Category Archives: Regions

Cocktails with Character in Lancaster, PA

A night on the town or a memorable dinner starts with a cocktail – especially one with pizzazz and character, artfully crafted at one of Lancaster, PA’s restaurants. Drinks go beyond your standard rum and coke and classic martini, combining local ingredients with hard-to-find or locally made spirits. Some bartenders are reviving and reinventing the classics, while others are putting new flavors together to create signature concoctions.

Many of these spots have fantastic cuisine to go along with the cocktails for a one-stop-shop for a perfect evening. When you enjoy, please do so responsibly, and take advantage of Lancaster’s Uber and Lyft network.

Annie Bailey’s Irish Public House

At Annie Bailey’s you’ll find the beer and cider selection you come to expect at an Irish pub – but what about cocktails? Well you’re in luck because they’re doing those well too! Making the most of the local farm-fresh offerings, they’ve created cocktails that use goodies from Lancaster Central Market, like RiJuice (cold-pressed juice) and Kauffman’s apple cider.

A summer favorite at Annie Bailey’s are their cocktail popsicles, enjoyed on their sunny patio. When the temperatures start to rise, try a frozen Irish Car Bomb or a boozy rocket pop to beat the heat.

If you happen to swing by for brunch on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the many Bloody Mary and mimosa varieties to choose from. Opt for Old Bay, pepper or one of six other flavored vodkas for your Bloody Mary. If mimosas are more your style, flavor choices range from the classic orange to grapefruit, cranberry, and more.

Horse Inn

The vintage vibes at the Horse Inn will take you back to the 1920s as it served as a speakeasy during Prohibition. When you make your way to one of their two bars, you’ll be greeted by a bartender and cocktail menu inspired by the past – with classic like Tom Collins, Old Fashions and Manhattans made their way plus other beautifully curated cocktails. Not only are their cocktails tasty – they’re also beautiful, and many components are freshly pressed, zested and mixed to perfection.

Must tries include the Pistol Under the Pillow (gin, pressed lemon & grapefruit, vanilla, lavender and egg white) and the Old Fashioned #2 (whiskey of your choice, brandied cherry, orange zest, Angostura & tiki bitters, and demerara).

Don’t be shy – their cocktails may feature some unfamiliar ingredients, but the bartenders are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to selecting the drink to fit your taste.

John J. Jefferies

Embracing a “garden to glass” philosophy, John J Jefferies is concocting fresh, seasonal cocktails to pair with their farm-fresh and sustainable food offerings. Many of the cocktail ingredients are made in house, grown nearby, or distilled in Pennsylvania. Each drink is made with care using freshly squeezed juices and herbs straight from the garden.

Their menu changes with the season and incorporates touches of nostalgia (think drinks like Sidecars and Collins). One of their signature drinks, the Colonial Margarita, features house made apple-raspberry shrub, El Jimador Silver tequila, and fresh citrus sours that are made in-house.

For the whiskey lover, try their award-winning Manhattan with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Carpano vermouth, Laird’s 12 year brandy, Crème Yvette, and barrel-aged orange bitters.

Stoll and Wolfe

New to the cocktail scene in Lancaster, Stoll and Wolfe is celebrating local distilling traditions that date back to 1753. They’re distilling Pennsylvania rye whiskey and bourbon & rye blend that are well-balanced and enjoyable on their own or shine in simple cocktails.

When you visit their tasting room in Lititz, be sure to try one of their creative cocktails like the Rock & Rye (orange, lemon and pineapple infused rye) and the Sazerac (rye, Peychaud’s bitters, and absinthe rinse).

Not a whiskey or bourbon lover? You too will feel welcome when you stop by. Their vodka and gin drinks are just as good. Try the Hold Fast (grilled pineapple, brown sugar, allspice, mint and vodka) or the Negroni (gin, vermouth, and Wilbur Chocolate infused herbal liqueur).

The Pressroom

When in Downtown Lancaster, swing by the newly renovated Pressroom for a night cap or a pre-dinner cocktail. Not only are they serving up an impressive selection of craft beers on draft, they’ve also put their famous Moscow Mule on tap – flavored with lemongrass-ginger syrup and lime.

