Triple Crown Happy Hour

Friday, my Happy Hour trail led me from Champions Sports Bar & Restaurant to Aged Wine Bar, then back to the Marriott Lobby Bar, three distinctly different experiences worth reporting on.

Champion hosted Brouwerij Nacional Balashi, with a tasting of HOPI BON & HOPI STOUT. I tasted the one that’s reportedly very good, the one with the artistic label. I am not a beer drinker. Heineken, sure, in Carnival, but otherwise I am more of a wine person, you guessed. Nevertheless, the Sriracha chicken strips went hopi bon with the beer.

One thing is clear Balashi recruited some very cute and smart women to their organization: Yadira Harms and Regine Nicholas. I spent some time with these two superwomen who juggle kids, family life and careers, and am amazed at their endless resources.

Yadira came on board as marketing manager as soon as “we heard she was available,” says a nameless brewery official, and Regine finished her apprenticeship at the accounting department, went back to the Netherlands to collect her degree and was immediately offered a full time position, as key account manager on the wings of her personality.

At Aged Wine Bar, Renaissance Marketplace, a cool crowd sipped wine to the jazzy music of uber cool DJ Arien Rasmijn. Aged was unveiling the second Authentic Aruban display. Bruce Harms came up with the concept earlier in the year when he placed an Authentic Aruba display at Local Store.

The idea is to market locally made products to tourists, from Pica di Papaya to wines, jams, cakes and snacks. Bruce is currently working with about 30 local artisans, who manage home industries; he is trying to give them exposure among visitors.

As the umbrella organization, Authentic Aruba, identifies the artists and helps them place their product at retail outlets, then stocks shelves, and makes sure it is all artfully displayed.

I met two adorable artisans at the bar, Mijenou Moorhead-Tromp and Julienne Paskel. Mijenou works with wood. She recycles and builds, under the label Mondiero Recycled Crafts. She made the display at Aged, from repurposed materials. Julienne came up with a line of organic make-up under the label Aruba Life Organics, check out the lovely Arubalife.com website, with all natural, plant based blush, lip tint and sun protection.

Mijenou’s handmade, polished, wooden wine caddies paired with Taste-A dessert wines, are now available for sale at a limited edition. A little bird told me that Serge Mansur just received one as a gift!

The snapshots I posted from the event are by co founder Rowald de Graaff.

Later in the evening, the Lobby Bar, at Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, launched its 1st Mixers & Shakers Event. It will repeat every last Friday of each month.

The new Happy Hour concept stars special performances by the Aruba Marriott’s Mixologists, Daniel Mesa, Michael Gomez, and Giovanni Tromp with Aruba’s Iron Bartender, Jason Tromp, presenting carefully crafted original cocktails.

Jason featured his winning cocktail Rosemary & Juliette, and I tried his second concoction: Smoking Old Fashioned made with bourbon, spiced syrup, Angostura bitters, stirred, smoked in a decanter, and garnished with a cinnamon stick. Yes, it went straight to my knees. One is all I could handle.

DJ vibe entertained, as Christine Leo, and Richie Koeiman were the gracious, perfect hosts.