The 2020 Seaside Prize

Seaside Prize Weekend

The communities that make up the Emerald Coast are diverse, reflecting regions that are both rich in heritage, progressive, and forward looking. Along Northwest Florida’s famed Scenic Highway 30A, the story of the Seaside community is exceptional, centering on an uncommon connectedness and the people who gather there. It’s a community strengthened by countless voices who have contributed to the quality and character of the town.

In honor of those contributions, the community celebrates

each year to honor leaders who have contributed to the development of Seaside and who have influenced its advancement. This year’s honoree is Michael N. Lykoudis, Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, for his efforts at enhancing the architectural community while advancing New Urbanism, a harmonious blend of cottages and walkable streets that represent the opposite of the condominium trend. The event attracts visionaries and thought-innovators who seek to make life better through design and function.

The 28th Annual Seaside Prize™ Weekend was held March 6-8, and included keynote speaker Michael Dennis on Friday, an award ceremony and dinner Saturday evening, Seaside tours on Sunday, as well as a series of lectures throughout the weekend. Attendees had options to choose a lectures-only option, a food-only option, or full admission. The Seaside Institute also accepted

for the weekend event and offers continuing education credits as well.

The Seaside Institute was founded in 1982 to promote the building of sustainable places through design and education, using Seaside as a living laboratory. Each year, it honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions by challenging existing ideas about diversity, walkability, sustainability, livability, and quality of life. Seaside’s 2019 recipients were Tom Christ, Richard Gibbs, John Massengale, Derrick Smith, and Charles Warren.

First presented in 1993 to Seaside co-town planners Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Vincent Scully, the award has been given to architects, planners, writers, politicians, and the City of Portland. The event began as a small, intimate gathering, and has blossomed into a multi-day event that enlists participation from the entire town as well as from people who were part of the town’s infancy.

“In an era when resilience, beauty, and good stewardship are more important than ever, it is a special honor to be recognized by the Seaside Institute…”

Michael N. Lykoudis

31st Annual Sandestin Gumbo Festival

If you’ve never visited the Emerald Coast during the winter months, you’re missing one of the most popular off-season events in the area: the Sandestin Gumbo Festival. Entering its 31st year, the event coincides with the long President’s Day weekend, making it a perfect opportunity to take in the local sights and sample the area’s very best gumbo as offered by a number of Gulf Coast competitors.

The Sandestin Gumbo Festival, which kicks off the local festival season, happens at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, where the two-day event raises money to benefit the Sandestin Foundation for Kids (SFK). Last year’s event raised $3,300 for SFK, which provides immediate support to children throughout the community and abroad.

This year’s event kicks off Friday, Feb. 14 at Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille with a neighborhood seafood boil, drinks, and live entertainment at 5 p.m. The main event happens Saturday, with the gumbo cook-off and family activities, as well as live music from Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe.

Participants bring a variety of recipes, each with its own unique spin and a variety of secret ingredients, with most repeat participants bringing a new offering each year. In years past, competitors reported beginning the cooking process on Thursday prior to the event and bringing 50 gallons of gumbo to share. Visitors can sample a wide variety of gumbos and vote for their favorite as the “People’s Choice” winner. And, back by popular demand after its introduction last year, the event includes the Best Bloody Marys at the Beach competition, where connoisseurs can sample them all and vote for one participant to win the coveted title.

Celebrity judges will determine the gumbo winners in multiple categories, like Veteran’s Award, Best 1-5 Years, Best Non-Restaurant, Best Display, and Best New Participant. Last year’s People’s Choice award winners were Crab Island Cantina, Dewey Destin’s, and Slick Lips, with Crab Island Cantina also taking home the title of Best Bloody Mary at the Beach. This year, however, with a new round of competitors for 2020, the results could look very different.

The Sandestin Gumbo Festival, nicknamed Pursue the Roux, is a rain-or-shine family-friendly event, so pack your gear and make plans to join in the fun. The main event lasts from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 15, with award presentations beginning at 4. General admission tickets are available on the

for $35 until Feb. 14. Ticket prices are $45 on the day of the event. This event could sell out, so grab your tickets now.

