the WGUB Top 10 of 2013

While we aren’t huge advocates of “top 10″ lists or “year-end reviews”, as we’re putting together our plan for 2014 it’s fun to look back and see what made the grade over the past 12 months.  The interesting thing we discovered is that amongst all of our random acts of tomfoolery and occasional silliness, the posts you kept finding your way to the most are our reviews. 

We’ve ALWAYS made it a mission of ours to truly “field-test” each and every item we write about… and apparently that rang true with you the most.  Are we surprised… not really.  What we are, is extremely happy!!!  Going forward into 2014 look for some exciting changes to both the site and our overall style.  We will deliver even more of the stuff you really want, with our own special twist.

And just for fun… here are the top 10 posts of the entire year in case you’re curious:

  1. Review: Nixon Supertide Watch

  2. Review: Bonobos Men’s Clothing (Fit Changes Everything)

  3. Fat or Fiction — 4 Hour Body diet test

  4. PaysteeWhite’s Review: Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water

  5. Review: Frends “The ALLI” (Over-Ear Headphones)

  6. 4 Hour Body: Tim Ferriss Broke My Heart

  7. Review: Jabra Sport Bluetooth Headphones (Demand Your Freedom!)

  8. Review: JayBird BlueBuds X — How Rude?

  9. Review: SOUL by Ludacris SL300WB Hi-Def Headphones

  10. Zombie Survival 101 – Clothes

Happy New Year!!!

Falcon Spirits

Botanica Gin PhotosEvery now and again we get to meet some truly exceptional people and recently we got to add to that list by speaking with the owner of Falcon Spirits. Farid Dormishian is the brain trust behind Falcon Spirits and dare I say one of the finest libations we have ever had the chance of putting in a glass and tasting.  His Botanica Spirit VS. Gin is his true pride and joy.  Not only does the love of the process come through in the final product, but the clear passion for the gin is clear when speaking to Farid.

Farid taken by Michael CohenThere are few times in your life that you can take a walk in the mind of a genius, but I felt that way after speaking to Farid about his gin.  A biochemistry major and U.C. Berkeley (hence the genius comment) his love of distillation begin over 20 years ago as an undergraduate project.  No doubt it was fueled by his love of mixology while working as a bartender to pay for his tuition.  Once Farid became serious about distillation as more than a hobby he progressed from beer to wine to gin.

Distillation Tower Column and CondenseerNow onto the gin and its clear greatness.  The Richmond, CA based Falcon Spirit’s uses only the finest vodka made from non GMO corn as the base for the gin. From there, the gin goes through a triple distillation where 12 herbs and botanicals are infused into the product before resting for 2-3 weeks before bottling. Only the freshest, local ingredients are used throughout the process by sourcing locally grown oranges, Meyer lemons and grapefruit.   And just how loved is this gin before it gets to the bottle?  The largest batch ever made The Still 1was only 200 bottles.  This stems from high production standards which removes the head and the tail from the gin prior to bottling.  A process that the distillation master himself admits makes the process more enjoyable due to the constant gin tasting it involves.

Herbs hanging inside the Kettle for vapor infusionI heap a lot of praise on the owner of Falcon Spirits because there is a lot due.  Over the course of an hour conversation, I learned more about distillation then I could have ever hopped to learn from casual reading.  His gin is really a thing of beauty and is so well thought out and fine tuned that even the most stringent of drinkers will try hard to find fault in it. After all this time you might be wondering how to enjoy this gin?  I personally tried it the first time in a wine glass and let it swirl around for a few minutes.  This allowed the aromas to truly come out.  The initial taste on the gin was clean, with a slight black licorice taste.  The finish of the drink was smooth and had hints of the grapefruit, orange and cucumber. LOGO (1)

Next up we tried the classic gin martini and with the gin slightly chilled, it really added to the depth of the spirit.  On the recommendation from Farid, we tried a 50/50 combination of the gin with a Muscat wine. The sweetness of the wine really played well with the spiciness that the gin has with the licorice flavor.  A truly good drink.  While there are countless gin recipes that we could have tried (and did) probably my personal favorite was another suggestion by the maker.  Simply pouring over ice and sipping on the gin as the ice melted. Not a bad way to kill an afternoon by nursing this ultra tasty drink.

