Hillsborough group working behind the scenes on Rays move

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The Tampa Bay Rays continue to eye locations for a new stadium in Hillsborough County. 

  • Baseball Committee for Hillsborough working behind the scenes on Rays move
  • Hillsborough commissioners set to vote on selecting financial firm 
  • Narrowing down possible stadium site locations is next move

The Baseball Committee for Hillsborough group says things are moving forward with attracting the team to the other side of the bay.

Within six months, according Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen, a specific stadium site should be identified. 

"It’s our goal to have a plan to present to the county commission in about six months that will identify a specific location," Hagan said. "Financing, potential public uses as well as any development that may potentially come along with a new ballpark." 

On Wednesday, commissioners are expected to approve an investment firm so the county can start putting together financial packages for the top sites. That could include any assistance with a new ballpark or other infrastructure needed. 

For the last seven months, members of Hillsborough County’s baseball committee have worked to narrow down the best possible sites for the Rays on the opposite side of the bay. 

Ten possible locations were initially identified by the group. 

By next month, that list should be narrowed to the top two or three, Hagan said. 

"After working on this for nearly seven years, I am extremely optimistic that within a reasonably short amount of time we will be able to put together a plan that we can present to the entire county commission to consider that will keep the team in Tampa Bay for decades to come," Hagan said. 

At this point, the committee still has not ranked the proposed sites in terms of favorability. 

So it is still being determined if there are willing sellers or if any are cost prohibitive. However, once the committee has a financial firm selected, they can begin the narrowing down process. 

Bay News 9 – news

September 21, 2016 |

Behind the Bar with Dean Hurst: All About the Spirits

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Dean Hurst


Metro Shares a Bar Chat with Dean Hurst,

Director of Spirits for Bern’s Steak House & Haven

By Ronda M. Parag


Recently celebrating his 16 year anniversary with Bern’s, Dean Hurst, while never actually tending bar, is responsible for ordering all the spirits and training the bartenders. Hurst has a deep appreciation for the bartenders skill set, while creating a niche within the industry as a Spirits Specialist. Hurst served as the General Manager at SideBern’s, (now Haven) for over 10 years and developed an ability to create cocktails. “I got pretty good at developing craft cocktails,” said Hurst.

Now he spends lots of time talking with bartenders to improve the quality of cocktails. “Many bartenders are great at replicating recipes, but actually developing signature cocktails can be daunting,” adds Hurst. He uses the analogy of cook vs. chef. A cook can execute, but a chef drives the creativity of the menu and the kitchen.

In addition, Hurst is involved in spirits acquisition, helping new spirits gain access to the booming Florida market. Hurst’s spirit of choice is whiskey and Haven has one of the largest selections around with 570 whiskey selections available. “It’s not about the brand so much, I’m not a whiskey snob, I like a balance of flavors and the whiskey shouldn’t burn,” said Hurst. “A particular favorite is a locally made whiskey from Weeki Wachee – Wild Buck.”

Deeply committed to his craft, Hurst has been involved for four years with Tales of the Cocktail® and the Cocktail Apprentice Program, mentoring young talent. Tales of the Cocktail is an annual cocktail festival event that is held in New Orleans with seminars, tastings, competitions, networking and other events that bring out the industry’s best and brightest. Hurst bears a tattoo that signifies his involvement with a Kappa symbol in the center of a pineapple and stars for each year. The pineapple is the ultimate symbol of hospitality.

Hurst has also been heavily involved in Hukilau held in Ft. Lauderdale, June 8 – 12, 2016, to celebrate the “Tiki Culture.” This year, Hukilau celebrates the 15th Anniversary with many activities including hula lessons, craft cocktail presentations, Polynesian and fire knife dances and more, drawing over 1,500 attendees.


Dean Hurst's home tiki barThe Hurst home Tiki bar


Hurst won’t be in attendance at Tales of the Cocktail or Hukilau this year, as he is about to embark on a new adventure, fatherhood, in May. To keep the spirit and fun of the Tiki culture, Hurst designed and built his own Tiki Bar last summer at his home. Using mainly re-purposed wood and materials, Hurst has created his own tropical paradise to relax and escape.     M




Stolen Idol Tiki cocktail


In true “Tiki” fashion,
Hurst created a signature
cocktail, “Stolen Idol.”


It was a cool, rainy night at a retro spot on the beach, I was making drinks for a small group of Tiki fans with the ‘Bum.’ A mutual friend challenged me to create a drink named after his band, Stolen Idols.  I said, “Only if you write a song called Jet Pilots in the rain.”  I’m still waiting.