In preparation for the big event, try out this gumbo recipe from 98 Bar-B-Que, the


33 quarts water

2 cups olive oil

4 ounces shrimp or clam base

2½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup chopped garlic

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

1 pound chopped okra

2 tablespoons black pepper

1 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons salt

1 cup diced green pepper

2 tablespoons thyme

1 cup diced red pepper

7 tablespoons gumbo filé powder

1 cup diced celery

3 tablespoons blackening seasoning

½ cup chopped parsley

½ pound butter

½ cup chopped green onion

4 cups cooked rice

1 24-ounce) can diced tomatoes

3 lbs 26- to 30-count shrimp (peeled, tail off)

Heat water and shrimp/clam base in a large soup pot; bring it to boil and let it reduce.

While water is heating, pour oil into skillet about 1 inch from starting point and heat on medium. Once oil starts to warm, add flour with a whisk slowly; continue to mix until all lumps are dissolved. Mix the flour and oil mixture (roux) about every 10 minutes until it browns and begins to have a nutty aroma.

Once the stock has reduced, add garlic, okra, peppers, onions, and celery; then add tomatoes. Bring back to a boil and then simmer. (Remember to stir the roux.) Add gumbo filé and shrimp.

Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the roux to the stock mixture with a whisk. Add as little or as much roux as you like to make it thinner or thicker. Add spices, mix well and add butter.

Serve gumbo over cooked rice and garnish with chopped parsley and green onion.

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Panhandle’s Highest Priced Residential Deal on Record

11-Acre Miramar Beach Property Sold for $16.1 Million

One month into 2020, and our team here at The Premier Property Group (PPG) is already breaking out the bubbly. One of the first closings of the year—39 Sandy Dunes Circle in Miramar Beach—represents a significant milestone for our company and the local real estate market: It’s the highest priced residential deal on record in the panhandle.

The coveted 11-acre property, commonly recognized as the Pennington home, extends from Highway 98 all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Sold for $16.1 million, a redevelopment project is currently in the works between Premier Development and the new owner that will include a mix of residential, commercial and hospitality developments. Stay tuned, as discussions are currently pending as to whether that could include a beachfront bed and breakfast, condominiums or hotel.

Click Here for All Beachfront Property for Sale in Destin and Miramar Beach

The Premier Property Group- Superior Emerald Coast Brokerage

Defining a Premier Brand

A behind-the-scenes look at how The Premier Property Group distinguishes itself in the market.

Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. In an age where the noise flooding any marketplace can be deafening, how does a company effectively break through and make a connection with its audience?

The answer starts with the right foundation: a company’s brand. Recently, Paul Landers, creative director with The Premier Property Group (PPG), shared his insights on the importance of branding and how the executive team at PPG is strategically positioning itself for sustainable success as a luxury real estate company within the Emerald Coast’s crowded marketplace.

“Branding goes far beyond a company’s consistent use of color or a consumer’s ability to recall a logo or graphic element. It equates to a promise,” Landers said. “The PPG brand should embody a great customer experience and be compelling, honest, distinctive and proprietary. The  Premier brand is, after all, what our customers say it is, not what we say.”

PPG along with its sister divisions, Premier Commercial Group and Premier Development Group, all operate under the umbrella of the parent company, The Premier Group. In a market of just over 4,800 real estate professionals (just in Walton County) all vying to earn the trust of buyers and sellers, Landers noted that PPG is differentiating its brand in the following ways:

Quintessentially Local

PPG is one of the top locally-owned, independent real estate sales firms in Northwest Florida. That characteristic brings many advantages, according to Landers. “Number one, we know our communities inside and out,” he said. “In addition, PPG is not governed by a headquarters five states away that may or may not understand the nuances of our market. If we need to adjust strategy based on what’s happening across the communities we serve today, our team has the power and flexibility to do that.”

