Southern Spring Cocktails for Derby Time

Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Preakness Cocktail Recipes. Perfect for home viewing.

I attended a Kentucky Derby-inspired media luncheon for the launch of Washington Duke Inn in Durham, NC.  It was only 40 degrees the day the luncheon was held, but we put on our spring hats anyway and enjoyed the spring blooms around us.

Washington Duke Inn in Durham, NC
Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club

The Washington Duke Inn, located in Durham, N.C. on the campus of Duke University, is a gorgeous property. If I lived closer, I think you would find me on this terrace a lot more enjoying lunch or dinner. When I am able to get to the hotel to dine, it is a treat because Jason is a fabulous chef. You already know it is a favorite spot of mine for afternoon tea, and his partnership with Carolina farmers and artisans make dining here special. His Dinner at Dusk menu served daily from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a prix-fixe price of $35 per person, is one of the best culinary bargains in the Triangle.

Washington Duke Inn Fairview Dining Room Terrace
The Fairview Dining Room Terrace

The Washington Duke Inn typically hosts a special Kentucky Derby Day on the day of the Derby each year. It serves the same cocktails that are popular at top horse races in the U.S. For this media event, we sampled Mint Juleps, the signature drink for the Kentucky Derby, the White Carnation, the drink of the Belmont Stakes, and the Black-Eyed Susan, the preferred drink for the Preakness

You can now make these same cocktails at home to watch the derby. My absolute favorite drink is the Mint Julep.

The Mint Julep is the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby

Mint Julep

1 1/2 ounces Maker's Mark
1-ounce mint simple syrup
1-ounce seltzer

Combine bourbon and syrup in an ice shaker, shake vigorously, pour over ice, top with seltzer, and garnish with a sprig of mint. 

Black-Eyed Susan

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce blackberry brandy
2 lemon wedges

Combine ingredients in an ice shaker, and strain into a martini glass, garnish with a floating lemon wheel.

White Carnation

1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce peach schnapps
1/2 ounce half and half cream
1/2 ounce orange juice

Combine ingredients in an ice shaker, shake vigorously, strain into a martini glass, garnish with an orange peel. 

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Post Updated April 2019

Fearrington Belties Live the Five-Star Life

The Fearrington House Inn, located in Pittsboro, North Carolina is a five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel that captures my state's pastoral beauty.

Beltie Cows at Fearrington House Inn
@FearringtonNC Instagram Account
I love the Beltie cows that live around the Inn and Fearrington Village. Aren't they adorable? This photo was posted on the @FearringtonNC Instagram account this month and I fell in love with it. The official breed is Belted Galloway cows. The hotel uses the hashtag #FearringtonBehindtheScenes. The Fearrington House Inn has been named as N.C.'s best hotel, and is also ranked as a Top 100 hotel in the U.S.

The Inn is close to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When in college, my roommate and I had a beautiful black and white cat named, Maggie. Every time we would ride by the Fearrington Inn, we would call these cuties "Maggie Cows". I've just always been fond of them.

To learn more about this beautiful country Inn and its history, visit the hotel's website. My last overnight stay at the Inn was shortly after my son was born for my birthday. A lot of changes have been made since my last visit, including the addition of a spa and new room renovations. My husband and I plan to visit the Inn sometime soon for another overnight, but we've got to work on the logistics of a kid-free weekend first.

Beltie Cows at Fearrington House Inn

The Fearrington House Inn is a small hotel with 32-rooms, but this Instagram photo shows you how many staff are needed to run a top-ranked hotel. The photo was the Inn's Holiday greeting on Instagram last year. The original house serves as the Fearrington House Restaurant, a 2014 James Beard Foundation Award Finalist.

Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, NC
Staff of the Fearrington House Inn
@FearringtonNC IG account
The Fearrington Village has shops, a cheese and wine store, a more casual restaurant, and a great bookstore. It's definitely worth a weekend stroll.

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share? Read the linky rules below and join us this week (but don’t forget to grab our logo {here} and link to at least one of hosts in your post). If you are not a blogger, but have an Instagram account tag your lovely travel moments with #IGTravelThursday. No blog, no Instagram? You can still join in the fun by reading our IG-related travel stories and by giving us some feedback love!  If you want to host the IG Travel linky on your blog so that your readers can easily find our posts, you may use this,  get the InLinkz code

Tropical Escape to Family-Friendly Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico

It's been a long winter in Raleigh this year. We were out of school for ice two days ago. Our tenth school day we've missed this winter for ice or snow. We're not used to this in the South. As a result, I've been turning to my Instagram account to escape somewhere tropical and sunny.

