Giuseppe Carillo rolls the Five-Star hotel’s heaving gin trolley over to your group. Then the bouffant-haired mixologist specialist with a boyish smile wordlessly studies each person and makes a snap recommendation to suit their palate. His predictions hit the spot—a yuzu-forward Ki No Bi gin from Kyoto selection for a citrus fan and Iron Balls from Thailand for someone seeking a taste of the exotic.
Once he receives approval, Carillo gets to work, expertly measuring out proportions, cutting up fresh fruit, swirling cinnamon sticks and coaxing the fragrant oil from an orange rind. As he concocts the G&Ts, he regales the crowd with stories about the gins and life in glitzy Macau.
The tableside trolley, the warm and knowledgeable service, the chanteuse belting out standards in the background and the personalized cocktails all add up to a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s why The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge landed on Forbes Travel Guide’s 2019 list of the World’s Best Hotel Bars.
The best-of list comes from comprehensive data gathered by the company’s inspectors, who stay at nearly 1,100 hotels anonymously and evaluate them based on up to 900 standards for the guide’s annual Star Ratings, which were unveiled in February.
Being named one of Forbes Travel Guide’s Best Hotel Bars isn’t just a matter of serving top-notch drinks or having a certain atmosphere; the venues had to demonstrate an exceptional beverage program, presentation and service. Winners made the data-driven list by scoring top marks on bar standards related to elements of luxury. For example, inspectors checked to see if the beverages had a distinctive presentation, the snacks were high quality, the napkins were linen or cotton, and the overall bar experience was impressive.
The bars also had to achieve near-perfect scores on food and beverage quality standards, which measure things such as whether the cocktails are well-balanced and served at the right temperature.
Get acquainted with the top hotel drinking destinations below.
Britain’s oldest-surviving cocktail bar wrote the primer on classic drinks (1930’s The Savoy Cocktail Book). Visit the icon to try something vintage (White Lady with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, egg white) or new (Electric Lover, a “Purple Rain”-inspired tipple with glitter).
Oriental Lounge, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Gaze out across Tokyo to Mount Fuji from the floor-to-ceiling windows of this sophisticated 38th-floor lounge. To drink in the view longer, order a Manhattan, Scotch egg with truffle mayonnaise and katsu sando (pork cutlet sandwich).
Il Bar, Bulgari Resort Bali
Watch the sky erupt into violet over the ocean during sunset at this alfresco bar. For a proper sundowner, try the Bulgari Cocktail (concocted with Beefeater gin, Campari and orange, lime and pineapple juices).
Bistrot B Lounge • Bar, Rosewood Beijing
During the day, impeccably dressed executives head into the neutral-hued bar in Beijing’s business district for caffeine, but at night they go there to loosen their ties, graze on spicy almonds and roasted macadamia nuts, and order rounds of Old Fashioneds.
The Club Bar, The Peninsula Beverly Hills
Hollywood power players fill the tan leather chairs in the California-birch-lined bar. Work the room while sipping a Blossoming Indigo (made with Empress gin, cucumber, lemon juice, rhubarb and tonic) and snacking on manchego, kettle-cooked potato chips and marinated Kalamata, Manzanilla and Liguria olives.
Rowes Wharf Bar, Boston Harbor Hotel
The handsome bar boasts Boston’s largest scotch collection, but it also takes pride in crafting cocktails like the Irish Rose (a mix of Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey, Boston Bittahs, angostura bitters, simple syrup, smoked rose buds). Either way, you can’t lose.
Park Lounge, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, California
Get a glimpse of the sun sinking into the Pacific while nursing a nutty Liquid Sky (with Don Julio Blanco, housemade almond Tajín simple syrup, lime juice and orange bitters) and munching on tequila-lime-marinated almonds.
Z Bar, The Peninsula Chicago
On sizzling nights, cool off at this chic rooftop terrace with The Z (a combination of mint, cucumber, Italian bergamot rosolio and Koval gin). And when chilly weather arrives, warm up by the fire with daikon frites (daikon fingers with Chinese sausage, garlic chives, radish and white soy).
33°North, Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, California
Southern California’s ever present sun begs for a tropical tipple like the Beached Quail (with Smith & Cross rum, Wild Turkey 101, orange curaçao, pineapple, cinnamon syrup and lime juice). Bring it to the patio and toast to the gorgeous sunset.
Bahri Bar, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Dubai
Live bands and DJs pump soul and jazz into this bar that overlooks the waterways and the Arabian Gulf. Soak up the scene while partaking in a mezze platter and a Behind the Times (Glenfiddich Project with date-honey syrup and aromatic bitters).
Le Bar des Bergues, Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva
Mere feet from Lake Geneva, Le Bar des Bergues lets you imbibe while admiring the blasting Jet d’Eau and soaring Mont Blanc. You’re guaranteed drinks as good as the view: It’s helmed by Sophie Larrouture, who became Switzerland’s best bartender when she won the World Class competition in 2016.
The Bar, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
At The Bar, illuminated waterfalls trickle and a weekend jazz band livens the crowd, but your attention will be on cocktails featuring local ingredients, like the popular Genuine Care (a fusion of gin, sake and sencha green tea produced in Kyoto, plus yuzu jam and zest, grapefruit, chamomile-pineapple syrup and liquorice bitters), and indulgent dishes like Japanese caviar and kuroge wagyu burgers.
