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HOUSE OF THE DAY: Tommy Hilfiger Co-Founder Sells $100 Million Lake Tahoe Vacation Home At A 50% Discount

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tranquility tahoe joel horowitzAfter seven years on the market, former Tommy Hilfiger CEO and co-founder Joel Horowitz has sold his gargantuan Lake Tahoe estate for $48 million, significantly under the initial $100 million asking price.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a holding company called Tranquil Investments LLC purchased the property.

After lowering the price to $75 million in 2011, Horowitz proposed a deal to potential buyers: He said he would personally finance the purchase for a qualified buyer.

The 210-acre estate, called Tranquility, is the largest on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. In addition to a 27,000-square-foot mansion, it has an indoor glass mosaic pool, private lake, two par-3 golf holes and an indoor golf simulator, horse stables, a wine cellar, a cinema, and separate guest and staff residences.

As 210 acres, Tranquility is the largest private estate on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.



It's incredibly private -- the perfect getaway for a billionaire.



In addition to a 27,000-square-foot main home, there are guest and staff quarters and a 16-car garage.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






10 Hot US Housing Markets To Watch In 2014

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Seattle

As the housing recovery continues into 2014, some new real estate markets will start getting more attention.  

Real estate site Trulia has come up with a list of the top 10 housing markets to watch in 2014. 

Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist, told Business Insider that two main factors were considered when compiling the list. 

"Markets that have faster job growth tend to have stronger housing," Kolko said. "We looked at job growth over the past year, and also over a longer period of time. Housing markets don't only depend on what's happening today in the economy, but where it's going in the longer term."

Construction activity in 2013 was the other main consideration in compiling Trulia's list. 

"We looked at whether builders are betting on local markets, since builders build in markets where they think will be demand," Kolko said. 

The cities that made the list may be surprising to some, and there's a reason for that. The survey excluded regions where homes tend to be overvalued, such as the coastal areas of California. They also didn't consider areas where rates of foreclosure were high, as they are in parts of Florida. 

Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD

Job growth: 2.2%

Construction permits (relative to average for area since 1990): 92%

A Trulia report from December 2012 ranked these Washington, D.C. suburban metro areas as the third strongest market in the country.

And according to an article in Maryland's Gazette, single-family home inventory is down, while demand is way up. Downtown Bethesda, especially, is having a boom — 2,000 new apartments and condos are set to be developed there in coming years. 

Pictured:7224 Arrowood Road., Bethesda ($6,250,000)



Charlotte, NC-SC

Job growth: 3.3%

Construction permits (relative to average for area since 1990): 86%

Real-estate nonprofit Urban Land Institute ranked Charlotte 16th on their list of markets to watch for 2014.

According to the Charlotte Observer, "The continued influx of newcomers to Charlotte, coupled with its stable education system and growing medical sector, makes it attractive to national as well as regional real estate investors...and demand has increased so steadily in recent years that experts now say there aren’t enough homes for sale."

Pictured: 7430 Baltusrol Lane, Charlotte ($4,750,000)

 


Denver, CO

Job growth: 2.6%

Construction permits (relative to average for area since 1990): 94%

The Denver housing market is significantly healthier than it was at this time a year ago. 5,337 homes were under contract this September, compared to 4,457 in September 2012, and average selling prices are up 8% from a year ago. 

 "We are seeing homes sell for prices that exceed any time in our history," Steve Blank of Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty said to Colorado's Inside Real Estate News. "Denver is leading the way."

Pictured: 380 Fillmore Street, Denver ($2,450,000) 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






New York's Transit Systems Ban Booze As They Brace For SantaCon This Weekend

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santacon nyc subway drunk alcohol

Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, and New Jersey Transit systems have all issued a temporary ban on alcohol this weekend as they brace for SantaCon, the annual pub crawl where participants dress as Santa.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs LIRR and Metro-North, said in its announcement that alcohol will not be allowed in its trains and stations from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday, "to maintain orderly travel."

MTA police officers will be patrolling Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, and other stations, it said. They will confiscate illegal liquor, and those caught drinking can face fines up to $50 or 30 days imprisonment.

While the MTA said SantaCon's "focus is on spontaneity and creativity, while have a good time," it noted that "in past years some participants have been cited as a public nuisance."

Business Insider reporter Linette Lopez has a more straightforward argument against the annual event:

SantaCon is used as an excuse to competitively drink hard liquor the same way people drink beer on Super Bowl Sunday.

Now the rest of us New Yorkers can hide, or we can go about our business. By going about our business, though, we implicitly participate in the day. We give these drunken Santas people to torment.

SEE ALSO: Candid Photos Of New Yorkers Riding The Subway In 1960

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The 10 Best Bottles Of Tequila Under $50

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tequila

Tequila gets a bad reputation for being the fuel behind hazy drunken nights and rough mornings, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Our friends at FindTheBest have compiled a list of the best bottles of tequila you can buy for less than $50.

All of the tequilas on the list are made from 100% agave, meaning there are no sugars or other additives taking away from the Mexican plant's natural robust flavor. These are tequilas that are meant for sipping, not shooting, and you won't wake up with that legendary tequila headache the next day. 

To rank the tequilas, FindTheBest used opinions from editors at Wine Enthusiast Magazine and performance reviews from each edition of the San Francisco World Spirit Awards since 2000.

You won't find any mezcal worms at the bottom of these bottles.

10. U4Rick Añejo ($45)

This añejo tequila is aged in oak barrels for two years, a process that gives it its darker amber color. This particular bottle was a double gold medalist at the 2010 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. 

9. Los Azulejos Reposado ($50)

Aged for six months, this reposado tequila picks up smoothness from the oak barrels without losing the signature agave flavor. 

8. Hotel California Blanco ($50)

Like other white tequilas, this label is a clear, sweet liquor with honey undertones. This blanco tequila was also a double gold medalist at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 

7. Talero Silver ($34)

This unaged, slightly fruity white tequila received a rating of 97 out of a possible 100 from Find the Best

6. Cazul 100 Reposado ($30)

According to a silver-medal review by the Beverage Testing Institute, this golden reposado has a "peppery, chocolate cream and mineral finish."

5. Abreojos Silver ($29)

This label is an unaged white tequila with a flavor of sweet lemon-lime agave. 

4. Chamucos Reposado ($45)

Aged for six months in white oak barrels, this reposado is smooth and fruity. 

3. Piedra Azul Reposado ($18)

This reposado, which boasts warm vanilla and caramel flavors, is a steal at $18 a bottle. 

2. Montejima Reposado ($50)

After completing a two-month aging process, this reposado maintains a sweet agave taste that can be enjoyed alone or mixed in a cocktail. 

1. Avion Silver ($40)

Avion was rated the "World's Best Tasting Tequila" at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012, and it received a rating of 100 out of a possible 100 on Find the Best. The manufacturers describe it as "crisp and clean, well balanced and exceptionally smooth."

SEE ALSO: 13 Awesome Gifts For Beer Nuts

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11 Photos That Show How The Middle East Reacted To Heavy Snow

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This week, the Middle East became a winter wonderland. It snowed in Egypt today for the first time in over a 100 years, and earlier this week parts of Israel got blanketed in a winter storm, the likes of which it hadn't seen in at least 50 years, according to The Weather Channel.   

In Jerusalem, schools and offices were closed and public transportation was briefly suspended after heavy snowfall on Thursday, while a storm named Alexa continues sweeping across Syria and Lebanon, bringing with it high winds and freezing temperatures.  

The cold weather has been particularly difficult for Syrian refugees, many of whom are living in tent camps and are unprepared for freezing temperatures. Two children reportedly froze to death in Syria, Euronews reported.

These Reuters photos show how people in the Middle East reacted to the unexpected snow.

