Thursday, September 18, 2014

FIGHTING BACK AGAINST YELP EXTORTION





Botto Bistro in Richmond is not very concerned about its Yelp rating. 
In fact, in an effort to undermine the reliability of its Yelp page, the five-year-old Italian restaurant is on a mission to be the worst-rated restaurant in the Bay Area.
To achieve this end, Botto Bistro is encouraging all of its customers to leave one-star Yelp reviews; it is even offering deals for anyone who pens a crummy review: 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class. (Hat-tip toRichmond Standard.)
Chefs and co-owners Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo are veterans of the local dining scene, and say that their food is excellent and they run a busy restaurant. 
According to Cerretini, they simply grew tired of the constant advertising inquiries from Yelp and what he dubs “blackmailing” and review manipulation. 

(Sidenote: A judge recently ruled that Yelp has the power to manipulate reviews.)
“I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious,” says Cerretini. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants.”




Relying on Yelp is like relying on a government to look after its citizens.

Yelp may have won its legal case, but what came out of it makes everyone with a brain realize that Yelp reviews cannot be trusted.

The tide has turned against them.


https://www.facebook.com/YelpExtortion




KOREAN KURE: GUK






In Korea the best hangover food is soup; everyone eats soup! 
Korean soups are brimmed to the top with various vegetables, meat or fish and served to you boiling hot. 
It’s eaten with a hearty bowl of rice plunged into the soup bowl itself.




DAN AYKROYD, CRYSTAL HEAD VODKA, & GLYCERIDE






What is it about Vodka that you wanted to get involved in?

Well it's more about why I got into the beverage industry at all and it's really quite simple. I have a beautiful lakeside house in Canada that my ancestors settled in 1826 and the front yard is a glacial lake, 20 miles long, 200 feet deep. We have people come by on their boats and I serve a margarita at my bar but I was working with inferior liquor. I tasted some vodka and I was very tired of the over-perfumed vodkas so I thought "man, that oiliness is so fake and the smoothness is so artificial, there must be away we can produce a less artificial product". So I looked at various vodkas and I found out the most common product, and one that is in pretty much all alcoholic beverages, is glyceride. They don't put enough in to hurt or kill you but glyceride is used in soaps and shampoos and I thought "could we have a vodka without glyceride?" and they said "well, you're going to smell the alcohol and taste it" [laughs]. I thought "well, i'm making a cocktail here, I don't want it to taste like fruit juice" so let's have a beverage where we take the glyceride out. The next thing was the sweetness, I was like "where is this sweetness from" and they were like "that's lemonine, a citrus oil" and I thought "well, wait a minute if I'm making a Screwdriver I don't need citrus oil in my vodka, I'm going to be adding my citrus, if i'm making a Barnard Martini which has vermouth, there's glyceride in vermouth, I don't need a vodka that already has glyceride in it. Let's make a vodka that's a virgin canvas, a blank slate." The next thing they put in is sugar. You don't need any more sugar in alcohol. So we ended up stripping out the sugar, the limonene and the glyceride and came up with a zero additive formula and we won the world spirit competition in San Francisco. Our notes were sweet, vanilla, dry, crisp with a quick flash of heat of the finish and I thought "that's exactly what I wanted to do".

What's your favourite way to drink Crystal Head Vodka?

I like to do the China Head which is two shots of Crystal Head, a shot of Soho lychee liqueur, a little soda water and a sprig of mint and that's a nice tropical drink for the summer. I like the Bartcart Martini, very simple, two ounces of the head, the vermouth just kisses the glass, a little olive juice and shaken - that's what would have been served to a Madison Avenue business man on his way to work in New York in 1955 on the Long Island Railway. And then I like to simply take two ounces of the vodka in a tumbler on ice, then slowly infuse fresh squeezed tangerine juice.

The Vodka is distilled three times through Herkimer Diamonds. What do they add?

