Spirits: Cocktail, Anyone?

If you still haven't had that backyard bash you've been promising your friends, don't worry, it's not too late. But you'll want to do it up right--plain old gin and tonic just won't cut it.

Discovery

Woody Allen had a vision of how cars of the future would look in his 1973 film "Sleeper": jelly-bean-shaped ovals with no sharp edges. Unfortunately, he wasn't far off the mark.

Patriot's List

Do your kids think the Fourth of July is only about hot dogs and fireworks? Then it's time for a little history lesson:Dear America Beautifully bound series of kids' fictional diaries. $10.95.

Maybach 57

The Mercedes is a fine aspirational brand for most of us. But for crown princes and captains of industry, even the top-of-the-line Mercedes can seem downright downscale.

Travel: Wow Vows

Not up for a big church wedding? Think outside the pew. Tip Sheet found nuptial nirvana at these four homey hotels. Go ahead and steal our ideas. Consider it your "something borrowed."BELLAGIOLas Vegas, Nev.; bellagio.comCeremony: Say "I do" overlooking the hotel's dancing fountains--timed to go off at your first kiss.Check, please: $3,600 includes flowers, changing room and music.GRACELANDMemphis, Tenn.; elvis.comCeremony: Get hitched at Elvis's Chapel in the Woods.

Road Test: Lexus Is 300

Ready to swap that gas-guzzling SUV for a saner-size wagon? You and me both. Lexus's new IS 300 SportCross still has plenty of cargo room, but it's easier on the wallet during fill-ups than a hulking SUV.

Travel: Bbq

Down-and-dirty ribs with linen napkins? These upscale barbecue restaurants offer good grub in a stylish setting.Zeke's Smokehouse (Montrose, Calif.; 818-957-7045): More bistro than barbecue joint with its galvanized metal chairs and leather booths.

I'm A Dancer, Not A Stripper!

In Vegas, they don't call it "the Strip" for nothing. On stages and cages all along the megawatt Las Vegas Boulevard, go-go girls are shaking their moneymakers.

Road Test: Jaguar Xj8

guar's likely to roll off with the crown. But no one ever said this looker was a rocket scientist--or a rocket. That changes with the all-new XJ8, Jag's redesigned flagship luxury sedan.

Travel: Gold In Those Hills

James Marshall was overseeing the construction of a sawmill on a cold, clear Coloma morning in January 1848 when the glint of something--the shape of a pea and about half the size--caught his eye. "I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold," he reportedly said.It was, of course.

Road Test: Vw Gti

It may look like your basic econo-box, but this V-6 drives more like one of its expensive German cousins. It's one of the things I love about VWs--they may look low-key, but they pack a wallop under the hood.

Travel: Lounge Acts

Extra-dry martinis, slinky red cocktail dresses, perhaps even a crooner at the keys: no wonder dark, sexy lounges are so enduring. Grab a corner table for two at one of these Tip Sheet favorites:Top of the Mark: Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco (415-392-3434)--Art deco bar has the best views of the city, plus 100 kinds of martinis.

Suburban Chic

Volvo once ran an ad that showed a supercharged Italian sports car towing a trailer. The idea: Volvo's a racy number with enough room to haul loads of stuff.

Mercedes Clk320

When Mercedes-Benz makes a little coupe, it's always one of the sexiest cars around. The newest CLK320 is no exception. It has a lower profile than the previous-generation CLKs, and it's more swooped and sporty.

Drinks: Keeping It Cool

If you're a wine lover, you've probably got a few bottles stashed in a closet or under the bed. And you probably know that fluctuations in temperature can quickly turn a lovely 1999 California Cab into vinegar.

Saab 9-3

News flash: the new Saab 9-3 doesn't have a hatchback. That's right, no hatchback. If you're thinking "so what," you're definitely not a die-hard Saab fan.

Travel, All-American Vacations

The very idea of visiting our nation's historical sites can conjure up unpleasant memories of school trips past--even if you weren't the kid who always got sick on the bus.

Money: Shop While Prices Drop

With all the worrying about the war and the lousy economy, it can be tempting to stuff any spare cash under a mattress and take a meat cleaver to your credit cards.

Home: Cooler Cleaners

Ok, so nobody really needs floor cleaner that smells like bubble bath, but for less than $10, it is kind of cool. We tried these products with sparkling results.For a scent that's more aromatherapy than ammonia, get Caldrea's Green Tea Patchouli Counter Top Cleanser ($8 at surlatable.com).

Road Test: Saab 9-3

News flash: the new Saab 9-3 doesn't have a hatchback. That's right, no hatchback. If you're thinking 'so what,' you're definitely not a diehard Saab fan.

Porsche Cayenne S

If it looks like a Porsche and drives like a Porsche, it must be a Porsche. But the Cayenne S is also an SUV. Sure, purists will bristle that the maker of precision sports cars has sold out to suburbanites.

Lexus Rx 330

Five years ago Lexus introduced the first luxury SUV, the RX 300. It was stylish and rode like a car, and quickly became the manufacturer's best-selling model.

Parlez-Vous L.A.?

If there's one thing Hollywood diners love, it's the next new thing. So it was that artist Laurie Garrick found herself lusting for a reservation at the new restaurant Bastide after reading the four-star review in the Los Angeles Times last month proclaiming, "L.A.

Beauty: Facial Fixes

Winter weather, pollution and stress--we all need a brave face. To soothe yours, try one of Tip Sheet's favorite facials:Ole Henriksen Look for Mark Wahlberg and Renee Zellweger at this West Hollywood spot.

Road Test: Suzuki Aerio

It was the ultimate test for a subcompact--a torrential southern California rainstorm was pounding Los Angeles, flooding nearly all the streets. And I was ready to bet a week's salary that Suzuki's elfin new Aerio SX would stall out in the first 30 minutes.

Drinks: Keeping It Cool

If you're a wine lover, you've probably got a few bottles stashed in a closet or under the bed. And you probably know that fluctuations in temperature can quickly turn a lovely 1999 California Cab into vinegar.

Technology: What's The Service Fee, Kenneth?

You're creeping along in L.A. traffic, zapping from one dopey radio ad to another. Would a little music be too much to ask for? Not anymore. For a hookup fee of $14.99 and $9.99 a month, you can get 101 commercial-free digital channels from XM Satellite radio (xmradio.com).

It's No Joke

Few vehicles are as bland as the SUV, with its jelly-bean styling. Maybe that's why Nissan's new Murano seems like such a rambunctious little truck. Its front grille looks like a robot's toothy grin (think Gigantor), and its tailgate is playfully angular.

The Mogul Mobile

You can tell a lot about a person by the car he drives. Or at least about the person he'd like to be. Mercedes's newly redesigned E500 says power and money.

A Cheap Thrill

Love sports cars but hate their sticker prices? Check out Mazda's new RX-8, due out this spring. The zippy four-seater (four real seats) goes for about the same price as a bland Japanese midsize.

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