Men built a snowman in front of the Dome of the Rock, a sacred spot in Jerusalem's Old City.snowman jerusalem dome of the rockOrthodox Jewish men roll a snowball at a park in Jerusalem.Snowman Middle East

An Orthodox Jewish man builds a snowman in Jerusalem.Orthodox Snowman

Public transport was briefly suspended in Jerusalem and parts of the occupied West Bank after heavy snowfall on Dec. 12, 2013.Suitcase Snow

People improvised cold-weather gear in Jerusalem's Old City.Snow Jerusalem

Schools and offices in Jerusalem and parts of the occupied West Bank were closed after heavy snowfall on Dec. 12, 2013.Old City Jerusalem Snow

For some, the snow was a welcome surprise.Jerusalem paddle ball

Free Syrian Army fighters play with snow in Raqqa, eastern Syria.Two Syrians in Snow

Free Syrian Army fighters throw snow in Khan Tuman, Aleppo.Syria Snow 2

Syrian refugees play with snow in a tented settlement a few kilometers from the border in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Camps like this one have been particularly hard-hit by the cold weather.Syrian Refugees in Snow

Khalid bin al Walid Mosque in Homs, Syria.Mosque in Snow

SEE ALSO: Pictures Of Snow In Cairo For The First Time In 112 Years

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Inside The $7.85 Million Las Vegas Home You Can Buy With Bitcoin

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Screen Shot 2013 12 13 at 3.27.17 PM

Despite Bitcoin's pronounced volatility, a Las Vegas realtor will readily accept the cryptocurreny as payment for an expansive 25,000 square foot Las Vegas estate.

The house can be yours for a mere $7.85 million, or 8,991 Bitcoins (at the time of this writing).

Jack and Laura Summer, the current owners, got the idea to accept Bitcoin from their sons, who are avid users of the currency, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. By accepting Bitcoin, the Summers can quite literally sell their house to anyone in the world. Since Bitcoin is decentralized and not regulated by a single governing body, anyone on the planet can pay with it.

Here's a brief description of the house from the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Its finishing touches include marble from China, Iceland and Brazil. It has a full basement, plus staff quarters with Jacuzzis and a secret garden. Its 25,000 square feet of space has 39 air-conditioning zones fed from a 120-ton cooling tower. The library shelves are made of stainless steel and clad in American cherry wood. From the owner’s suite, you can see five fairways on the Spanish Trail Country Club’s golf course, and Anna Nicole Smith shot a movie in the 2,000-square-foot guest house. Listed at $7.85 million, it’s definitely an outlier, at more than 4,000 percent of the median local sales price for a single-family home.

Since beginning writing this story, the value of Bitcoin has swung such that the house now costs 9,057 Bitcoins.

The house is 25,000 square feet.



Gorgeous marble floors and huge windows help fill it with natural light.



This is just one of a few outdoor seating areas.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






These Photos Will Get You Psyched For The New 'Rich Kids Of Instagram' TV Show

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You may remember "The Rich Kids of Instagram," a Tumblr started last year that documented the escapades of obnoxiously rich teens and young adults who posted snapshots to the photo-sharing service. 

Now, some of those "kids" are getting their own TV show on E!.

And now thanks to The New York Post's Page Six, we finally know who the mega-wealthy 20-somethings will be: E.J. Johnson, Dorothy Wang, Morgan Stewart, Brendan Fitzpatrick, Roxy Sowlaty, and Jonny Drubel.

Since we couldn't wait for the 2014 premiere date, we dug into their Instagram accounts. Here's a sneak peek of what to expect.

Dorothy Wang, 25, is a self-described “funemployed” daughter of Beverly Hills business mogul Roger Wang, the billionaire CEO of Golden Eagle International Group.

She likes to shop.

And has awesome clothes.

She only flies private.

And loves to party.

(Follow Dorothy here)

This is interior designer Roxy Sowlaty. She loves "anything that sparkles."

She hangs out in limos.

 

Goes on really nice vacations.

She also has a cute dog:

And loves to shop.

(Follow Roxy here)

Then there's handsome singer Jonny Drubel. 

He's a fan of selfies.

And partying.

He has awesome vacations, too.

And pretty friends.

(Follow Jonny here)

Blogger Morgan Stewart is also joining the cast. The blonde socialite runs a site called ­boobsandloubs.com.

She jetsets to party in Vegas.

She's also super into her dogs.

Oh, and she has a boyfriend who is…

(Follow Morgan here)

THIS GUY: Real estate executive Brendan Fitzpatrick.

He lives a pretty awesome life.

He's often golfing, partying, or yachting in his pictures.

Or eating ridiculous meals.

And taking pictures of it all with his gorgeous girlfriend.

(Follow Brendan here)

But the real star of the show will be Magic Johnson’s son E.J. Johnson. His Twitter handle is @prince_ej and he is fabulous.

"Tis the season for fur!"

"Just call me Scarlett cause I'm gone with the wind huney!"

"This mug is beat."

"Bad bitches take it to the face! #domperignon #champagne #goinghard #chic #sttropez #france #yachtlife #badbitches #magnum #teamthis"

"Snatched the zanottis for summer yachting bitches!"

TV insiders told The Post that the new show is set up to be a successor to E!'s "Keeping up with the Kardashians" as a "sexier" show. It will premiere in January 2014.

And if you really, really can't wait, don't worry: You can currently pre-order "Rich Kids of Instagram: A Novel" on Amazon.

SEE ALSO: Check Out The Best Of The Rich Kids Of Instagram

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These Pictures Taken From The Tops Of New York City's Skyscrapers Will Give You Vertigo

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intersections navid barty new york city from the sky

New Yorkers who commute through the Bowling Green Station in Manhattan have some heart-racing new photographs to look at.

Seven large-scale images shot by photographer Navid Baraty of Manhattan streets are now on display at the downtown NYC subway station. The exhibit is the latest installation from the MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design, curates art exhibitions within New York's public transportation system four times a year.

intersections navid barty new york city from the skyThe photos are from the engineer-turned-photographer's series "Intersection," a collection of 25 photographs shot from above that he has been working on for the past two years since moving to New York.

intersections navid barty new york city from the skyIn case you thought Baraty was a helicopter pilot or window washer, all the photographs were created by him fearlessly leaning over the edges of skyscraper rooftops.

intersections navid barty new york city from the sky"I started the 'Intersection' series in NYC as a way to really showcase the heart of the city," Baraty told Business Insider. "After seeing countless skyline photos of NYC, I found that the real life of the city can best be captured by pointing the lens straight down from high above."

intersections navid barty new york city from the skyThe MTA found his work online, and contacted Baraty to ask if they could show his work at the station. The photographer happily acquiesced.

intersections navid barty new york city from the sky"You feel the energy and flow of the city — the constant stream of yellow taxis lining the avenues, the waves of pedestrians hurriedly crossing at the change of traffic signals, little figures disappearing into the subway stations, the chorus of honking horns and sirens," Barty said of his work.

intersections navid barty new york city from the skyThe photographer also says he enjoys returning to the rooftops at night: "The feeling of the city from above completely changes from daytime through twilight and into darkness."

intersections navid barty new york city from the skyYou can see even more of the amazing images over at Navid Baraty's website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

intersections navid barty new york city from the sky

DON'T MISS: The Best New Skyscrapers On Earth

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12 Police Cars So Awesome You'll Want To Get Arrested [PHOTOS]

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Lamborghini Italy police

Gone are the days when cops roll around town in beat up Crown Victorias. Today, you can find police officers patrolling the streets in everything from Lamborghinis to Aston Martins. Even the more run-of-the-mill Fords look impressive.

We'ver rounded up the craziest, most impressive police cars from around the world. Some of them are so awesome, we'd consider getting arrested just to take a ride in the back seat.

In 2008, the Italian automaker gave a Gallardo LP560-4 (pictured above) to the Italian State Police. It came with gun racks and a video recording system, according to Autoblog.