How does this view look?

Punta Mita, Mexico (Four Seasons)
@FSPuntaMita Instagram account

And let's pretend this mango margarita is in our hands. 

Mango Margarita from Four Seasons Punta Mita

I love to follow The Four Seasons Punta Mita on Instagram, and apparently, this hotel in paradise likes to make margaritas. I say, "How quickly can I get there?"

I've not personally been to The Fours Seasons Punta Mita, but it is on my dream list. The resort is about 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta.  Every Saturday night as a child, I heard Julie on The Love Boat say, "And our next stop is Puerto Vallarta."  I've not been there either, but my gut tells me I would want to go straight to this resort once I got off the plane.

The Four Seasons Punta Mita recently renovated its rooms, and it is very family-friendly.  You can have a tropical drink by the pool, and so can your mini-me.

Tropical cuties at Four Seasons Punta Mita
@FSPuntaMita Instagram Account

I fell in love with big and small drink photo this week on Instagram. It gets my vote as a favorite in my feed.

Are you feeling tropical today?

Four Seasons Punta Mita
@FSPuntaMita Instagram Account

What tropical drink would you order?

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share? Read the linky rules below and join us this week (but don’t forget to grab our logo {here} and link to at least one of hosts in your post). If you are not a blogger, but have an Instagram account tag your lovely travel moments with #IGTravelThursday. No blog, no Instagram? You can still join in the fun by reading our IG-related travel stories and by giving us some feedback love!  If you want to host the IG Travel linky on your blog so that your readers can easily find our posts, you may use this,  get the InLinkz code

Rainbow Fruit Tray, Shamrock Sugar Cookies, and Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! My friend, Michelle, hosted a St. Patrick's Day party at her Wilmington, N.C. home this past weekend. I fell in love with this rainbow fruit tray she assembled with strawberries, oranges, pineapples, grapes, bananas, and marshmallows.

Rainbow Fruit  Tray
Rainbow Fruit Tray

I think this is a fantastic idea for a kid's themed party, especially for  St. Patrick's Day, but any party really. Think My Little Pony! There is a horse named Rainbow Dash.  Cute, simple, and clever idea.

I think I could make the fruit tray, but I leave yummy baked goods to the Raleigh baking professionals.

At Yellow Dog Bread Company in Downtown Raleigh this week, I tasted this great shamrock sugar cookie.

Shamrock Cookie from Yellow Dog Bread Company in Raleigh, N.C.
Shamrock Cookie at Yellow Dog  Bread Company

Yellow Dog is one of my favorite Tuesday spots in Downtown Raleigh. It's located on Franklin Street in the Historic Mordecai area. I hit this bakery/coffee shop after dropping my son off to school. You-know-who and I have about an hour to kill before her dance class. Yes, the cookie was for her, and I barely even got half a clover.

HinesSight Blog

LaFarm Bakery in Cary, N.C. is my other favorite place in Wake County to go for coffee and  baked goods. It's off my normal beaten path, but I love to get over there when I can. It's located off of Cary Parkway. I was there last week working on a feature store with bakery owner and master bread baker, Lionel Vatinet. It was such a treat to pop in during one of their busy, seasonal times. On this day, the bakery was busy making Irish Soda bread in addition to their other popular loaves. I was invited into the kitchen as they were making Irish Soda Bread that day. Lots of yummy butter goes into 40 loaves.

LaFarm Bakery in Cary, N.C.
LaFarm Bakery has 70 employees and they bake a lot of bread while we sleep

Irish Soda Bread from LaFarm Bakery
LaFarm Bakery's Irish Soda Bread 

Irish Soda Bread sold at LaFarm Bakery in Cary, N.C.

Lionel Vatinet
Look for my feature with Lionel Vatinet soon

I'll be sure to let you know when my feature on Lionel and LaFarm Bakery runs because it may be published on a few different sites before it runs on this one. Be sure to follow me on social media and never miss a HinesSight Blog post by subscribing by e-mail, which can be done on my sidebar. I post about 2 to 3 times a week.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And I leave you with one more rainbow. One of my little sparkles in life.

HinesSight Blog

And for my travel lovers, follow @todestination on Instagram. She's my colleague at Skimbaco Lifestyle. She captured this beautiful Irish rainbow in Ireland last fall.

Photo by @ToDestinationUnknown on Instagram (Irish Rainbow)
@ToDestinationUnknown on Instagram

Sunday Chat: Lunch with a View of Raleigh's Skyline at PR @ the Poole

I've got a new lunch place in Raleigh to chat about today. I'm excited about this one because it's like dining at a country club or on a resort patio by the golf course. The view of Raleigh's skyline is cool.

