The Rise of Cocktail Culture: Not Just for Mad Men

Cocktails have been a staple of bars in America for years. Whether it is a classic drink, like a Manhattan or martini, or an easy combo of rum and coke or 7 and 7, ordering a cocktail is typically a straightforward affair. But much like the foodie and craft beer cultures, cocktails are now getting the special treatment. A new pedigree of bartenders, dubbed “mixologists,” are adding new life to cocktails by acting as both drink historians and alcohol scientists, perfecting their craft in bars and lounges styled after speakeasies. Cocktail culture is on the rise, so let’s take a look at what’s fueling the resurgence of the mixed drink.

Cocktails have a long, storied history dating all the back to the early 1800s. By the early 1900s, the classic drink of whiskey, sugar and bitters became known as the “old fashioned,” deemed such because of all the new styles of complicated cocktails being created at the time. So at the start of the 21st century, there had already been a vibrant, experimental cocktail culture, with bartenders creating new drinks and methods of mixing them for nearly 200 years.

Mixologists distinguish themselves from your everyday bartender with the effort they take in their ongoing search to mix you the perfect drink. They read up on the classic cocktail procedures and study the history of cocktails, searching out long lost cocktail recipes from famous bars or recipe books. They also train themselves in the standard methods of combining sugars, fruit, juices, bitters and spirits. They create their own signature mixed drink recipes, using shaved ice or even adding essential oils.

Such expertly crafted cocktails surely need to be imbibed in a fitting atmosphere, so many retro-styled speakeasies have opened in major cities. Outside of the occasional food and dining section in the local paper or gourmet magazine, the speakeasies rely on word of mouth and somewhat out of the way locales to generate buzz and curiosity. Many are built out in old storefronts, warehouses or industrial businesses, and the bar owners will keep the original facade of the buildings while hanging a simple, well-placed neon “BAR” sign to give a clue about their location to patrons in the know. Some speakeasies even have a prohibition-style secret entrance and password.

Has the latest trend in artisan delicacies sparked your interest? Well then, there are plenty of new sites out there dedicated to the study and art of mixology, like The media has taken note and claimed interest as well, as seen in this Rachel Maddow clip:

There’s even a YouTube video tribute to the mixologist by the San-Francisco-based duo Fog and Smog:


Is The Internet The New Cupid?

There was a time when meeting someone was something that happened by chance and almost always in person. You would run into someone on the street, in a bar or club, or at a club where you share common interests. Most couples would have ended up meeting in high school, college, graduate school, or even at work. However, the world has changed so much and in many ways we are busier and living our lives at a faster pace than ever before. This is why the modern world needs a new alternative to meeting people of the opposite sex. That is where dating sites come into the picture. While many people scoff and think that meeting someone online is beyond ridiculous, there are plenty of examples of happily married couples who met for the first time by chatting on the internet.

The Top Sites:

The top dating sites out there, such as, OKCupid, and eHarmony all have certain aspects in common. Then again, they also have very fundamental differences that provide for a very unique experience of being matched with people. The first dating sites that were introduced a few years ago simply had search criteria’s that you could use to sort out people who you were interested in. That is no longer the case. Click to continue reading…

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Meet New People: The 5 Largest College-Age Meetups in the U.S.

Starting your first year of college is a difficult task in and of itself; moving to an entirely new city to do so can be even more stressful. Finding your way around, meeting new people and becoming generally accustomed to a new way of life requires both courage and commitment, but even when you don’t know a single person in your local area, help is always just around the corner!

The internet is many things to many people but one area where it shines for each of us is in its ability to help us to meet like-minded people and moving to a new town for school offers an excellent reason to take advantage! Give your efforts a boost by attending any of these five largest U.S. meetups helping college students get accustomed to a new place:

1. 20- and 30-Somethings in San Francisco

This large group of young adults in the San Francisco area offers newcomers and long-time residents alike the opportunity to mingle and socialize while getting to know the city and what it has to offer. The group gets together in order to take in local events at a variety of venues, bringing together a wide array of personalities and making it easy to start a conversation and make a new friend.