The Brits kept things domestic when they added seven specially-equipped Jaguar XF to their fleet. The 3.0-liter diesel engine that sends the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and gets an impressive 34.5 miles per gallon, according to Motor Authority.

jaguar xf uk british police car

 In 2012, Ford introduced the new Police Interceptor sedan and SUV. They're certified for rear-end crashes at 75 mph, and the front doors come with ballistic panels to protect the occupants from gunfire.

ford police interceptor sedan suv

 UK police used this 1985 Land Rover Defender to keep criminals in line.

land rover heritage defender police car

Here in the U.S., cops get their hands on some pretty good rides. Police in Rehoboth, Massachusetts get around town in a Hummer H1:

rehoboth massachusetts police hummer h1

 And their colleagues in Hopkinton, Rhode Island have a Humvee:

hopkinton rhode island police humvee

But no place on Earth does crazy police cars like Dubai. The city's police force has a Chevy Camaro, with a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 426 horsepower.

dubai police chevy camaro ss

And a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG worth about $200,000. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds.

dubai police with merceded

They have their own Lamborghini, an Aventador.

dubai police lamborghini aventador

Then there's the $550,000 Ferrari FF, with a 208 mph top speed.

dubai police ferrari ff

It can't be too bad to spend your patrol in a Bentley Continental GT.

dubai police bentley continental

Aston Martin made only 77 units of its One-77 supercar, so it's an especially impressive addition to the fleet. That may make it the world's most impressive police car.

dubai police aston martin one-77

Does your town have an awesome police car we missed? Let us know on Twitter @BI_gettingthere.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Drive A $370,000 Rolls-Royce Through The Arizona Desert

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Cameron Diaz Buys A New $9 Million Condo In Chelsea

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Cameron Living Room

Cameron Diaz just picked up a chic condo in Walker Tower in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood for $9 million, Trulia reports

Diaz's new pad on West 18th Street has 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a home office and Southeast views of the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower.

The 3,022-square foot residence also boasts in-unit laundry, a built-in humidification system and an ultra-quiet central air conditioning system.

Check out Cameron's new digs:

Cameron Living Room

The kitchen has a wine cooler, speed oven and built-in coffee maker.Cameron Kitchen

The condo has 3.5 bathrooms.Cameron Bath

Each bedroom has an en-suite bathroom.Cameron Bed 1

Here's a view of the master bedroom. Cameron Bed 2

SEE ALSO: HOUSE OF THE DAY: Ethan Hawke Lists Colorful Chelsea Townhouse For $6.25 Million

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The Most And Least Healthy States In America [MAP]

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2013 state health ranking

America's Health Rankings— an annual report released by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention — just announced the healthiest and least healthy states in America.

This year's unhealthiest state was Mississippi, which is known for having some the highest rates in the nation for physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes, as well as infectious diseases such as chlamydia and salmonella.

The healthiest state was Hawaii, which has seen a large decrease in the number of people who smoke and the amount of violent crime.

The annual report also made a map of the healthiest and unhealthiest states in the U.S. Basically, the greener your state is, the healthier it is, while those in the navy blue territory should start working a little more on their fitness.

See the full list of healthiest U.S. states here >>

See the full list of unhealthiest U.S. states here >>

DON'T MISS: The 10 Happiest And Healthiest Cities In America

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Raging Against Expensive Restaurants

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Noma restaurant NOMA, a restaurant in an old warehouse in Copenhagen, was propelled to fame in 2010 when a collection of critics and food professionals anointed it the world’s best restaurant--a title it defended for two more years, alongside its two Michelin stars. René Redzepi, Noma’s head chef, has been hailed as the founder of "New Nordic" cuisine, which reinterprets Scandinavian ingredients to create unexpected dining experiences, such as eating ants and live shrimps, or seaweed and foraged herbs. Like devoted pilgrims, diners now come from around the world to sample Noma’s cerebral, 20-course celebration of seasonal food.

Mr Redzepi has already written a book about his restaurant, which he opened in 2004. "A Work in Progress" is different: affecting the same spartan elegance of the restaurant itself, it comes as three unadorned books in a cardboard box, with recipes, photographs and, most interestingly, his journal from 2011. Written during the year after Noma became famous, in the spare moments between finishing service and falling asleep, this diary is the best portrait yet of the intellectual and emotional challenges of delivering one of the most creative menus in the business.

Who would want to be a stagiaire (trainee chef) in a leading restaurant? It involves 80-hour working weeks, the likelihood of being scarred (mentally and physically) and the prospect of spending far more time with colleagues than with a partner or spouse. To cap it off, a stagiaire is not even paid. Yet Mr Redzepi’s journal goes some way to explaining why his apprentices, at least, put up with the hardship. His kitchen is a laboratory where everyone can experiment. On Saturday nights staff are asked to prepare and present new dishes to the rest of the kitchen. One result which ended up on the menu was an edible mussel shell of flour, squid ink and clam juice.

Noma’s staff has also spent a lot of time performing what he calls "trash cooking"--using the produce and animal bits that most people throw away. One such dish mixes frozen slivers of cod liver with fish scales cooked in clarified butter. What emerges from Mr Redzepi’s chronicles is a portrait of thrift, environmental sensitivity and ingenuity. His kitchen is constantly redefining the flavours available during the barren months of winter. He once had his staff explore ways to serve a carrot. The experiments were astoundingly comprehensive. Someone turned fermented carrots into a cocktail. Smoked dried carrots were the most interesting discovery, though too savoury for the planned dessert.

Mr Redzepi’s journal also captures the drama of feeding other world-famous chefs (such as Ferran Adrià and Fergus Henderson) at his annual MAD symposium, which he has hosted in Copenhagen since 2011. This event brings together chefs, scientists, farmers and activists for two days of foodie seminars and displays.

Such creative approaches to cuisine do not come cheap, for either the participants or the customers. Indeed, Noma nearly went bankrupt, despite its popularity, until Mr Redzepi raised prices and introduced efficiencies. Altogether this trio of books gives the clearest picture yet of the costs, stresses and triumphs of a chef who is striving to turn mealtimes into opportunities for delight and surprise.

Click here to subscribe to The Economist

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René Redzepi's Approach To Food: Carrots And Sticks

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Noma restaurant Tales of toil and triumph from the founder of New Nordic cuisine

A Work in Progress: Journal, Recipes and Snapshots. By René Redzepi. Phaidon; 648 pages.

NOMA, a restaurant in an old warehouse in Copenhagen, was propelled to fame in 2010 when a collection of critics and food professionals anointed it the world’s best restaurant--a title it defended for two more years, alongside its two Michelin stars. René Redzepi, Noma’s head chef, has been hailed as the founder of "New Nordic" cuisine, which reinterprets Scandinavian ingredients to create unexpected dining experiences, such as eating ants and live shrimps, or seaweed and foraged herbs. Like devoted pilgrims, diners now come from around the world to sample Noma’s cerebral, 20-course celebration of seasonal food.

Mr Redzepi has already written a book about his restaurant, which he opened in 2004. "A Work in Progress" is different: affecting the same spartan elegance of the restaurant itself, it comes as three unadorned books in a cardboard box, with recipes, photographs and, most interestingly, his journal from 2011. Written during the year after Noma became famous, in the spare moments between finishing service and falling asleep, this diary is the best portrait yet of the intellectual and emotional challenges of delivering one of the most creative menus in the business.

Who would want to be a stagiaire (trainee chef) in a leading restaurant? It involves 80-hour working weeks, the likelihood of being scarred (mentally and physically) and the prospect of spending far more time with colleagues than with a partner or spouse. To cap it off, a stagiaire is not even paid. Yet Mr Redzepi’s journal goes some way to explaining why his apprentices, at least, put up with the hardship. His kitchen is a laboratory where everyone can experiment. On Saturday nights staff are asked to prepare and present new dishes to the rest of the kitchen. One result which ended up on the menu was an edible mussel shell of flour, squid ink and clam juice.

Noma’s staff has also spent a lot of time performing what he calls "trash cooking"--using the produce and animal bits that most people throw away. One such dish mixes frozen slivers of cod liver with fish scales cooked in clarified butter. What emerges from Mr Redzepi’s chronicles is a portrait of thrift, environmental sensitivity and ingenuity. His kitchen is constantly redefining the flavours available during the barren months of winter. He once had his staff explore ways to serve a carrot. The experiments were astoundingly comprehensive. Someone turned fermented carrots into a cocktail. Smoked dried carrots were the most interesting discovery, though too savoury for the planned dessert.

