Looking for a spirited way to kick off the new year? Ring in 2013 at Japp's with a round of their signature cocktails complimented with Middle West Spirits' new line of whiskeys. Known primarily for their OYO Vodkas, the company recently expanded their selection to include small-batch bourbon, whiskey, and rye.

Based in Columbus, Middle West Spirits is the first micro-distillery in Ohio to operate since Prohibition. Created by a fourth generation distiller, the brand OYO (pronounced "O-Why-O") was developed after the Iroquois word for the Ohio River.

Josh explaining the history of Middle West Spirits.

During the tasting at Japp's, Josh Daily, the representative from Middle West Spirits, described the complex flavors of their whiskeys and vodkas and how they are created as a craft, similar to the craft beer market. Brimming with character, these spirits are able to stand on their own without a mixer. Josh also told us plenty of stories about distilling, including some history of the Cincinnati region.

Molly Wellmann fills a barrel of OYO Rye, which will be aged at Japp's and served to customers this spring.
Fun OYO Facts:

 - While vodka has been around for over 600 years, it only arrived in America in the 1950s.

 - Out of the 437 distilleries open in the United States, Middle West Spirits was #56 to set up shop.

 - Before Prohibition, there were 81 distilleries in Cincinnati alone; far outnumbering the city's breweries. It was also more influential in manufacturing than Kentucky's bourbon trail.

 - OYO whiskey the second 100% wheat whiskey created in the United States.

 - Middle West Spirits uses 1.5 million pounds of wheat to create their spirits, all which are sourced from northern Ohio. The company is able to support seven local farms.


The last weekend in December marks your final chance to see the Shillito Elves in their new home at Newport on the Levee. In addition to the elves, your admission gives access to an innovative train village made entirely out of Legos. Assembled by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Lego Group, the display fills an entire room and includes many details which will make you smirk, such as a LegoMan laying on the tracks in the subway tunnel or the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot filled with police cars.


On my way home from Findlay Market this Monday, I passed by the St. Francis Seraph petting zoo and decided to stop in. Everyone needs a little love on Christmas Eve, right? Greeted with kind eyes and muzzled smiles, these animals become more adorable with each visit.


It's the day after Christmas and time to lay out the loot! Inspired by Kate the Great's post: The Best Gifts For The Lady On Your List, today's installment of CincyWhimsy features my haul of 20 Cincinnati items that I gifted, received, or swooned over in the window display this season.

1.) Cincinnati Neighborhood Ornaments

One of my favorite places to shop for unique gifts is at Crafty Supermarket, which is where I stumbled upon these adorable ceramic ornaments themed after neighborhoods in Greater Cincinnati. Created by Sarah Horn Ceramics, these decorations paid homage to numerous towns across the tri-state, including Bellevue, Covington, Clifton, Northside, OTR, as well as Sarah's home in Dayton, Kentucky.

2.) German Verbiage Tote Bags

Cincinnati's German heritage shined bright at Christkindlmarkt on Fountain Square with canvas tote bags created in partnership with Cincideutsch and Saint Ursula’s Academy Design Program. Each item features a word in German that does not directly translate into English. On one side, a graphic of the word is printed in the style of a German artist. On the other, the definition is displayed on the corner of the bag, along with the artist's name.

3.) Cincinnati Subway DVD + Tee Shirt

Share the secret of the Queen City underground this season with a copy of the PBS documentary about America's largest unfinished subway system, located beneath the streets of Central Parkway. A story of innovation, greed, and corruption, this hour-long program includes vivid footage of the tunnels, as well as a collection of original construction photographs from the 1920s.

Be sure to grab the companion tee shirt too, which reads "The Cincinnati Subway: Taking you nowhere since 1928." Both items can be found at Cincy Haus in the Gateway Quarter, or www.thecincinnatisubway.com/store

4.) Over The Rhine Coasters

Fresh off the presses from Once Blind Studios, this set of Over The Rhine coasters is so suave you'll be tempted to take them out to use at your favorite drinking establishment. Available at Park + Vine, the coasters are just one of many items featured in OBS's Heritage Collection.

5.) Sadistic Mistress Sauces

Not just a hot sauce, not just a salsa; these Kentucky hand-crafted bottles of fury are perfect for the Spicy Level 10 lovers on your list. With every pepper homegrown in the Bluegrass State, the quality ingredients are all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, and peanut-free. Discovered at The City Flea, Sadistic Mistress Sauces can be used for cooking, snacking with tortilla chips, or garnishing a 3-way.

6.) Wrath by Howard McEwen

One of my most recent late night page turners, Wrath tells the story of William Goebel, a politician from Covington, Kentucky, who was the only Governor ever to be assassinated in office. Based on a true story that takes place in post Civil War Kentucky, I was fascinated with hearing familiar street names, landmarks, and politicians of the era.

Available on Amazon.com both in hardcopy and for Kindle, Wrath will have you cheering for Goebel throughout his ruthless yet passionate rise to power.

7.) Print of Music Hall 1878

Designed by local pop artist, Andrew VanSickle, this limited edition print of Music Hall recaptures the pageantry taking place on the night Music Hall first opened in 1878. With proceeds benefiting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, this will brighten both your home and support the arts in the Queen City. With only 100 prints in existence, promenade on over to The Bravo Shop and get one for your collection.

