Category Archives: Entertaining at Home with Karie Engels

Shawn Shepherd’s Peroni Infused Cocktails

Whip up these Sexy Sips at Home for your next Cocktail Party or Garden Soiree

Temperatures are rising and refreshing cocktails have arrived. Whether you throw an indoor cocktail reception, cool garden party or outdoor barbecue, delicious Peroni infused cocktails are here to help you celebrate the summer season.

Shawn Shepherd, mixologist at Palihouse West Hollywood, has put together this season’s sexiest cocktails – perfect for those looking for a refreshing drink that still incorporates a delicious beer taste.


The Gold Rush

  • Difficulty: Deliciously Smooth
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  • 2 Figs
  • ½ oz. Honey Syrup
  • ½ oz. Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Walnut Bitters
  • Lemon Peel

In a cocktail shaker, muddle Figs with Honey Syrup, add Lemon Juice and ice and shake vigorously. Fill tall glass with new ice and add Peroni gently, add 3 drops Walnut Bitters (or Angostura), garnish with lemon peel.


Amaro Al Fresco

  • Difficulty: Deliciously Smooth
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  • 1 oz. Aperol
  • ¼ oz. Fernet Branca
  • ½ oz. Dry Vermouth
  • Orange Peel

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients with ice except Peroni and shake vigorously. Fill tall glass with new ice and add Peroni gently, strain ingredients over Peroni gently and garnish with orange peel.


Capri Meets Manhattan

  • Difficulty: Deliciously Smooth
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  • ½ oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • Bar Spoon Cynar
  • Bar Spoon Balsamic Reduction
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Luxardo Cherry

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients with ice except Peroni and shake vigorously. Strain ingredients into a chilled cocktailglass and top with Peroni gently, garnish with Luxardo Cherry.

Cool off with Tommy Bahama’s refreshing Cucumber Smash

Garden Party season. Those three words send a  thrill through my soul with their implication. Late afternoon barbecues and picnics that deliciously turn into evening soirees under twinkle lights and stars. Barbecue and beer are replaced with light appetizers, dessert, wine and dazzling cocktails.

Light and refreshing is on the menu this time of year, and Tommy Bahama has the recipe to please. Sit back, relax and enjoy the evening with a cool, cucumber twist on the classic cocktail.


Cucumber Smash

  • Difficulty: Deliciously Smooth
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SONY DSCIngredients

  • 1 ¾ parts Hendricks® Gin
  • ¾ part St-Germain® Elderflower Liqueur
  • ½ part simple syrup
  • ½ part lime juice
  • 4 cucumber cubes, each ¾
  • ½ part club soda
  • 2 cucumber slices
  •  Glassware: Double Rocks
  • Ice: Cubes
  • Garnish: 2 cucumber slices

Instructions: Muddle cucumber cubes with lime juice in a mixing glass, add gin, St-Germain, simple syrup and ice. Mix and strain over fresh ice, top with soda and garnish with 2 cucumber slices.

If you have a Tommy Bahama near you, sit back, relax and watch the mixologist work their magic. Bottoms Up!

Conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan on Fifth Avenue at 45th Street, Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar is the ideal location for lunch, dinner or Happy Hour. 

Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar – New York

551 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10176

Open 11:30am Daily,  Island Time Happy Hour: 4-6pm Daily

For reservations, please call 212.537.0960 or visit

Three “Spirits” of Spring Cocktails

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The above quote is a true description of spring in the Pacific Northwest. A sun filled day over 55 degrees is filled with half naked Western Washington natives. Once the clouds begin to roll in, it only takes a few minutes for a brilliant blue sky to become the familiar, ominous grey. A true Washingtonian always has a jacket nearby.

Even though rain has dominated this year, days are lengthening, the earth is warming and we are celebrating the spirits of spring. This week, we have eleven cocktails inspired by Mother Nature, you can find the first three here, and below are three more. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Planter's Punch

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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Planter’s Punch at The Newes from America Pub at Kelley HouseFrom The Newes from America Pub at the historic Kelley House (Martha’s Vineyard)


  • 1.5 ounces  Light rum
  • 1 ounce  Dark rum
  • 1 ounce Pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce Orange juice
  • 0.5 ounce Grenadine
  • Floater  Dark rum


Shake the first five ingredients together with ice. Strain into a large glass filled with ice and top with a dark rum floater, a cherry, and an orange slice.