Mr Redzepi’s journal also captures the drama of feeding other world-famous chefs (such as Ferran Adrià and Fergus Henderson) at his annual MAD symposium, which he has hosted in Copenhagen since 2011. This event brings together chefs, scientists, farmers and activists for two days of foodie seminars and displays.

Such creative approaches to cuisine do not come cheap, for either the participants or the customers. Indeed, Noma nearly went bankrupt, despite its popularity, until Mr Redzepi raised prices and introduced efficiencies. Altogether this trio of books gives the clearest picture yet of the costs, stresses and triumphs of a chef who is striving to turn mealtimes into opportunities for delight and surprise.

Click here to subscribe to The Economist

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The Route Of An Onion Shows Why India Needs Walmart, Carrefour, And Tesco

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India onion inflation

NITIN JAIN is the big man in Lasalgaon, a dusty town a day's drive from Mumbai that boasts it has Asia's biggest onion market. With a trim moustache and a smartphone stuck to his ear he struts past a thousand-odd tractors and trucks laden with red onions. Farmers hurl armfuls at his feet to prove their quality. A gaggle of auctioneers, rival traders and scribes follow him, squabbling and yanking each other's hair. Asked why onion prices have risen so much, Mr Jain relays the question to the market. "Why?" he bellows. His entourage laughs. He says that the price of India's favourite vegetable is a mystery that no calculation can explain.

High food prices perturb some men and women even bigger than Mr Jain. Raghuram Rajan, the boss of India's central bank, is grappling with high inflation caused in large part by food prices: wholesale onion prices soared by 278% in the year to October and the retail price of all vegetables shot up by 46%. The food supply chain is decades out of date and cannot keep up with booming demand. India's rulers are watching the cost of food closely, too, ahead of an election due by May. Electoral folklore says that pricey onions are deadly for incumbent governments.

A year ago it seemed that India had bitten the bullet by permitting foreign firms to own majority stakes in domestic supermarkets. The decision came after a fierce political battle. Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco have been waiting for years to invest in India. They say they would revolutionise shopping. Only 2-3% of groceries are bought in formal stores, with most people reliant on local markets. They would also modernise logistics chains, either by investing themselves, or indirectly, by stimulating food producers to spend on factories, warehouses and trucks, and establish direct contracts with farmers, eliminating layers of middlemen.

On the ground little has happened. Foreign firms complain of hellish fine print, including a stipulation to buy from tiny suppliers. Individual Indian states can opt out of the policy--which is unhelpful if you want to build a national supermarket chain. In October Walmart terminated its joint venture with Bharti, an Indian group. India has reduced the beast of Bentonville to a state of bewilderment. Tesco has cut expatriate staff.

The reaction from politicians has been indifference. "We have liberalised...to the extent that we can. People have to accept this and decide whether they want to invest," said Palaniappan Chidambaram, India's finance minister. Despite the apparently obvious benefits of supermarkets and the experience of most other countries, few Indians seem to want change.

You're not in Bentonville anymore

Just how bad is India's food supply chain? To find out The Economist followed the journey of an onion from a field in the heart of onion country, in western India, to a shopping bag in Mumbai, a city of 18m onion-munchers. The trip suggests an industry begging for investment and reform.

"The system hasn't changed much--it's been the same since the 1970s," says Punjaram Devkar, an elderly farmer in a white cap. For generations his forefathers have grown onions near a hamlet called Karanjgaon. He owns a crudely irrigated six-hectare (14-acre) plot, larger than the national average farm of just 1.2 hectares. He does not want to buy more land; unreliable electricity and labour mean "it is too hard to manage." There are four onion crops each year--in a good season production is three times higher than in a bad one. To hedge his bets he also grows sugar cane. Costs have soared because of rising rural wages, which have doubled in three years. He says welfare schemes have made workers lazy. "They just play cards all day."

Storage facilities amount to a wooden basket inside a shed--at this time of year onions perish within 15 days, although the variety grown in the spring can last eight months. From here one of Mr Devkar's finest is thrown into a small trailer, along with the produce of nearby farms, and taken to Lasalgaon. The roads are mostly paved but the 32km (19-mile) journey takes a couple of hours in a rickety old tractor.

Lasalgaon neophytes will find their eyes water upon entering its market, a huge car park full of red onions, trucks and skinny farmers. Although the auction is run twice daily by an official body, it doesn't look wholly transparent. Some farmers complain that Mr Jain and another trader dominate the trade (Mr Jain denies this). Prices vary wildly day by day and according to size and quality, which are judged in a split second by eye. The average price today is $0.33 per kilo.

Neither traders nor farmers agree why prices have risen so steeply of late. They blame climate change, the media, too much rain last year, too little rain this year, labour costs, an erratic export regime. "Our biggest problem is illiteracy," says one farmer. "We don't know how to use technology." Most folk agree that India needs better cold storage but worry that it is too pricey or that it ruins the taste of onions.

Farmers must pay a 1% fee to the auction house and a 4% commission to the traders. Sometimes they also have to stump up for fees for packing and loading. That takes place at several depots surrounding the market where farmers must drop off their loads and pour them onto tarpaulins on the ground. The onions may wait there for days but once put into hessian sacks they are loaded onto trucks operated by separate haulage firms and owned by intricate webs of independent consortiums.

At 8pm Prabhakar Vishad, a 20-year veteran of the onion-express highway from Lasalgaon to Mumbai, climbs into a battered Tata truck with "Blow Horn" painted in big letters on the back. Over the years the roads have improved and power steering has made life easier. Still, it is dangerous work, says Mr Vishad, who had a bad crash last year. By 6am next morning he sets his bloodshot eyes on Vashi market on the outskirts of Mumbai. It handles 100-150 truckloads of onions a day--enough to satisfy India's commercial capital.

Onions are sometimes unpacked, sorted and repacked, with wastage rates of up to 20%. By 9am the market is a teeming maze of 300-odd selling agents, who mainly act on behalf of middlemen, and several thousand buyers--who are either retailers or sub-distributors. Everyone stands ankle deep in onions of every size. The bidding process is opaque. The selling agents each drape a towel on their arm. To make a bid you stick your hand under the towel and grip their hand, with secret clenches denoting different prices. Average prices today are about $0.54 per kilo. If the seller likes your tickles you hail a porter. He carries your newly bought sacks on his head to a dispatch depot where another group of couriers takes them into the city.

"I'm crazy, like the guys you see in the movies. I don't negotiate," declares Sanjay Pingle. One of the market's biggest agents, he charges the seller a 6.5% commission. The buyers pay loading charges on top of that and a fee to the market. He says business is tough--bad debts from customers run at a fifth of sales and he has to pay interest rates of 22% on his own debts. The solution to the onion shortage is obvious, he says. "In China they keep things in storage facilities--if India had the same facilities as China has, prices would be lower." He says he has seen photographs of Chinese technology on his mobile phone.

By the afternoon thousands of cars and trucks are picking up small batches of onions to take them into Mumbai. In Chembur, a middle-class neighbourhood, Anburaj Madar runs a big sub-distributor. He handles 200 sacks a day which he sells to retailers and restaurants. He buys daily from Vashi market and has space to store only about 12 hours' worth of stock. Rent is dear and he too reckons cold storage destroys the flavour of onions. He marks up his prices by perhaps 20% but says a chunk of what he buys has to be thrown away--it is either damaged or of inferior quality.

For the onions that do make the cut the next stop is a small shop down the road where they are sold for another mark-up of 10% or so. From here Indubai Kakdi is hand-selecting onions with elaborate care. Buck-toothed and ragged, she sells seven kilos a day from a wooden barrow; she makes a 10% margin. She says climate change has made prices more volatile.

Peeling back the layers of truth

The journey of an onion from Mr Devkar's field to the end customer in Mumbai takes only a few days but is enough to make you weep. There are some underlying reasons why prices have risen--higher rural wages have pushed up farmers' costs. But the system is horribly fiddly. Farms are tiny with no economies of scale. The supply chain involves up to five middlemen. The onion is loaded, sorted or repacked at least four times. Wastage rates, either from damage or weight loss as onions dry out, are a third or more. Because India has no modern food-processing industry, low-quality onions that could be turned into paste or sauces are thrown away. Retail prices are about double what farmers receive, although the lack of any standard grading of size or quality makes comparisons hard.