8.) A Dork & His Christmas Cheer

Jeff, author of A Dork & His Pork, surprised me over the holiday weekend with a box of homemade sweets: sugar cookies, mixed nut brittle, and truffle fudge. Now, this is not your ordinary tin of holiday baked goods. Every last detail of these treats were made from scratch by Jeff in his kitchen and I could taste the love in each bite. His culinary skills could make even a fruit cake seem delicious.
9.) The Singing Cupcake

While we're on the topic of sweets, I'm head-over-heels for this singing felt cupcake my roommate received from our friend Maureen. It's adorable. It's a magnet. It belts out "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" when pressed. What's not to love?

10.) Rookwood Tile Trivets

Dine with Cincinnati's finest landmarks at your holiday table with these trivets featuring Carew Tower, Fountain Square, Union Terminal, Music Hall and more. Crafted by Rookwood Tile and set inside a wooden frame, each hot plate can be customized in your favorite color. Find one for your kitchen at Urban Eden on 13th and Main Street.

11.) Wooden iPhone Cases

Looking for a new case for your iDevice? Warm up with a sleek teakwood case from JackBacks, based in Northside. Each is handcrafted from real wood - not a sticker or "looks like wood" aesthetic. You can also have custom designs etched into it. The options are endless: photographs, your favorite quote, a name, a cartoon... if you can dream it, it can be JackBacked!

12.) The Scoodie

With the first blast of arctic air that arrived just after Thanksgiving, I began seeking out knitted headwear for trekking around the urban outdoors.  Introducing: The Scoodie. This knitted hood paired with your favorite peacoat creates a warm, stylish addition to your winter wardrobe. I spotted this at Crafty Supermarket and regret not snatching it up. Anyone want to knit me one?

13.) Domestica Ornament

Another darling gift that my roommate received was this ornament of a Domestica Magazine. Published locally, Domestica is Cincinnati's newest monthly magazine about area boutiques, non-profits, and eateries. Written like a letter from a close friend and filled with catalogue-style pictures, the articles create photographic memoirs about the Queen City. For only $40, twelve issues of Domestica can be a staple on your coffee table for 2013.

14.) Wallet w/ Fortune Holder

Tired of leaving your fortune cookie notes at the restaurant or floating in the bottom of your purse? This line of wallets designed by Alison Rose features a display pouch for your fortunes, as well as many other handy features sought out in a money handler: zipper change pouch, dollar compartment, and plenty of slots for credit cards. Combined with a wide selection of two-toned prints, these wallets come in styles for both gals and guys.

15.) Aerial Map of Cincinnati in 1900

Hand-tinted and etched by Alternate Histories, this map of the city features all the historic icons of Cincinnati in 1900: steamboats, churches, railroads, seven rolling hills, and Clancy the Ohio River octopus.

16.) Gingerbread Waffles

Taste of Belgium's seasonal waffles have been a hit with my friends from out-of-state, especially the gingerbread variety they cooked up for winter. These delightful baked goods made their way to Switzerland, Toronto, and Boston for the holidays, as well as a pack that stayed close to home which I enjoyed for breakfast on Christmas morning.

17.) Cincinnati / OTR Dishtowels

If you've walked with me through MiCA 12/vthen you've heard me gush about the Cincinnati and Over The Rhine dishtowels from VisuaLingual. Printed with lettering found from the 19th century, these swanky towels come in a variety of colors including my favorites: teal and neon yellow.

18.) Cincinnati Symphony Scarf

One of my first purchases of the holiday season was an elegant, cozy soft scarf from Music Hall. It immediately caught my eye as a present for my friend Nell, who is a music teacher. Offered at The Bravo Shop in a variety of colors, this gift will warm the hearts and necks of your favorite musician.

19.) Silverware Ornaments

Forks aren't just for the dinner table anymore! BB Studio showed off their handcrafted silverware ornaments at The City Flea, an extension of their jewelry line that includes necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made from utensils. Each of these distorted forks clasped a shimmering glass ball, a perfect compliment to any festive Evergreen.

20.) Wooden Ohio Coasters

Finally, my favorite Crafty Supermarket splurge allowed me to lay my Ohio pride right out on the table. This set of four wooden coasters from Wholly Craft! are designed from five types of wood and create a stylish accent in the home of any urbanista.


"The reason people come to Midnight Mass is to take pictures of the experience and listen to the choir songs," the woman next to me whispered to her husband.

While some may disagree, it's certainly a big draw for parishioners of St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica in Covington. With several hundred in attendance, and the massive sanctuary filled with standing room only, this popular Christmas Mass is definitely worth staying up late for.

As parishioners arrive, the Cathedral remains completely dark until midnight

The choir performed many songs in the dark as the hour-long prelude to Mass. Here's one of my favorites: Gloria (In Excelsis Deo), which echoed between soloist in the loft to the choir gathered on the ground floor.

The lights gradually flicker on as Mass begins. Check it out in the video below.

The boy on the right has the duty of holding the Bishop's hat.

For those "It's A Wonderful Life" fans, check out the next video of the Mass finale.

After Mass, the Bishop shook the hand of every parishioner as they exited.