Alpina Lounge & Bar, The Alpina Gstaad, Gstaad, Switzerland
To take in the Swiss Alps, visit this rustic-modern watering hole, order a fruity Hattori Hanzo (a blend of sake, apple juice, peach liqueur and rose syrup) and peer through the floor-to-ceiling windows framing the mountains. Or venture out to the terrace for a closer look.
M Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Zip up to the 25th floor for a rooftop hot spot overlooking glittering cityscapes and Victoria Harbour. The sultry, dimly lit space shakes up lavish libations (like the Bespoke Champagne Cocktail with Rémy Martin Louis XIII, Krug Grande Cuvée and gold flakes) and serves fare from Five-Star chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Ritz Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
Visit this crimson-hued bar for a low-key vibe and bold drinks with local ties, like the vodka-based 18 3838, whose ultraviolet shade pays homage to the city’s jacaranda trees, and Gorreana Ice Tea 1883, a tribute to Europe’s oldest tea plantation in the Azores.
The Executive Lounge, Hotel 41, London
The elegant bar showers hotel guests with complimentary food, like tea-smoked duck and plum jam, croque monsieur and a freezer of Jude’s Ice Cream in flavors like gin and tonic. Cap off your snacking with an espresso martini.
Connaught Bar, The Connaught, London
The silver and gray bar channels Gatsby glamour. Go for a nostalgic number (such as the Champagne cocktail Fleurissimo, which honors former guest Princess Grace of Monaco) or an original option (like Illumination, which has Bacardi 8 rum, Michoacan mezcal, Sangue Morlacco, chocolate malt Chablis, Galliano L’Aperitivo, cardamom bitters and fig molasses).
Martini Bar, The Villas at AYANA Resort, BALI
There’s more to this open-air Bali spot than martinis. Sidle up to the glass-topped bar for the Grilled Chicken Colada—rum-infused pineapple, coconut puree, vanilla syrup, pineapple juice and housemade chicken stock arrive in a whimsical drumstick-shaped vessel.
Artesian, The Langham, London
As bars keep pushing flashy presentations and complex cocktails that make for good Instagram fodder, this beloved haunt is bucking the trend and paring back. Minimalist tipples like Michter’s bourbon and pear let the quality ingredients shine.
The Bar, The Peninsula Manila
Bedecked in checkered flooring and wood walls, the bar gleans inspiration from an old Cuban-cigar factory (it’s the hotel’s smoking area). Sample pica-pica (finger food) like pork sisig croquetas (balls of creamy béchamel and crispy pork) and Sriracha butter duck wings, and sip on the Batangas Old Fashioned, which swaps in Maker’s Mark infused with Kapeng Barako (a Filipino coffee variety).
The Bar, Royal Mansour Marrakech
When you’re in an opulent hotel owned by the king of Morocco, you know that the bar will be a stunner. The space doesn’t disappoint, with floor-to-ceiling mirrors coated in rose-gold leaf bearing white-gold foliage designs that create infinite reflections. Imbibe like royalty with a flute of Royal Mansour (Champagne Billecart-Salmon infused with fresh raspberries and Sahara honey).
MO Bar + Lounge, Mandarin Oriental, Miami
Reach for The Made and the Born (with gin, bourbon syrup, Florida citrus, bitters and nutmeg) and the ceviche roll at this posh lounge. Then sway to live Cuban jazz or Spanish guitar, or simply enjoy panoramas of the water and the skyline from the wall of windows.
Europe’s highest hotel bar delivers breathtaking London views. But peel your eyes from the 52nd-floor vistas to take in the Hong Kong Saudade—a fruity spin on the caipirinha made with Abelha cachaca, HKB Baijiu, peach liqueur, white peach purée, agave syrup, peach bitters and lime juice.
The St. Regis Bar & Wine Vault, The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami
This modern gem gleams with black marble floors and antique mirrored walls. Wine is the drink of choice in these sleek surroundings. The impressive vault carries 2,500 bottles from 450 vineyards and 14 different countries.
Caffè Parigi, Palazzo Parigi Hotel & Grand Spa Milano
Escape from the bustle of Milan at this dreamy Paris-inspired bar, which has a hand-painted ceiling, inlaid parquet, abundant art and a private garden. A refuge within the green space, the Winter Garden is where to linger over Aperol spritzes during aperitivo (Milan’s riff on the happy hour).
You’ll want to stay a while in the tufted chairs fronting the fireplace at the inviting Le Bar. Sip the delectable Lips Like Sugar (with saffron-infused Patron Silver, Aperol, grapefruit juice, green lemon, beer syrup and aquafaba) while you warm up.
Le Bar du Bristol, Le Bristol Paris
During the day, the stylish bar offers seasonally changing cocktails and gourmet bites like king crab spring rolls and black truffle pizzetta from respected chef Eric Frechon. But at night (Thursday to Saturday), it transforms into B.A.D. (Bristol After Dark), with DJs and debauchery.
Ritz Bar, Ritz Paris
The hotel’s first bar debuted in 1921 to cater to guests like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. It delightfully remains in that era, with Art Deco décor and sterling service. For a taste of the modern, order the Kaffir (an amalgam of mezcal, kaffir syrup, maraschino, Bénédictine and angostura).