Red's Good Time

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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Red’s Good Time at Red’s Restaurant & Lounge at Sea Crest Beach HotelFrom Red’s Restaurant & Lounge at the Cape Cod favorite, Sea Crest Beach Hotel


  • 1.5 ounces  Absolut Citron
  • 0.75 ounce Guava puree
  • Splash Sprite
  • Splash Club soda


Pour ingredients over ice in a 10 ounce highball glass. Stir and fill up with Sprite and Club soda.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Polished Apple

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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Polished Apple at KANU Lounge at The Whiteface LodgeFrom KANU Lounge at the illustrious mountain hideaway, The Whiteface Lodge (Lake Placid, NY)


  • 2 ounces Bison grass vodka
  • 0.5 ounce Apple ice wine
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • 0.25 ounce Lime juice


Shake with ice and double strain. Garnish with an edible spring flower.


Dijon-Garlic-Rosemary Rubbed Lamb Roast and a wicked Rhubarb Mojito

olivesSitting in the kitchen sorting through recipes and prepping foods for entertaining friends and family is a way I love spending my quiet time. This year, both ham and lamb recipes are spread across the table top as I work through simple and quick as well as recipes that take a bit more prep and time.

When I was young, Easter dinner was an marvelous feast created by many hands. Friends and family brought their own specialty dishes and my grandmother spent the day in the kitchen cooking a spread of her own that included ham, deviled eggs, potatoes and a cake covered in coconut. She brought out her canned bread and butter pickles and not a single gathering of the clans would have been complete without the black olive “finger-trees”.

Today, life moves quicker and gatherings are spread much further out across the calendar with fewer family members in attendance. Breaking bread with relations that live within a two hour radius, is an annual occurrence, if that. With time being such a precious commodity, spending less time in the kitchen and more time visiting, during the holidays is the option I have chosen.

Rhubarb Mojito Cocktail

Rhubarb Mojito Cocktail

First item on the docket is a cocktail, seasonal of course, then a recipe for lamb and for the finale, a delightful cake covered in coconut. The remaining dinner and dessert items, will be dishes friends and fam bring. Thank you Grandma, for the wonderful memories you gave to us all.

Rhubarb Mojito by Decorator’s Notebook. One of my favorite child hood memories is walking barefoot through the dry, chalky dust, munching on a stalk of rhubarb from the garden.  My sister and I would spend sun-kissed days nibbling on the tart treat and the little girl who made the screwed up face first, lost the game. When those rhubarb stalks were turned in to desserts with the addition of sugar, our faces held smiles instead of sour puckers.

April through September is prime rhubarb growing season and each time I see a recipe it brings to mind those long gone hot summer days.  It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in meals, desserts and oh yes, cocktails. Sipping on a Mojito while sorting through recipes seems like a great way to spend the afternoon. Recipe link at bottom of post.

Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting by Brown Eyed Baker. As you have probably surmised, this cake was chosen solely on Easter memories, as it simply doesn’t feel like Easter dinner, or spring for that matter, without a coconut cake. Brown Eyed Baker had the perfect recipe. Link at bottom of post.

I do not recall my grandmother ever cooking or roasting lamb, ham was the meat of choice as I recall ( I could be wrong ), however my earlier post today included a recipe for Ham, Boneless Ham with Brown Sugar Pineapple Glaze to be exact, and I did not wish to duplicate.

“A sheep in its first year is called a lamb; and its meat is also called lamb. The meat of a juvenile sheep older than one year is hogget; outside North America this was also a term for the living animal, but this meaning is now largely obsolete. The meat of an adult sheep is mutton, a term only used for the meat, not the living animals.

Lamb is the most expensive of the three types, and in recent decades sheep-meat is increasingly only retailed as “lamb”, sometimes stretching the accepted distinctions given above. The stronger tasting mutton is now hard to find in many areas.” Thank you Wikipedia


Dijon-Garlic-Rosemary Rubbed Lamb Roast

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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Dijon-Garlic-Rosemary Rubbed Lamb RoastIngredients:

  • 2 large cloves garlic, cut into slivers
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pound leg of lamb, boned and tied


Combine garlic, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, rosemary, ginger and olive oil in a small bowl. Add lamb and turn to coat with marinade. Cover and chill at least six hours or up to one day turning meat over several times.

Rotate lamb on spit rods for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140F for medium on the thermometer, basting several times during the last 10 minutes. Untie, slice and serve. Serves 4-6.

This recipe was developed for use with a rotisserie oven.

Press the print button and put me in your recipe box :)


Decorator’s Notebook’s Rhubarb Mojito

Brown Eyed Baker’s Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake

Lamb recipe courtesy of Ronco 

Game Day Finger Foods for Your Football Crew

Italian Stuffed Sandwich ~ Toss it together the night before and chill

Italian Stuffed Sandwich ~ Toss it together the night before and chill

We are ready for a crowd! Yes, our team is in the Super Bowl this year, Go Hawks! But every year this event calls for a big spread and it seems time is always limited.  A few pitchers of cocktails, delicious finger foods and great company is all we need, so let’s simplify the menu and get down to business in the kitchen.