If you’re interested in taking your participation up a notch, the group welcomes anyone who would like to help organize events, giving you a close-up window into the very heart of San Francisco and its attractions.

When and Where: The 20- and 30-Somthings in San Francisco group meets several times each month during the summer with the cooler months of winter slowing things down only a little! With a wide variety of events and locations on the itinerary, there is no better group to help a young newcomer to become a Bay Area expert.

2. Fun Times Soccer NYC

New York City is a huge and sometimes intimidating town, often overwhelming newcomers with its sheer size, in both area and population. This can sometimes leave those new to the Big Apple feeling more disconnected than ever despite the mass of people around them, but, thankfully, the Fun Times Soccer NYC social group is an excellent way to get to know your urban neighbors while giving your body a vigorous workout as well!

While scores are kept and a competitive spirit is encouraged, this soccer group is more interested in bringing people together than turning out professional athletes, making the atmosphere of teamwork one that works directly towards making new friends.

When and Where: The Fun Times Soccer NYC group meets in various areas of New York City, often several times per week, bringing together several different groups in locations that work best for each of them. Use this search for lodging help

3. L.A. Adventurers

California coastal areas offer a unique location for adventure and make for an exciting way for those new to the City of Angels to get to know one another outside of school. Focusing on general outdoor activities such as urban biking and weekends camping trips, this group extends to embrace general culture venues as well, ensuring that you’ll be taking part in all activities with a group of well-rounded, fun individuals.

When and Where: Events planned by the L.A. Adventurers group take place in and around Los Angeles, typically once or twice per month depending on what is going on in the city.

4. Austin Coalition for Youthful Merriment

Embracing anything and everything that offers fun and excitement, the Austin Coalition for Youthful Merriment invites those freshly arrived in Austin to take part in a variety of experiences meant to be enjoyed in a group setting, helping you to make new friends while enjoying the best of what the city has to offer.

When and Where: The city of Austin, Texas plays host to this particular band of merry men and women, with events organized several times each month for anyone interested in taking part.

5. Seattle College-Age Social Group

Join others your age in Seattle at meetups of the College-Age Social Group, a combined force of students between 18-26 years old that get together for good times and good conversation in and around this renowned and rainy Washington city. Activities include dining, outdoors activities, movies, bowling – whatever promises to be fun and interesting!

When and Where: Members of the Seattle College-Age Social Group get together on an irregular basis, meeting a few times each month as time and events allow.

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Cheap Travel Options for College Students

Being away from home at college for the first time is one of the quintessential experiences of growing up, but traveling on your own can be an even more exciting and liberating experience. Whether you’re looking for a cheap ticket home for the holidays or a spring break vacation package, you should be aware of ways you can save money. With a little flexibility and creativity, you can travel on a tight budget and have a lot more fun than you would paying for full-on tourist treatment. These five cheap travel options for college students will get you started on the road to wherever you’re going:

1. Plan Loosely

Rather than deciding the exact dates you’re going to travel, then booking the first airline and hotel you can find, get a loose idea of when and where you want to go and search for deals. By avoiding peak travel times (such as weekends during spring break), you can usually find significantly cheaper options. You might also find yourself traveling to a slightly more out-of-the-way spot you never would have found otherwise, which can be a delightful surprise.

2. Discount Bus Companies

If you’re not traveling too far, and particularly if you’re moving between major cities, several bus companies provide good service at extraordinarily low prices. Megabus and BoltBus both sell tickets starting at $1 if you can book well ahead of time (prices rise as departure approaches). Their buses also feature Wi-Fi, electrical outlets and more luxurious seats than the more expensive Greyhound.

3. Student Universe

Student Universe delivers discounted plane tickets, hotels and vacation packages specifically targeted at students. You can register for an account with your student ID and get started in just a few minutes. The website also offers travel guides full of great trips on how to enjoy an affordable vacation.