Les Ambassadeurs, Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, Paris
Under a painted blue-sky ceiling, the luxurious bar is swathed in marble and gold. Catch the daily live music; nosh on black truffle and Comté finger sandwiches, and foie gras and orange wine jelly with ginger bread; and sip bubbly—Les Ambassadeurs serves more than 100 different kinds.
Thirsty Camel, The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
Pop into the cheekily named bar for a Cloud Nine (Belvedere vodka, St-Germain, lime juice, mint, cucumber, simple syrup and egg white), regional fare like empanadas and churros, and live music. Don’t miss the striking Sonoran sunset from the terrace.
Carlton Bar & Lobby with Terrace, Carlton Hotel St. Moritz
It’s hard to pick which is cozier: sitting near the flames of two 1913 fireplaces in the wood-paneled lobby or under a blanket in the sun-soaked terrace overlooking the frozen lake and snowy mountains. You’ll feel even more snug with an Apple Pie in the Sky (made with Etter Vieille Pomme Royale, cinnamon liqueur, apple juice, chestnut honey and Louis Roederer Champagne).
The Oak Room, The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, Sea Island, Georgia
Look out on the golf course at this members- and hotel-guests-only bar that turns out Southern staples (such as chicken and dumplings and shrimp and grits) to go with your single-malt scotch. It’s enough to make you want to check into the Five-Star hotel.
The Bar, Aman Venice
Venice was a muse for one-time resident Lord Byron, and the writer inspired this tony bar facing a Grand Canal-side secret garden. While the bar stocks the city’s largest gin collection, try the Vigorous (bourbon, vanilla, chamomile, chocolate bitters, muscovado sugar and orange smoke) to pair with the cicchetti (Venetian tapas), including crispy gnocchi and baccalà (salt cod).
Bar Cristal, Encore Macau
The Macau bar sparkles with a mirror-backed bar, etched-glass accents and an ornate 19th-century chandelier from France. The intimate, sumptuous surroundings call for popping open a bottle of Louis Roederer.
The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton, Macau
Perched on the 51st floor of the hotel, this glamorous, low-lit bar draws lots of locals with its warm, wood-filled space; lofty views of the sprawling Galaxy Macau complex; and luscious drinks like Padua Punch (Aperol, pisco, Riesling, lime juice, simple syrup, orange juice, bitters and egg white).
Garden Room, Weekapaug Inn, Westerly, Rhode Island
Sit in one of the antique Stickley chairs and savor a taste of New England at this bar with some comforting clam chowder or a fresh lobster roll, along with a Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned (Sapling maple bourbon from Vermont, water, bitters).
Skyview Bar & Restaurant, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai
Peek at the floating fronds of Palm Jumeirah from the 27th floor of the sail-shaped Dubai hotel while savoring decadent drinks like the Burj Royale (with marries Louis Roederer Brut and Stolichnaya vanilla vodka with Chambord, raspberries and blackberries).
Atrium Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
Tucked inside a 15th-century Florence palazzo, the light-filled lounge emanates Old World grandeur. Sink into the plush sofa, order from the Negroni trolley and nosh on bar bites like tempura Parmigiano or ricotta mousse with smoked duck.
Great Room, The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana
Only guests of the Five-Star ranch can slip into this rustic bar for some country music and refreshments. The Bandito (made with coriander-infused añejo tequila) arrives on a cowhide coaster, alongside snacks like roasted green beans topped with toasted breadcrumbs and marinated maitake mushrooms.
The Bar at The Dorchester, London
A fixture at the popular lounge for more than 30 years, bar manager Giuliano Morandin says that patrons clamor for the Martinez (Dorchester Old Tom, Punt e Mes, Maraschino Luxardo, Boker’s bitters)—the forerunner to the martini. Order it with one of Morandin’s favorite dishes, the seafood linguine.
Mandarin Bar & Bistrot, Mandarin Oriental, Milan
In Italy’s fashion capital, Mandarin Bar looks the part with black-and-white kaleidoscopic mosaic marble walls. But its courtyard goes for the natural look with greenery and soft lighting. No matter your style, seek out a Treasure Map (Veuve Clicquot Rich; pineapple, yuzu, mint and green chili pepper; and Williams pear liqueur).
Post Bar, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
The underlit honey-onyx tables make the space look new, but the white coffered ceiling and red postal boxes are remnants of the 1928 building’s former life as the General Post Office. Try the Mile Zero Cocktail (with vodka, Irish cream liqueur and Milo powder).
Bougainvillea and olive and palm trees blanket this 40-acre Moorish retreat. For the most picturesque perspective, head to Inara’s terrace to admire the fountain rimmed with towering trees. Expect drinks with ingredients like mint, ginger and dates.
Koubba Bar, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Dubai
Sip a gin and tonic (there’s a menu dedicated to them) from an alfresco sofa next to the treetops of surrounding palms. As the sun wanes, arabesque lanterns light up so that you can work your way through the various G&Ts into the wee hours.
Source: The World’s 44 Best Hotel Bars
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Men have floated out the hatch on all 420 spacewalks conducted over the past half-century. That changed Friday with spacewalk No. 421.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station before 8 a.m. ET Friday and will spend over five hours replacing a broken battery charger, or BCDU. NASA’s livestream of the historic spacewalk features astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson as one of the female narrators.