If the weather allows, their Park Bar will be open in Steinman Park. A table by the fountain, good company and a flavorful cocktail will make for a fantastic evening in Lancaster, PA.

Their cocktails range from simple like the Mountain Pass (calvados, gentian liquor, Genepy, and hopped grapefruit bitters) to complex like the Good Medicine (blended scotch, honey-ginger syrup, lemon, Laphroaig mist, black pepper tincture).

Thistle Finch Distillery

For the ultimate cocktail experience, why not go to the source? Thistle Finch Distillery is crafting small batch white rye whiskey, gin, vodka, and straight rye whiskey here in Downtown Lancaster. With a visit to their tasting room, you can get a taste of the finished product, straight up or in an artfully crafted cocktail.

To capture the respect and time put into the spirits, Thistle Finch pairs them with house made infusions to create beautifully simple cocktails. With their vodka, they’ve created the Coming up Roses – rose vodka, house-made rosemary syrup, pressed cranberries and lemon. To highlight their rye whiskey try the classic Old Fashioned – straight rye whiskey, house made Demerara syrup, house made bitters and a twist of orange.

Thistle Finch even hosts a cocktail contest, where local bartenders are challenged to create cocktails using their locally made spirits. Cocktail connoisseurs could stop by to taste the contending drinks and support this fantastic local spot.

Forbes names Lancaster, PA as one of the “10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018”

Looking for a hip city to explore this summer or even for a weekend during the spring or fall? Why not pick Lancaster – who was just named as one of Forbes’ “10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018.”

What makes Lancaster so cool?

Tucked amongst the beautiful, iconic Amish farmland, Downtown Lancaster has a food scene that’s on the rise. Venture beyond the PA Dutch food for out-of-this-world Italian cuisine and wood-fire pizza at Luca – where Chef Taylor Mason combines the old-world charm and flavors of distant Italy with the ultra-local ingredients grown right here in Lancaster.

Be sure to make reservations ahead of time – the more popular dining times go fast!

Lancaster’s architecture is a big part of the charm. Passionate Lancastrians are transforming old warehouses and buildings to create new spaces for eating, drinking and entertainment. Thistle Finch Distillery and The Fridge are doing just that. Located in the former Walter Schnader Tobacco Warehouse, Thistle Finch is bringing of distilling to Downtown Lancaster, creating rye whiskey, white rye, gin, and vodka – then serving the spirits up in artfully crafted cocktails.

More of a craft beer enthusiast? The Fridge is a cozy bottle shop with an impressive selection of hard-to-find craft, micro, imported and local beer, located right behind the Lancaster Arts Hotel. Pair your beer with a slice of their flatbread pizza (because few things go better together), and cozy up by their fire or enjoy their outdoor space – depending on the weather.

Our vibrant art and theatre scene also adds to the coolness of Lancaster – with a plethora of live performances and galleries to tap into your artsy side. If you find yourself in Lancaster on the first Friday of the month, enjoy the extended gallery and boutique hours, and special performances and exhibits as you get swept up Gallery Row’s creative energy on First Friday.

Live theatre lovers will adore the historic, stunning Fulton Theatre – not just for its broadway-calibur shows, but also for its ornate architecture and rich history. The theater is full of character and stories, much like the shows that take place on its stage.

Outside the wide-array of offerings in Downtown Lancaster, families can experience life on the farm, breathing in the fresh air and even petting lovable animals. Find your way through the corn maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and watch the Strasburg Rail Road train chug by. You’ll love the fresh air and relaxing pace, while your kids will love all the hands-on, farm-centric activities – win win!

And that’s just the beginning – get info on Lancaster’s latest and coolest by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter, and stay in the know.

Resource: Abel, Ann, “The 10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018,” Forbes

Roots & Blues Festival Round-Up

When you think Blues or Jazz music you think of somewhere like Memphis or Louisiana, right? Did you know that Lancaster has its own Roots & Blues Festival? And it is kickin’…

Held in March, this annual festival is back for the 5th year in a row to grace the city with its musical presence. Roots and Blues features over 50 artists from around the world at eight different venues throughout downtown Lancaster. Whether you are an avid Blues fan, or just a casual listener all are welcome to attend!