Italian Stuffed Sandwich by  Entertaining a crowd doesn’t have to be difficult.  There are many tips and tricks to relaxing and enjoying your guests and still presenting beautiful and delicious cuisine for them to enjoy.  One tip?  Preparing as many appetizers ahead of time as possible.  These Italian Stuffed Sandwiches are loaded with flavor and can be tossed together and chilled the evening before.

Shopping List

  • Italian Bread Loaf
  • Canola Oil
  • Chopped pimiento stuffed olives
  • fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • dried oregano
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • lemon juice
  • minced garlic
  • salami
  • mozzarella cheese
  • roasted red pepper
  • pepperoni  Recipe and Method here
Perfect Appetizer ~ Sticky Chicken

Perfect Appetizer ~ Sticky Chicken

Sticky Chicken by Rosellyn.  This is a delicious and simple dish to prepare. Since it is in the oven for 90 minutes cooking to perfection, your time is free to either work on another appetizer, or kick back and sip a cocktail or three.

Shopping List

  • 3 to 5 pounds of bone in chicken legs, thighs or wings
  • ketchup
  • brown sugar
  • soy sauce
  • garlic powder
  • scallions
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • Full Recipe and Method here.
The ultimate Super Bowl Fav ~ The Bloody Mary

The ultimate Super Bowl Fav ~ The Bloody Mary

Both dishes above are delicious and strong in flavor, so I would pair them with a cocktail with an equally strong bite.  Our first cocktail on game day, is always a killer Bloody Mary, so that is how I am ending this piece.  Follow the links below for a few tasty appetizers and a killer cocktail two.  Enjoy!

Game Day Menu and a Killer cocktail 

Game Day Appetizers and Finger Foods

Playoff Weekend Margaritas

Visiting Chef Series Dinner; Decadent Cuisine, Exquisite Wines

Dinner PartyI had been tossing around the idea of a monthly Visiting Chef’s Series Dinner for quite a few months. Finding the time to plan/create just didn’t seem to be in the schedule and the final push came from a friend of mine who simply said, let’s throw a dinner party, we’ll do it together and it will be fabulous.

Filet Mignon with Risotto

Filet Mignon with Risotto

Past entertaining has been limited to Friday or Saturday evenings.  Cocktail season was in full swing and deciding this event should not have any limits, I chose a Tuesday evening, sent out the invitations and began working on the decor / theme.  I sent out more invitations than I knew would be accepted, it was after all last minute, and smack dab in the holiday party season.  While some did in fact decline due to scheduling conflicts, a few of my favorite friends and colleagues accepted and the dinner was on.

The menu was beyond exquisite; Roasted Tomato Soup, New Bedford Scallops, White Prawns, Duck Breast, Filet Mignon, Risotto, Chocolate Lava Cake and  Chocolate Caramel Torte.

Duck Breast

Duck Breast

This was a rare treat indeed.  We watched our Celebrated Northwest Chef prepare each course and tasted each dish immediately after preparation, in anticipation of watching him prepare the next delectable bite.  We ate for hours.

The wines were also exquisite.  Marywill Winery sent their best as a gift for our soiree and to compliment our menu.  We sipped, savored, tasted, paired and enjoyed an enchanting evening.

2011 Maryhill Columbia Valley Winemaker’s Red

Maryhill Wines

Maryhill Wines

Aromas of vanilla, cherry cordial and cola. Medium bodied with a sweet core of raspberry jam and toasty oak followed by a medium finish. A classic Washington State red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with plenty to offer for those who enjoy a wine that is fruit-forward and easy drinking. ~Christine Havens

2011 Maryhill Columbia Valley Winemaker’s White

On the nose, Bartlett pear and lemon tart. The impression translates on the palate in this medium-bodied Washington State white blend. Nice round mouth feel and a medium finish, the Maryhill Columbia Valley Winemaker’s White represents a pleasantly composed effort for it’s modest price point. A versatile wine, this will be a great choice for entertaining. I’m drinking it this evening with a simple Sunday supper of roasted chicken and haricot verts. ~Christine Havens

“Great wines are our inspiration.  For us, winemaking isn’t about lifted noses or highbrow personalities.  It’s about sourcing the best grapes and treating them with passion, patience and balance.” ~ Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery

Located in the Columbia Gorge wine region on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River and majestic Mt. Hood, the winery is a breathtaking place to visit and is situated just 100 miles east of Portland, Ore., and boast a 3,000 square-foot Tasting Room and gift shop, a 1,200 square-foot Reserve Room with a private courtyard, a popular vine-covered outdoor terrace and a 4,000 seat amphitheater that hosts a spectacular summer concert series, all of which are family – and dog – friendly.