The units have previously been replaced using a robotic arm, but the newly failed unit is too far for it to reach.
The units regulate how much energy flows from the station’s massive solar panels to battery units, which are used to provide power during nighttime passes around Earth. Three previous spacewalks had been planned to replace lithium-ion batteries, but those will be rescheduled until the latest BCDU issue is resolved.
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The hardware failure does present some concern, especially since another BCDU was replaced in April and there are only four more backups on the station. In total, there are 24 operational BCDUs.
The battery charger failed after Koch and a male crewmate installed new batteries outside the space station last week. NASA put the remaining battery replacements on hold to fix the problem and moved up the women’s planned spacewalk by three days.
All four men aboard the ISS remained inside during Friday’s spacewalk.
The spacewalk is Koch’s fourth and Meir’s first.
Koch and Meir will have some time left over during their extravehicular activity, or EVA, to finish additional tasks like hardware installations for the European Space Agency.
The planned EVA comes almost seven months since the first all-female spacewalk was canceled due to a lack of properly sized spacesuits for astronauts Koch and Anne McClain. Astronaut Nick Hague ended up joining Koch instead.
But this time, the right spacesuit hardware is in place.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history months after the first all-female spacewalk was supposed to take place with Anne McClain. USA TODAY
NASA, meanwhile, is asking schoolteachers to share photos of their students celebrating “HERstory in the making.” The pictures could be featured on the spacewalk broadcast.
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Russia holds claim to the first spacewalk in 1965 and also the first spacewalk by a woman in 1984. The U.S. trailed by a few months in each instance.
As of Thursday, men dominated the spacewalking field, 213 to 14.
Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbiting lab last month, will be the 15th female spacewalker. Koch, an electrical engineer, is seven months into an 11-month spaceflight that will be the longest by a woman.
Contributing: Emre Kelly, Florida Today; Associated Press
A strengthening weather disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to intensify into Tropical or Subtropical Storm Nestor Friday before making landfall over the Florida Panhandle, bringing strong winds, storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, and even the chance of tornadoes, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 11 a.m. ET, the system had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, the hurricane center said.
After hitting the Panhandle, the system was then expected to track northeast through the weekend, pounding a swath from Georgia through the Carolinas with heavy rainfall and gusty winds.
Gale-force winds are possible along portions of the Atlantic coast of the southeastern United States by Saturday.
A risk of severe weather, including tornadoes, is also expected along parts of the Florida Gulf Coast late Friday and across northern and central Florida, southeast Georgia and the coastal Carolinas on Saturday, the Weather Channel said.
A cluster or line of strong to severe thunderstorms will likely push into northern Florida on Saturday morning, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson. Tornadoes would be possible within this area, as well as in other thunderstorms and squall lines forming just to the east and northeast of Nestor as the storm tracks inland.
The system, labeled Potential Tropical Cyclone 16, was located early Friday about 395 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida, and was moving to the northeast at 22 mph.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, of Florida, warned on Twitter of the possibility of heavy rain and isolated tornadoes and called on residents to prepare for the chance of flooding and power outages.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the Mississippi and Alabama border to Yankeetown, Florida, about 90 miles north of Tampa, and from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River.
A storm surge warning was also in effect from Indian Pass to Clearwater Beach, Florida. “A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline,” the hurricane center said.
High schools from Alabama to the eastern Florida Panhandle canceled or postponed football games scheduled for Friday night, and officials in Panama City tried to assure residents that the storm wouldn’t be a repeat of Category 5 Hurricane Michael last year.
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You may have seen “REAL ID” in the news or at the airport. But what is it? What do you need to know about it? Do you need one? How will it impact your travel? All these questions are important to ask so that you can be prepared and avoid any travel delays or problems.
What Is REAL ID?
REAL ID is the result of an act passed by Congress in 2005. Congress was attempting to cut down on domestic terrorism threats following 9/11. They decided that across-the-board, minimum security standards needed to be put in place for issuing driver’s licenses and other ID cards that normally are overseen by the state and used for air travel.
Getting a REAL ID requires more paperwork than you might need for a traditional license in the past. Additionally, REAL IDs are made using advanced technology that makes them more difficult to fake.
Of course, rolling a country-wide change to identification out across all states takes some time, which is why, 14 years after the act was passed, it’s still not totally solidified. However, by Oct. 1, 2020, every state must be in compliance with the act. That means starting Oct. 1, 2020, you’ll need a REAL ID in order to fly domestically.
I Have A New Driver’s License — Do I Need Another One?
Maybe not. If you have a driver’s license with a black or gold star, a black or gold circle with an outline of the star in the center, or a bear in the upper right corner of the card, then you have a REAL ID. To know where you stand, the best bet is to check with your state government.
If your new license says “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply,” then that means it is not a REAL ID. You won’t be able to use it for flying domestically starting next October.
To make matters even more confusing, some states are issuing driver’s licenses that are a form of REAL ID, in that they’re not normal driver’s licenses, but you can’t use them for air travel. This is called an Enhanced Driver’s License.