I had heard other vodkas had filtered their spirit through diamonds so I was like "I have to do this" because diamonds like that have healing properties in New Age thinking. Now, a chemistry teacher would tell you "pouring alcohol over Herkimer Diamonds does absolutely nothing for the fluid, there's nothing it adds" however we've done tests where we've had people drink the vodka before we've filtered it through the diamonds and they prefer the beverage after. I don't know exactly what it is but it adds a satiny finish to it which I love.



What's your hangover cure?

I don't get a hangover because I drink my own beverage and I never do more than six to eight shots. A guy my size can do eight shots of Crystal Head and not feel anything in the morning because there's no glyceride in it and that's what causes a hangover. I also don't drink to excess. I can't because I'm in this business. I thankfully don't have a problem consuming alcohol but if I were to get a hangover which I had from time to time in my earlier life, I just hop on the Harley Davidson motorcyle and ride for about 40 miles. That usually sorts it out.





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

YELP COLLECTING DATA ON CHILDREN






The company announced today that is has paid $450,000 to settle a suit that accused it of collecting the names and email addresses of children as young as nine without parental consent.

According to the suit filed by the Federal Trade Commission, between the years of 2009 and 2013, the San Francisco-based Yelp willfully gathered information from children who signed up for Yelp accounts and it failed to adequately test its age registration guidelines.





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

VODKA SNOB IS AN OXYMORON






Do you get shirty  when met with the talk that whiskey is posh and all the rest is tosh? Well, with vodka steadily climbing up the super premium ladder, next time you meet those single malt bores, you can square your shoulders and down your drink with attitude. And when the whiskey type drones on about the quality of barley, you can go with the grain and talk rye and wheat. Or get fruity and talk grape and potato.

For all those who think vodka is a flavourless, textureless, colourless liquid that is only a great canvas for a heady cocktail and nothing else beyond, think again. Vodka’s image — from being the elixir of the masses that intoxicated generations of Russians to a refined liquor that could sit proudly at any aristocrat’s table — has been steadily climbing. But it’s since the mid 1990s when marketers came up with luxe aspirational brands that vodka drinking has become fashionable.




CranApple VODKA? (BARF)






Pinnacle Vodka, a leading imported premium vodka brand, has released a new flavor innovation, Pinnacle CranApple Vodka, just in time for autumn festivities. 




Wholesale vendors will be begging bars to stock it, and will throw it in as a freebie for ordering other merchandise they need to move.

The reality is, nobody wants this crap even if you sold it for $1 a shot.



SOBER IN OCTOBER?





According to the website, gosober.org.uk, there are lots of health benefits of a month of booze, and they appear to have been compiled by the Professor of Common Sense at the University of the Blindingly Obvious:
• Increased energy levels, higher productivity
• Clearer head
• No more hangovers
• Sleeping better / snoring less
• Weight loss
• Clearer skin
• Healthier bank balance / Save money
• Sense of achievement
• Fresh approach to alcohol consumption
• Generally feel healthier


(We'll drink to that.)


Monday, September 15, 2014

HANGOVER CURE: THE GREAT BRITISH FRY UP






The average Briton spends over a year of their life nursing a hangover.



ARE CONSUMERS BORED OF FLAVORED VODKA?





As vodka producers release ever-more weird and wacky flavours and general vodka sales have begun to slide, commentators have questioned whether the category has become cannibalised.



A resounding YES.

(Bored with vodka, generally.)



Saturday, September 13, 2014

THIS IS WHY YELP IS AN EXTORTION SCAM





If you bother to read the thousands of negative reviews, a clear impression forms that the company engages in extortion. 

It does so against businesses that either refuse to advertise with Yelp or that quit advertising with Yelp. 

Countless business owners review the company negatively for burying as many positive reviews of their business as possible — while leaving all of the negative ones visible — after they refuse or quit Yelp advertising.




