1. Shiner Beer
Wow. This stuff is great...recently released in Massachusetts, this range of beers are from TX and worth every red cent. Flavorful, smooth, delicious, and the Wild Hare Pale Ale is a perfect mix of malty goodness and hoppy tang. The Bock is fresh and crisp, and the Family Reunion (a mix of Black Lager, Kosmos, Wild Hare, Bock, Prickly Pear and Shiner in a six-pack) is a nice sampling. Even my sleepy neighborhood package store has these on shelves, so go out and snatch up a six pack.
2. Fulton & Roark Solid Cologne Limited Release #1
This emerging line in men's care products is getting a ton of press for their innovative product and design. Fulton & Roark makes a slick-as-hell solid cologne that applies nice and clean, smells intoxicating, travels well (especially with those TSA liquid regulations), and hell, we've never seen anything like it before. They've just come out with this bad boy: Limited Reserve #1, their first in a series of limited edition colognes. Jackson & Connor was honored enough to carry three of these bad boys in the shop (of which two remain!), a rare privilege to be sure. The Limited is made from Madagascan geranium and oak moss (whaaaaat?), and smells like a dream. Available at Jackson & Connor.
3. KA-BAR Knives
Made in originally by the Union Cutlery Co. in Olean NY (just down the road from my hometown of Rochester) the KA-BAR was adopted by the Marines in November of 1942. They're useful for just about anything, and a good sharp one will last forever. It features a full tang blade and a stacked leather handle. Accept no substitutes. Available in quality outdoor outfitters, or online.
4. Yamazaki single malt Japanese whisky
Yamazaki, how can I describe thee? Pure fucking malty goodness. Whenever I go into a nice liquor store, I sniff my way to the whisky aisle and find myself something I've never had before. I received a bottle of Nikka Coffey grain whisky from a dear friend and knew the Japanese distilleries were up to some good stuff. Most of the Japanese single malts were $100 and up. I grabbed something more middle-of-the road at $45, and for a 12-year, it blew me away. Suntory Yamazaki's history as a distillery goes back to 1923 -- at their distillery you can see a wall of whiskeys (thousands of boxes installed in a vaulted ceiling) as well as sit at the tasting table to blend different flavors. Amazing! This relatively young single malt whisky is flavorful, slightly sweet but its smoothness, warmth and richness are its most defining qualities. Available at high-end liquor stores -- I picked this up at Table & Vine in West Springfield.
5. Queen Bee Chip-Chip Cookies
If you think this looks like a heart attack doused with salt, you would be correct. What you're looking at is the Chip-Chip cookie from Queen Bee (just across the hall from us at Jackson & Connor) -- a delectable, crumbly cookie made with chocolate chips, potato chips, half-dipped in chocolate ganache, and then spinkled with sea salt (unh!). Once you start into one of these things (it's almost as big as a dinner plate), you will not stop until you've defeated the monster.
It's out of control.
I regret nothing.
Available across the hall from Jackson & Connor at Queen Bee Cupcakery.
6. Jade Plants
Got a brown thumb? The browner the better with this little guy. My old roommate left two behind in an apartment we shared for a while, and I didn't care much for plants at the time. I figured I'd just stop watering the little guys until they shriveled up and died...so I stopped watering them for months, and they didn't die. They got bigger. Then eventually did water them, and they got even bigger, and then one of the petals fell off and a brand new jade plant started out of it in the same pot. So, that's my story about jade plants, which is my way of saying these little bastards are nearly indestructible. Get yourself a hearty one, stick it in a windowsill, and water it every once-in-a-who-cares and it should take care of itself. Available in most grocery stores, and at your local garden center.
7. Donut Dip
The best little spot in West Springfield. Our brilliant tailor is based in West Spfld, so I find myself driving there every week. I'm constantly discovering new places that I love, and Donut Dip rates first among them. Thoroughly dissatisified with Dunkin' Donuts, I went in search of a truly excellent donut shop and found Donut Dip.
It is everything I hoped it would be. They're open 22 hours of the day -- closed from 1 to 3 -- and churning out fresh donuts every hour of every day. Touting over 49 varieties (they're not joking), it looks the same as it does the first day it opened.
(I was here last week -- replace the cars with newer models, and it looks exactly the same.)
There's no room to sit, no chairs...but there's always some regulars hanging out having coffee, shooting the breeze. I swing by and grab a dozen donuts (the chocolate frosted and honey glazed are personal favorites) for about $7.50. The Eclairs? Perfect. Crispy on the outside, doughy and soft on the inside, and never ever spongy or squishy...just baked, filled, chocolate-frosted perfection. Day in and day out, they crank out flawless donuts and baked goods, all the same every time. Available at the one and only Donut Dip on Riverdale Rd. in West Springfield.
8. Nippon Kodo Incense
Well known for their Morning Star line, Nippon Kodo has been making exceptional Japanese incense since 1942. The Morning Star boxes are a great go-to -- cedar, green tea, sandalwood, amber, rose -- they're pretty much all excellent scents.
However, the real gem of this fine incense company is in their high-end incenses, which you can typically only find online or at boutqiues. The Kayuragi line is outrageous, and their sandalwood is a personal favorite.
It's the perfect balance between smoky woody muskiness and the sweet, sparkling quality of sandal. They have a variety of other high-end and lower-end incense fragrances, and you really can't go wrong. As mentioned, these are available in high-end boutiques and online.
9. Shoe Trees
9. Shoe Trees
If you have a penchant like we do for fine leather shoes, do yourself a huge whopping favor and invest in a pair of shoe trees for each pair of nice leather shoes you own. As soon as you take that thing off, slide the shoe tree in -- the cedar will dry out the moisture from your sweaty, sweaty feet, reduce odors, and the pressure of the tree inside the shoe will kick out wrinkles keeping your Allen-Edmonds looking newer and nicer for longer. Available at most shoe stores.
10. Carthusia Fragrances
Made from the fragrances and flowers of Capri Italy -- and made in Capri as well -- Carthusia has been making incredible colognes, diffusers, perfumes and other products since . All of the men's scents are kissed with the sea salty air of Capri, and their line (Numero Uno, Corallium, Carthusia Uomo, Mediterraneo and Io Capri) is diverse without being scattered. Here's a quick blow-by-blow (the fig scent is on its way, we haven't smelled it just yet!). Available in high-end scent bars and shops, and coming very soon to Jackson & Connor (of course!).
Numero Uno - Traditional, leathery, animalic -- very musky and mens-y. Super formal and straight-forward. An excellent scent for fall.
Corallium - Fruity and light, highly floral and slightly salty -- if you like a cologne that comes pretty close to a perfume, you'll like this one.
Carthusia Uomo - Will's personal favorite. A perfect balance between bright sparkling floral notes and rich, heavy muskiness, with just a slightly salty sea water tang. Goes great for anyone any time of the year.
Mediterraneo - Fresh. This is a light and tart fragrance -- smells like half a lemon mixed with a light floral tinge that peeks out under the bright citrus notes. Great for spring and summer.
So that's what we're into right now! Now get off the computer and go grab yourself some gear.