Global Visibility

PPG may maintain its operations on the Emerald Coast, but its team has global reach. Landers emphasized that a key differentiator for the company is its designation as the only local real estate group to be invited to become part of Luxury Portfolio International and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. PPG listings are marketed in over 52 countries worldwide and across 500 websites—an important feature that ensures high-end real estate reaches the right audience.

Proven Track Record

A consistent leader of area sales, PPG has been ranked in the top 10% of luxury sales from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors since its first year of operation. The company serves some of the Gulf Coast’s most sought-after communities including South Walton, Scenic Highway 30A, Destin, Niceville and Panama City Beach. Landers noted that this success comes from understanding its audience and narrowing its marketing focus to meet the needs of luxury buyers and sellers.

Next-Generation Marketing Techniques

The way companies reach their constituents is evolving rapidly in tandem with technological advancements. Not only must PPG continually adjust its own marketing strategies, but it must offer buyers and sellers of luxury real-estate access to forward-thinking marketing techniques as well. “Communication must make a connection in today’s market. Otherwise, consumers will look elsewhere,” Landers emphasized. “At a time when connectivity has actually resulted in a more disconnected society, we are all looking for personalized experiences and want to relate to the human element of a company.”

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Parkside at the Henderson to Break Ground this Fall

Destin’s exclusive Crystal Beach community will soon welcome the addition of a new standard in luxury condominium development. Following a successful pre-sales launch, the Premier Property Group (PPG) is gearing up to break ground on Phase 1 of Parkside at the Henderson, a distinctive retreat that will provide an elegant addition to the Henderson Beach Resort portfolio of accommodations.

As of early September, approximately two-thirds of the 32 residences that will encompass the first phase were already reserved. Bryan Whitehead, lead agent for the development, noted that the first units will likely go to contract at the end of September in anticipation of an October groundbreaking.

“The response to this offering has been tremendous,” Whitehead said. “We only have about 10 condominiums left in the Phase 1 inventory. Our owners are excited about the prospects of stepping into their new condominiums as soon as late 2020 to enjoy the best of upscale coastal lifestyle.”

Phase 1 of the development includes three of the five planned buildings—the main Parkview Building overlooking the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and two pool-view buildings—along with the resort pool. Notably, owners and guests will also enjoy full access to the expansive Henderson Beach Resort amenities package that includes a full-service spa, fully-equipped fitness center with classes, multiple resort pools including a lazy river, poolside cabanas, free shuttle service and a private beach. An onsite kid’s club ensures parents get to unwind as their children enjoy daily camp and kid’s night out activities as well as live entertainment provided on the resort property. Bicycle, kayak, snorkel and paddleboard rentals are also available.

Parkside at the Henderson features one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, although Whitehead acknowledged that most of the one-bedroom condominiums available in Phase 1 are already reserved.  Floor plans are thoughtfully designed for easy, everyday living, and PPG’s commitment to quality construction means residences come with high-end stainless steel appliances, polished chrome plumbing fixtures, quartz countertops, all-wood cabinetry, frameless glass shower enclosures and a craftsman-style interior package. Residences are equipped with extras that include a wet bar and undercounter wine fridge as well as a generous balcony for entertaining or simply enjoying a quiet evening watching the sun set.

In addition to its upscale interior residence package, Parkside at the Henderson is raising the bar on coastal condominium living through high-end concierge and valet services, in-room and poolside dining, daily cleaning, courtesy shuttles and beach chair and umbrella service. Two upscale restaurant options are offered on the property including Primrose and the area’s celebrated Beachwalk Café, Destin’s only fine dining located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. To engage in a more social atmosphere, Horizons octagon-shaped beachfront bar has quickly become a Destin hot spot for guests and locals alike. The resort also offers casual dining at Sea Level Poolside Bar and Grill, Sprinkles Ice Cream Shoppe, Beach Cantina grab and go offerings and the soon-to-be-built North Pool Bar and Grill.