HANGOVER CURE THAT ENRICHES YOU







Okay, you may not want to give up drinking just to save a buck. But if you're having trouble trimming your budget, add up what you're spending on wine, beer, and liquor. You may find the numbers sobering.


Would you give up alcohol to help balance the family budget?

“Yeah, right.”
“Gosh no – it’s what gets us through the week.”
“As if that would ever happen.”
But one other answer stood out, which got to the heart of the matter:
“I quit drinking – and it was like we won the lottery!”
And there’s the rub. We all tend to complain, in an era of stagnant incomes and rising prices, about how we just can’t make ends meet. There is just no place we could possibly find more savings.
But is that really true? 
Consider this: The average U.S. household spent $445 on wine, beer, and spirits in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That amounts to roughly 1% of our household expenditures, and it compares with an average household figure of $268 in 1993.



Barfly - Charles Bukowski






Friday, September 12, 2014

ULTIMATE HANGOVER CURE







STEPHEN KING





Beer. Depression. Cocaine. Typewriting. Suicidal musings. The late-seventies and early-eighties must have been one nightmarish smog for Stephen King, relying on his vices to keep the real horror at bay during a period where he it got so bad that he's since claimed he can't remember writing Cujo. Textbook alcoholic author, one of King's biggest anxieties was the prospect of losing his creative spark if sobriety were ever to win out, which of course, following an intervention at the end of the decade, it did, not sullying his fearsome literary output one bit. He later admitted, “I always drank, from when it was legal for me to drink. And there was never a time for me when the goal wasn’t to get as hammered as I could possibly afford to. I never understood social drinking, that’s always seemed to me like kissing your sister.”

DRINK OF CHOICE - BEER

Beer - his biggest vice of all - was almost always consumed at home. “I didn't go out and drink in bars, because they were full of assholes like me,” he told The Guardian recently.




BRITISH VODKA TRUMPS RUSSIAN VODKA






It is the national drink of both countries and traditionally the finest bottles also originate in eastern Europe.

However the decision of judges at a recent competition to find the world's best spirits has left them spluttering into their shot glasses in the bars of Moscow and Warsaw.

A vodka from Suffolk was deemed to be the best in blind taste tests, beating entrants from scores of countries. 

What's even harder to digest for the Russians and Poles who returned home empty-handed is that the winner Longshore is made by a company which is better known for its beers.




We understand some folks take vodka seriously.

But what's there to taste?



Thursday, September 11, 2014

HST's WORDS on 9/12







The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.
It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive “figurehead” — or even dead, for all we know — but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper.
Nothing — even George Bush’s $350 billion “Star Wars” missile defense system — could have prevented Tuesday’s attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off. Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying.
We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.
This was originally published on Sept. 12, 2001.




NATURAL HANGOVER RECIPES







Banana and honey smoothie for a potassium top-up
One of the main reasons you suffer from a hangover the day after drinking is that your body’s potassium levels have been severely depleted due to the diuretic effects of alcohol.That’s why one of the best ways of curing your hangover is to eat a potassium-packed banana. But let’s face it – when you’re suffering from the hangover to end all hangovers, solid foods are often well and truly out of the ...



ALCOHOL RAISES SUICIDE RISK BY 800 %





A new World Health Organisation (WHO) report found that alcohol can increase the risk factor for suicide by a startling 800pc.
In the UK, the Mental Health Foundation stated that as many as 65pc of suicides were directly related to excessive drinking.
They identified alcohol problems as one of the highest risk factors possible for suicide.




TRUMAN CAPOTE



No one can accuse Truman Capote of failing to mix business with pleasure. The man himself even went so far as to describe his writing process as such: “As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis - I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand”. Ever the extrovert, when not working, the schmoozer’s social activities tended to revolve around some type of upmarket watering holes like the revolving carousel bar inside New Orlean’s Hotel Monteleone - a favourite.