The system is volatile as well as inefficient. Traders who buy onions from farmers may hoard them, but for the supply chain as a whole far too little inventory is stored. As a result small variations in demand and supply are amplified and cause violent swings in price. In the first week of December 2013 prices fell again.

It is easy to see how heavy investment by supermarket chains and big food-producers--whether Indian or foreign--could make a difference. They would cut out layers from the supply chain, build modern storage facilities and probably prod farmers to consolidate their plots.

The shoppers of Chembur agree that Indian onions are the world's tastiest but are fed up with price swings. No one mentions reform as a solution and until there is popular support and political leadership it is hard to see much changing. And what of the last stage of the onion's odyssey, to the stomach? By one stall stands an elderly lady who says she likes the vegetable so much that she doesn't bother to cook it. Instead she chomps on raw onions as if they were apples. At least someone has an eye on efficiency.

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Here Are The Countries Where Tons Of People Are Getting Plastic Surgery [MAP]

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There were 14.6 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures performed in the U.S. alone in 2012, up 5% from the previous year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

But America doesn't top the list of countries with the most aesthetic/cosmetic procedures. Italy, Greece, and, South Korea had the most aesthetic/cosmetic procedures per 1,000 people in 2011, according to a map from International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) and Goldman Sachs.

The U.S., Colombia and Brazil are also right up there.

cosmetic procedure map

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The Craft Beer Market Has Exploded, And Now Brewers Are Worried About A Collapse

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Craft Beer Cover



On a recent Monday morning, the stretch of Route 100 that runs through sleepy Waterbury, Vt., was bumper-to-bumper. The line of Camrys, Sierras, and Outbacks, some from as far away as Illinois, inched forward in the crisp air, their drivers united in a singular goal.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: b-e-e-e-r.

Jen Kimmich sighed at the chaos. She knew what they'd come for. They'd been arriving every Monday for the past two-and-a-half years, more every week, to the point where they now crowded the parking lots of the nearby Phinne nail salon and the Merchants Bank, both on the wrong side Rt. 100, forcing their owners to dash across the state highway to reach their journey's end, a cramped retail shop in a modest beige building that housed the Alchemist brewery.

The Alchemist, which evolved from a brewpub Kimmich started with her husband, John, a decade ago, has brewed a variety of beers, but the one that drew the faithful — 90% from out of state, Kimmich estimated — was the one in the silver-and-black 16-ounce cans, Heady Topper, the double IPA that rules of Beer Advocate's Top 250 beers list.

The beer had sparked a frenzy.Alechmist Photos 2

"We thought people would come to town, go to the pub, and buy a four-pack," she tells Business Insider. "What we didn't anticipate were the droves of people coming to buy as many cases as they could." Just when they thought the mania had peaked, the Chicago Tribune or the Atlantic would do a story, and it would start all over again.

In December, undercover investigators from the Vermont Department of Liquor Control arrested Stephanie Hoffman, a 28-year-old who was trying to sell five cases on Craigslist. Her price? $825 for 120 cans, a roughly 100% premium.

Heady Topper is a fine brew, perfectly bitter with an 8% ABV and a smooth, fruity finish. A bargain at just $3 a can, or $72 per case. People who came to the brewery were only allowed to buy one per visit. Kimmich attempted to manage the chaos while John, whose unkempt dirty blond hair matches his wife's, brewed in the back. And brewed. And brewed.

They tripled production last January, to 36,000 cans a week, but crowds kept coming, and soon there wasn't enough left for the stores and brew pubs around the northern parts of the state. Outlets in south Vermont complained that they couldn't get it at all.

For the Kimmichs, it was getting to be too much. Too many cars, too many people, too much attention. Even the owners couldn't find parking at their brewery.  They made a decision: they would close the retail shop, take a time out and look for a larger space. "It was a mess," Kimmich says. "There were near accidents on Rt. 100. Our neighbors were unhappy. The town was concerned." The decision was big news in the brewing world and beyond; even the AP covered the story. Fans can still find the cans in shops around the area, but the crush at Alchemist has abated for now.

 

An Intoxicating Success

Heady Topper was not an instant hit. In fact, it wasn't even one of the five staple beers the Kimmichs made available when they opened the Alchemist Brewpub in 2003. They didn't think a big, boozy double IPA would sell well enough to have it on tap all the time. Instead, they focused on more traditional styles like pale ales and pilsners, only brewing Heady occasionally. Sales were okay, but it was too strange, too different, and too fresh for most peoples' palates.

The brewpub, meanwhile, was turning into a successful small, local business. On busy nights, people would wait up to two hours for a table, eager to eat some cheap, hearty food and knock back a couple pints in the friendly environment the Kimmichs created. Some of the wealthier Waterbury residents prevailed upon the owners to raise prices, but they refused. They wanted to keep the joint affordable.

"We would always have college students come down from Burlington, and they wouldn't mind waiting," Jen says. "They knew we were a place where they could take the $20 in their pocket and get a plate of red beans and rice, have two beers, and have enough for a tip. That was important for us."

In 2011 the Kimmichs made the decision to open a small production brewery. The plan was to supplement the brew pub with a line of canned beer. They would start with one style and eventually expand to a second. After some discussion, they chose Heady Topper as the first offering because they felt a fresh, hoppy double IPA was missing from the market and the high alcohol content would allow them to sell the beer for more of a premium.

But in August, just a day before the first cans were scheduled to roll off the line, Tropical Storm Irene dumped 


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15 inches of rain on northern Vermont. The Winooski River overflowed its banks. Water rushed through downtown as Waterbury's residents fled to higher ground. More than 200 homes were severely damaged or destroyed. The brew pub was hit hard, its interior a mess of mud and ruined equipment.

As they picked through the wreckage, the Kimmichs realized they had one option: double down on the production brewery and Heady Topper. They received a $100,000 loan from the Vermont Economic Development Authority, and used the money to add tanks, increasing production by 100%. It was a decision borne out of necessity — the Kimmichs were desperate to keep their staff employed.

Heady did a modest business at first, but momentum built quickly, and soon customers were lining up. Initially, it seemed like Heady benefited from being the new kid on the block. "I remember other brewery owners saying, 'Enjoy the wave while it's here,'" Kimmich says. "They thought it would drop off after that initial rush. But here we are two-and-a-half years later and it keeps getting more popular. It's taken a life of its own."

She realizes they could make more money if they raised the price, but she and her husband refuse to do so. It's the same reason they kept prices down at the brewpub all those years ago, even as local businessmen left in a huff because they refused to wait in line for two hours.

"Having money shouldn't give you the ability to enjoy beer more than anyone else," Kimmich declares. "We make a good amount of money on it, but we're not price-gouging. If it got to the point where we were selling it for $8 a can, all of our great fans at Phish shows or up at UVM wouldn't be drinking it the way that they are. To charge $9 or $10 for something that is made and put out in three weeks isn't right. It really takes advantage of the customer. We don't think that it should be a privilege to drink beer. No matter what the demand is, we'll keep it at $3."

 

Craft Beer's Big Moment

On one hand, the story of Heady is simply the tale of a remarkable brew that found a passionate audience. But it's also emblematic of a larger trend, the explosion of the craft-beer category, which has led to a veritable tsunami of small-batch beers created by eager new players like the Kimmichs.

Every year now, craft beer chips away at the market share of the macro-brewers — Big Suds? — as consumers turn away from the Budweisers and Coors Lights of the world in search of more full-flavored beer. In 2012, 13 million barrels of craft beer were produced, up more than 71% from 2006.

In dollar terms, craft beer now represents 10.2% of the domestic beer market, and a report from IBIS World predicts spending on craft brews will grow to $3.9 billion this year.

The trend is accelerating. According to Bart Watson, the staff economist of the Brewers Association, volume was up 13% during the first half of 2013, and that will likely increase in the second half of the year, which traditionally shows stronger sales as consumers turn to fall and winter beers. "It wouldn't surprise me to see craft at 15 percent of the market by volume in the near future," notes Harry Schuhmacher, editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily, citing industries like wine, spirits, and candy, where the premium space is responsible for between 15 and 30% of sales. In the brew mecca of Oregon, craft beer accounts for 47% of beer consumed. While no one expects the rest of the country to match this figure, it's held up as an example of how successful craft beer can become.

