Taking on Texas: A Tale of Two Whiskeys

As a Texas outsider, I have learned there are several moments when it is best to just shut up. For example, if you wade into an Alamo discussion and start talking about who possibly disobeyed orders and if everyone really should have died, you’re going to get yelled at. (Please yell at Susie – this is her website.) What I like about Texas is that, as a whole, it’s a land of contrasts. You can go from large cities to beautiful hill country to mountains to desert to lakes and everything in between. You find global businessmen alongside ranchers in ten gallon hats, first generation immigrants eager to start a new life and suburban moms … all standing in sometimes nervous proximity of each other.

While there’s a popular narrative for what Texas is, the best part about it is the narrative never quite fits everyone. That’s why I enjoyed the opportunity to look at two different takes on what Texas whiskey is from two different distilleries – Devils River Whiskey and Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey.

As an outsider, the Mainstream Texas Nationalism can sometimes overshadow some of the really cool things about our state – like amazing nature areas – including the Devil’s River (94 miles of mostly unspoiled and pure, limestone-filtered water right here in the southern portion of the state). If you like history lessons and whiskey, Devils River Whiskey combines both as they’ve built their brand around the river John Coffee Hays named back in 1840. The bottle features river shots, Texas, and just about every other possible reminder that this whiskey came from the Devil’s River.

On the other end of the spectrum, Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey is made in Dripping Springs, TX with a brand focused on being a well-made craft whiskey with global appeal. If you’re a sucker for cool stories about people chasing their dream like I am, this blog post is a great place to learn more about Swift.

Now that my four paragraph commentary is out of the way, it’s time for opinion sharing. I poured each of these neat to start and had a couple of different guest reviewers try them both that way, with a bit of water, and then on ice. We started with the Swift and the first thing we noticed was there was a lot going on in each sip. The bottle tells you are getting notes of toasted vanilla and chocolate laced with hints of rose and white peaches. It’s a smooth, sweet sip with none of these flavors overpowering the others, but it was very different from what we were expecting.

For the Devils River, all the talk of bold flavors is implied by the bottle, the implication you’re one sip away from the forbidden river journey you didn’t even know you’d been dreaming of taking. There is a pepper and oak taste to it, but it’s also easy to sip and eventually falls into familiar notes of caramel and honey. The tasting group agreed that this was the better of the two whiskeys to drink straight.

We moved to a simple cocktail portion for the whiskeys and made manhattans, old fashioneds and a few custom recipes shared by the folks at Swift for us to try that were a little more off the beaten path. Both whiskeys made good cocktails, but the complexity of the Swift definitely stood out in the mixology phase of the review.

The two cocktail recommendations from Swift were simple to make and are worth making next time you pick up a bottle.

Wallace Mountain
1 oz Swift Single Malt Whiskey
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Averna Amaro

Pour ingredients into a mixing glass, ice, stir and pour in to a big rocks glass or highball.

Barley and Limestone
0.75 oz Swift Single Malt whiskey
0.75 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
0.75 oz Cherry Heering
0.75 oz Meyer Lemon juice*

Pour ingredients into a shaker, ice, shake and strain in to a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


Swift Single Malt
Nose: overall sweet with lemon and floral
Flavor: sweet and citrusy
Finish: long and dry – changes as it lingers with pepper as well
Aged: minimum 15 months
Proof:  (43% ABV)
Price: ~$55/750mL

Devils River Whiskey
Nose: sweet with hint of pepper
Flavor: honey and caramel with oak and a small amount of spice
Finish: warm, smooth and medium length
Aged: n/a + years
Proof:  (45% ABV)
Price: ~$29.99/750mL

The Grill On the Alley- New Menu Offerings, New Look

I love a classic steakhouse, as any decent Texan (or honorary Texan, thankyouverymuch) should. That said, feasting on a 22oz ribeye … in a suit a tie … with the smokiest, oldest scotch on the menu … in a dimly lit cave of masculinity isn’t for everyone. The Grill on the Alley at Galleria Dallas realizes this; enter their decision to introduce some fresh, new menu items that extend beyond the requisite Porterhouse and baked potato. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that … it’s a thing of beauty, really.) Also in the works: a new, more contemporary look and feel. (The first thing to go will be the white table cloths.)