DRINK OF CHOICE - LARGE VODKA AND ORANGE

A screwdriver, essentially, despite the fact he referred to is as his 'Orange drink’.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NEVER TRUST YELP AGAIN





The news: It's long been rumored that Yelp's rating system can be gamed and that negative commenters' anonymity can no longer be protected. But now there's another problem: Yelp is under no obligation to make sure positive reviews appear on the site.
Last week, disgruntled small-business owners who alleged that Yelp withheld five-star reviews to force them to pay advertising fees had their case dismissed by a federal appeals court in San Francisco. And even if the allegations are true, there's nothing illegal about it, according to the court.
This is bad news for both businesses and consumers. Essentially, the court ruling affirmed that it is within Yelp's rights to determine which reviews end up on a business's page — no matter how arbitrary or insidious the rationale. That means businesses may be hurting if they skip out on Yelp's advertising offer, and that customers can't really be 100% sure if what they're looking at is an accurate reflection of a business's performance, which could mean Yelp reviews are effectively useless. 



RAYMOND CHANDLER




“There is no bad whiskey - there are only some whiskeys that aren't as good as others.” Treating the stuff like a modern day blogger would Red Bull, Raymond Chandler would have been the first to admit that he didn’t control his drink, it controlled him. When he was commissioned to whip up the screenplay for The Blue Dahlia in 1945, he got writer's block, forcing him to tell his new studio employers that the only way he could finish the script was to do so while blind drunk, which he duly did. The story goes that Paramount honcho John Houseman, who was earlier invited over for a lunch by Chandler (and by lunch we mean a small meal which involved three double martinis, three brandies and a crème de menthe), was the one who found Chandlder passed out at his desk having finished the script, all neatly stacked next to some empty bottles.

DRINK OF CHOICE – GIMLET

"Half gin and half Rose's lime juice and nothing else”, as described in Chandler’s 1953 classic The Long Goodbye.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

YUP





It only took a decade, but it looks like America is perhaps finally losing its taste for revolting new varieties of flavored vodka. Guess everyone finally realized that candy corn is bad anyway; the only thing that makes it worse is combining it with vodka.
In recent years, vodka makers have been pumping up their profits by introducing new, ever-more revolting flavored varieties. 
And, of course, these monstrosities were very heavily marketed to women, as some combination of dick and/or candy surrogate. 
Marshmallow dildos for everyone!



YELP: LEGALIZED EXTORTION





The courts ruled last Wednesday that if someone pays the site enough, Yelp can legally change the way the restaurant or any business looks. Many business owners are calling this legalized “extortion.”



If people knew how Yelp truly operated, they would not put trust in its reviews.



FILE UNDER: "ABOUT TIME"






After years of massive growth in the US, Vodka sales are slowing, despite distillers increasingly desperate attempts to make their drink go down easier with customers. 
Flavored variants, a common marketing ploy for brands under pressure, are losing their appeal.

The first mass-marketed flavored vodka was Absolute Peppar, released in 1986. 
There’s now a bewildering array, more than 30 from Smirnoff, the most popular brand in the US. 
The past few years have inflicted upon American drinkers such flavors as marshmallow, pumpkin pie, and cookie dough.




HANGOVER CURE: "PURE" VODKA






While the only way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation, Johannes Van Leeuwen, a bioengineering professor of Iowa State University, has developed IngeniOz, a corn-based vodka with zero impurities, which promises to cure a hangover.
The appeal of a vodka with no impurities, touted by its creator as better quality, smoother, and less likely to cause a hangover, has led to men from Clear Lake, Iowa, Bill Astor and Jerry Jrause, to wet their whistles in the vodka industry. 