Whitehead noted that strong rental showings within the existing Henderson resort condominiums have contributed to the pre-sale success. “Real estate investors recognize the opportunity available through Parkside,” he said. “Destin’s Crystal Beach community is a coveted vacation haven, and new condominium investment opportunities do not surface very often, especially within the scale of luxury offered through the Henderson portfolio.”

On-site resort rental management and maintenance is available, and unit pricing begins in the low $500,000. Whitehead noted that reservations for the 16 units that will encompass Phase 2 of the development will likely begin in the early part of 2020.

Click here for all available units for sale in Parkside at The Henderson

Distillery Movement Reaches the Emerald Coast

The craft movement has been making its way across the Florida panhandle for some time now, mostly in the form of refreshing, one-of-a-kind beer brands. Offering a wide variety of tastes and flavors, locally-owned craft breweries thrive because most often, their beer simply tastes better than mass-produced alternatives.

In tandem with this movement, craft distilleries are an emerging trend along the Emerald Coast, popping up in cities like Gulf Breeze, Santa Rosa Beach, Milton and Crestview. The five craft distilleries that call northwest Florida home strive to create unique spirits, educate consumers and promote the craft distillery concept across the area.

The distillery process demands something that can be fermented, and local Emerald Coast operations are universally taking advantage of the vast natural resources in the area. From molasses to grains and locally-grown fruits, these businesses create uniquely-Florida flavors while they support others in their communities.

Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview creates 10 different products — including rum, vodka, whiskey and gin — using a pure-blend process that distills each grain individually. This process matters because different grains cook at different temperatures, so distilling each one individually allows Master Distiller Aaron Barnes to optimize the fermentation and capture the ideal flavor profile of each one.

“By distilling each individual grain, we can optimize the flavors coming out,” said President Camden Ford. “Depending on how the grains are behaving, we can get more alcohol out with bolder flavors. Most of the big distilleries don’t have a lot of involvement on a batch-to-batch basis in determining the flavor of the whiskey, so there’s not a lot of art to it.”

Because Timber Creek distills each grain separately, they are the first-ever to offer a bourbon blending kit that comes with a bottle of corn whiskey, wheat whiskey, rye whiskey and barley whiskey so you can create your own whiskey blend.

Timber Creek, which was named Best Distillery on the Emerald Coast for the last two years, is building a brand new distillery and will offer tours beginning after Labor Day. Contact them via Facebook or email to set up a tour.

Also located in Crestview, Peaden Brothers Distillery produces a variety of moonshines using a 200-year-old family recipe that is local to the area. Bartlett Peaden, one of the first settlers in Okaloosa County, created the recipe, and all of the company’s products have ties to its roots.


The craft distillery produces five different varieties of moonshine and sources its corn out of Milton. In addition, the team also produces intermittent batches of bourbon, rye, single malt and rum throughout the year. Peaden Brothers operates in Crestview’s Fox Theater which dates back to the 1940s.

“We had bourbon connoisseurs comment that they couldn’t believe we were producing great whiskey in such a small space,” said Robert Ellis, co-owner of Peadens. “You don’t need a big space to make good whiskey.”

Peaden Brothers is open Wednesday through Saturday, 12-5 and they offer tours of the small craft distillery process. Connect with them on Facebook for more information.

Rollins Distillery, located in Gulf Breeze, was the first licensed distillery in the panhandle, founded in 2011. Operated by father-and-son team Paul and Patrick Rollins, the small craft distillery produces rum and vodka distilled from 100 percent Florida molasses.

“We want to educate the consumer about our process because ultimately, it’s through education that consumers will understand how spirits are made and how they are to be cared for and enjoyed,” Patrick said. “We create craft products, and we aren’t just trying to feed the bottom line.”

Rollins Distillery is working to build relationships with farmers and growers in the panhandle so they can take advantage of local resources to produce spirits that are drawn from the region. Big picture, the Rollins family hopes to take advantage of Florida’s natural resources to bring business into the state and specifically into the panhandle.

