Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum: A Review

Afrohead

For blogging purposes, I received a free bottle of Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum. In 1997, Australian Toby Tyler moved to the Bahamas. In 2007, he began serving his house rum at his restaurant on Harbor Island (also known as Briland). The rum bottle’s label contained the image of a Bahamian woman. Soon, locals and people from around the world visited Briland for the rum with the “afrohead” on it. This inspired the name Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum.

I mixed Afrohead with Coke. As for the taste? Let’s just say I’m going to fix me another Cuba Libre (rum and coke) after writing this blog. On the real tip, Afrohead contains a strong taste. Stronger than other rums I had drunk in the past. Plus the taste touches nowhere near the awful rum nightclubs sneak on you.

Lil Indies in Orlando serves Afrohead in the “Snaxappeal” cocktail. Snaxappeal features Afrohead, lemon, Vitaluna, coconut milk and Demerara. Also, Orlando’s Nova Restaurant serves Afrohead.

On their website. Afrohead lists other cocktails.

Personally, I think Afrohead deserves shelf space at a Central Florida liquor store. When I posted my pic on Instagram, someone asked where can they get a bottle. I suggest selling Afrohead at Wally’s on Mills Avenue. Many Central Floridians hold Wally’s as a local treasure.

However one gets a hold of it, Afrohead definitely satisfies rum lovers. Time go make my Cuba Libre.

DIY External Flash Diffuser Created with Photo Paper

Last Monday night, my buddy Mike was on his way to pick me up.  Almost every week, he drives Yoda and me to Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors, an Orlando dive bar. He picks me up first. Then, he picks up Yoda.

After gathering my camera equipment, I realized I lost my foam diffuser, a homemade flash diffuser I learned about from photographer Chuck Gardner’s website. In a YouTube video, Step by Step Photography instructs how to create it also.

Because Mike would soon be arriving, I didn’t have time to make another foam diffuser.   Then, I remembered I could create a diffuser using photo paper, something I used before buying the materials for the foam diffuser. DIY Flash Diffuser Made with Photo PaperThis wasn’t my idea.  Chuck Gardner mentioned it on his website.

So, I grabbed some photo paper and decided to create a diffuser at the bar.

With crappy camera phone pics, this blog post shall now instruct on making a diffuser out of photo paper.

Supplies needed: Two 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of photo paper, any kind of tape, scissors (optional) and stapler (optional).

Step 1: Put two sheets of photo paper together.  You can use one sheet.  Yet, I prefer two for sturdiness.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 1

Step Two: From the top, go about three inches down.  Then, tear about two inches over. Do this for the other side. If you prefer, you can use scissors.  I didn’t ask the bar for scissors.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 2

Step Three: Go to the bottom.  Go up about three inches.  Then cut or tear about three inches over.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 3

Step Four: Take the top and form a dish.DIY Flash Diffuser Step

From here, your external flash bounces light and reflects it on the subject/subjects.  The closer you are, the softer the light.

Step Five: Staple or tape the curve.  I borrowed a stapler.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 4

Step Six: Place top of external flash inside bottom part of diffuser.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 5

Step Seven: Like the pic in Step Six already shows, fold over bottom flaps and tape them  down.

Your diffuser should look somewhat like this.

Complete

At the bar counter, three hipsters sat directly across from my friends and me. It was two females, a white and black, with a white male.  The white female pointed out my camera to the male.  Dude looked at my camera and scoffed.

For the record, I recommend this diffuser for emergency purposes only.  Truth be known, anything with a reflective white surface will do. If you want soft light and hate direct flash on your subjects, I recommend including the foam diffuser among permanent camera equipment.

Now, for the technical stuff.  My camera’s ISO was 800. To get ambient light, shutter speed was 1/15.  When photographing nightlife, I usually leave my camera on shutter speed priority. When I want to catch fast action, I could quickly move the shutter speed up.  For flash photography, many photo purists recommend the manual setting.  Newsflash: manual can over and underexpose just like automatic, even at the correct setting.  Hell, just do what makes you feel comfortable and tell purists what to kiss…or suck.