126 Brewery Count HRBut even such a healthy rise in consumer demand won't be enough to sustain the many new breweries jumping into the marketplace. For every Alchemist, there are numerous small breweries turning out solid product that will never see a profit. In 2012, more than 400 were launched, for a total of more than 2,400 nationwide. Meanwhile, another 1,500 were in the planning stages — an amount equal to all the new independent breweries that came online between 1996 and 2012.

Just how those new breweries will survive, given the challenges of distribution and limitations of shelf-space and taps, is an open question, especially when even the craft beer market is dominated by a few big players, like Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium. (Boston Beer, which makes Sam Adams, is now so large that the Brewers Association keeps changing the definition of craft beer to keep it in the fold.) Meanwhile, Big Suds has responded with its own versions of craft-like brews such as Blue Moon and Shock Top, made by MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev respectively, which have quickly come to dominate the market for specialty beers.

For now, the buzz is positive, but beneath the surface, there are signs of trouble. Breweries are undercapitalized and the old guard well remembers a brutal stretch between 1996 and 2000 when 300 breweries closed as the market cratered due to a flood of inferior product and fickle consumer tastes.

Besides, as any college freshman knows, even the best keg party is often followed by a brutal hangover.

 

Tapping a Market

220px William_A._Steiger_cph.3c32771The modern craft beer industry has its roots in a little-known bill introduced by Wisconsin Representative William A. Steiger. The businessman-turned-politician, who helped establish environmental protection for the Great Lakes and hired future vice president Dick Cheney as a Congressional intern, sponsored H.R. 1337. Alan Cranston, a senator from California, added an amendment that legalized home brewing on a national level. President Jimmy Carter signed the law on October 14, 1978, and in the early 1980s, a number of states began legalizing brewpubs. The number of breweries, which by 1978 had fallen to an all-time, post-Prohibition low of 89, began to climb.

The recent jump in craft brewing began to the mid-to-late aughts and has recently picked up steam. "Part of it was the cost of capital," says Jason Childs, a professor who teaches The Economics of Beer at the University of Regina. With loans and investors easy to come by, the barriers to entry fell.

Meanwhile, tastes have changed. After decades spent guzzling bland industrial mega-brews, beer drinkers have made the same evolutionary leap as wine- and coffee-drinkers before them, waking up to the pleasures of subtle, carefully crafted flavors. Appalachian State University now offers a degree in Fermentation Sciences, which provides instruction in entrepreneurship and business management in addition to brewing skills. The University of California-Davis and Oregon State University also have programs. The Homebrewing Association claims more than 37,000 members, a jump of 400 percent since 2005.

Katherine Kyle, general manager at The Blind Tiger, one of the first craft beer bars in New York City, remembers when customers would insist there was a misspelling on the chalkboard outside the bar. "I think you mean 'draft' not 'craft,'" they would inform her. She hasn't had that conversation in years.

 

Drinking Games

Even as the craft segment has exploded, overall beer sales are falling, dropping by 0.9% in 2012. Big Suds has responded by creating their own niche brands aimed at securing their dominance. Blue Moon and Shock Top are marketed as as full-flavored, "artfully crafted," Belgian-inspired brews. Not only are the names of their corporate Tenth and Blakeparents conspicuously absent from their packaging, the companies have created new divisions — MillerCoors' Tenth & Blake Beer Company and ABI's Green Valley Brewery — that further blur the associations. The tactics have been controversial, so much so that MillerCoors CEO Tom Long recently felt the need to defend his brand. "We should be proud to make beers that grow and are popular — that's the American way," he told Bloomberg. "Being small and unpopular, what's the utility in that?"

Not that the sniping makes a difference. Both faux-craft brands are massive. Blue Moon's two million barrels would represent around 15% of the craft market by volume. Shock Top, meanwhile, grew 100% between 2010 and 2011 and continues to gain ground.

There are some in the craft community who argue the presence of these beers is a good thing, as  they have increased the penetration of the craft market. "If you asked the world, 'Who has had a Blue Moon?' almost everyone would raise their hand," says Michael Kiser, of the Good Beer Hunting blog. "That fundamentally changes the consumer. That is now a person who is interested in flavor, who is interested in process, in the word Belgian. Craft breweries are building on a wave that was created by these things."

That said, they are also in danger of being inundated by it. A number of successful craft breweries — including Terrapin, Redhook Ale Brewery, Wiemer Brothers Brewing, Kona Brewing Co., and Leinenkugel — have been acquired by or taken on major investments from ABI or MillerCoors.

In 2011, ABI purchased Chicago's Goose Island for a reported $40 million, upsetting many

111089666

 fans. Popular beer bar Hopcat banished the company's beer from its taps, calling them "sell-outs."

But Goose Island benefited from efficiencies of scale, as well as a powerful distribution network. "We make a better beer than ever," founder and former CEO John Hall tells Business Insider. The popular Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout continues to hold the No. 4 spot on Beer Advocate's Top 250 beers.

Even so, such consolidation will likely remain the exception. The bigger battle on the horizon is not between marco and craft but a throwdown among craft brewers themselves.

 

The Small Business of Small Beer

In 2012, former Goose Island "innovation brewer" John Laffler founded Chicago's Off Color Brewing along with Dave Bleitner, focusing on unusual beers with names like Prairie Prairie Dog Attack, Cat-Sip Hibiscus Gose, and Screw You Jeremy Danner.

The Off Color founders have modest ambitions. "Dave's married, and his wife makes more money than he does," Laffler says. "I'm not married, so I need to find a wife who makes more money than I do."

Screen Shot 2013 12 13 at 4.27.04 PMWould-be craft brewers with visions of Clydesdales dancing in their heads are advised to take note. While the craft industry as a whole will grow, the window in which a lucky, talented newcomer might manage to create a national brand — or even make a halfway decent living — is closing fast. All together, the 400-plus craft breweries started in 2012 produced around 100,000 barrels, which is less than Anheuser-Busch InBev produces in a single day and about 4% of Sam Adams' annual output.

New arrivals will find themselves splitting a smaller pot. "I see the industry becoming more local, more regional, more city-specific," Laffler says. "At that point, you're locked in making $35,000 a year and hopefully your business can last 10 years."

Rich Buceta, a former advertising executive with close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, founded Singlecut Beersmiths in Astoria, Queens, the first to open in the borough since the 1950s. Buceta expected 50 to 100 people at the opening; 1,200 showed up.

WATCH: The Rise Of Craft Beer

"We're a real, bona fide local brewery," he points out. "Without naming names, some breweries have names that are nothing more than a marketing ploy. You can argue it's craft beer versus crafty beer, something that's really not what it purports to be ..." (The reference is likely to the highly successful Brooklyn Brewery, which has produced most of its beer upstate since outgrowing its Williamsburg location.)

Underlying such squabbling is a growing sense that a shakeout is on the horizon. "There's still the ethos that we all get along and that we all help each other out," Laffler says, "but our competition isn't Anheuser-Busch. It's not Coors. It's Bell's. It's New Belgium. It's Deschutes. It's these regional breweries that are having less growth in their home markets so they have to expand to foreign territory."

For example, Lagunitas, which produces nearly 500,000 barrels a year in its Petaluma, Calif., brewery, is 
opening a new facility in Chicago, which will have the capacity to produce 1.7 million. That could dramatically alter the beer market in the Windy City. The size of the company allows it to make beer faster and cheaper than the competition.

"At some point, are people going to want to pay $12 per six-pack when they can pay $7 and get a high-quality six-pack from a bigger brewery?" wonders Oregon State University economics professor Patrick Emerson, who runs the Beeronomics blog. In Oregon, he adds, "We're starting to see some closings. As a cold-hearted economist, that's a good thing — it increases the pressure to be exceptional."

