Durham Distillery Announces Plans to Open Their Own Cocktail Bar!

Lee and Melissa Katrincic

Co-Owners of Durham Distillery – Melissa and Lee Katrincic

Co-Owners Melissa and Lee Katrincic have announced plans for Durham Distillery’s craft cocktail bar “Corpse Reviver” in early 2020. This announcement comes on the heels of the passage of Senate Bill 290 this past week, marking a historic milestone for distilleries in North Carolina. The bill enables cocktails to be served at distilleries, therefore also making it possible for distillers to operate a bar in addition to the distillery.

“Since opening the distillery in 2015, it has been our goal to showcase our Conniption gins in cocktails, but ABC restrictions have prohibited us from doing so; approval of this bill changes everything, and enables us to celebrate our brand in the fullest and most experiential way,” explained Melissa Katrincic. “Corpse Reviver is a natural complement to our award-winning Conniption Gin brand and distillery, and will provide an opportunity for us to bring our premium Conniption Gin to life, just as other distilleries have done across the US.”

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Durham Distillery’s Canned Cocktails
(photo by Felicia Perry Trujillo)

Durham Distillery’s Corpse Reviver will be located on the ground floor beneath the distillery with an entrance and outdoor patio facing the historic train trestle. This will enhance Conniption Gin in a craft cocktail bar setting, modeled after the luxe, modern gin bars of London. Named for both the classic gin cocktail, Corpse Reviver #2 – composed of gin, absinthe, Cointreau and lemon juice – and its’ basement setting located in a former coffin shop, Corpse Reviver is designed to showcase Conniption Gins at their best.

About Durham Distillery & CONNIPTION Gin:
Founded in 2013 and opened in 2015 by Melissa and Lee Katrincic, Durham Distillery is a craft gin, vodka and liqueur distillery – known for modern techniques and uncompromised quality – located in Durham, North Carolina. The company produces premium gins leveraging a differentiated two-step process combining time-honored gin making traditions with techniques borrowed from modern chemistry to create spirits that are both classic and contemporary. The full product line offers CONNIPTION Navy Strength Gin and CONNIPTION American Dry Gin, DAMN FINE Liqueurs (Chocolate, Mocha and Coffee), Cucumber Vodka, and Canned Cocktails (Gin & Tonic, Cucumber Vodka & Soda, and NEW Rose Spritz). As the leader in the South’s Gin renaissance, Durham Distillery has earned more than 50 national and international awards and in 2018 was named the #1 Craft Gin Distillery in the U.S. by USA Today.  Co-Founder Melissa Katrincic is recognized as one of the prominent female distillery owners in the U.S.


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Mother Earth Brewing Ironclad Half Marathon Discount Code


Running through downtown Kinston!
(photo courtesy Kinston.com)

If you are looking for a great North Carolina Half Marathon to run this fall I highly recommend checking out The Mother Earth Brewing Ironclad Half MarathonOctober 19th in Kinston. This is a great local small town road race with lots of charm and a fast and flat course providing an awesome opportunity to achieve that PR!

I ran this race with some friends from Raleigh (pictured above) back in 2017 and we loved it! This is my “go to” fall race now and I’m looking to running it again this October. With around 500 half marathon runners and 500 participants in the 5k it is a nice manageable race. The field isn’t too crowded, but still offers just enough runners to bring that fun race day energy to the course and after party.

Ironclad 3

Running through downtown Kinston!
(photo courtesy Kinston.com)

The race starts of with a cannon blast and features a single loop course that starts outside the historic Grainger Baseball Stadium, the former home of the Kinston Indians. It’s a fast and flat road course that will take runners through parts of downtown and scenic country roads just north of town.

It is well supported with aid stations, and there were even a few musicians entertaining runners along the course. Some other highlights include running past the CSS Neuse Ironclad gunboat and finishing along the first base line on the baseball field.

After you finish you can celebrate your achievement with a free race picture by the cannon and ice cold Mother Earth Brewing Beer as you cheer on the rest of the runners crossing the finish line.


This race is not just a lot of fun, it is also super convenient. It is one of the few races I have done that offers FREE race day packet pickup. Kinston is an easy 90 minute drive from Raleigh, so you can just drive down the morning of the race. Parking at the start/finish is plentiful too making for an all around stress free race day.

There is a nice crew of runners from Raleigh headed to Kinston to run in the race this year and I hope you will consider joining us on October 19th! You can save 10% off  your race registration for the Half Marathon or the 5K using the code “2019RunKinstonWithJH“. 

To learn more about the race and register visit the race website here.

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Sunflowers Return to Dix Park ~ July 2019


Dix Park Sunflower Field – July 2019

The sunflowers are back at Dix Park in Raleigh! I was out there earlier today to check on their progress and snapped these quick photos. The sunflowers are blooming a little later this year due to the dry conditions, but they are slowly waking up this week and should put on a good show for Destination Sunfest on Saturday, July 13th (2-9pm). If you plan to attend Sunfest check out the official event website for all the details and parking info. (Note: You will not be able to park at Dix Park on July 13th and will instead have to park offsite and ride shuttles to the park.)

Dix Park Sunflower Field – July 2019

In the meantime you can go check out the sunflowers on your own all month long from dawn to dusk. There is a mix of short and tall sunflowers plants this year with the shorter ones opening first. As of today only a small portion had begun to open. I expect peak bloom to be sometime starting next week. Pro Tip: wear a hat an bring some bottled water. There isn’t much shade out there and it gets super hot under the July sun!


Dix Park Sunflower Field – July 2019

How to find the Sunflower Field:
The sunflower field at Dix Park is located off Hunt Drive near the soccer fields and the historic cemetery. The best way to find them is to enter the park on Hunt Drive off Western Boulevard. Once on Hunt Drive you will quickly notice a large soccer field and gravel parking lot on your right. You can park there and easily access the field from the gravel lot. Click here for a google map of the field location. Enjoy the blooms!