Stolen Idol

1½ oz      Appleton’s Extra 12yr
¼ oz        Smith & Cross
½ oz        Pineapple Juice, unsweetened
¼ oz        Fresh Lime Juice
¾ oz        Coconut Milk
¾ oz        Strong Coffee Syrup (1:1)
8 drops    Bittermens ‘elemakule Tiki Bitters

1. Combine Ingredients and shake with ice
2. Strain into a Hurricane style glass and top with crushed ice (used shaker ice will do)
3. Garnish with an orange slice dusted with fresh grated nutmeg (cocoa nibs are nice too)

Coffee Syrup:
At home, strong brewed coffee works great and is easy to make. The pour over method gives you the most control with extraction, yielding the best results. Cold brew coffee has a cleaner profile with less bitter notes than hot brewed coffee.  It is also much more stable and can last for weeks when properly stored.










© Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog  |  A Metro Life Media, Inc. Publication



Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog

May 20, 2016 |

Tampa Bay Weather: Cooler air coming behind line of storms

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Here’s what you need to know about the Bay area’s weather for Saturday:

  • Small craft advisory in effect for Gulf waters
  • High risk of rip currents
  • Overnight lows in the 50s

A Small Craft Advisory is in effect for the Gulf waters into Sunday. There will also be a high risk of rip currents at the beaches due to gusty north winds.

A cold front is expected to clear the area before morning. Some cooler air will filter in from the Nature Coast to Tampa Bay by daybreak.  Lows will make it down to near 50 for the Nature Coast to upper 50s around Tampa Bay.

High pressure will settle across the Gulf late Sunday into Monday, bringing a slightly cooler and drier air mass across the area.

Sunday will be breezy to windy with partly sunny skies.  It will be a lot less humid. Highs will be in the mid 70s Tampa bay to near 80 south of Tampa. 

Sunday night will be a little chillier, with lows from the upper 40s north to mid 50s south.

For Monday, a stronger area of high pressure will be building southward toward the eastern part of the country and then quickly out over the western Atlantic for Wednesday. Skies will be sunny.

High temperatures Monday through mid-week will remain in the upper 70s to lower 80s. Humidity stays low.



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Bay News 9 – local-news

April 2, 2016 |

Behind the Bar: Justin Gray

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Justin Grey


Live with Passion

By Ronda M. Parag

Born and raised in Tampa, Justin Gray is happy to share his passion and vision for Tampa. Whether bartending at Anise Global Gastrobar, or volunteering for a cause, Gray is committed to creating a better community for all. While some young people are drawn to the bright lights of LA or New York, Gray is proud of his native city and willing to invest his energy to make the Tampa Bay area great. “If we keep loosing our assets (meaning our young people), we will never arrive at our full potential,” says Gray. As a result of his upbringing, Gray firmly believes in “Paying It Forward and Giving Back.”

Gray admits he is a “spiritual sound being” and that permeates every aspect of his life. Among his many community activities, Gray serves as the Vice President of the Bartenders Guild (his 2nd, two year term) and has been a three year member of the Producers Board for the Straz Center. This year, Gray will serve as Event Chair for Best of Tampa Bay 2016 to be held April 16, 2016 at the Straz Center. The fun-filled, all you can eat and drink event, includes more than 40 local restaurants and caterers, open bar and four stages of live music to raise funds for arts education programs at the Straz Center. “I never ask for myself, but I ask for the groups I work with,” says Gray. As part of the craft-cocktail culture, Gray can talk flavors, techniques and spirits all day long, but with his giving nature, he is part bartender, part humanitarian – the perfect mix.


Q & A


METRO: Where are you on your off nights?

Gray: In a bar or restaurant in Ybor City, downtown St. Petersburg or Seminole Heights. I like to support my friends. I double up by combining leisure and work. I also have my own marketing and catering company, A & A Hospitality Services.


M: What are the hottest bar conversations?

G: While we are suppose to “hear and not hear” it is fun to watch all the Tinder dates happening.


M: Who is the most interesting person you’ve served at the bar?

G: Derek Jeter was in last week, but I don’t get star struck. The arts have magic for me, so I’d have to say the folks involved in the production of Lion King, from the make-up and costume designers, to the cast and musicians from the orchestra pit.


M: What is your favorite cocktail?

G: The Mint Julep – the simplest of cocktails with three ingredients – sugar, bourbon and mint. It is great for Derby Day or a cool fall or winter day.


M: Favorite city to drink, other than Tampa?

G: There is no place like New Orleans.         M










© Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog  |  A Metro Life Media, Inc. Publication


Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog

March 31, 2016 |
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