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill has produce nearly 40 award-winning varietals and blends and have been recognized as “Washington Winery of the Year” and “Best Gorge Attraction” for their superb wines and stay-for-a-day activities.  Read more here…

The first of our monthly Visiting Chef Series Dinners was an exquisite treat.  We are already planning our January feast and will keep you updated on the menu and wines.

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Pear and a delicious cocktail or two

When September arrives,  the collection of recipes commences.  By November, I have a pretty large variety of main dishes, desserts and appetizers in the recipe book for holiday gatherings, dinners and cocktails parties.  The difficult part, is choosing which ones to use.  Our first step is to create a theme of flavors.  Our main dish for our first soiree, is a stuffed pork roast, although I haven’t settled on the “interior” as of yet.  There are so many delicious combinations and as I choose appetizers, desserts and cocktails, it will narrow my choices.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars by Closet Cooking.  Is it wrong to begin with dessert?  Never.  A taste of two of something divine while assembling the appetizers is always allowed.  The recipe is simple, and you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry or cupboard.  Shopping list;  butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, sugar, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, Granny Smith apples, nutmeg, flour, old-fashioned oats, heavy cream and coarse salt.  Full recipe and method here.  While you are over at Closet Cooking printing this recipe, take a tour.  This is a magnificent and informative site and you have the option of signing up for Kevin’s newsletter and downloading his free e-book, Best of Closet Cooking.

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Pear

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Pear

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Pear by Southern Living Magazine.  A salty, sweet appetizer that is both gorgeous and simple.  If you have time constraints of any kind and would like flavors that dance in your mouth while keeping you on schedule, this is an appetizer you must try.  Shopping list; Pancetta, Bartlett pear, goat cheese, cracked pepper, honey and fresh thyme.  Full recipe and method

Grey Goose Ginger Joy Cocktail

Grey Goose Ginger Joy Cocktail

Grey Goose Ginger Joy Cocktail by  I always present two cocktails to my guests, of course they always have the option of putting in a request for something different or creating their own if they are in the mood for another flavor. This is the perfect libation for the holidays.  Shopping list; Grey Goose La Poire pear flavored vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur,  simple syrup, lemon juice and pear or crystallized ginger for garnish.  Full recipe and method here.

Classic Irish Coffee

Classic Irish Coffee

Classic Irish Coffee Tis the season for something warm.  While this traditionally is an after dinner or before climbing under the covers warm up, I have found guests ask for it before dinner as well.  A bit of caffeine gives them a wake-up shot after a long day at the office and they are ready for Friday evening festivities and great cuisine.  Shopping list;  Irish whiskey, hot coffee, brown sugar and heavy cream.  Full recipe and method here

I haven’t settled on the rest of the menu yet, I still have a little time to put that together, however this is an excellent beginning.

Black Vodka and Spooky Spirits for Halloween

Spooky HalloweenA dark, cold and frosty night, witches, vampires and ghouls move stealthily to your door and……ring the bell.  Witches Ball, Monster Mash, Goblin Soiree, Vampires Feast, whatever you are calling it this year, it’s going to be a spectacular occasion.

Having a really stellar name for your spooky cocktails, simply isn’t enough.  If it doesn’t have an ethereal look and an exquisite flavor, it shouldn’t make the cut.

Bleeding Heart Martini

Bleeding Heart Martini

Bleeding Heart Martini by Martha Stewart.  For anything holiday, my first stop is always Martha Stewart where a talented team  assembles on my computer screen with deliciously creative ideas.  There are times simplicity is the key and this cocktail is perfection.  Skew the pickled-beet with the cocktail spear and it “bleeds” as your guests sip.  Shopping list;  Dry vermouth, premium gin and pickled baby beets.  Full recipe and method.

Black Widow

Black Widow

Black Widow by Savvy Housekeeping.  The color, the legs, perfection. A delightful companion to the witch or vampire mingling with your guests in the living room.  Shopping list; Cream de Cassis, vodka, triple sec, fresh lemon juice, pomegranate juice and licorice strings.  Full recipe and method

Black Devil Martini

Black Devil Martini

Black Devil Martini by Cooking Channel.  We have gin, vodka and now rum.  This cocktail brightens up the room with a shot of color in a beautiful sugar-rimmed glass.  It’s simple, quick and most of all, delicious.  Shopping list;  Dark rum, vermouth and black olives.  Full recipe and method.