4. Hostels

If hotel prices get you down, you might consider opting for a much cheaper place to stay. A bed in a hostel can be rented in most cities for under $40 a night, and you won’t notice the difference unless you’re spending a lot of time in your room. Hostels are also a fantastic place to meet fellow travelers and find out about cheap things to do in the city you’re visiting. is a good place to begin looking for accommodations.

5. Get to Know the Locals

It’s a bit of a cliché, but it really is true that by building relationships with local people wherever you go, you can have more fun on a tighter budget. Those who actually live in a city can guide you to unknown adventures that you would never have discovered walking around with your nose in a guidebook. And not only can you have a cheaper trip by sleeping on your new friends’ couches and sharing your meals with them, you’ll have a much more authentic and memorable experience.

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Crime Scene Investigation: As exciting as it is on TV?

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As one of the most popular shows on television, CSI has undoubtedly inspired many people to pursue the enticing career of being a crime scene investigator. As exciting as it appears to be on TV, some viewers interested in pursuing a career in crime scene investigation may be wondering how accurate the media’s depiction of it is. Do popular television shows glam up the profession? Or is it really as exciting as it’s made out to be?

Simply put, crime scene investigators are responsible solely for investigating crime scenes. Their main job is to carry out the evaluation of the scene and secure any physical evidence that may have been left behind, which will later be used for additional research and testing in a laboratory or database center. After initial research, investigators write up detailed reports including how they took care of the crime scene and what types of evidence they may have found. Once these reports are created, they are then given to the local police station or FBI who is investigating the crime. Investigators may even be asked to testify within the courtroom in relation to evidence they may have found. Crime scene investigators play one of the most crucial roles in solving crimes and catching criminals, and they work closely with various law enforcement agencies.

But How Is It?

As exciting as it may look on TV, a crime scene investigator’s job can be grueling at times and can often be quite tough to deal with even on a daily basis. Most investigators will be visiting places where burglaries, assaults or even murders have all taken place. When visiting, the investigators must process the scene themselves, which means putting up that famous yellow tape, packaging up evidence for later use, talking closely with the local police department, and taking tons of photos. This work can often times take an extremely long time as everything must be done as carefully and with as much attention to detail as possible to avoid any negative consequences. Investigators have to be this careful because even one small mistake could play a huge role in a court case, or cause a case to fall apart on lack of evidence.

Most of these crime scene investigators will work a 40 hour workweek like anyone else, but must also be available at all times. This is similar to the duties of a doctor, except with much shorter hours. It doesn’t matter if you receive a phone call at 4 A.M. while sleeping. Crime can happen at any time, and if you are needed, you must come in for assistance. This means that you must be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For the average person, this can impart quite a bit of stress on their life because they must constantly be near their work place at all times.

Get To the Gym!

Crime scene investigators must also be in excellent shape. Some of you may be thinking: “Why do you need to be in great shape? All you’re doing is collecting evidence and writing reports.” While this is true, investigators are often required to investigate tight spaces, must be able to kneel for long periods of time, and may even have to climb certain areas. These investigators must also carry a standard-issued firearm with them at all times, just like a traditional police officer. Because of this, they undergo weapons training and are also subject to a physical fitness test.

Be Willing to Put in the Hours

As far as getting hired in as an investigator, the applicant should possess a criminal justice degree from an accredited institution. Along with this, after being hired, they must complete a minimum of 720 hours of training in crime scene processing, 80 hours with latent fingerprint processing, 40 hours in advanced death investigations, 40 hours in major death investigation, 40 hours in blood splatter interpretation, 40 hours in photography, and other course such as forensic pathology. The Crime Scene Certification Board must also certify the crime scene investigator.

While television shows may offer a fairly accurate portrayal of crime scene investigation in that investigators are taking photos, collecting evidence, and creating reports, what these shows forget to demonstrate is how grueling the work can actually be and how taxing it is on your body. However, for the right type of person—someone who is passionate about forensics and loves to work hard—a career as a crime scene investigator may be the perfect career choice, and more exciting and rewarding than any television show.

Travis Paulson pursued his degree in forensic science where he has been a part of large crime scene investigations.

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