You can purchase tickets for the whole weekend, one- or two-days, or even one-venue. (If you would like to see any performances on the mainstage you must have a general admission ticket). Tickets are available in advance and it is recommended to purchase them ahead of time… this event is pretty popular among locals and visitors alike.

Ridiculous. #vonsmith #lancaster #rootsandbluesfestival

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The festival showcases all different types of musical genres from Blues, Jazz, and Rock ‘n Roll, to Reggae, Bluegrass, Ska, and even Celtic! Needless to say, there is just about something for everyone to enjoy.

Be sure to take a look at the artists performing a head of time so you can plan a schedule of what to see where. Downtown Lancaster is very walkable, so you should have no trouble getting from one venue to the next to see a performance.

We do recommend you dress in layers; it can be cold here in Lancaster in early March, but the venues can get crowded so you will want to be able to shed your jacket. Also, don’t be afraid to don your fringy boots, embroidered peasant top, or your favorite leather jacket- this is a music festival after all and the City of Lancaster is brimming with creative energy. Feel free to flaunt your personal style.

If listening to all that music makes you hungry, there are plenty of places to grab a bite Downtown. Lancaster has loads of ethnic eats, pub fare, and good ol’ American favorites. Some of the venues, like Tellus360 also serve food so you can dine while you listen. We recommend you try the pizza at the Federal Taphouse, and grab a beer while you are there – the Taphouse features 100 beers on tap. If you are in the mood for something cultural try Sa la Thai Restaurant on North Queen Street. For more upscale dining visit Carr’s or The Pressroom– both are delicious. (All are within walking distance of the festival venues).

The Roots and Blues Festival is a great way to experience live music and break out of the winter doldrums. Come for a day, or for the weekend and celebrate the roots of American music and explore all that Lancaster City has to offer.

Locations to purchase tickets in person:

Stan’s Record Bar – 48 N. Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17603 | 717-397-5200 | *Cash Only

CI Records – 226 N. Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17603 | 717-391-7865

The Record Connection – 555 N. Reading Rd., Ephrata, PA 17522 | 717-733-1641

Iko’s Music Trade – 2300 E. Market St., York, PA 17402 | 717-755-2752

How do the Amish Celebrate Christmas?

Visitors are typically curious about the differences between the Amish way of living and ours – things like not using electricity or traveling by horse & buggy or scooter rather than cars. This time of year, that curiosity turns to the Christmas holidays, and wondering how the Amish celebrate Christmas. Do they give each other presents? Do they have a big holiday meal?

To help you understand how the Amish celebrate Christmas, we talked to a local culture expert, Brad Igou of the Amish Experience.

Let’s start off with the obvious one. Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?

Yes, they do, although their customs are much simpler than our “English” customs. They are oriented toward the family and the religious meaning of the holiday.

What do you mean by English customs?

“English” is the term that the Amish use for non-Amish.

Do the Amish put up a Christmas tree, or lights around the house?

There are no lavishly decorated trees or lights around in the house, and the Amish children do not visit Santa Claus to have their picture taken, or tell him their wish list. They do share the making of special Christmas cookies and candies with us though, and they might decorate with greens and candles.

Do the Amish exchange gifts?

School children often pick names and exchange small gifts, such as writing paper or needlepoint kits. Families also exchange some small gifts – and some send Christmas cards, often to their “English” friends. Christmas card making is a very popular tradition – adults & children make handmade “stamped” Christmas cards – some of them are now even sold in Amish stores.

Interesting – if we wanted to pick some up, could we find them at the Amish Experience?

Absolutely, and at the Gordonville Bookstore has an entire “hand-stamping section.”

Do they have Christmas Eve & Christmas Day church services, and sing carols or traditional hymns?

The Christmas church service may or may not be held on December 25, but both Christmas and the following day, sometimes called “second Christmas,” are holidays for the Amish. The second day is usually one to relax or visit others.

