and you like coffee (who doesn’t?), enter for your chance to win this Low Carb New You in the New Year Basket, featuring a variety of coffee flavors and  mixes, many of which are protein rich!

The gift basket includes:

(For all Fit Frappé drinks: With 21 grams of protein, just 2 grams of sugar and only 130 calories, Big Train’s Fit Frappé Spiced Chai Latte drink mix tastes as delicious as it is easy to make.) 

Spiced Chai Latte Fit Frappé: Classic, creamy taste of honey, vanilla, black tea and exotic chai spices.

Espresso Fit Frappé: Pure Arabica coffee flavor in this energy packed drink.

Mocha Fit Frappé: The perfect combination of decadent Chocolate and Arabica coffee in a café style beverage.

Chocolate Fit Frappé: Rich chocolate flavor with all the benefits of this protein drink without the coffee.

Vanilla Fit Frappé: A classic flavor for non-coffee drinkers who want a great tasting protein drink — also easily used as a protein base for smoothies. No caffeine.

(In addition to having no sugar added, the following two Big Train products are gluten free, contain no trans-fat, no hydrogenated oils and are Kosher and Halal Certified.) 

Vanilla Latte No Sugar Added (NSA) Blended Ice Coffee: NSA Vanilla Latte Blended Ice Coffee frappe mix from Big Train only seems too good to be true. Get all the rich, creamy vanilla latte coffee taste without the guilt.

No Sugar Added Mocha Blended Ice Coffee: NSA Mocha Blended Ice Coffee frappe mix from Big Train seems too good to be true. Get all the chocolate coffee taste without the guilt.

Pumpkin Pie Chai Tea Latte: Taste the ultimate Happy Holidays seasonal drink and refresh your body and soul with a delightfully delicious blend of honey, creamy pumpkin, black tea and exotic spices.

Honey Lemon Shaken Iced Tea: Sweetened with real honey, Lemon Honey Shaken Iced Tea is made with green tea so it’s light, refreshing and packed with beneficial antioxidants.

Mango Passion Shaken Iced Tea: Sweetened with real honey,  Mango Passion Shaken Iced Tea is made with green tea so it’s light, refreshing and packed with beneficial antioxidants. 

Shaken Lemonade: Sweetened with real honey, our Shaken Lemonade is sweet, light, refreshing and tastes like homemade – without the hours of squeezing all the lemons!

Naturals Mocha Blended Ice Coffee: The rich, smooth taste of Mocha Naturals™ has less than 5 grams of fat and 208 calories per 16 oz serving (using 2% milk). Our Naturals™ Mocha Blended Ice Coffee is high in fiber, contains no trans-fat, no hydrogenated oils and is Kosher Certified.

Naturals Coffee Blended Ice Coffee: The rich, smooth taste of Coffee Naturals™ has less than 5 grams of fat and 208 calories per 16 oz serving (using 2% milk). Our Naturals™ Coffee Blended Ice Coffee is high in fiber, GMO free, contains no trans-fat, no hydrogenated oils and is Kosher Certified.

Naturals Caramel Café Blended Ice Coffee: The creamy, sweet taste of Caramel Café Naturals™ has less than 5 grams of fat and 208 calories per 16 oz serving (using 2% milk). The Naturals™ Caramel Café Blended Ice Coffee is high in fiber, contains no trans-fat, no hydrogenated oils and is Kosher Certified.

Hot Cocoa: Gourmet All Natural Hot Cocoa drink mix from Big Train makes a decadent delicious soothing chocolate beverage.

Low Carb Chocolate Chip Cookie: If your sweet tooth is begging for something awesome, just take one bite of Big Train’s rich, chewy Low Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies and you’ll be hooked!

Low Carb Peanut Butter Cookie: If your sweet tooth is begging for something awesome, but the angel on your shoulder is shaking its head, try Big Train’s rich, chewy Low Carb Peanut Butter Cookies.

Which flavor of Big Train beverages (coffee, chai, smoothie, etc.) have you not yet tried that you’d most like to try?