What’s next on the horizon for Falcon Spirits?  Plans are in the works for a Limoncello and Orangecello using the same locally sourced lemons and oranges.  No doubt these two will be designed to be paired with the gin at some point.  Falcon Spirits is also dabbling in rum, which would only make us love them more. While this gin is not going to be the easiest for the everyday person to find, it is well worth searching out.  Here is just a small sampling of where you can currently find the Botanica Spirit VS.Gin.  Most notably it is the gin of choice for the Lake Tahoe Ritz Carlton and stars in the resorts signature gin martini.

Your New Best Workout Friend for 2014

history-of-kettlebell-exercisesDisclaimer..I am not a trainer…I’m a person that struggles day-to-day with eating and working out just like about all of the people out there.  That being said, I’m going to talk about something that I have been doing and that has been rocking my world…

That’s right.  As we move into 2014 and you are looking to shed some poundage, I want to introduce you to your new best friend.  The Kettlebell.

That’s right ladies and gents.  Drop the dumbbells, turn off the treadmill, cancel that 5k.  These little puppies are your ticket to fitness in 2014.  I can think of no piece of workout equipment that gives a better all around workout then our friend the Kettlebell. Sure, it is just a big ball of iron with a handle on it, a thick handle at that, but it really is so much more.

While popular throughout history (learn here) and even more popular as a fitness tool in Russia, the Kettlebell didn’t make its way to the USofA  until the late 90′s.  It has slowly been growing in popularity amongst the inner circle of trainers and now it should be a part of your workout on a daily basis.  I know you are now so pumped up by this idea of full body exercise, and a simple search of the net can give you some good exercises.  But here is a quick rundown of some of my favorite.

lanceswingingkettlebell_webTwo Handed Kettlebell Swing: Targets Shoulders, Back, Hips, Glutes, and Legs.  This beginning level exercise is all about the full body.  Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart.  Hold the kettlebell with both hands between your legs.  With bent knees, lower the bell by driving your hips back while not squatting.  In one explosive motion, drive your hips forward while allowing the kettlebell to swing up to about chest hight.  Keep your glutes and core tight.  12-15 reps.

Kettle Bell High Pulls: Targets Shoulders, Arms, Glutes, and Legs.  This intermediate exercise requires placing the bell between your feet.  With your legs shoulder width apart, squat down and grab the bell with one hand.  Using your hips, push through your heels to stand straight while pulling the bell up to chest hight.  Rinse and repeat 10-12 times per arm.

Kettlebell Deadlift:  Targets: Legs, glutes, Arms, back, and abs.  The days of deadlifitng with a barbell are over.  Squat and grab the bell between your feet while keeping your back flat.  While engaging your core and tightening your glutes raise the bell up until you are standing tall.  12-15 reps with proper form.  Protect your back by using your abs.

kettlebell-exercises-kb-pressOne Armed Kettlebell Snatch: Targets Shoulders, Chest, and Back.  This advanced move starts with the bell between your feet with knees bent.  By exploding onto your toes you pull the bell up to chest level with the elbow tucked in.  From there, it is a simple press up above your head and then return to the ground.  Try for 8-10 reps on each side.

Mind you this is just a small sampling of the stuff you can do with Kettlebells.  They are that versatile and really do hit multiple areas on your body.  If you are one of those people that don’t think you have time for a long workout, think again. With Kettlebells you don’t need more than a half hour.  Doing even these four basic exercises will get your heart pumping, your muscles growing and your fat dropping.  Just remember to hit the protein powder after you are done.

A few tips for the beginner.  Start with a Kettlebell that you can do the reps with.  Don’t start a weight that is too heavy because you will not be able to keep good form or finish the sets.  The Kettlebell will tire out your hands quicker then other weights because the handle is thicker then the traditional dumbbell (an added benefit) so your will notice over time that your grip is stronger.  Another note on grip, squeeze that handle as hard as you can.  It adds to the form and function of the exercise.

If you are looking to buy some for yourself you can always go function from Amazon or expensive and designer.  If you are looking for a set for home, I recommend probably starting at 20 pounds for guys and going up in ten pound increments from there.  Women probably could start at ten and move up by fives.  It really depends on your fitness base.