Amish children put on a Christmas program each year in their one-room schoolhouse – this is probably the only time you’ll see Amish children on a “stage.” During their Christmas program, the children sing songs, perform skits and recite poems. This is not something that visitors would get to see. Typically just family will attend, and occasionally, they’ll invite their “English” neighbors or friends to come as well.

Okay, last question – do the Amish eat a special Christmas dinner?

Christmas dinners are absolutely a big part of the holiday for the Amish. They are usually large meals, not unlike those served at weddings, and various groups besides the family will hold get-togethers, such as single women, teachers, and others of like interest. These gatherings may continue into January and February of the new year.

Any last comments or tidbits of information for us?

I think that, although we all share our own holiday traditions, what any holiday is about is enjoying cherished memories and traditions with family and friends, as well as remembering those less fortunate than ourselves.

Lancaster County Turkey Tips 2017

When thinking about the month of November, one of the first things to come to mind is Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving, your mind will wander to Turkey. And then when thinking about Turkey, you’ll think of the Turkey Lady (at least here in Lancaster).

Lancaster Central Market is home to a number of various stand holders, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, Market will be packed with people looking to get their hands on the freshest ingredients for their holiday feast.

There are a number of stands that I can think of that would make complete sense to stop at for your meal: Barr’s or Meck’s (depending on your preference) and Ric’s Bread or Thom’s for the bread, celery and onions for your stuffing. The Herb Shop for the various spices you need, and Wendy Jo’s for your pumpkin flavored sweets. But the one stand you just cannot miss for your Thanksgiving meal is The Turkey Lady.

We chatted briefly with The Turkey Lady herself to get some Turkey Tips for you this year – so whether you’re a local, or just passing through, stop at Lancaster Central Market and pick up some turkey sausages, or the whole turkey, and enjoy some local flavor this holiday season.

What are some of your most popular products?

We offer 20 flavors of Turkey Sausage made from boneless skinless turkey thigh meat.  For the upcoming holiday season, we will be featuring our Winter Wonder Turkey Sausage which is a mix of cranberries and apples with a hint of orange.  It works great for breakfast casseroles as well as in your favorite stuffing recipes.  Turkey Snack Sticks, which we offer in 6 different flavors and Turkey Jerky are popular items for those looking for a protein rich snack on the go.

How do people use your products?

We have a mix of ready to eat items which can be enjoyed as is and many essential items to be used as a low fat protein rich substitute for beef or pork in your favorite recipes.  Recipes are posted at our stand featuring flavors reminiscent of the current season and quick weeknight dinner ideas for those with busy schedules.

How do you cook Turkey at your house for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is an intimate traditional affair at my house.  We enjoy our turkey slow roasted with turkey sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans (cooked with smoked turkey hock) and cranberry relish.  My dad and I do the cooking as my mom and husband usually work the day of the holiday.

What tips do you have for someone making turkey the first time?

A cooking bag is a great option as this ensures a moist breast and lots of juice for gravy making – perfect for a first timer wanting to make a positive impression!

Celebration of the Arts in Lancaster

From city to country, contemporary to classic, Lancaster is known for an eclectic variety of art and galleries. This month Lancaster is celebrating the arts in two big ways: Fall ArtWalk [10/6-7] and the Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania [10/21-26], where we will enjoy art all week long and finish out with a celebration of some of Lancaster’s locals.

ArtWalk – October 7-8, 2017

ArtWalk in Lancaster has a long history – with the first one beginning in 1965, known as Art Sunday. Today, ArtWalk is your opportunity to try something innovative – from participating in a public art piece to hearing a new style of music or watching a play, to seeing lots and lots of art.

To view a full list of the nearly 35 featured stops, including special exhibitions, meet-the-artist events, children’s activities and live demonstrations, click here.

Stops we don’t want to miss:

  • Meet the Artists [including some of our personal favorites Freiman Stoltzfus, Christiane David, and Cindy Schlosser]
  • Print Your Own Posters/Coasters at Typothecary Letterpress
  • Lancaster Dream Factory Video Project [stop in the “studio” and let them know what you want to be when you grow up in 5 seconds or less]. We can’t want to see the finished piece of Lancaster hopes and dreams!

Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania – October 26, 2017

This year we are honored to host the statewide awards ceremony, especially with some of our very own receiving awards: Barry Kornhauser – Artist of the Year, and Mayor Richard Gray and Gail Gray – Special Recognition for Public Leadership in the Arts.

This event has been a celebration of the arts since 1980, is free and open to the public. Click here to register for free tickets.

Lancaster has an opportunity to celebrate the arts all week long from October 21-26 showcasing our local talent in a variety of ways. Each day will be dedicated to a specific genre of art:

Saturday – MUSIC
Sunday – PARADE
Monday – DANCE / THEATER / PERFORMANCE
Tuesday – FILM / PHOTOGRAPHY / POETRY
Wednesday – MURALS / PUBLIC ART
Thursday – VISUAL / AWARDS CEREMONY (ceremony is at 7pm at the Convention Center)

To see all the details about this week-long celebration, click here.

National Farmer’s Market Week – August 6-12

Have you been to your local farmer’s market lately? If you are like us, the answer is probably yes, but just in case you need an excuse to go it is National Farmer’s Market Week! Farmer’s markets are stocked with fresh-from-the-fields produce, juicy fruits, local meats, cheeses and dairy products, and delicious baked goods. They allow us to truly “eat local,” and to know where our food is coming from. Through buying your groceries at a farmer’s market you are directly helping the community in which you live and the people that grow and produce the food you eat. Eating locally not only has health benefits, but it is also good for the environment. You can reduce your carbon footprint through eating food produced in your community, because the oil and emissions created by shipping foods are much less.

Not only does Lancaster have a large number of farmer’s markets, we are also home to the Nation’s oldest indoor farmer’s market, Lancaster Central Market. Central Market was recently named in CNN Travel’s top 10 fresh markets in the world. As they say they were “established in 1730 and still fresh.” Walking up and down the aisles you pass a variety of stands selling produce and prepared food from all different cultures. Ranging from traditional PA Dutch chow-chow to African Samosas and everything in between, there are a whole world of flavors under one roof waiting for you to taste and explore.

Different stands and markets have different schedules, but with the large number of farmer’s markets throughout the county you are guaranteed to find one that fits in with your schedule. Plus, Lancaster farmer’s markets open bright and early, so you can stop on your way to work. So why not go?

The Tastiest Tour in Town

What better way to learn about a town or city then by experiencing their food scene. Lancaster County Food Tours is offering visitors (and locals alike) a way to experience Lititz and Downtown Lancaster through a tour combining history, culture, and delicious food.

On a sunny summer day, I made my way to Lititz to meet up with the fantastic Lancaster County Food Tour guides for a tasty three-hour adventure. They opened the tour with an overview of the tour goal: to taste delicious offerings from local restaurants and shops while learning about the town and it’s history. And off we went!

The Come Eat Lititz Tour features a variety of tastes from the savory Scottish egg at General Sutter Inn to the sweet whoopie pie at Sugar Whipped Bakery. Between stops, the guide provided us with great area facts, answered questions, and offered conversation along the way. The balance of history and food was perfect!

While they discourage shopping on the tour to keep everyone moving from location to location on time, I definitely kept a running list of gift and souvenir ideas to pick up once the tour concluded.

While I could go into detail about each stop, this tour is best experienced in person. I will say, my favorite stop was the Waltz Vineyards Tasting Room. The wine tasting was thoughtfully prepared, and the sommelier was an expert in the flavors and processes behind each wine; which showed the passion put into the locally-made wines.

Stops on the Lititz Tour include: General Sutter, Olio Olive Oil & Balsamics, Waltz Vineyards, Julius Sturgis Pretzels, Sugar Whipped Bakery, JoBoy’s BBQ, and Wilbur Chocolate.

Tour Tips:

Comfortable shoes are a must!
There’s quite a bit of walking to be done, which is a great way to experience the town of Lititz and Downtown Lancaster, however, your feet will thank you if you wear comfortable walking shoes.