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Champagne Tips: How to Choose a Great One

For many, selecting a good bubbly is one of the more stressful activities of the fall/winter holiday season, second only to participating in the annual family political “discussion.”

Here are three easy ways to make sure your bottle — be it destined for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve or just a fun evening — is a palate-pleaser, guaranteed to impress your date, host, friends or family.


Look for the Phrase “Méthode Traditionelle” on the Label

Thanks to the Treaty of Madrid (1891), only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called “Champagne.” But if you want high-quality bubbly without the accompanying price tag, look for “Méthode Traditionelle” on the label. This means the wine was made using the same rigorous methods by which Champagne is made. And when it comes to sparklers, the better the method, the better the bubbles.

Lighten-up with Blanc de Blancs

If you like your sparkling wine light and dry, look for “Blanc de Blancs” (white of whites) on the label. Most sparkling wine, including Champagne, is made from a blend of grapes, usually Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Blanc de Blancs, however, is made exclusively from Chardonnay, which results in a crisp, lighter-style bubbly.

Seek Out Grower Champagne

Most Champagne houses do not grow their own grapes. The logic is that the best bubbly is made in the cellar (as opposed to on the vine) because, for many producers, the goal is to maintain the “house style,” and make sure the wine tastes the same from year to year. The trade-off, however, is a loss of terroir – flavors that reflect the place where the grapes are grown.

In contrast, Grower Champagnes are artisinal sparklers made mostly using grapes from the growers’ own estates. As a result, the wines are often more interesting, more complex and display more character.

Also, Grower Champagnes are often cheaper because these producers typically focus less on marketing. Look for “RM,” which stands for Recolants-Manipulants (harvest makers), usually hiding in ridiculously small letters on the label.

This post was contributed by The Drink Nation. They strive to cover drink-related news, ideas and events around the country, for an audience of people who also enjoy the camaraderie of a great drink with friends.

Pairing Food and Wine

Wine is an excellent drink to sip with a meal or by itself as a way to relax at the end of a long day. When choosing a wine to go with dinner, many people who do not drink wine regularly are uncertain as to which one to choose.

Servers can be helpful at times if they are familiar with the different types of wine, but more often than not they just give a standard recommendation.

Here is a simple guide to clear up some of this confusion and help you decide when asked: Red or White?

Sipping wine with dinner is not just something to do in restaurants; for some, it is a way of life. France and Italy are two countries that produce some of the best-tasting wines in the world. The different varieties are named for the region where the grapes are grown. The French and Italian people view eating and drinking differently than Americans in the fact that they celebrate a delicious meal and savor a glass of wine.  Food and wine go together.

Red Wine with Beef

The old rule of red wine with beef and white wine with fish and poultry is still true.  The tannins in red wine are strong and are more suited for hearty dishes of beef, game and organ meats.  Tannins are what give wine its tart flavor. Fish, on the other hand, is a delicately flavored meat and requires flavors that are equally light to go with it. A perfect example of this is Beef Stew or Hungarian Ghoulash paired with a hearty burgundy or Bordeaux. Some beef dishes are cooked with red wine so it works perfectly.

Fish or Chicken with White Wine

White wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, Zinfandel and Pinot go well with lightly-flavored fish and poultry dishes, while Champagne and sparkling wines are often served with dessert. White wines produced from white grapes are often flavored with melons, strawberry, pear or pink grapefruit. Sweet wines are good as dessert wines accompanying a plate of fruit and cheese or saucy fruit compote.

Wines for Pasta Dishes

The classic drink for a meal of spaghetti, ravioli or any other pasta with red sauce is Chianti or Barbera.

Red wines made from red or purple grapes are often flavored with black cherries, currants, blackberries, raspberries, plum, vanilla and other spices. Red wines tend to have an earthy flavor with fruit undertones.  Red wine can be sweet or dry.  The more tannin the wine has in it, the flavor is tarter. In the case of blended wines, the tannins are diluted by mixing with sweeter, lighter wines making the flavor smooth and removing the tart flavor. Merlot is a blended wine and goes well with many dishes.