Note that you can only use them for getting into the Caribbean, Canada or Mexico via land or sea (so a good option for someone taking a cruise, maybe). You cannot use them for air travel. States issuing Enhanced Driver’s Licenses include Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington State.
Also, did you physically get your new license at a DMV office and did you present the clerk with your birth certificate, passport, social security card and/or other forms of identification proof? If not, you probably didn’t get a REAL ID.
Bottom line — if you’re not 100 percent sure that you have a REAL ID, it’s best to check. States aren’t giving out the REAL ID licenses automatically, so you have to actively choose to get one. Check out the Department of Homeland Security’s page for more information.
I Have A Passport. Do I Still Need A REAL ID?
Nope. If you have a passport or another form of TSA-approved identification, then you can still fly domestically using that. You also don’t need a REAL ID if you’re flying and you’re under 18 years of age.
If, though, you don’t have a passport or the equivalent, you’re going to need to get that REAL ID in order to fly domestically.
What Can I Expect When Flying Next Year?
If you are aware of the REAL ID requirements and you have yourself covered ahead of any flights taking place after Oct. 1, 2020, then you’re in the clear. However, that doesn’t mean that flying shortly after the REAL ID deadline will be easy.
The U.S. Travel Association released a statement regarding a survey conducted that said three out of four of all Americans are totally unprepared for the REAL ID deadline. Furthermore, millions of people could be prevented from boarding their planes shortly after the deadline falls.
Currently, 72 percent of Americans either don’t have a REAL ID or are unsure whether or not they have a REAL ID. Plus, 57 percent said they didn’t even know about the deadline. The U.S. Travel Association also said that, if REAL ID standards are fully enforced starting Oct. 1, 2020, as many as 78,500 air travelers could be turned away at TSA that day.
Not only would this cost the U.S. economy $40.3 million in lost travel-related spending, but it means a lot of frustrations at the airport and likely longer lines at TSA for those who do have their REAL ID.
In order to minimize the impact of travelers not being prepared for next year’s deadline, the U.S. Travel Association recommends that Congress amends its REAL ID Act to allow for mobile REAL ID applications, making it easier for travelers to get their REAL ID without going to the DMV. It also asks for it to allow for other forms of travel identification, such as enrollment in a program like TSA PreCheck, to stand in for a REAL ID.
Fall is peak foodie season—and packed with great culinary events, from coast to coast. If you’re hungry for a culinary adventure this autumn, try these standout food festivals. They’re as fun as they are delicious.
The South Beach Seafood Festival is much like the Miami neighborhood that gives it its name: chic, glossy and very VIP.
This weeklong event includes ticketed dinners where cutting-edge chefs do their stuff in exclusive locations.
Star chefs doing innovative things with expensive ingredients is a big part of the event. But there are still plenty of affordable, family-friendly activities to enjoy.
Pop-up cafes will serve great inexpensive food in the balmy air. DJs will spin music. And the Milam’s Markets Culinary Showcase Kitchen will feature live cooking demos, so attendees can sharpen their kitchen skills.
People in Arkansas take their cornbread seriously.
That’s all to the culinary benefit of visitors to this late-October event in Little Rock’s fashionable SoMa district.
But great cornbread isn’t all there is here. There’s also live music and artisan booths, heaps of Southern cooking besides cornpone and lots of debate about those eternal cornbread questions: White flower or yellow? Sugar or no sugar? Baking pan or cast-iron skillet?
The festival peaks with a cornbread baking competition that Southern foodies take very seriously. Festival attendees get to vote for the winner, so get ready to sample lots of the big-flavored golden stuff that gives this event its reason for being.
Just shy of Wisconsin’s northern border, the small town of Eagle River celebrates one of autumn’s quintessential foods. More than 40,000 visitors buy 10,000-plus pounds of fresh and dried cranberries there each October. Impressive for a town with a population of 1,500.
The event is both culinary and educational. Sure, visitors will get their fill of cranberry pancakes, cranberry sausages, hot cranapple cider and shredded cranberry pork sandwiches. But they can also tour the local cranberry marsh to learn about the role that this tiny red fruit has played in Eagle River’s economy and culture over the centuries.
And to round out a long weekend of fun, there’s an art show, an antiques market and live entertainment.
A big festival in a small town is great. But a small festival in a big city can be just as delicious.
Each October, New York City’s Lower East Side celebrates its immigrant history with Pickle Day. In a nod to the neighborhood’s long-ago pushcart market, vendors line three city blocks with pickled everything, courtesy of local restaurants and other picklers.
There’s also live music, face painting, carnival games and a giant talking pickle.
If you don’t actually make it to lower Manhattan to give pickled watermelon, kimchi or good ol’ pickle-on-a-stick a whirl, you can still get in on the fun. The festival sells whimsical Pickle Day merchandise online. It’s perfect for pickle enthusiasts everywhere.
Don’t worry. There’s no actual roadkill at this festival. But if it was called the “West Virginia Wild Game Cook-off,” it just wouldn’t be as fun.
And fun is at the heart of this quirky event in the tiny town of Marlinton, West Virginia. At the end of each September, inventive chefs assemble here from all over the country.
They join locals in taking a gourmet approach to ingredients ranging from the humble—like squirrel, deer and rabbit—to the exotic—think iguana, snapping turtle and wild boar.