Good for consumers, perhaps, but challenging for craft brewers. When Buceta launched Singlecut last year, there were no other craft breweries in Queens. Now there are at least five. Nearly every week, people get in touch asking for his advice about starting a brewery. He rarely responds. Much as he'd like to, it wouldn't be good business to lend a hand to someone who could potentially steal his market share.

"Brewers are going to start having sharper elbows, and you're starting to see cracks in the theory that a rising ship raises all tides in the craft beer world," Schuhmacher says.

The trend is of growing concern to insiders. "We don't really have the emotional tools for dealing with battling the guy down the street rather than Anheuser-Busch," Good Beer Hunting's Kiser acknowledges.

 

"It Will Turn, But You Don't Know When"

Forty-three breweries closed their doors in 2012, including six during a rough two-week span in February. That was up from 37 the previous year, and included Nevada's much-loved Buckbean. Owner Doug Booth, who brewed "Roller Bock" for the Nevada National Guard after they flew the company's flag during a mission in Afghanistan, blamed high costs and the tough economy. "The prices of the ingredients increased, and we really had not planned for that," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal at the time. "We were looking to increase our revenues, but unfortunately, we were too understaffed to manage it properly."

Greg Koch, who founded San Diego's Stone Brewing Company in 1996, thinks plenty more closings are on the horizon: "We are giving the consumer a dizzying array of choices, which range from super-high quality to rather mediocre stuff," he points out. "You can expect that consumer fatigue will show up again, just like it did in 1996. It's like a school of fish. It will turn, but you don't know when."

Off Color's Laffler shares Koch's concerns. "I'm really worried that a lot people are going to get into trouble in the next couple of years," he says. "They are risking a lot of money, whether it's their own or other peoples'. These are peoples' jobs. It's not a hobby. This is a profession.

IMG_1014.JPG"Everybody's undercapitalized," Laffler adds. "F**k, I'm undercapitalized. I think there are a lot of rosy-colored glasses out there. A lot of people look at craft beer as a way to make money or be successful. Everyone has been growing at 10, 20, 100, 200 percent a year. Some new brewery founders think that they are going to do that, too. The world of beer was much different two or three years ago."

Koch calls it "an age of irrational exuberance."

The Stone founder, always quick with a metaphor, compares the craft industry to a young San Diego tree, one that came of age during one of those rare years when the usually fierce Santa Ana winds fail to materialize. "There's no headwind at all," he says. "In order for a tree to grow strong, there has to be wind. Otherwise, when we have a season of severe Santa Anas, there will be toppled trees all over the place. A lot of small brewers right now are growing up with no headwind. Chain stores are asking them before they open if they can get in line to buy some of their beer. This is an unusual thing that they think is normal. This won't continue."

Stone, it must be said, is one of the few beer-making outfits that has successfully made the transition from local to national. Seventeen years after it was founded, it's now the 10th-largest craft brewery in the country. But even Koch is feeling the squeeze from all the new, local breweries popping up across the country.

"I just got back from a short trip to Minnesota," he recalls. "A couple of the beer bars that have our beer on tap pretty regularly, just happened to not have our beer on tap. Why? Because their taps were filled with the new guys. It's not that they don't like Stone. It's not that they aren't going to be putting Stone back on tap. But when you have just so many physical tap handles — and now you have this rush of new stuff and everybody is in a shiny-new-object mode — it creates competition. You can't sell beer if it's not available."

The flooded market has bred a generation of beer fans with no allegiance to a particular brand but an unquenchable thirst for the latest and greatest. As a result, many beer bars regularly rotate kegs, meaning that breweries need to constantly innovate to maintain sales. "We usually won't keep the same beer around for a long time," says Joey Pepper, the lead bartender at Brooklyn's Torst. "We'll do one initial purchase of it and then maybe come back to it later."

Loyalty to a favorite producer is a thing of the past. For The Blind Tiger's Katherine Kyle, the goal is to build a good slate of options, period. "I try to order the beer that's going to move, but at the same time, I'm also curating that list," she says. "I have some parts that I want to be accessible and some parts that I want to be more esoteric."

Kyle views the beer explosion she and her bar helped create with some wariness. Plenty of neophyte brewers, she says, just don't cut it. "Sometimes a young brewery isn't ready," she says. "We'll take it because they really want to be in the bar, but if they don't have the kinks out, the crowd here will pick up on it."

 

Back in Vermont

Jen Kimmich is on the hunt for a new space. She and John had their eye on one spot but they had to bail after a traffic study indicated that they would need to pay to widen the road. Now, they are trying to decide whether to open a new, larger retail shop or buy a space where they can build a second brewery.The Alchemist 26

"There's an idea that we are against any growth," Kimmich says a bit defensively. "That's not true."

Meanwhile, the Alchemist crew continues to brew beer, and not only the world famous double IPA. Another favorite is Petite Mutant, an American wild ale made with 1,500 pounds of local Montmorency cherries and several quarts of concentrated Montmorency juice from Wisconsin. "We'll never even break even on it," Kimmich says. "It's like the $10,000 batch of beer. We'll keg some up for local accounts and probably sell some single cans of it. And we'll drink a lot of it."

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Atlanta's Party Animals Are Raving About A New Spa That Claims To Cure Hangovers With An IV Drip

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Walk into Atlanta's Hydration Station on a Sunday morning and you'll find a dozen people in dimly lit rooms lying on recliner chairs with needles stuck in their arms. 

Most of them are hungover from heavy drinking the night before. The needles are pumping sterile saltwater and a cocktail of vitamins and anti-nausea drugs into their veins. 

The treatment costs upwards of $29 and it has become so popular in Atlanta that Hydration Station is opening a second location down the road just nine months after launching the first, according to CEO Keith McDermott.

McDermott describes the concept as a cross between a spa and a doctor's office. It attracts a mix of athletes and hungover partiers, depending on the time of week. On the weekends, about 75% of Hydration Station's clientele is hungover, McDermott said.

He wants the business to eventually cater more toward athletes, but he's not discouraging the traffic from partiers. Hydration Station is sponsoring a pub crawl this weekend and a New Year's Eve ball on Dec. 31.

Customers rave about the services on Yelp and Facebook and a number of them have been posting photos of themselves on social media hooked up to the IVs.

"Love this place!" someone wrote in a Yelp review on Oct. 21. "Did a little bit too much drinking the night before and decided to come here... After I left here I felt instantly better — didn't even need so much as a nap throughout the day. I got the water IV and [vitamin] B12."

Another reviewer wrote: "After a long party weekend, Hydration Station hit the spot. I felt horrible until I got my IV. It was quick and easy."

Luke Davis, an athlete and owner of the gym CrossFit Tucker in Tucker, Ga., told Business Insider that he has visited Hydration Station about 10 times since it opened "and would be there a lot more if I didn't have such a crazy schedule."

"It really helps with recovery after a really strenuous workout," he said. "We can recover so much faster and can train again the next day."

Davis said he usually gets the $99 "Niagra Falls" package for his training purposes, even though it's advertised for people in "deathbed territory" on the Hydration Station's website

The package includes up to two liters of hydration (or two IV bags), a cocktail of Zofran (anti-nausea), Toradol (anti-inflammatory) and Pepcid (anti-heartburn), 30 minutes of oxygen, vitamin B12, and oral antioxidant and multi-vitamins to go. 

Davis said he omits the anti-nausea medicine from his treatment because that's for people who are ill or have hangovers. 

Dr. Robert Shesser, chairman of George Washington University's Department of Emergency Medicine, told Business Insider that the "Niagra" is a perfectly safe concoction of drugs for someone with symptoms of a hangover or anyone suffering from dehydration after an athletic event. 

"All of these medication are used quite frequently and their safety profile is excellent," Shesser said. Hydrating someone who is suffering from over-intoxication is also a routine procedure, even though the science behind it "isn't necessarily the strongest," he said.

"The only scientific basis [for the treatment] is that alcohol is a diuretic so people who drink will have an increase in urinary output and theoretically become dehydrated," he explained. "But unless you are drinking shots of scotch in the middle of the desert," you probably won't lose enough water to need an IV, he said. 

"But if it makes people feel better, then great," he added.