Rollins Distillery offers tours of its facilities by appointment and invites visitors to call or message them on Facebook for more information.

Scratch Ankle Distillery in Milton derives its name from local history and the thistles and thorns that settlers encountered when they arrived in the Milton area.

“Our spirits are unconventional,” said Distillery Manager Evan Doyle. “They are flavorful, robust, and they punch above their weight. Everything is fermented, processed, distilled, and bottled here.”

Scratch Ankle Distillery focuses primarily on a variety of rums and moonshines, but they have also produced vodka, a young bourbon, a bourbon-barrel-aged rum and rum-soaked cherries. And when they can go local, they do: the team uses unprocessed raw blackstrap molasses from Florida, as well as corn and rye from within the state. The distillery also sends its spent grains to a local farmer who uses them to feed his pigs.

Scratch Ankle Distillery offers tours Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 and Sunday, noon to 4.

The newest of the bunch, Distillery 98, is located in Santa Rosa Beach and will deal primarily in vodka, rum, and whiskey.

“It is our goal to highlight this great state and the beautiful Emerald Coast that we get to call home,” said owner and CEO Harrison Holditch. “We want to spread our passion for craft spirits to the passionate people of (Highway) 98.”

Distillery 98 makes its spirits grain-to-glass using a one-of-a-kind oyster shell filter and Florida panhandle corn. Additionally, the distillery shares a green space with Idyll Hounds Brewing Company.

Distillery 98 will open for tastings in September and will release its first bottle in October. For more information, check out the company’s Facebook page.

These local distilleries are building a following across the Emerald Coast, and many of them can be found in local establishments around the area.

“The industry as a whole has an advantage that the beer guys don’t in that most people don’t know what the liquor they are drinking is supposed to taste like,” Ford said. “We have to teach people what good spirits taste like.”

Fly and Light Tackle Fishing the Emerald Coast

Fall Inshore Preview with Slow and Low Coastal Outfitters

Captain Patrick Tarpey, owner of Slow and Low Coastal Outfitters, may be enjoying a small break as summer begins to give way to a quieter, cooler season along the Emerald Coast. But it won’t last long.

Very soon, bookings for inshore fishing charters will begin pouring in as eager anglers gear up to target giant bull redfish or monster jack crevalle—two of the company’s primary fall season targets.

A native Texan self-described as having “an absolute obsession with the water,” Tarpey draws from a wide breadth of experience fishing diverse ecosystems and learning new techniques across the globe. Today, his business is grounded in fly and light tackle sight fishing from St. Joe Bay to east of Destin.

“We offer a niche service that appeals to a wide market,” he says. “There may be easier ways to catch fish for sure, but that’s not really the point. On our charters, anglers are always hunting, actively engaged and eager to try and trick a giant fish.”

Finding the Giants

Our region is surrounded by multiple world-class fisheries that offer an abundance of species. And while the inshore opportunities for a sea-to-table catch are many, Tarpey’s focus is more singular in nature: catch and release trophy hunting.

In the summer, tarpon are central to that focus, and the popularity of catching these giants—reaching upwards of 150 pounds or more—equates to a fully-booked schedule for Tarpey up to two months out. The fall months may not boast the same size options, but Tarpey said that the excitement of targeting a 20-30 pound class bull redfish or 30-40 pound class jack crevalle makes for an exceptional experience in its own right.

“Redfish are some of our favorite and most challenging species to target, and the fight is rarely disappointing,” Tarpey notes. “The true giant redfish are out in the Gulf of Mexico right now making babies, but pretty soon, they are going to come back inland.”

Tarpey further explained that the Emerald Coast has some of the most visual red fishing encounters available anywhere on the coast. This distinction is important for sight fishing as it lays the groundwork for effectively sneaking up on the fish and getting into position for the optimal shot.