In addition to the chance to try once-in-a-lifetime dishes like squirrel gravy over biscuits and teriyaki-marinated bear, visitors get to enjoy a bit of true Americana. Come for the rabbit Alfredo, stay for the square dancing and Miss Roadkill contest.
Ready to taste your way through fall? With these mouthwatering food festivals on your calendar, this could be your most appetizing autumn yet.
A former downtown development professional, Natalie Burg is a freelancer who writes about growth, entrepreneurialism and innovation.
This article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide medical or legal advice, or to indicate the availability or suitability of any product or service for your unique circumstances.
Capital One does not provide, endorse, or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.
Topline: The once high-flying FAANG stocks—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet—have mostly lagged the broader S&P 500 index over the past year, signaling that the market may turn to new leadership for the next leg of its advance.
- With the recent exception of Apple—which reached a new record high last week, the FAANGs have been in somewhat of a slump, as high price volatility takes a toll on their long-time status as momentum stocks.
- Amazon and Facebook are both 13% off their record highs, while Netflix is down 31% from its peak last year; Google, on the other hand, is just 4% from its record high.
- These popular, high-profile names have driven the bull market to new heights in recent years, and as a result were increasingly treated as parts of a whole when it came to trading patterns.
- But over the last 6 to 12 months, the FAANGs have not been leading the market as they once did, with Wall Street now pricing in slower growth rates, rising costs and the potential for more government oversight.
- “These stocks have made people a lot of money, but they won’t trade as a group the way they did for several years,” says Charles Lemonides, chief investment officer of ValueWorks LLC.
- Lemonides predicts that Wall Street will increasingly stop talking about the FAANGs as a group, as they go from being growth stocks absolutely adored by the investing public to companies that are perceived to have their own different business challenges.
Key background: Analyst recommendations are increasingly varied on each of the FAANGs, which adds to the notion that they aren’t viewed as a group anymore. Most Wall Street analysts still assign “buy” ratings, though: 52% for Apple, 87.5% for Alphabet, 69% for Netflix, 96% for Amazon and 87% for Facebook, according to Bloomberg data.
In the dizzying world of technology startups, it’s easy to get lost in the hype of hot trends such as AI, blockchain, VR/AR and machine learning. What is often forgotten is the fact that some of the best startups in the world solve the simplest of problems.
This is exactly the approach that Pascal Henry, who is the CEO and cofounder of HReasily, took when he identified the fundamental needs of rapidly growing SMEs–to manage their human resources more efficiently.
Henry launched his Singapore-based HR firm in late 2015 as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business that enables companies to increase productivity by using technology to streamline traditional processes such as payroll processing, leave management and expense claims.
“When I was running my first startup in Singapore, I had to do a lot of the manual processes myself. I felt the pain and the drain of it,” explains Henry. “It was taking up a lot of my time and energy, when I should have been focusing on building my business.”
Improving productivity and efficiency
HReasily’s mission is simple: To innovate and automate HR throughout the world. As one of the fastest-growing cloud-based HR SaaS companies in the region, their simple modules and features aim to transform many of the legacy HR processes and automate them to be accessible anytime and anywhere. Currently the company offers seven modules including payroll, staff leave, employee contracts and attendance. As HReasily grows, it continues to add product lines aimed at empowering companies to scale faster.
Previously, many businesses used solutions that each looked after a particular silo of an HR department. So you’d have one system to manage your payroll calculations, one for leave and others for other functions.
“What happened was you had to log in and out of many various systems, and these systems cost a huge amount of money,” says Henry. “What we’ve done is build a solution that is very affordable that integrates with all the functions on a unified platform.”
A simple but elegant business model HReasily runs a subscription-based revenue model. Starting with payroll, which is at the core of every traditional HR office, the company offers premium versions that run on monthly or yearly subscriptions, with add-on modules available such as staff leave and time attendance. This past summer at the RISE 2019 conference in Hong Kong, Henry and his team unveiled their latest benefits management module which will soon allow customers to acquire group level insurance, healthcare and even apply for credit cards or loans.
HReasily says its competitive advantage lies in its customer base, which is mostly SMEs. By initially focusing on the fundamental needs of this particular segment, the company has earned the support of larger banking and government agencies and has become known as an “SME champion.” Not surprisingly, as the company has grown it says that it began to attract larger corporations, publicly listed companies, multinational corporations and even payroll outsourcing firms.
“As we grew we acquired a more diverse customer base,” Henry says, “because a lot of larger companies are tired of the older and expensive solutions because they need to be installed on premise and they require a refresher every year when rules and regulations change.”
Partnerships are the key to rapid growth
Being based in Singapore has allowed HReasily to capitalize on the rapid growth in Southeast Asia. SME’s account for 97% of all the enterprises in the region, and employ half of the workforce, according to data from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). HReasily’s growth has been nothing short of impressive. With nearly 30,000 companies on their platform and more than 100 new companies onboarding every day, HReasily is said to be growing rapidly in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Some of HReasily’s notable customers include Love Bonito (in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong), Sambat Finance (Cambodia), OnlinePajak (Indonesia) and TechInAsia. As the company looks to complete their coverage of Asia, the next major market they look to tackle is mainland China followed by Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar and Australia.