The most popular package at Hydration Station is the $29 "Baptism," which includes one IV bag and 15 minutes of oxygen, according to McDermott. One IV bag is equivalent to drinking more than two gallons of water, he said.

The treatments, which typically last up to 45 minutes, are administered by paramedics who work for the Hydration Station part-time. The company employs about eight to 10 paramedics on a rotating basis at the Buckhead location.

To pass the time, customers have a choice of playing with Hydration Station's assortment of tablets or watching TV. 

"People have a fear of needles and apprehension when coming in, especially if they haven’t done it before, so we try and make them as relaxed as possible," McDermott said.

It Started With A Wedding Hangover

Before launching Hydration Station, McDermott was the vice president of marketing and business development for Biomass Gas & Electric (BG&E). He came up with the idea for the Hydration Station several years ago after attending a wedding where many of the guests, including himself, had overindulged on the night of the rehearsal dinner.

"We were playing golf the next day and the groom told me that they had a nurse who was giving IVs to people to help them get over their hangovers," McDermott said. "It felt super" and guests were raving about it, he said.

Coincidentally, McDermott had experienced his first IV treatment 10 days earlier when he felt ill after several weeks of traveling for work. 

After the wedding-day IV, it dawned on McDermott that the service could work as a business. A Google search told him that there's a similar service in Las Vegas that operates out of a bus. There's also one in Chicago called IVMe Hydration Clinic

But there wasn't anything like it in Atlanta, aside from hospitals.

McDermott hired Dr. Thomas Roepke, a board-certified physician and friend of his, as medical director and opened the Hydration Station in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood in March. Roepke developed the company's range of treatments based on his own research and nearly 20 years of treating patients, according to the company website.

When designing the office, McDermott said he assumed people would prefer private rooms, but "it has become the exact opposite."

"People come in, they want to share stories about the last marathon they were in, or if they are here for a little over-indulgence, they like to talk about their night out," he said.

Some people even make a date out of it, he added.

"They meet, go out on dates and stuff on Saturdays and then they come in Sunday morning," he said. "It's become a social thing."

He describes the new office, which is being built five miles down the road in Atlanta's Brookhaven neighborhood, as "sleek and spa-like." 

"It's going to be a cross between the W Hotel and an Apple store," McDermott said.

Here's some photos from inside the Buckhead location: 

Hydration Station

These are members of the Kill Cliff Sports Recovery Drink team, according to Hydration Station:

Hydration Station

Here's another patron:

Hydration Station

SEE ALSO: This Hoodie Is So Insanely Popular You Have To Wait Months To Get It

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: A New York Mansion Just Went On Sale For An Insane $114 Million

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$114 million new york upper east side mansion

An insanely beautiful mansion on New York's Upper East Side has just been listed for $114 million, according to The New York Times.

The six-level property has 20,000 square feet of living space, in addition to 2,500 square feet of outdoor space, which includes a roof deck with sweeping views of Central Park and the city.

The 69th Street home was built in 1884, and bought by investor Vincent Viola and his wife Teresa, the president of Maida Vale Designs,for $20 million in 2005. They gut-renovated the townhouse to create the extravagant residence it is today.

And now they're flipping it for a whopping $114,077,000.

And if the amenities are any indication, it's totally worth it. According to Corcoran Group, which is selling the home, the mansion has a saltwater pool with spa, panic room, heated stairs and floors in the parlor, plus a brick pizza oven in the kitchen.

There's even an onyx elevator. You have to see this house to believe it.

Welcome to the $114 million mansion on the Upper East Side. It's on 69th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

Source: The New York Times



The sidewalk, outside staircase, and floors in the foyer are all heated, which sounds amazing for New York winters.

Source: The New York Times



The home is 40 feet wide, and ceilings heights range from 12 to 34 feet.

Source: The New York Times



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The 5 Most Beer-Friendly Cities In America

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michigan beer

Not all of us can take time to fly to Germany to clink steins with local fräuleins for days on end. You can, however, visit some top-tier breweries in the U.S. To that end, we've created itineraries for five great American beercations in cities with a high concentration of excellent craft breweries — plus the hotels in which you can sleep your hangover off in style.

Click here to see the 5 best cities for a "beercation" >>

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1. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Now that the Furniture City has taken first place in the annual Beer City USA poll for two consecutive years, even the local visitors bureau has spearheaded a new campaign dedicated solely to beer tourism, with a comprehensive brewery-hopping guide and annual beer events.



Where to Drink

Hopcat
Ranked as the country's top brewpub by multiple sites, Hopcat showcases 200-plus bottled beers sourced from all over the world, in addition to 38 taps (with a heavy bent toward Michigan-made brews). House beers, which in the past have included unorthodox flavors (like cucumber and rice, and sage), are swapped out every season and produced in small batches.

Brewery Vivant
Located in a former funeral home, the Belgian-and French-inspired beers 
here are sipped with near reverence. The Farm Hand Ale is based on what French fin-de-siècle brewers might have served in the countryside. Hazy, faintly sour, and with a bit of funk (derived from a special yeast), it pairs with heartier fare like pâté, duck confit, and the Belgian frites served on-site.

Founders Brewing Company
The 
award-winning portfolio of beers, pristine brewery, and taproom with live music keep fans and critics coming back all year long. Follow up a round or two of the best-selling All Day IPA, an aromatic and assertive session beer, with a glass of the Harvest Ale, which uses wet hops (as opposed to dried or pelletized) for a bright and citrusy beer that finishes delightfully warm and malty.



Where to Stay

JW Marriott Grand Rapids
Recover from a bout of day drinking at the top-notch spa (renowned for seriously skilled masseuses and their use of local ingredients like Grand Haven beach sand) at this modern high-rise. Return to a room outfitted with ultra plush beds, 37-inch flat-screen TVs, and sweeping views of the river, or round out the day with a concert or game at the Van Andel Arena.



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The 10 Most Intense Ski Runs In The US

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Corbet's Couloir jackson hole

Ski season is upon us, and mountain resorts across the country are preparing for an influx of daredevils and thrill-seekers.

The most difficult runs in the U.S. serve up 50-degree pitches, drop-offs upwards of 30 feet, and frozen waterfalls buried under powder. Navigating them requires mental stamina and fast footwork.

Our friends at Liftopia, an online ski marketplace that offers discounted lift ticketshelped us find the trails that have even the most expert skiers shaking in their boots.

Corbet's Couloir – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village, WY

The Ride: Corbet's Couloir starts with a massive drop off a snow-covered cleft in the rock face, so you're free-falling two to nine meters, depending on the snow. If you stick the landing on the 50-degree slope, you must immediately throw all your weight forward and make a right-hand swerve to avoid smashing into a Precambrian rock.

The Couloir's upside down funnel shape opens into a super powdery 200-meter run.

Pro Tip: Some skiers panic down the chute and try to stop after landing, which is unwise at 40mph. Jackson Hole's ski coaches say, "Don't stop, stand up and ski!"



The Fingers – Squaw Valley, Olympic Valley, CA

The Ride: Squaw Valley's unofficial morning ritual is the Fingers Race, where skiers show up at the KT 22 lift at an ungodly hour and elbow their way in line to be the first to bomb the 2,000-foot vertical.

They charge from the Nose down the Fingers in mass chaos, one person after the next at 40mph. The two iconic lines on the Fingers — Main Air and Middle Knuckle — offer 40-foot flights and blind 60-degree pitches, respectively. The whole base of the mountain looks at the Fingers, so expect an audience.

Pro Tip: Avoid the center of the run, where transitions get swept away and snow sluffs expose hidden rocks.



Paradise – Mad River Glen, Fayston, VT

The Ride: This steep, sheltered run is a labyrinth of dense glades and open headwalls. It starts with a plunge off an eight-foot cliff, then morphs into a windy, super-steep trough lined with six-foot frozen waterfalls, big soft moguls, and side gullies with monstrous pockets of powder.

There's a 38-degree pitch in there that will keep you on your toes.

Pro Tip: It's easy to lose people in the trees, so try to stay cognizant of your group's whereabouts at all times.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    
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