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Hilton Hotel Secret Garden Human Statue Bodyart
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Image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer
Unlock Zeta Bar’s Secret Garden At Hilton Sydney: Blossoming With Cocktails And Afternoon Tea Every Friday Night; Sydney, Australia…

Hilton Sydney’s internationally acclaimed Zeta Bar has launched the Friday night concept to be held every Friday from 15 February starting at 6 p.m., Zeta Bar’s outdoor terrace has been fancifully transformed into a magical garden with beautifully manicured lawns and garden furniture making it the perfect spot to while away a Friday afternoon.

Guests will wander through the hedge lined terrace or perch in one of the garden pockets while listening to jazz presented by renowned Sydney band ‘The Press Club’.

All this combined with a range of specially concocted garden party inspired cocktails ranging from molecular to playful twists on classic cocktails. The menu features a mixture of sprightly and herbaceous cocktails including the Applicious Air, Tweedle Dum, Citric Bloom and the Secret Garden. Zeta’s gardeners will wander through the garden offering a selection of sparkling icy poles and jellies.

“Working with the two can be difficult due to the delicate flavours of the wine," said Colin Tam, Zeta bar head bartender. "It’s highly important for both to be perfectly balanced, we don’t want to overpower the wine but at the same time ensuring that the flavours enhance the notes of the wine and compliment the flavours of the spirits.”

For the first time Zeta will serve a ‘Mistress Mary afternoon tea’ that’s quite contrary, guests can complement their cocktails, icy poles and jellies with a selection of chic bites that have been matched to the cocktails on offer. A mixture of sweet and savoury the menu features dainty sandwiches including crab, cucumber and watercress; and house smoked salmon, rocket and cream cheese served on homemade brioche.

The culinary playfulness continues with sweet treats such as raspberry mousse, chocolate and pistachio, an assortment of macarons; chamomile cremeux served with fried basil accompanied with classic home baked scones served with rose petal cream.

‘The Secret Garden’ has been whipped up by head bartender Colin and his highly trained Zeta Bar team who were also behind the successful ‘Coney Island’ and ‘Farmers Market’ concepts. Each of the Zeta mixologists has created a cocktail with inspirations ranging from their childhoods and interpretations of the book ‘The Secret Garden’.

The team from Human Statue Bodyart will be once again helping Hilton’s Zeta Bar make the dream a reality, by providing some of the talent (human statues and models) as well as other creative aspects to help make this seasons Zeta Bar promotion one of the greatest ever.

See you in the Secret Garden.

Step inside ‘The Secret Garden’ at Zeta Bar every Friday night from 6.00pm, launching Thursday 14 February* until March 2013.


Zeta Bar

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Thanksgiving at Mohonk, Nov 2010 – 68
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Image by Ed Yourdon
Note: A large percentage of my "landscape" photos (including the ones in this set) are now copyright-protected, and are not available for downloads and free use. You can view them here in Flickr, but if you would like prints, enlargements, framed copies, and other variations, please visit my SmugMug "Mohonk" gallery by clicking here.

Mohonk Mountain House is one of those places that typically evoke one of two distinct reactions when you mention it to someone: (a) they’ve never heard of it, and wonder what civilized place could have such a strange name, or (b) they squeal with delight that someone else knows about this special place, and proceed to tell you how many generations of their family members have been visiting it since … well, since long, long ago.

Assuming that you fall into the first category, here are the basics: Mohonk is a sprawling, century-old hotel/resort located near New Paltz, NY — about 90 miles north of New York City, just west of the Hudson River. It was opened in 1870 by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley, and the main buildings — some wooden, some stone — were built over the period of 1879 through 1910. As a Wikipedia points out, it sits on the edge of a small lake (Lake Mohonk, what else?) that’s a mere half-mile long, and 60 feet deep; but it’s big enough to support a modest amount of fishing, swimming, boating, and (in days past) ice-skating. Visitors can also hike, climb nearby mountains, play tennis, ride horses, and various other activities.

Or … you can just relax. There are quiet corners everywhere, dozens (maybe hundreds) of rocking chairs, lots of warm, toasty fireplaces, and dozens of little wooden cupolas scattered around the lake where you can read a book, chat with a friend, or just stare off into space and think about nothing at all. There’s no noise from nearby traffic — it’s at the top of a smallish mountain, on 2,200 acres that adjoin another 6,400 acres of the Mohonk Preserve. There’s no loud music, there are no televisions in the guest rooms, no cars or motorboats or jet-skis or sources of noise.

Various notables have visited Mohonk over the years, including industrialist John D. Rockefeller, naturalist John Burroughs, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Chester A. Arthur. While I was there this past weekend, the actor Alan Alda was wandering around the main lounge, undisturbed by any of the other guests. It’s probably worth mentioning that Mohonk was also the setting of a 1994 feature film, The Road to Wellville, starring Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Broderick.

As for the thousands of other undistinguished guests and visitors: it’s amazing how long many of us have been coming here, and it’s intriguing to see how many multi-generational families come here for holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving are the main ones, I think) as well as family reunions and other special events. My wife first discovered Mohonk in the mid-1970s on a visit with her mother, while I was away somewhere working ’round-the-clock on some ill-fated computer project. We first brought our children here in 1983, and have typically returned once or twice a year since then … and after nearly 30 years, it’s amazing to see how little has changed.

But there have been a few changes. Notwithstanding the Quaker heritage of the original Smiley brothers, who decreed that there would be no drinking or card-playing when they first opened their establishment, there is now a small cocktail lounge tucked away in a corner room. Meals used to be a somewhat mediocre event, served in a huge dining room that was built somewhere around 1902; now the cuisine has improved considerably, and it’s also possible to order room service meals. And, wonder of wonders, there is now free WiFi service throughout the hotel … but there are still no televisions in the guest rooms.

It’s hard to capture all of this in a series of photographs, even though I have a Flickr collection with roughly half a dozen different sets of family-related photos that I’ve taken here since the mid-1980s. But this time, I tried to capture as many different scenes as possible — and I was lucky enough to get one brief period of afternoon sunshine, which allowed me to take some HDR images of the scenery.

If the photos look sufficiently intriguing, take a look at the Wikipedia article, or visit the Mohonk website. Who knows — maybe we’ll see you there on our next visit…