Check the forecast and dress accordingly.
The Come Eat Lititz Tour takes place over lunchtime so the sun may be at its peak heat. The shops (minus Julius Sturgis) provide a nice break from the heat, but for maximum comfort throughout the entire tour, dress according to the day’s highest temperature.

Come hungry!
By the time we got to Wilbur Chocolate (the last stop), I was pleasantly stuffed, so definitely come ready to eat. If you find that you could use a little something to eat after the tour, feel free to stop by your favorite tour location or another spot that may have caught your eye while walking.

More Tours to Explore:

This summer, Lancaster County Food Tours introduced their Chef’s Table Tour and Market and Beyond Tour, both featuring eats throughout Downtown Lancaster.

The Chef’s Table Tour features small bites and cocktail pairings at five of Lancaster’s fine dining restaurants. The fresh, delectable eats and spirited drinks will have your taste buds buzzing.

The Market and Beyond Tour features tasty morsels from Lancaster mainstays and a tour of historic Lancaster Central Market. This sweet and savory tour will give you a true taste of Lancaster County.

For more information and to book your tour, visit LancoFoodTours.com

Gretna Theatre

Are you a movie or theater lover, but can’t stand the idea of spending a beautiful evening inside? The Gretna Theatre is the perfect spot for you! Located in Mt. Gretna near the lake this outdoor theater puts on spectacular summer productions. The Chautauqua playhouse has continuously operating since 1892, bringing Broadway to our own backyard since 1927. Mt. Gretna was originally established as an arts/resort community. It is now a mix of residential and vacation-rental homes, but the Chautauqua playhouse still draws a crowd in June and July.

Currently running is the popular Tony Award winning show, Man of La Mancha which is based on the novel Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, it begins as famous author, actor, and poet Miguel De Cervantes is thrown in prison. He must convince his fellow inmates not to burn his beloved manuscript by convincing them of its worth before he himself must face a similar trail for his own life. He enlists their help to put on his production, making it a play within a play. The casting of characters is wonderfully done, and the singing and choreography of the show are Broadway caliber. Entertaining the audience as they follow the multiple storylines.

The show runs through July 22 as both matinee and evening productions. But don’t worry if you cannot make it, there are several other productions happening this summer as well. The summer performance schedules can be found here as well as information on other events and educational programs.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Whether by bike or by foot, the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, located along the Susquehanna River, is a peaceful trail worth exploring during your next outdoor adventure in Lancaster.

After lunch at a picnic table by the Columbia Crossings River Trails Center, we walked over to Chiques Rock Outfitter’s outpost to rent bikes for our ride. They offered us two colorful new bikes, and we hit the trail.

After a short ride next to the road, we were surrounded by trees, bushes, streams and tall rock faces. The trail is pleasantly paved and flat which makes it a great ride for novice bikers, families, or those looking for a leisurely walk or jog. The peaceful path winds through Chickies Rock County Park and through a cool rock tunnel.

About two and half miles up the road, we were greeted by the smell of tasty food. The Trailside Trolley was set up along the trail, serving up hot dogs, pulled pork, pizza, ice cream, snow cones and drinks for those looking to fuel up before continuing on the trail.

Continuing on the trail, we passed through a meadow of colorful wildflowers as we approached Marietta. In the town of Marietta, riders have the option of taking the “Downtown Route”, passing by houses, shops, and local watering holes including McCleary’s Pub and The Railroad House Inn. For those who prefer not to ride through town, the trail cuts through a brief undeveloped trail, and rejoins that paved section around mile marker three.

On this day, we didn’t ride past this point, but if you choose to, you’re in for a treat. The trail continues along the river and through East Donegal Township Riverfront Park. Around mile marker nine, you’ll see the White Cliffs of Conoy – a great place to stop and take a picture or two. The developed portion of the trail ends at mile marker eleven in Bainbridge, PA.

Riding the trail round-trip will be a scenic 22 mile ride, however, if you’re looking for a shorter ride, there are multiple parking and access points along the way.

For more information about the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, stop by the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center before your adventure, or check out a map here.

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