Here’s some of my Wally’s pics.  I can live with them.

A Black Man Explains the “No Colors” Sign

No colors sign

I personally photographed this in a Central Florida bar who owned no problems serving “coloreds”.

Last night, I was minding my own damned business at Orlando’s Wally’s, one of my favorite watering holes. Here and there I chatted with friends. Yet, I mostly enjoyed my Bud Light and a small bag of Lays potato chips. Every time I come to Wally’s, bartender Cindy always hooks me up with some variety of chips.

Somehow I got in a conversation with a white woman who appeared early thirties. Straight blonde hair touched her shoulders and back. She wore a white shirt with long black sleeves. She was sitting next to a forty-something white guy, a dude I’ve seen in Wally’s before. Blondie was sitting next to me.

“You know what offends me?” Blondie said.

She picked up her phone and searched her phone’s photo gallery. Next, she showed me a pic containing a bar’s “No Colors” sign.

“They’re talking about biker gangs,” I said. Actually, the politically correct word is “clubs”.

“I told her that,” her friend said.

Blondie wouldn’t let it go. On and on, she went …about something. I couldn’t comprehend drunk blonde talk. She mentioned something about being from Miami. Then, she mentioned Crips and Bloods wearing rags.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when some white people attempt dictating to me and other black folks on the conversation about race, which makes them look racist. Then, the next thing you know, they can’t stand President Obama. (Yet, that subject is for another blog.)

I kept quiet and let Blondie win.

First of all, if the sign said “No COLOREDS”, the bar may get into shit loads of trouble. Why? Because racial discrimination is illegal.

“No COLORS” is mostly aimed at motorcycle-riding white guys, referencing clothing indicating “club” membership.

Back in the late 80s, I witnessed this in Daytona. Before reaching the beach, the car containing me and two friends passed a biker bar. Posted on a door, a sign said “No Colors”. Seeing who was going into the bar (bikers), I knew who the establishment referred to. White dudes!

How did I know? In The Warriors, a 1979 movie, one street gang told another to take off their “colors”, meaning the vests sporting the gang’s slogan.

After over two decades of people complaining about the “No Colors” sign, you would think folks have learned by now. After my conversation with Blondie, I guess not.

Attorney John Morgan Buys Wally’s Patrons a Round

Photo by Jason Powell

Photo by Jason Powell

Last week, Attorney John Morgan visited Wally’s, one of Orlando’s oldest and best dive bars. Some friends and I were sitting at the end of the bar counter, near the bathrooms. John Morgan was with other attorneys.

After leaving the bathroom, he shook our hands.

“Hi, my name is John,” he said.

Then, he walked to his group.

After seeing his TV ads for years, I of course knew who he was. In 1988, John Morgan founded the firm Morgan and Morgan. The company’s belief always ran on “for the people,” and not big companies.

Recently, John Morgan supported the legalization of medicinal marijuana. This is what his website states, “According to John, the deeply personal cause is a step to not only provide safer pain relief and treatment methods for those with legitimate diseases, but also to help end the rampant problem of prescription drug abuse in Florida.”

On this night, he bought everyone booze. Not just a few folks. No, John bought the whole damned bar booze, and the place was already packed.

When someone said they were posting on Facebook, he told the person to tell folks he was buying rounds.

With my phone, I photographed a buddy with John Morgan.  Not a good pic.  Yet, here it goes.

John Morgan with Cyril CruzadaI don’t remember how long John Morgan stayed.  Yet, I think he and his group left around 12 AM.

Last time I saw a local celebrity lawyer in Wally’s, some folks weren’t to thrill to see him. I’m talking about Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s lawyer.  They didn’t say anything nasty to the guy as he chatted with a female companion. Some folks just didn’t appreciate his presence.

John Morgan, on the other hand, folks always love to see.

 

Orlando’s Wally’s Named One of the Best Bars Outside of Miami

Recently, Thrillist named Orlando’s Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors one of the best bars outside of Miami.