All about Adrenaline

Slow and Low Coastal Outfitter’s technical approach to fishing is less about chunking bait in the water with the hopes of a getting a bite and more about the hunt, proper technique and pure adrenaline. While Tarpey’s “catch and release” program means clients won’t take anything home for dinner, Tarpey emphasizes that the excitement and gratification of this style of fishing will keep you coming back for more.

“We’re actively finding targets in the region’s clear water and putting our eyes on them before making an approach. That giant redfish we are pursuing might be hundreds of feet in the distance,” he adds. “It’s goal-oriented fishing that hinges on making the right presentation to the fish.”

Simply put, anglers get out of it what they put into it, Tarpey says, emphasizing that there is an element of effort and practice. “You become proficient and then start having a lot more fun with it,” he says. “Our guests get the satisfaction of targeting bucket list fish on a fly–a challenging experience but completely worth it.”

Slow & Low Coastal Outfitters is based out of Santa Rosa Beach and the 30A area. For more information or to book a charter, send an email to or call 850.502.3222.

Nontraditional Lavish Cottage Gardens

The Emerald Coast’s year-round temperate climate and long growing season offer an abundance of opportunities to get outdoors and nourish beautiful landscapes. In fact, lavish cottage gardens grace homes in many communities on the Emerald Coast as residents find that these informal, diverse creations are a perfect fit for eclectic, laid-back coastal lifestyles.

Cottage gardens are areas of densely-planted flowering plants arranged in a relaxed, natural way, according to Master Gardener Karen Kirk-Williams. They feature a variety of ornamental and edible plants along with flowering shrubs and trees and are soaked in color and texture.

“Cottage gardens throw out all the strict rules of landscape design,” Kirk-Williams said. “They offer the freedom to mix plant colors, textures, and heights with abandon, so gardeners can create a unique area that reflects their personalities.”

Unlike traditional gardens with rules about color combination, height, and repetition, cottage gardens shun straight lines, rows, and coordinating colors, opting instead for gentle sweeping curves and seemingly random design. They also include hardscape features like benches, fences, gates, and arbors as well as paths to create structure among the foliage. Simply put, they strive to be relaxed, colorful, and fun.

“The overall effect is a cheerful, exuberant garden filled with flowers, along with flowering trees and shrubs,” Kirk-Williams said. “This gardening style is ideal for anyone wishing to include a few edibles in the landscape without having an entire garden area dedicated to herbs and vegetables.”

Typically, cottage gardens exist in pockets near the front porch, around the mailbox, or in other sunny areas that are visible from the house and the street. In the absence of a large yard, gardeners can use containers to create a cottage garden look.

Perhaps best of all, the diversity of plants in cottage gardens help defend against pests and diseases. At the same time, native plants provide food and shelter for the birds and butterflies that migrate through the area. Most flowering plants attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, so well-adapted plants that don’t require pesticides work best.

“Cottage gardens provide a beautiful focal point for homeowners and a beneficial oasis for wildlife,” Kirk-Williams said. “Your cottage garden will attract winged visitors, sometimes called flying flowers, that will benefit from the habitat, and from your hard work.”

Kirk-Williams currently has 63 varieties of flowering plants in bloom in her own cottage garden, and she said the variety means that she always has flowers to enjoy, even in the dead of winter. She hasn’t used insecticides or fungicides in her garden in 28 years.

“The key is to seek out plants that are well-adapted and will perform well without pesticides, and to avoid monoculture planting,” she said. “Monoculture planting, which groups clusters of the same plant together, is common in landscapes today, but it facilitates the spread of pests and disease.”

Her go-to favorites are climbing antique roses, Agapanthus, Russian Sage, Rose of Sharon, Confederate Rose, Guara, Gloriosa Lily, Plumbago, Hydrangea, Society Garlic, Crinum and Salvia.