OSCAR WILDE






How could we forget old Oscar? The playwright’s charming one-liners on the subject of alcohol were only matched by his love for quaffing it. After reportedly developing a habit for drinking it during a stay in Paris, one of his big loves was absinthe; putting up with its mule-kick aftertaste to reap the rewards of its hallucinatory-like nature. His other love? Fully befitting his stature of a man who had a taste for the finer things in life, it was champagne, even in his darkest hour. Morphine lacking the appropriate effect, he eased the pain of his final few days with a melange of opium, chloral and champagne, causing him to quip the bittersweet line, “And now I am dying beyond my means.”

DRINK OF CHOICE - ICED CHAMPAGNE

Served as dry as his wit we’d imagine.



Monday, September 8, 2014

YELPED









STOLI: THE VODKA (WE DON'T STOCK)






The campaign conveys what it means to be "THE Vodka"




We don't need Stoli.

We don't need Russian vodka.

We already stock the world's finest vodka 
(and it's not Russian):

Grey Goose, Ketel One, Ciroc, Tito's, Absolut…

and the best of the bunch…

Cutler's.



POE



Conjuring up excruciatingly grim poetry and bloody literature fit for a Tarantino flick was not the only thing Edgar Allan Poe was partial to. The literary icon also favoured Brandy at a bottle at a time. Having moved to West Point in 1830, Poe’s roommate Thomas Gibson recalled Poe as ‘seldom without a bottle of Benny Haven’s best brandy' - Benny Haven being Poe’s local watering hole. Couple this with his bizarre taste for Eggnog – yes, that drink vile enough to warrant its own torturous use in The Pit And The Pendulum - and it’s surprising that his most-speculated demise came from rabies, rather than the constant battering he gave his pickled liver.

DRINK OF CHOICE - EGGNOG

Poe's eggnog was a family specialty. The recipe was passed down through generations and comprised of seven eggs, sugar milk, whipping cream, brandy and nutmeg.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

FULL NFL TICKET





Open all day Sunday, commencing 10 a.m.



DRINK UP, LIVE LONGER






Stanton Peele, who studies and treats addiction, has published a fascinating summation of the scientific evidence on drinking and health, and it cuts against the grain of much of what you will hear from most public health spokesmen. 
Drinking alcohol, up to two drinks a day for women and four for men (sorry, ladies, that’s what the data shows!), decreases mortality. Drink up and live longer.
The U.S. public health establishment buries overwhelming evidence that abstinence is a cause of heart disease and early death. People deserve to know that alcohol gives most of us a higher life expectancy—even if consumed above recommended limits. (snip)
…the evidence that abstinence from alcohol is a cause of heart disease and early death is irrefutable—yet this is almost unmentionable in the United States. Even as health bodies like the CDC and Dietary Guidelines for Americans (prepared by Health and Human Services) now recognize the decisive benefits from moderate drinking, each such announcement is met by an onslaught of opposition and criticism, and is always at risk of being reversed.
Noting that even drinking at non-pathological levels above recommended moderate limits gives you a better chance of a longer life than abstaining draws louder protests still. Yet that’s exactly what the evidence tells us.
Driven by the cultural residue of Temperance, most Americans still view drinking as unhealthy; many call alcohol toxic. Yet, despite drinking far less than many European nations, Americans have significantly worse health outcomes than heavier-drinking countries. (For example, despite being heavily out-drunk by the English, we have almost exactly twice their levels of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.)




YELP: EXTORTION



The phone calls came almost daily. It started to get creepy.
"Hi, this is Mike from Yelp," the voice would say. "You've had three hundred visitors to your site this month. You've had a really good response. But you have a few bad ones at the top. I could do something about those."
This wasn't your average sales pitch. At least, not the kind that John, an East Bay restaurateur, was used to. He was familiar with Yelp.com, the popular San Francisco-based web site in which any person can write a review about nearly any business. 
John's restaurant has more than one hundred reviews, and averages a healthy 3.5-star rating. But when John asked Mike what he could do about his bad reviews, he recalls the sales rep responding: "We can move them. Well, for $299 a month." 
John couldn't believe what the guy was offering. It seemed wrong.