“Low-lying building. Check. Windowless. Check. No-nonsense bartenders. Check. It’s the perfect location for all of your clandestine activities.”

(Orlando’s The Courtesy Bar was named too.  Hadn’t been there yet.)

Last Monday, I received my new camera I ordered from eBay, a used Canon 10D.  That same day, we celebrated our friend Jeff Bryant’s birthday at Wally’s.  I brought my camera with me.

Congratulations, Wally’s.  See ya next week.

 

Witnessing Casey Anthony Lawyer, Jose Baez, at Orlando’s Wally’s

Wally's

Earlier tonight, two friends and I were boozing at Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors, a spot located in Orlando’s Mills 50 district. At the bar counter, I was boozing with “Yoda” and Mike. Yoda is a forty-something Filipino-American. His cigar smoking gives the appearance of an Asian Mafioso. Mike is half-Italian and half-Polish, and his youthful looks betray his late forties age. You would think Mike was ten years younger.

I talked to other folks that night too. One was a buddy named Johnny Diggz. Some Orlando folks may recognize Johnny as a musician from Red Fox Lounge. Also, along with Johnny, I talked with a Mexican-American woman and her blonde friend.

Next, I noticed a forty-something Latino guy enter the bar with a dark-skinned woman who appeared of East Indian descent. I’m bad with age. I guessed the woman around late twenties to early thirties. Later on, Mike thought she might have been older.

As the two sat at the bar counter, the Latino guy smiled a I’m-gonna-get-laid-smile.

Patrick, a regular, walked over to us. Just like the Dougs in the movie “Hangover”, Patrick is White Patrick and I’m Black Patrick. Just like Black Doug, y’all better watch that shit when you say it around me.

“That’s the Casey Anthony lawyer,” Patrick said in his deep Southern drawl.

“What?” I answered.

I looked at the Latino guy. As him and his date stood at the jukebox, he was putting in money.

“That’s…” I started.

Yoda held a finger to his lips, signaling me to keep my drunken big mouth shut.

Yep, it was Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s defense lawyer.

Patrick kept mumbling negative about him.

“He was just doing his job, man,” I told Patrick. “One day, you might need him on your side.”

“I just want to give him my opinion,” Patrick said.

“Just let it go, dawg.”

Johnny Diggs left.

Earlier, Mike had picked some music on the jukebox. So, when Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover” came on, I asked Mike did he pick it.

Nope, we realized Jose may have picked the song. That’s why I hate those Internet jukeboxes. For another credit, you can skip other songs waiting to be played. Tonight, Mike may have owned the privilege of having his songs skipped by the infamous Jose Baez. Damn, Jose even did it with a Mariah Carey song.

The blonde I met earlier spoke up.

“Mariah Carey is a one tap wonder,” she said. “You tap her until she hits her high note and leave.”

As his date was drinking a mixed drink, Jose drunk a Heineken.

Normally, here in Wallys’, we would see local, big-time lawyer John Morgan. Tonight, we witnessed the infamous Jose Baez scamming for some pussy.

“Wait until I tell my mother this,” I told my friends. “My mother can’t stand his ass.”

We didn’t stay much longer. As usual, Mike had drove Yoda and I here. Because he had to soon leave, Yoda and I had to leave also.

Yoda and Mike paid the tab. As usual, I was broke. Then, before we exited, I shook Patrick’s hand.

“Tell your mama who you saw tonight,” he said.

I laughed.

“I will, bro,” I said.

Orlando Nightlife Columnist Tod Caviness: An Interview

Poet recites and holding a Yuengling

Orlando’s Tod Caviness writes the nightlife column for The Orlando Sentinel. Once a month, he hosts The Speakeasy at Will’s Pub, an open-mic poetry reading. By readers choice, three times he won Orlando Weekly’s Best Spoken-Word artist. A long friend of mine, I asked him to grace this humble blog for an interview.

1. Tell us your literary history.
The usual high school poetry and journaling. Some short stories that will hopefully never see the light of day, although some of it still makes me smile when I dig it out of the attic.