PR at the Poole in Raleigh
PR @ the Poole in Raleigh, N.C. 

One of Raleigh's well-known and iconic dining establishments, Player's Retreat, which has been serving State students on Oberlin Road since 1951, has opened a second restaurant at the Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse on the Lonnie Poole Golf Course in the heart of Centennial Campus at N.C. State University.

Yeah, that's a lot of names, but all you have to remember is PR @ the Poole. 

Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse
Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse on N.C. State Centennial Campus
The Atmosphere

PR@ the Poole opened about a month ago. Now that the weather is getting nicer in Raleigh, PR @ the Poole is ready to get the word out about its opening.. As it gets warmer, the restaurant will be extending its hours into the early evening as well. I'm probably most excited about that for the summer time. Diners will also be able to go to the club for holidays like Easter and the 4th of July. Special holiday menus will be served. It is important to note that even though this feels like a country club, it's public and anyone can dine there.

N.C State University invited me to come out to try the food at PR @ the Poole in order to experience the restaurant's atmosphere firsthand. Before I was contacted, I had no idea the restaurant was there and open for business. This was also my first visit to the public golf course, which serves as the home course for NC State's golf team.

With the original Player's Retreat being a popular Raleigh favorite among diners, I think PR @ the Poole will become a Raleigh jewel for people like me who want casual food in a resort-like setting. Nothing could be more relaxing than drinking a NC Craft Beer on a patio.

Outdoor seating at PR at the Poole

The Menu and Food

The menu is in line with the original Player's Retreat menu, but pizza is not served here. The menu is also not as extensive since it does not serve until 2 a.m. PR @ the Poole owner, Gus Gusler, carefully chose some of his more popular items to serve at the clubhouse.

What golfer wouldn't like a beer and a burger?  And I'm not talking about just any burger. I'm talking about fresh, Angus beef grounded daily by the restaurant.  And boy, you can taste the difference.

Angus Beef Burger at PR at the Poole in Raleigh
PR @ the Poole serves fresh, Angus beef 

My entire family got burgers. Sorry!  That was not a lot of variety on our part to try different things, but I couldn't help it. Sitting on that deck overlooking Raleigh's skyline and this golf course made a burger and a NC beer the best choice for me.

My son probably has had a burger in at least six luxury hotels in the past two years, and I don't remember getting this type of reaction after a first bite anywhere, except maybe at the Inn at Biltmore last year. At first bite, he immediately said, "Mmm...this is good!"

HinesSight Blog Restaurant Review

Family-Friendly and Food Price Points

PR @ the Poole is kid-friendly. At our visit, a children's menu was not printed yet, but Gusler says they will get that taken care of right away, and the kid's menu will be in line with what is served at the main Player's Retreat. The prices will also be reasonable with hot dogs at $1.75 and other entrees under $5.00.  My burger included house-made chips and a non-alcoholic drink for $9.95. The restaurant's menu has a concept of 15 meals for $9.95 which include favorites such as a Reuben, chicken salad, grilled chicken, veggie burger, veggie stir-fry plus chili and salads. Heavier entrees are also served with a price point around $15.

I will certainly be back. I probably need to branch out and try something else, but it's going to be hard not to order a burger.

Lonnie Poole Clubhouse at NC State

PR @ the Poole is also a new location in the area for wedding receptions and other parties, events, or celebrations.

Interior of PR at the Poole

Want to Go:
PR @ the Poole
Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse
Centennial Campus
NC State University
Raleigh, N.C.

Disclosure: My only expense at this restaurant was for alcohol beverages, and gratuity. As always, my opinion about a restaurant or property I visit is my own. 

Snapshots of a Cool New Ride at Loews Hotels

I am a new follower to Loews Hotels on Instagram. The account features all of its 19 properties. The hotel chain took to its Instagram account to announce a new partnership with FIAT on March 12. Guests of the Loews Regency Hotel in New York can get complimentary rides in the new FIAT 500L while staying at the hotel.

Fiat at Loews Regency Hotel in New York
@LoewsHotels IG account
Loews Regency Hotel in New York

How cute is that? Also, FIAT owners can get a discount of up to 30 percent on Loews Hotel stays in the U.S. as part of the new partnership. Four other Loews Hotel properties will have the FIAT 500L as a complimentary perk for its guests.

The Loews Regency reopened  in late January after a major renovation. There are not a lot of interior shots on the main IG account yet, but staff are certainly getting around the city.