Black Vodka Ghost Martini

Black Vodka Ghost Martini

Black Vodka Ghost Martini and other Spooky Spirits.  Revisit last years post and assemble recipes for your Spooky gathering  Spooky Spirits for a Stellar Soiree

A must for every kitchen; Jamie Geller’s Joy of Kosher

Joy of Kosher by Jamie Geller

Joy of Kosher by Jamie Geller

Cookbooks have evolved over the years and definitely for the better.  Our mothers and grandmothers purchased impersonal cookbooks filled with delightful recipes, some with photographs, some without. Today we have a delicious glimpse in to the culinary authors world that gives us a sense of connection.  The days of the generic cookbook are long past.  

Jamie Geller’s Joy of Kosher gives us more than a glimpse inside her world.  She has thrown the door open wide and invited us in to a busy life filled with family and love.

What drew me in to the cookbook after receiving a copy for review was the phrase “dress them up for entertaining…dress them down for everyday”.   We kick it up a notch for guests and dial it down a bit for our every day fare and Jamie Geller generously lists each recipe with two variations and a suggested pairing.  This is an indispensable kitchen handbook for the hectic daily life of today.

I read through the cookbook top to bottom and loved every inch.  The photographs are lovely, instructions well laid out and the quick tips are an added bonus.  We tested two recipes and will be adding a few more to our holiday menus.

Recipe I:  Creamy Tomato Penne which has a total prep/cook time of 22 minutes and serves 6 to 8.  It is simple, which I love, full of flavor and a must for a busy weeknight.

Recipe II: Cherry Bourbon Hand Pies.  To be honest with you it was the name that caught me.  Since we used Spicebox Whiskey for this recipe, we cut back a tad on the vanilla.  These were exceptionally delicious and fairly simple to throw together.  This delight is now a household staple and the fam will thank Jamie for this recipe every time it hits the dessert table.

You can purchase Joy of Kosher on Amazon in both Kindle and Hardcover.  If you want to connect with Jamie further visit her Facebook page Joy of Kosher and her website where you can sign up for a newsletter to land in your emails inbox.

Bar Talk with Shaun Daugherty

Welcome to Bar Talk with Shaun Daugherty

Welcome to Bar Talk with Shaun Daugherty

Shaun, having a dinner party with peachy pork tenderloin on the grill, oven roasted potatoes and roasted carrots. I have the wine under control, but not sure about the pre-dinner cocktail. I want to feature just one cocktail that will work with light finger foods and won’t fight with the dinner menu. The bar is stocked so I have a good variety of spirits and mixes. Thanks – Paul Higgins


Thank you for your inquiry.  Most people don’t think beyond the typical pairing of wine and beer with their foods.  Liquor opens many doors and even more exotic flavors than you can shake a stick at.  A full-bar gives you many options in regards to pairing and can be considered a second spice rack with an added kick.

I noticed a key phrase in our query.  You are looking for a before dinner cocktail that “won’t fight” with your featured entrée for the evening.  Instead of creating a cocktail that matches the flavor of what is being served later in the evening, it’s a great idea to complement the entrée with something that will welcome, and even enhance, the flavor of the dish when it is served.  I call it “seasoning the taste buds” – opening your senses, so when you sit down to the main course, they are trained and ready to enjoy the many flavors you have created with your meal.

Let’s tear it apart just a little bit.  ”Peachy” pork tenderloin with roasted carrots and roasted potatoes.   You are introducing a sweet flavor, peachy,  to go along with the earthy flavors of the carrots and potatoes.  So think of a fruit that will complement, but not override this taste note.  Plus, you do not want anything heavy.

Kir Royale

I have a suggestion for you and it will be something I’m sure you have had before.  A nice toast with a brut champagne or sparkling wine, with a little crème de cassis to top it off: A Kir Royale Cocktail!  This will wake up those sleeping taste buds and have them ready to enjoy the many attributes your fine meal has to offer.  Plus, it’s light enough to go along with the finger foods you will be serving prior to sitting down at the dinner table.  To give it a citrus aroma, add a twist of orange and rub it gently on the rim of the glass.  This will enhance the flavor even more.

Enjoy your evening with friends, Paul!

Do you have a question for Bar Talk?  Shaun Daugherty’s Q & A appears on site each Tuesday.  If you have a query please comment below or send us email:  We would love to hear from you.

Moderated and authored by Shaun “The Bartender” Daugherty

Edited by Karie Engels

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