2. What is  your Orlando literary history?
Really, the “literary” history starts in Orlando. I didn’t start writing with intent until after I moved here in the mid-’90s, and I still credit the old Backroom Words and the larger spoken word scene for a big part of that. Sometime after the Backroom Words morphed into Speakeasy, I weaseled my way into some freelance work for an arts & entertainment site called Orlando Citybeat. (Later known as Orlando Metromix, before the Orlando Sentinel dropped it entirely.) I find that the “old days” are never as cool as we remember, but man, do I miss doing comic book reviews and that oddball karaoke column I used to write with Trevor Fraser.

Anyway, that led to full-time grunt work with the Sentinel and eventually the features reporting job I have now. Although my days of “slam poetry” (or whatever you want to call it) are largely in the rear-view, I still keep a toehold in the scene through my monthly gig hosting Speakeasy at Will’s Pub and spoken word events at the annual Orlando Fringe Festival.

3. Explain your Orlando Sentinel blog.
The blog’s just a small part of my job, which is basically the same nightlife beat the late Kelly Fitzpatrick used to cover. And man, do I owe her for it – I would not have gotten the foot in the door way back when without Kelly and I hope I can keep doing this with half the sense of humor she had.

When I’m not coming up with synonyms for “cocktail,” I’m a general features reporter, which means I write about a wide range of entertainment topics. Basically, whatever I can convince my editor to print. I’ve interviewed everyone from local burlesque dancers to Art Spiegelman. All this is not quite as fun as it sounds … but yeah, it’s still a lot of fun.

4. What are your views on Orlando’s nightlife?
Man, does Orlando love chasing trends. Luckily, the primary trends at the moment are craft beer and better cocktails, and I can’t argue with either of those. Who doesn’t want better drinks? Orlando may not have blazed any trails, but we’re quick learners: Florida’s one of the fastest-growing states for microbreweries, and the bartenders at joints like The Courtesy and Matador really care about what they do. All this, and there’s still room for the old guard like Wally’s and Will’s. It’s a good mix. I think a few areas are reaching the saturation point (ahem, downtown), but after the smoke clears the worthy bars are still going to have a clientele.

5. Any memorable moments?
Man, I wish I had more Bukowski moments, but the best part of this job is just letting bartenders talk and watching people. There’s a bar a few miles north of College Park, and I found the markers where a couple regulars are buried in the backyard. (Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you which one.) They’re still there, if you know where to look. That probably seems sad to some people, but I dunno – sometimes the ties you make at bars are the strongest. The friendships I made at Will’s back in the day have lasted longer than 99% of the people who signed my high school yearbook.

6. Anyone given you backlash over a review?
Sure. It’s funny, though – most people are just glad to be mentioned, even if it’s lukewarm. It’s when I don’t mention them that I hear about it. God forbid I do a roundup of dive bars or whatever and (insert hole-in-the-wall here) isn’t on the list. People, I cover six counties. That’s a lot of bars.

7. I forgot the specifics. Yet, you mentioned a Southern site not mentioning any Orlando bars.
Oh yeah! Southern Living did some “Top 100” list awhile back. But a lot of the buzzworthy spots have just been popping up in the last couple years; give it time. And let’s be honest, this was a magazine that my Mom reads for cake recipes.

8. What are your views on Uber? (Uber is a mobile phone network connecting clients to available drivers. Worldwide, taxi companies hate it.)
Don’t really know enough about it to have a strong opinion, but I know a couple legitimate cabbies around town and you can probably guess theirs. I know if I were drunk and looking for a ride, it probably wouldn’t make my top 3 options.

9. Any future projects or plans?
I’ve just recently become a Dad, which has a way of putting anything beyond the 9-to-5 on hold. Despite that, it’s shaping up to be a good year: I’ve got a short story coming out on the next “15 Views of Orlando” anthology from Burrow Press, and I’m in talks with a publisher in Tampa to knock out my first book of poetry in awhile. So far, so good.