New York City
@LoewsHotels IG Account
New York City

New York City
@LoewsHotels IG account
New York City

I'm sure as the new FIAT cars gets out and about in these cool cities, we'll see even more  photos from the Loews Hotel Instagram account throughout the U.S. The five properties which will have the complimentary FIAT car service are: Loews Hollywood, Loews Santa Monica Beach, Loews Miami Beach, Loews Regency (New York), and Loews Madison (Washington, D.C.).

Loews Madison's FIAT in Washington D.C. was also featured on the main Instagram account with its cute, new ride.

Fiat at Loews Hotels at Washington D.C.
@LoewsHotels IG account

And the FIAT USA Instagram account proudly showed a white FIAT in front of a Loews Hotel property on Wednesday afternoon. This looks to be a great partnership. I kind of want to ride around in one on vacation.

Fiat at Loews Hotels
@FiatUSA IG account

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share? Read the linky rules below and join us this week (but don’t forget to grab our logo {here} and link to at least one of hosts in your post). If you are not a blogger, but have an Instagram account tag your lovely travel moments with #IGTravelThursday. No blog, no Instagram? You can still join in the fun by reading our IG-related travel stories and by giving us some feedback love!  If you want to host the IG Travel linky on your blog so that your readers can easily find our posts, you may use this,  get the InLinkz code

Where to Stay for 36 Hours in Raleigh, N.C.

Thank you for landing on This blog post will be updated in 2024 to include our newer hotel properties in Raleigh, NC, as of  December 2023.  If you want to VISIT RALEIGH  (and I hope you do) please browse the Visit Raleigh website for booking opportunities. 

Happy Holidays,

The New York Times wrote a piece called "36 Hours in Raleigh." 

Downtown Raleigh, N.C.
Downtown Raleigh, N.C. 

Reporters put together a fast-paced agenda that would exhaust my leisurely side, but they certainly hit the city's highlights. 36 hours in Raleigh is simply not enough time because there is so much to see and do.  But, most people take short weekend trips, and if you've got 36 hours, then you should spend it in North Carolina's capital city.

I agree with the NY Times restaurant choices in the article for Raleigh.  I've been to every one. I love Bida Manda and the Stanbury. I have a few other favorites as well as a local. 

If you noticed, accommodations were mentioned at the very end of the article. I want to expand more on that today because when you plan a trip, a hotel is an important part of that vacation. Raleigh has a lot of great places to stay, but where you choose to stay really depends on what you are doing in the area and the feel you want for your trip. 

The Marriot City Center
The lobby in the Marriott Raleigh City Center

If I were visiting Raleigh (Wake County only), I would probably choose to stay in four areas. Those areas would be in Raleigh's Midtown area, which was not mentioned in the article, Downtown Raleigh, the heart of Raleigh near Crabtree Valley Mall, and of course, The Umstead Hotel and Spa, located in Cary, N.C. The luxury hotel is not located in Raleigh, but it's only a couple of exits away from RDU-International Airport and is still a short drive (about 20 minutes) to the heart of Downtown Raleigh or Raleigh's Midtown. 

I recommend these specific areas for the leisure traveler to choose a hotel.  If you are a business traveler, visiting family, attending a wedding, or coming for a specific purpose such as a little league tournament, then you may have very specific needs. We have lots of great hotels throughout the Raleigh area that would suit those needs, including the hotels in the areas I recommend. 

The Renaissance North Hills
Renaissance Raleigh North Hills 

But let's talk specifically to this N.Y. Times article. Everything the writer listed is located inside the Raleigh beltline. For that reason only, I feel Downtown Raleigh hotels would be the best places to stay to tackle that particular 36-hour itinerary. 

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I absolutely love the Umstead Hotel and Spa, but this five-star hotel is a destination of its own. 36 hours in Raleigh is not enough time to soak up the flavor of Raleigh, and also soak up all that the Umstead Hotel offers its guests. You need more time in the area so you can enjoy the hotel. 

The Spa at the Umstead Hotel
The Spa at the Umstead Hotel in Cary, N.C. 

You should not go there without visiting the spa, and the hotel's food is some of the best in the Triangle. I had the chicken pot pie in the hotel's lobby bar last week, and it was divine. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't want to check into the Umstead, pay the luxury prices that go with that experience, and then be gone for 16 hours of the day, especially if all you want to do is pack in as much sightseeing, nightlife, and visit as many craft breweries as possible in a short amount of time. 

A Room Balcony at the Umstead Hotel and Spa
A balcony off a room at the Umstead Hotel and Spa

The Downtown Raleigh hotels are within walking distance of most of the places this N.Y Times article recommends to see. The Umstead does have an outdoor, resort-like pool, and I would choose the Umstead as a base for families to explore Raleigh at a more leisurely place, especially in the summer. 