Finding Your Favorite Flavors

If you are new to drinking wine the only way to know what you like is to try them. Many bars and restaurants hold wine tastings quite frequently and the cost is minimal. You are given a small glass of each wine to taste and give your opinion about. This is how many wine sellers introduce new wines is to bring them to wine tastings. A good starter bottle should not cost more than $25 to $50 depending on where it was made.

Bringing Wine to a Dinner Party

This will be easy if you follow the rules above. Ask what the hostess is serving for dinner and you will know the appropriate color and type of wine to bring. White wine, sparkling wine or Champagne is appropriate for a cocktail party or holiday celebration.

Hope this clears up a lot of the confusion associated with wine and food. Now that you have a little knowledge of wine, and how it reacts with food, you will be better equipped to order with confidence at your next dinner meal out.

This guest article was contributed by Melissa Drake. Melissa is passionate about writing on about food and beverages. This article is written on behalf of Wine List Finder  the official wine lists of restaurants and bars across the USA.

Food and Wine Apps to Enhance your Tasting Experience

In our technologically-advanced world, with smart phones and tablets everywhere, apps have become one of our go-to solutions for problems and suggestions.

From apps that direct us to where we can find the best food in a city, to apps that tell us what the weather will be like in a week, there seems to be an app for just about everything we need and want.  And if that is not the case, every day many more apps are being created to fill in any gaps that may be present.

Here are a few food and wine apps that can direct you to fine wine online or at your favorite store, as well as help you enhance your tasting experience.

Have these apps handy when choosing what wine to pair with your dinner or what wine you should choose based upon your preference for taste and color.

Pairing Food and Wine

Sometimes it can be quite confusing trying to figure out what wine to have with your dinner or what dinner to pair with the wine you purchased.

Thanks to an app called Pair It, the guesswork can finally be over.  This easy-to-use wine app allows you to either search for food you’re about to eat or the wine you’re about to indulge in, and then pair it with the perfect food or wine suggestion to suit your needs.

Its wine library is extensive, with over 180 wines from around the world, and the food library is even more complex, with over 1,000 dishes, so you’re bound to find a great match.

Choosing the Perfect Wine

The task of choosing the right wine can be difficult, especially when there is such a wide selection to choose from at the store.

mobile wine app

Though you can search for wine online to get an idea of what you would enjoy most, it can still be difficult to narrow down the choices.  But now, with the Wine Enthusiast Guide app, you can easily and quickly access over 100,000 professional wine reviews from the experts at Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

It even has a section where you can look up terminology related to wine.  In addition, each wine’s description includes its price, style, region, rating, and variety.

Keep Notes

If you do not want to forget how you felt about a particular wine, you will want to get the Tasting Notes app, which allows you to take notes and photos of the bottles you try.

You can even rate the experience and then share it with your friends on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  There are even customization options to create your own lists, so you are not restricted to merely what the app offers.

Whether you found a fine wine online or you tried something new at a restaurant, with this app you will not forget how you felt about each wine.

Learn About Wine

If you want to know the difference between various types of wines, such as what the differences are between Riesling, Chardonnay, and Merlot, the wine app is just what you need.

If you searched for a wine online but are not sure whether or not to purchase it, you can refer to this app, which gives you information on both red and white wines; including their growing areas, aroma, tannins, colour, acidity, synonyms and even pairings so you know exactly what foods will go best with your choice of wine.

This indispensable resource has a very large search index containing over 600 varieties of wine, making it easier than ever to decide what wine to purchase, whether you are searching online or at the store.

Determine what wine you need to purchase based upon your preferences by searching for particular colors, aroma, acidity, and more.

This guest post was submitted by Carlo Pandian. Carlo is a freelance writer and blogs on wine online, food and social media covering everything from Iphone apps to the latest wine bars in London. When he’s not online or cycling around, Carlo enjoys visiting contemporary art exhibitions and meeting up with his friends for a good glass of wine.

