Restaurants have been through the wringer in the past 2 years. Some 90,000 closed permanently. A few other upshots: Restaurant critics have, by and large, abandoned numerical star ratings; you can now join a paywalled restaurant's membership and pony up for reservations with NFTs; and the James Beard Awards created a category for restaurants with strong cocktail programs. Guess the pandemic drove us to drink even more creatively! In other food news, the largest US grocery chains, Kroger and Albertsons, have agreed to merge. They're trying to take on grocery leaders Walmart and Amazon but face an uphill regulatory battle. Good luck Krogertsons. Meanwhile, I'll continue shopping online, not for store brand canned beans, but for a sweet deal on bourbon. It's rare whiskey season, just in time for holiday sipping. Michter's 20-year-old bourbon and Van Winkle's brand new 6-bottle collection just dropped in October. If you prefer Scotch, Balvenie just released a $145,000 whisky from a single 1962 barrel. Hoo-boy. That's way above my pay grade. But maybe I'll get lucky? Maybe Santa will see that I've been really good this year.