William Shakespeare said, "'Tis the forbidden beer only previously available nearby in the state of Georgia that tastes so sweet."
OK, that's not true. But if my boy Shakey had said it, he probably would have been talking about New Belgium Brewery, makers of flagship brew Fat Tire Amber Ale, Ranger IPA, and 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.
Already available in 31 states, the Colorado brewer just launched its line of beers in Florida after building its brewing capacity in the region. (Suggested Florida motto: "Fourth in Population, 32nd in Craft Beer!") The company held a sudsy and well-attended coming-out party last month at the Tampa Museum of Art.
New Belgium's beers are being sold in Tampa at Publix, Walmart, Total Wine, ABC and Winn-Dixie. World of Beer, Mellow Mushroom and Brass Tap also carry the brand.
New Belgium has a devoted following among craft beer fans, an audience that has propelled it to be the No. 3 craft brewer in the U.S. behind Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
New Belgium also is collaborating with Cigar City Brewery in Tampa on a beer that will be part of its Lips of Faith Series, The beer, the company says, will have "a Belgian yeast, tons of citrus hops, peppers and Spanish cedar." Distribution will be throughout Florida later this year.
I'm a plus-sized fan of Ciro's Speakeasy in south Tampa, so when Julius Mayo Jr. suggested visiting a similar spot in Orlando during the Food & Wine Forum, I did not hesitate.
Julius, an O-town food god better known on Twitter as @Droolius, took me to one of his new favorite places, Pharmacy, a hidden gem behind The Table Orlando on Via Dellagio Way.
Pharmacy honors the speakeasy rules: No. 1, There must be no signage. No. 2, There should be a cool entrance (in this case, an elevator door that leads to no elevator); No. 3, The cocktails must be hand-crafted and the food delicious and funky.
Yes, the roasted bone marrow with oxtail and fig marmalade made my knees buckle. Yes, the buttermilk biscuits and Seely's Arc fried chicken made me cry for momma.
But the entire reason for driving to Orlando was justified by the Papa Oaxaca cocktail, Made with Allipus mezcal, fresh grapefruit and lime juice, maraschino liqueur and agave sweetener, it was refreshing with a kick. Then the hammer came down.
The drink was served with a ghost chili lollipop. The intention: As you stir the drink, the spice of the ghost chili pepper infuses the cocktail, counteracting the melting of the ice.
That was one bodacious drink. And the best I've had this year.
For information - and reservations I would suggest highly - go online to thepharmacyorlando.com.
Jack Tar's Apple (Maker's Mark, Applejack, maple syrup and coffee liqueur, with a Granny Smith apple slice for garnish) at Jack Dusty in Sarasota.
Dunedin Brewery Apricot Wheat at Paddywagon Irish Pub in downtown Tampa
Brooklyn Lager at Cappy's Pizza in Brandon.
The Nelly (Cucumber mint infused Tito's Handmade Vodka, elderflower and champagne) at Boca Kitchen Bar & Market.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"It is possibly witchcraft."
- Deadspin.com, commenting on a frozen beer foam machine installed by Japanese beer company Kirin at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The foam, frozen to 23 degrees and swirled atop a glass or cup, insulates the liquid below.
SHAKE AND BAKE
I love booze. I love milkshakes.
Sometimes when a booze and a milkshake love each other, they get together and make a boozy milkshake. At least they do at Datz's Dough palace of temptations on South MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
Flavors include: Drunken bananas foster, bourbon caramel with bacon brittle sprinkles, mocha with espresso and Dorda and Birthday Cake vodka and raspberry purée.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Dough also serves them as a flight of four so you need not sacrifice one to taste the others.
Each milkshake is $10 each, with a flight going for $12.