The Marriott and The Sheraton, located downtown and mentioned in the article, have indoor pools, which kids love in the colder months. The Sheraton recently underwent a major room renovation and added the Jimmy V Osteria Bar, which I've not tried yet.  Another new downtown option is the Hampton Inn and Suites, located on Glenwood South, with breakfast included in the rate. The hotel also has a manager's reception a few days a week and has an indoor pool. 

Downtown Raleigh
The Sheraton Hotel in Raleigh, N.C. 

The Renaissance Hotel at North Hills also has an indoor pool and a great restaurant. Shopping, more restaurants, a movie theatre, and a bowling alley are all within walking distance of the hotel. That's a great perk for families with teens. North Hills is in a different part of Raleigh, but it makes a good base for exploring. 

North Hills in Raleigh, N.C.
North Hills, a popular shopping area in Raleigh's Midtown area

The Hyatt House, also located at North Hills in Raleigh's Midtown, has family suites and a small outdoor pool. Breakfast is also included in your rate. 

The Hyatt House in North Hills
The lobby in the Hyatt House North  Hills 

2017 Post Update:  A Residence Inn opened in 2017. It's sophisticated, has a great location and is within walking distance to most everything downtown.  A.C. Hotels by Marriott also opened in North Hills. It has a great rooftop bar.

Raleigh is a great city to visit. I just hope you take longer than 36 hours. We have so much to offer here. 

Nature Research Center at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
Outside of Nature Research  Center at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences 

All of these Raleigh photos were taken by me for Instagram, so be sure to follow me @Hinessightblog. 

Snapshots of Family-Friendly Jekyll Island for #IGTRAVELThursday

I have a love for eco-friendly coastal islands. Personally, I like the tranquility and the natural beauty it provides for vacationers to enjoy.

When I find a luxury hotel on an island in its natural habitat, you could say it is "true love." I have followed the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on Jekyll Island, Georgia on Instagram for awhile now.

The Jekyll Island Club Hotel
IG account @Jekyll_Club

I visited the island more than 20 years ago on a short day trip while in college. This area, between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, was the Southern summer playground for America's elite at the turn of the century. J.P. Morgan, The Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts vacationed here, and started what was known as the  "Jekyll Island's Millionaire's Club." Think of Great Gatsby and that gives you some insight of this island's prestigious past. The Great Depression and the war took its toll on the island though. In 1947, Georgia bought the island and turned it into a pubic state park.

I've always wanted to return to this island because I think it would be a great family-friendly destination that gives a nod to family vacations of yesteryear.

I think the hotel does a wonderful job on its Instagram account capturing the beauty of the island. Here are some of my favorite shots around Jekyll Island from the IG account of @Jekyll_Club

Jekyll Island Georgia via @Jekyll_Club
The gorgeous Jekyll Island at sunrise
IG Photo: @Jekyll_Club

I love this shot of the bikes that guests of the hotel can use on Jekyll Island.

I love the Turrets at the Club. The hotel has a blog called "Turret Talk"

Jekyll Island, Georgia

The beauty of the Jekyll Island marsh

The Jekyll Island Club Hotel has nature's playground to entertain its guests each summer, but it also has cooking activities and other fun, family-centered events year-round. Guests can stay in the historic club or in some of the former millionaire's cottages that have been restored by the hotel. For the record, these are not really cottages as we may think of today.  No, these were huge mansions with 10 bedrooms or more. Some of the homes, such as the home belonging to Rockefeller, are museums and are open to the public.

The Jekyll Island Club Hotel operates rooms out of the Cherokee Cottage, which was built by the wealthy Shrady family in 1904.

Guestroom in the Cherokee Cottage as shown on Instagam
I love a hotel with history. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel also serves a Victorian tea daily from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. You know that caught my eye.

Summer rates for the hotel start around $279 for a king or double room and $339 for a king suite with a sleeper-sofa.

And one last quick note, join Skimbaco, ChildMode, and me for the  #IGTT Twitter Party on Thursday, March 13 at 12:00 p.m. EST.  We'll be talking about Instagram and Destinations. 

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share? Read the linky rules below and join us this week (but don’t forget to grab our logo {here} and link to at least one of hosts in your post). If you are not a blogger, but have an Instagram account tag your lovely travel moments with #IGTravelThursday. No blog, no Instagram? You can still join in the fun by reading our IG-related travel stories and by giving us some feedback love!  If you want to host the IG Travel linky on your blog so that your readers can easily find our posts, you may use this,  get the InLinkz code

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