Tea Brands Taking Social Media by Storm

Arizona Iced Tea – Fan of the Week

The business world is rapidly evolving and the marketing aspect is no exception to this rule. In fact, marketing is one of the most quickly changing aspects of business. As a product of this fact, social media is becoming increasingly important tool in which all businesses should participate. The beverage industry has utilized social in innovative ways, and there are a few tea companies that are leading in social media above their competition. (Note: the order of this list is not indicative of the ranking of which tea brands are most successful on social media!)

1. Starbucks Coffee
Although Starbucks Coffee is primarily, as its name suggests, a coffee company, they are also a huge seller of tea. Because of their incredible popularity in America, as well as basically every other country in the world, it comes as no surprise that they are leading the social media efforts in tea, even though their focus is on coffee. Starbucks participates on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and continually offers promos online.

2. Honest Tea
According to their mission statement, “Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, truly healthy, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our products, with sustainability and great taste for all.” The main marketing focus of Honest Tea is dedicated to green business practices. Because of this organic focus, they appeal to a younger generation, making it even more important that Honest Tea participates in social media.

3. Lipton Tea
You’ve heard Lipton before—and there’s a reason for it! Lipton Tea is a company known for its long-term success. They are a well-recognized tea company because they have been in the industry for so long and offer a wide variety of tea products that have been developed throughout the years based on the tastes of its fans. It’s important and beneficial to the company that Lipton has continued to develop and update their marketing plan instead of leaving it the same. By taking up social media like Facebook and Twitter—and excelling in it!—they have set themselves apart from other tea companies.

4. Arizona Tea
Along with Lipton Tea, Arizona Tea has been around for a very long time. One of Arizona Tea’s main marketing stances is their natural ingredients. This, much like Honest Tea’s marketing plan, draws in a younger, more progressive and environmentally conscious target market. So social media is, once again, an incredibly important outlet for them. Arizona Tea participates in social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, FourSquare, Tumblr, and PhotoBucket. Because of its wide variety of points of engagement on social media, Arizona Tea is making the best use of social media and is the most influential on these marketing platforms.

5. Big Train
You may not be familiar with Big Train, but it has been around since 1991 and is one of the major powerhouse-leaders in chai tea mixes. From coffee drinks to quick-mixes, it’s a leader of revolutionary and delicious beverages. The company is passionate about entrepreneurial movements and is active on both Facebook and Twitter, offering updates and fantastic Friday giveaways. Big Train caters to all ages through its social media by highlighting its products and talking directly to its fans.

We’re living in a world where even the foods we eat and beverages we drink are promoting themselves in artistic ways. From Lipton Tea’s creative, celebrity-driven commercials, to Peace Tea’s fantastic tweets, tea brands are quickly climbing the social media ranks in popular culture. Which is your favorite?

This post was contributed by Jessica Hernandez. Jessica is an environmental advocate and a contributing author to several sites.

Total Wine & More Introduces Next Generation Retail Experience

Total Wine & More, America’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, spirits and beer, will introduce its new, “next-generation” retail experience in Southern California with the opening of its latest location in Laguna Hills, CA.

Total Wine & More Laguna Hills

Total Wine & More’s Laguna Hills location will offer more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers, including hard-to-find labels and locally produced product.

The beverage superstore has created a unique retail environment centering around the latest technologies to enhance its customers’ experience, according to David Trone, co-owner of Total Wine & More.

Next-generation elements include iPads which allow customers to interact with an app that recommends wine and food pairings, a fully-equipped education center to facilitate wine, beer, and spirits tastings, and flat panel video screens which provide continuous educational content on wine, beer and spirits makers and their trade.

Coming soon, QR codes will provide customers with on-demand video content and will include full details of each product’s tasting profile, ratings and price.

Wine Recommendations“Today’s customers are seeking increased information from retailers about the products they see and like, and Total Wine’s new, ‘next-generation’ environment delivers on all of those fronts,” says Trone, who co-owns Total Wine & More with his brother Robert Trone. “While we continue to focus on delivering market-leading prices, selection, and service, we have expanded our objectives to ensure that we are also technology leaders in our industry.”