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Burger Mondays Are Back at Mandolin!


The “Blueprint Burger” at Mandolin in Raleigh

After its successful last summer, Chef Sean Fowler of Mandolin has brought back his delicious “Blueprint Burger” as a special addition to the summer bar menu. The Blueprint Burger is Chef Fowler’s entry into the Blended Burger Project, an initiative of the James Beard Foundation to re-imagine the iconic burger to have a lighter footprint on the environment, and they’ll be serving it at now until the end of July.

Chef Fowler’s creation is a sustainable take on the American classic that’s made with the perfect blend of 50% grass-fed chuck, 25% Heritage Farms bacon, and 25% Fox Farm trumpet and shiitake mushrooms. The burger is finished off with blue cheese, pickled Mandolin Farm ramp aioli and a La Farm Bakery brioche bun.

The result is burger that’s incredibly delicious, healthier to eat, and more sustainable for the planet. Best of all, every Monday in June & July you can order this special burger at the bar bar for just $9 (usually $15).


“Soulshine” Cocktail made with Moonshine, Blackberry & Shiso

Mandolin has also added a selection of delicious handcrafted summer cocktails to their drink menu – my favorite is the refreshing “Soulshine” cocktail with it’s blend of moonshine, B&B and raspberry. And did I mention the fries? The fries are dusted with a duck fat and malt vinegar powder that adds the perfect burst of flavor! You can pair this gourmet burger and fries with one of the many cocktails, NC beers or wine by the glass at the bar for a fun Monday date night at Mandolin.

After you’ve given this special burger a try I’m sure you will want to cast your vote for Chef Sean in the #BlendedBurgerProject.  This year’s winner will be invited to cook their burger at the Beard House in NYC! To learn more about the Blended Burger Project, and to VOTE, visit jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject/vote.

Mandolin Raleigh
2519 Fairview Road
Raleigh, NC 27068

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The Cast of ‘CATS’ Delivers a Powerful Performance at DPAC!

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019 3b.jpg

The North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019)

You know you are in for a magical performance from the moment you enter the theater at DPAC and see strings of lights draped over the seats leading to the stage. It was a magical opening night for ‘CATS’ on Tuesday which is performing now at DPAC through this Sunday. Don’t have tickets yet? Don’t despair, there is a daily lottery for tickets that are just $35. I highly recommend you try and nab a ticket, it was a truly wonderful performance!

Now on to the show. What can I say about ‘CATS’ that hasn’t been said before? Well for one thing, this touring production based on the 2016 revival is every bit as captivating and moving as the original that opened on Broadway in 1982 where it had an amazing 18 year run. There is just something so special about seeing such a beloved show that has not only stood the test of time, but somehow managed to become even better now almost 40 years later.

Brandon Michael Nase as 'Old Deuteronomy' and the North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019.jpg

Brnadon Michael Nase as ‘Old Deuteronomy’ and the North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019)

The musical, based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” centers around a community of “Jellicle” cats who convene once a year in hopes of being chosen by the Old Deuteronomy, a father figure of a cat who is tasked with choosing one among the group to be taken above to be “reborn”. The audience is treated to a series of numbers throughout the show to introduce each cat as they try to prove themselves to be worthy of being selected.

The show has all the whimsy and spectacle of the original. With beautiful costumes and makeup that you get to admire up close as there are several points where the cats romp through the theater and interact with the audience. Known for it’s amazing score by Andrew Lloyd Weber, its the dancing during each of these numbers that really steals the show in my opinion.

While the show continues to delight with its amazing music and choreography, I found myself marveling at the incredible talent of the cast assembled for this touring production. For two high-energy acts they pour themselves into their roles and leave it all on stage. It is a real testament to the talent of the cast that they are able to deliver beautiful vocals while executing difficult dance routines that would leave a mere mortal out of breath.

‘CATS’ is not your classic character-based show with typical “central” characters, but there are some standout performances I just have to mention, like the awesome Tion Gaston who almost steals the show playing the high-energy and playful Mr. Mistoffelees. The number where he is introduced utilizes all the magic of the set and is one of the high points of the second act. Then there are Tony d’Alelio and Rose Iannaccone’s who have a wonderful mischievous chemistry as the Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer.

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019 2B.jpg

The North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019)

I also need to give a shout out to Caitlin Bond, who plays the eye catching “White Cat” aka Victoria. At one point when the cats roamed the theater during a number I heard one of the younger theater goers yell “the white cat!” and run over to her to receive hug. It was a touching moment and a theater memory I’m sure that young fan will remember for a long time.

Finally, Keri Rene’ Fuller truly shines with her powerful vocals as the haunted lonely outcast Grizabella, a former fancy cat now shunned by the cat community. Dressed in shabby clothes, and limping hunched over slowly across the stage you can feel her pain and regret. Typically played by an older actor, 25 year old Fuller delivers a spot on performance proving she is up to the challenge of filling such an iconic role, and her rendition of the most popular number in the show, “Memory” gave me chills and had the crowd at DPAC on their feet.

The song “Memory” remains a surefire showstopper. Keri Rene Fuller as Grizabella, shabbily dressed in gray rags and long-laced boots, as if she’d wandered in from a Tim Burton movie, delivers it almost as if it’s an operatic aria, and on Tuesday night received a long warm ovation for her efforts.

After almost 40 years the excitement and magic of ‘CATS’ is still going strong and with this committed cast this production is truly not to be missed. Whether your seeing this classic for the first time or returning for the 30th time try to catch this magical at DPAC before these CATS hit the road to enchant another city.

‘CATS!’ performs at DPAC through Sunday, June 9th . For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/cats

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