Investors have taken notice of the company’s growth as well. Fresh off a pre-series A funding round of $5 million from Envy Capital, HReasily is currently estimated to be valued at more than $100 million. Henry admits that the company’s rapid growth in the region has only been possible with the early support from their key strategic partners.
HReasily has been working with Citibank, Mazars and Stripe. The partnership with Mazars, which was a lead investor from the startup’s first round of funding, gives them access to a global audit, advisory and payroll outsourcing firm with 300 offices in 100 countries. Henry says it allows HReasily to localize its solutions to each individual market.
“Today, building a solid ecosystem of strategic partners is very important because you come from different angles, but you all serve one customer, which is the SME or the business,” says Henry. “By coming together, we collectively create a great end-to-end experience for them. There’s strength in numbers.”
Eduardo Saverin and Rajarshi “Raj” Ganguly are two of the three cofounders of B Capital Group, a venture capital firm with close to $800 million, split between a first and a second fund (still being raised). The third cofounder is legendary investor Howard Morgan. Brazilian Saverin, 37, is based in Singapore and best known for being the cofounder of Facebook – whose shares in it give him a net worth estimated at about $10 billion.
Americans Ganguly, 43, and Morgan, 73, come from diverse backgrounds. Ganguly, based in Los Angeles, spent his early career at Bain Capital, overseeing a number of investments. Morgan, based in New York, helped start ARPAnet, the internet’s precursor, in the 1970s, and later was president of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
B Capital has dual headquarters in Los Angeles and Singapore, as well as offices in New York and San Francisco, with a total of 40 full-time staff. B Capital focuses on companies already in series B or C rounds, generally over $10 million in revenue, and looks to invest roughly $20 million. The trio would like to keep the total number of companies in each fund to about 20.
The firm has the slogan “innovation without borders,” reflecting the founders’ belief that innovation can originate anywhere, not just in Silicon Valley. B Capital also uses global consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to help it grow startups and match them with larger firms. Saverin and Ganguly sat down with Forbes Asia in an exclusive interview in September at Singapore’s Shangri-La hotel to discuss their goals for B Capital.
Forbes Asia: How are you deploying your capital into startups?
Eduardo Saverin: Primarily we focus on companies that have an existing level of traction. There are a lot of places where you could invest in technology, but you need to have an edge and focus. For us, together with our relationship with BCG, it’s about accelerating growth. Most companies we invest in have a B2B angle. When the company is still an idea on a napkin, it’s hard for us to introduce them to some of the largest companies in the world. So we tend to invest where there’s a particular amount of value that we can bring through those corporate introductions and value acceleration, which means they tend to translate to series B and beyond. But frankly the staging is fungible. It’s about traction.
Raj Ganguly: As we build the firm we want to be really conscious of being able to invest into some companies really early, probably smaller amounts of capital, and as some of those companies scale and grow, we want to bring larger amounts of capital to those companies. Then finally for some of the companies that really continue to go into highly accelerated growth mode, we would actually not just double-down, but we would take outsized ownership stakes. As we’re growing the capital, we’re increasing our ability to invest across multiple stages. The best use of our capital, rather than finding a new investment, is finding a company in our portfolio where we can see the trajectory of the company before an outsider can see it.
What is the value-add you want to bring to your entrepreneurs?
Ganguly: We focus on doing three things really well ourselves and then partnering with BCG and others for everything else. We focus on helping make introductions and really helping get that growth flywheel going. The second part is we are focused on hiring key C-level talents into companies once we invest into them. We find that every single time we make an investment, if we can help them with one or two better hires on the margin, it fundamentally changes the direction of the company. And third, we help them raise strategic capital. We think, while it’s great to have other venture capital firms and folks like that, there are so many large enterprises sitting on over $1 trillion of capital and many of them want to invest and partner with startups. They could be much more strategic in the capital and the value that they bring.
Can you give an example of this value-add to a portfolio company?Saverin: One of our early investments was in a company in the clinical trials space called Evidation Health. It’s a perfect example of a business where they can develop all the technologies that they would like. The truth is, success will come from adoption of virtual clinical trials from the largest pharma companies in the world. When we first met the business, it was working with a lot of smaller biotech firms, which are the traditional early adopters of such technologies. But leveraging our partnerships, including BCG, we had a chance to meet with some of the largest pharma companies in the world.
Through those discussions we understood that, unlike traditional tech innovation cycles where things over time get a little bit cheaper and faster, in the pharma world, you were seeing kind of a reverse innovation cycle where it was getting more expensive and taking longer to get to market.
And one of the largest pharma companies in the world took one of their existing trials that they had already done, and then just replicated it through a virtual standpoint, and saw both the speed, the cost effectiveness, and the depth of the data. That gave us conviction to invest, because we knew there was a real appetite for experimentation. Today, that business has most of the largest pharma companies in the world as customers. Some of them have become investors.
Ganguly: It just announced, a few weeks ago, a landmark partnership in dementia with Apple and Eli Lilly. We’ve been a part of helping make some of those connections.
What’s unique about B Capital’s approach to investments?