The new retail experience in the latest Total Wine & More store begins with flat panel screens at the entrance of the store that stream video content on vintners, their wineries and how the wine is made. At the state-of-the-art tasting bar, customers may utilize Total Wine’s proprietary iPad app, which provides recommendations based on pairing beverages with various meals. Coming soon, customers may utilize QR (quick response) codes to surf the web for product information and price comparisons.

“For example, customers are often seeking suggestions for a wine to pair with dinner,” explains Trone. “Using Total Wine’s app, our customers can input the food they are planning to prepare and the app will provide a recipe as well as multiple recommendations for wines which would pair nicely with the meal.”

Recipes and recommendations may be printed in the store or e-mailed for easy reference while browsing the thousands of wine selections available in each Total Wine Superstore, according to Trone. Total Wine and More Food Pairing App

In addition to the unique iPad kiosk, Total Wine & More’s new retail environment features an updated education center, equipped with wireless communications capabilities.

“One of the features that makes Total Wine unique is our educational ‘Meet the Maker’ series. These sessions give local customers a chance to interact with well-known makers of wine, beer and spirits to taste and learn about the rich history of various beverages,” says Trone. “Through our enhanced retail design, we will now be able to offer these classes with updated graphics and information, enriching the educational experience for our customers.”

In addition to enhanced tastings, Total Wine & More offers classes on various types of wines, beers and spirits. The state-of-the-art education center is also available to be booked for use by local non-profits and businesses at no charge.

Throughout the new, next-generation store, customers will also enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, which Trone says is essential in providing price transparency.

“It might surprise people to know that we really want our customers to have the ability to compare prices,” he explains. “By providing customers with connectivity throughout our stores, we are giving them the opportunity to ensure they are getting the best prices in the market when shopping with us.”

Trone adds that “the idea behind each of these enhancements is to provide a fully integrated and enjoyable customer experience.”

Open Bar BBQ: Great Summer Drink Ideas to Beat the Heat

Summer is all about escape—escape from the heat, escape from the doldrums of nine-to-five, escape from the restrictions of a long winter.

Senses reach overload: the smells of cut grass and barbecue smoke and the caressing nature of a lingering breeze that comforts and cools just enough to make the day bearable.

Nothing defines summer like the shade of an aged oak tree, beneath which lays the napping stranger who has nowhere to go, and every means to get there. Time slows, and the little things in life take precedence.

With summer, heat rides high; and the late afternoon social hour shifts outside for talks around the glowing coals of the family barbecue, while the sizzling grill-top delights provide the soundtrack to the evening.

Moisture trickles delicately down the sides of summer glassware—filled with ice and bubbles, and the seasonal fruits that fit the mood. Sweet relief.

Enjoy these refreshingly cool and simple drink recipes to help beat the heat this summer.

Summer Drinks

White Wine Sangria: An invigorating blend of classic summer delights, sure to please the pallet of any summertime dinner guest.

Ingredients. 1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise; 2 oranges, sliced into ¼-inch-thich rings; 2 lemons, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings; 3 peaches, pitted and cut into 8 wedges, 3 bottles of white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay; 1 liter of sparkling water; ice.

Directions. In a large bowl or pitcher, add the fruit, wine, and allow to sit at room temperature for 4 to 24 hours. When you are ready to serve, add the sparkling water and ice. Serve in a punch bowl with a ladle, and be sure there is fruit in each serving. Serves: 20

June Bugg: A crisp, bubbly, liberating libation of citrus and summer fun.

Ingredients. 3 cups of ginger ale; 4 tablespoons grenadine; 4 tablespoons; 3 scoops of orange sherbet; 6 oz white rum; maraschino cherries, ice.

Directions. In a blender, combine the ginger ale, grenadine, orange juice, rum, and sherbet. Blend until smooth, and pout into ice-filled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Serves: 3

Summer Breeze: A sweet surprise to cool-off with on a spicy summer afternoon.