To begin your own cottage garden:

  • Start small with your cottage garden to minimize maintenance and expense.
  • Blend in organic materials like compost or manure prior to planting to keep your garden healthy.
  • If you design with perennials, divide them every few years. Use the new plants to broaden your own garden, or offer some to a neighbor.
  • Plant flowers closer than recommended to create a lush look and reduce weeds.
  • Choose Florida-friendly plants, and place them in areas that suit their growing requirements.
  • Use mulch in bare areas to limit weeds, retain moisture, and act as a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Websites available through the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences can offer help with plant selection and inspiration or recommendations for the local area. Additional assistance is available through your local county Extension office.

    “Many of us fondly remember our grandparents’ gardens, filled with flowers and fragrance,” Kirk-Williams said. “Most of their plants were hardy pass-along plants shared by family and friends, and no one ever thought to spray for insects or disease. We can still have gardens like that and now have an even greater variety of well-suited plants available.”

Bring Some Refreshment to the August Heat Along the Emerald Coast

Local mixologist aims to educate, demonstrate and collaborate

What cocktails are on the menu for your next event? Will one-of-a-kind libations inspire guest palettes? Will friends or family leave remembering the smooth, natural flavors of the wine served?

When it comes to parties and events, local mixologist Christine Tarpey says that all too often, the beverage experience takes a backseat to food—and it’s a considerable “miss” on the opportunity scale.

“The right bar scene can take even the most well-planned events from memorable to extraordinary,” Tarpey said. “Many people simply lack a few contemporary skills that can significantly amp up their beverage offerings.”

In fact, Tarpey aims to change that dynamic on the Emerald Coast through the introduction of her new company, Better Together Beverage. A boutique education and event company, Tarpey and her colleague, Elizabeth Sinnott-Cameron, are taking their mixology experience and deep knowledge of the beverage industry on the road to conduct classes, consult with restaurants and event planners, and host special events.

Tarpey learned to love the Emerald Coast when she moved to area at the age of 14. In her mid-twenties, she left for the big-city sights and sounds of Las Vegas and Dallas, where she had the opportunity to hone her mixology skills in some of celebrated metropolitan restaurants and bars. When Tarpey accepted a position at Alys Beach on 30A and returned to the Florida panhandle in 2010, she realized that there was a significant knowledge gap across the region in terms of the latest trends with hand-crafted cocktails and mixology.

“I started as the maître d’ at Caliza Restaurant and quickly moved into the position of beverage director for the Alys Beach beverage program,” Tarpey said, noting that community’s NEAT bottle shop later became her passion project. “At NEAT, I had the opportunity to work with people in the community and teach them how to use better ingredients in their beverages. We created new cocktails every month and helped customers get out of their comfort zone.”

Tarpey noted that she enjoys introducing new mixology trends to the Emerald Coast. For example, sustainability is the rage in many big cities as bars try to eliminate waste. One way they bring the green movement into the beverage experience is by recycling lemons and limes that have only been used for their juice. Tarpey explained that a lime shrub can easily be made from lime peels, sugar and a little vinegar—a solution that can make an ordinary vodka tonic exceptional and memorable.

Today, Tarpey’s services are in demand, whether leading a seminar in a local home or working with local wedding planners. She recently consulted with the owners of Black Bear Bread Company in Grayton Beach to open a natural wine bar. “It’s really exciting because no one is doing that here,” Tarpey said. “It is catching on so fast, and it makes my heart so happy.”

Notably, Black Bear was recently received a nomination for Best Bar in the south by Southern Living.

Through Better Together Beverage, she plans to expand to offer various themed event packages that bring a flair of fun and excitement to a bar scene. For example, customers can choose from themes such as Southern Charm, Speakeasy, Glamour and Tiki.

To bring some refreshment to the August heat along the Emerald Coast, Tarpey offers her original recipe for a Hawaiian Empress:


Hawaiian Empress:

1.5 oz. Empress Indigo Gin

2 oz. Fresh Pineapple Juice

.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

.25 oz. Fresh Orange Juice

.25 oz. Lemon Oil**

.25 oz. Orgeat

-Combine all ingredients (except gin), in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until fully chilled. Pour into a footed glass, slowly pour gin overtop, do not mix. Garnish with a lime wheel and pineapple fronds. Add a Hay Straw to stir, sip, and enjoy!! (It is very important to use fresh fruit juices to captivate the freshness of this thirst quenching libation).