Ganguly: There are four key parts of our model. It’s about global thematic investing, one single team leveraging global data. It’s about deep local expertise in each market that we invest in. It’s about being the single highest value-add investor in every company and having the capital through partnerships with our investors and through our own capital to fund the growth of these companies as they scale. Our risk model is a lower risk model than early stage, which is about investing in ideas on a napkin, and having one of 20 companies that you know will drive your whole returns. Our model is about backing companies that have customer traction, that have a founding team that has high potential. We are looking for large potential customers and large potential partnerships that further mitigate risks. We believe our approach has upside because we’re investing in companies that are growing at 100% plus a year.
Saverin: The VC game is an information edge game. You need to leverage it not just in the first investment, but across the lifecycle of the company. Our model is about rolling up our sleeves and getting deeply involved, where entrepreneurs want us to, and where we can tremendously add value.
You believe in innovation without borders, can you expand on that idea?
Saverin: Companies are becoming global increasingly by design. There’s no border to where innovation can be received and used. Whether you start a company in Silicon Valley or in Africa or any part of the world, there really is the increasing impetus to go beyond your existing borders. When you start thinking about the evolution of innovation, some of it is the enablers, including the engineering talent. When you go to Silicon Valley, that’s actually one of the hardest places in the world to get engineering talent because of the massive competition. In other parts of the world you can ask is there enough raw talent, even though it’s not as competitive? So we’ll see a broader equalization. It would be hard for me to believe that as tech enablement becomes a big part of much larger industries, that all that innovation will come from one place. If that were to happen, I’d do anything I can to change it because the truth is the whole world is consuming technology.
What opportunities do you see in Southeast Asia?
Ganguly: We understood early that e-commerce was being inhibited in the region because e-commerce companies had to do their own delivery. That’s what really convinced us that we wanted to invest in all the picks and shovels around e-commerce, but no longer invest in e-commerce, or at least not focus on e-commerce. So today we’re investors in Ninja Van, BlackBuck, Mswipe and Bizongo, all companies that enable e-commerce.
Given WeWork’s pulled IPO, have valuations gotten overdone?
Ganguly: Where we are in the cycle and when it changes, that’s not our business. We don’t time the market, but we fundamentally take a long-term perspective. There are times when you’re in a cycle and you have to pay a little bit more for that. But if you have the right time horizon, we think it’s still far better to do that than to be looking for value plays where you’re looking at the second- or third- or fourth-best company. We always say that you might sleep better if you have a value play, but you won’t sleep very well when you exit because the valuation differential is even more stark when you exit a lower-tier player. It used to be that you were forced to go public because you had to pay out early investors. That’s no longer the case. You can now continue to stay private, and have access to very large amounts of private capital. Your early investors can cash out because later stage investors are willing to buy them out. There’s a very active secondary market. What’s changed is I think there’s no longer this belief that going public is something that you have to do. There are a lot of questions about whether going public drives long-term value. While it’s worked for some companies, it hasn’t worked for others.
What would be the process if a portfolio company might fit with Facebook?
Saverin: We are trying to facilitate introductions with any enabler, hopefully a win-win on both sides. So Facebook of course would be part of that equation, and parts of its strategy that converge with some of our focus areas, especially in financial services. Many companies will already have some type of relationship with Facebook, given where Facebook is today, through WhatsApp or otherwise. The innovation ecosystem touches Facebook all the time, so it’s just a question of extent.
Where is B Capital going to be in 10 years?
Saverin: That’s an important question. I usually think about it in two ways. We are incredibly ambitious, and we want to have an institution that will outlive us, so we are always thinking of the very long term. One thing I say every single day, whether in our partner meetings, or when we speak to our entrepreneurs, is to always push focus. Focus on what you’re doing today, that’s how you’re going to get to a bigger vision ten years from now, and even a vision well past our lifetimes. But at a really top level what I want us to do is to enable technology to get into the hands of consumers faster by leveraging the existing distribution networks of the largest companies in the world. Push intrapreneurship, it doesn’t necessarily need that push, but enable them to not only think of disruption but a positive win-win transformation. It’s not about the top ten tech companies that will take over a market by themselves, but the enablement of every company in the world with technology in collaborative innovation.
What do you mean by collaborative innovation?
Saverin: This is a really high-level idea, that can be seen in the platform technologies, such as Facebook, WeChat and others. They have created massive innovation acceleration by enabling other businesses to come on top of their platforms to gain distribution and engagement. What we are looking for is a win-win using the distribution assets of the largest companies in the world to ultimately get API-ed to the innovation ecosystem. If we get even 0.5% of the way in driving that, we will be doing the right thing for ten years from now. I think it’s not always a success when a startup out-innovates and massively disrupts a big company, when it could have leveraged a big company’s distribution, the licenses, the regulatory know-how, and so on, so that consumers could get the advantages of technology much faster.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Pamela covers entrepreneurs, wealth, blockchain and the crypto economy as a senior reporter across digital and print platforms. Prior to Forbes, she served as on-air foreign correspondent for Thomson Reuters’ broadcast team, during which she reported on global markets, central bank policies, and breaking business news. Before Asia, she was a journalist at NBC Comcast, and started her career at CNBC and Bloomberg as a financial news producer in New York. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, USA Today, Huffington Post, and Nasdaq. Pamela’s previous incarnation was on the buy side in M&A research and asset management, inspired by Michael Lewis’ book “Liar’s Poker”. Follow me on Twitter at @pamambler