Ingredients. 1/3 cup of fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish; 2 teaspoons of sugar; 1½ cups of store-bought peach juice; 12 oz of club soda; ½ cup of bourbon; crushed ice, for serving.

Directions. In a bowl or pitcher, combine the mint and sugar. Mash leaves with a wooden spoon until bruised. Stir in the peach juice, club soda, and bourbon. Serve in a cocktail glass over crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig. Serves: 3

Watermelon Cooler: A lip-puckering treat to remind you of all pleasures summer has to offer.

Ingredients. 3 cups of chopped seeded watermelon; ¾ cups of sugar; 2 cups of white grape juice; 1 teaspoon of finely shredded lime peel; ¾ cup of fresh lime juice, chilled; 4 cups of club soda, chilled; fresh mint leaves; watermelon balls for garnish; ice.

Directions. Place the chopped seeded watermelon into a blender, cover and blend until smooth. Strain watermelon puree through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pulp. In a separate large bowl, combine the sugar and mint. With a wooden spoon, crush the mint against the side of the bowl. Add the grape juice, lime peel, lime juice, and watermelon puree, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and stir in the club soda. Serve in cocktail glasses over ice, and garnish with leftover mint leaves and watermelon balls. Serves 9.

Honey Badger: A summer sensation with just enough sweetness to hold on to the day.

Ingredients. 6 cups of cubed honeydew melon; 1/3 cup of sugar; ¼ cup of fresh lime juice; lime peels for garnish.

Directions. In a blender, puree the 6 cups of honeydew melon. Pour the puree through a fine sieve small dish. Place the ½ cup of water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the water from the heat, and stir it in with the puree. Add the fresh lime juice, stir to combine, cover and freeze. Spoon the frozen melon-mix into 6 glasses and add ½ cup of seltzer into each glass. Garnish with the lime peels. Serves 6.

Seaside Zephyr: The summer getaway you don’t have to leave home for.

Ingredients. 3 large mint leaves, minced; 1 teaspoon of sugar; 1 cup of pineapple juice; 1 tablespoon of pomegranate juice.

Directions. Place the mint and sugar into a tall glass and mash them together to muddle. Stir in the pineapple juice, and add enough ice to fill the glass. Add the pomegranate juice, but do not stir. Serves 1.

Summer should be spent relaxing, spending time with friends and family, barbequing, and sipping on the finer side of life. Ignore the pressures of a hot summer day, and succumb to the tranquil call of refreshment and flavor—a sweet surrender any fan of summer can enjoy.

This post was contributed by Bryan Furgison. Bryan is food enthusiast with several years’ experience in the food industry via culinary art and restaurant management. He is an online publisher for the commercial refrigeration retailer Coldtech Commercial, which specializes in prep tables, restaurant supply, commercial appliances.

In Caffeine We Trust

Column Five Media, an infographic design and marketing agency, put together a project to allow people to share the love for two important staples at their company: caffeine consumption and data visualization.

As someone also in the digital marketing space, I think it’s pretty safe to say these two loves are shared by many!

Column Five is releasing 500 prints of an interactive coffee poster, which provides a canvas to track the data of your caffeine consumption over the course of a month.

in caffeine we trust

Included is a set of instructions which outline a few calculations to analyze personal consumption trends. Once monthly tracking is complete, the drinker can use their coffee (or a stronger version thereof) to ‘paint’ their data onto the poster to complete the visualization.

The poster is offset printed on 18×24 Strathmore 140 lb. acid-free heavy weight cold press watercolor paper with black ink. While it’s been geared toward their clients so far, the 500 limited prints are available for purchase ($29.95).

Column Five’s ultimate goal is “to create beautifully designed pieces of data visualization that can be enjoyed in many different mediums: whether print, online, or a personal poster.” They also wanted to create something with which users could interact and have a personalized experience.

Would you be interested in literally being able to visualize your habits?