**Lemon Oil (yields 4 cocktails):

1 Lemon, zested

1/2 cup vegetable oil

-Combine oil and zest in a saucepan, bring to a low simmer, stirring for one minute. Remove from heat, allow mixture to sit for 1-2 hours, strain out zest, store lemon oil in air tight glass jar.

Buying a Second Home on the Emerald Coast

Some things to consider before taking the plunge

The Emerald Coast is an attractive area for investing in second homes. In recent articles we’ve told you about the area’s healthy tourism and economic outlook and why the future of real estate sales is expected to remain promising. Just as a refresher, visitor numbers in South Walton alone grew from 3.2 million in 2015 to 4.1 million in 2017. The Emerald Coast enjoys a high volume of return visitors (more than 10 times for many), and the majority rent condos or homes during their stay.

Here at The Premier Property Group (PPG), we understand why so many people fall in love with the communities we serve and want to own property here. It’s our goal to make sure that customers make the best choices for their own unique circumstances. Recognizing that many factors will come into play before an individual is ready to make an offer, PPG Broker Barbara Schott offers insights into some preliminary steps that should be considered before beginning the second home investment process.

1. Identify your short-term and long-term goals
While all property purchases are investments on some level, the factors influencing purchases will vary greatly depending on an individual’s goals. If the end-game is to generate a steady revenue stream or turn a profit within a couple of years, then the approach to buying becomes much more about value than personal preferences. For instance, many investors look to the shoulder seasons—spring and fall—to make a purchase as the inventory for good investment properties tends to go up. A buyer may consider a rehab property during the fall, giving them time to spruce it up and either put it on the rental or buyer’s market before the high tourist season.

In contrast, a family interested in having access to a vacation home or a retired couple looking to invest in a winter home will have much different goals. In these cases, the decision to buy becomes much more emotionally-based, and personal preferences may outweigh value.

2. Learn about the area
It’s true that many potential 2nd home buyers have visited the Emerald Coast multiple times and have some familiarity with the area. But, when it comes to making a 2nd home investment, it’s important to have a deep understanding of the varying neighborhoods and communities that exist. Some important questions to consider may include: What are the demographics of a community? Are most homes primarily occupied by owners or visitors? How does the high tourism season impact a neighborhood? How convenient is a neighborhood to shopping, dining and entertainment? What are the homeowner’s association dues and requirements?

While there are no wrong answers to any of these questions, they can be important considerations when trying to align with a buyer’s specific goals and needs.

3. Determine your price point
Having a clear understanding of financial parameters is a critical first step before embarking on a second home purchase. For instance, if a family wants to purchase a vacation home in our area’s popular Watercolor community, it’s important that they evaluate a realistic budget before investing a substantial amount of time looking.

At PPG, we suggest potential second home investors pre-qualify with a bank early in the process. In addition, it’s important to consult with a certified public accountant or financial advisor to fully understand tax liabilities of property investments.

4. Consider how you will manage the property
Property management is an important consideration, especially since many second home owners along the Emerald Coast live outside our geographic boundaries and in other states. Those seeking to invest in property should consider how they will address such things as repairs, general property upkeep and yard maintenance. They will also want to determine how decisions align with any homeowners association requirements. The good news is that many options exist along the Emerald Coast, from use of a property management company to concierge services and self-management.

5. Align with a Strong Real Estate Partner
The best way for potential investors to make smart second home investment decisions is to align with knowledgeable, customer-focused real estate group. At PPG, we are one of the top, locally-owned, independent real estate firms in Northwest Florida and have ranked in the top 10% of luxury sales from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors since our first year of operation. Simply put, we know the Emerald Coast and pride ourselves in being the local experts across the region’s top communities including South Walton, Destin, Miramar Beach and  Scenic Highway 30A.

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