New seafood starters with a decidedly exotic flair have been added to the lineup. The Crab & Hamachi Roll (avocado, mango, tobiko, lime, $17) and Ahi Tuna Poke (onion shoyu, tobiko, avocado, wonton, $18) are fresh, light and delicious. Looking for something a bit more indulgent? (OK, absurdly more indulgent.) Check out the  Nueske’s Slab Bacon ($15) with a maple bourbon glaze. Holy meat candy, Batman.

Other lovely options that have been added to the lineup include a beautiful Sea Scallop entree served pan-seared with a smoked carrot puree ($36) and a bone-in Pork Tomahawk Chop ($35) with apple compound butter … and at 14oz this bad boy chop is well-suited for sharing. (Or, not. Being selfish is cool, too.) If The Grill’s new offerings have you wondering, “Where’s the beef?”, fear not. A 14oz Prime New York Strip ($49) has been added to the menu, too. All praise the god of red meat.

You won’t want to miss out on The Grill’s side dishes, with offerings like Roasted Vegetables (sweet potatoes and brussels sprout leaves are the star performers, $11) and Lobster Mash Potatoes ($25).

And by all means, save room for dessert. Stacked 6 layers high, The Grill’s Coconut Cake is glorious, if also a bit intimidating.

The Grill On the Alley offers Happy Hour Sunday through Friday, 4-7pm, and Sunday from 11am-7pm, with special prices on cocktails, beer, wine, and bites. See details here.

The Grill On the Alley- Galleria Dallas
3270 Dallas Parkway, Dallas, TX 75240
(214)459-1601

GM / Executive Chef: Robert Hall

Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-9pm

True Food Kitchen Opens at Legacy West

The eagerly anticipated Legacy West is springing to life before us suburbanites’ eyes. One of the latest establishments to join the Plano development’s impressive lineup of shops and restaurants is True Food Kitchen. Arguably the healthiest dining option amidst the array of Legacy West eateries, True Food Kitchen offers health-driven, seasonal menus featuring fresh ingredients and dishes that, while healthy, are still incredibly flavorful.

The concept was developed in collaboration with best-selling wellness author Dr. Andrew Weil, with an emphasis  on incorporating dishes with anti-inflammatory properties. TFK also offers menu options for just about any diet imaginable, including gluten-free, organic, vegetarian, and vegan options.

But, perhaps most importantly, they also have delicious cocktails. My favorite is their Blueberry Royale (organic vodka, lemon, prosseco, mint) because it’s light and refreshing; just perfect for summer. Other notable offerings include a Thai Grapefruit Martini (organic vodka, Thai basil, grapefruit), The Peacemaker (bourbon, amaro, lemon, clover honey), and a Ginger Margarita  (añejo tequila, elderflower liqueur, ginger honey, lemon).

 

True Food Kitchen’s seasonal menu features a lineup of creative and unique starters, like the Edamame Dumplings, made with dashi, white truffle oil, asian herbs, and my favorite, the vegan Kale Guacamole (pink grapefruit, cilantro, roasted poblano, sunflower seeds and served with pita chips). Trust me: I was skeptical at first about anything vegan (because so many of us are under the false impression that vegan = tasteless), but it totally works.

It’s easy to develop a serious case of menu FOMO at your table because their expansive menu offers so many diverse options–pizzas, grain-based bowls, salads, sandwiches, and protein or veggie based entree options. The pizzas at TFK have a cult following of sorts, and the House-Made Chicken Sausage Pizza (organic tomato, roasted fennel, scamorza) is the crown jewel of the current menu lineup. The Inside-Out Quinoa Burger (hummus, tzatziki, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado, feta) is a perennial favorite of TFK devotees. If a meat-free entree sounds like a day without sunshine, fear not: the Grass-fed Steak Tacos may be just what the Dr. (Weil) ordered (You can also get ’em with grilled fish). I ordered the Seasonal Salad (asparagus, broccolini, roasted cauliflower, chickpea, pistachio, raisin, manchego, sicilian vinaigrette) on my recent visit, and it made my taste buds sing.

Bonus: I still had room for dessert. Speaking of dessert, I highly recommend the Flourless Chocolate Cake, served with caramel, vanilla ice cream, cocoa nibs. You’ll probably want to share this one. It’s rich. They also offer a gluten-free and vegan Key Lime Pie … because that’s what they do.

Picture courtesy of True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen
7601 Windrose Avenue, Suite F100 (Plano)
Located in the Legacy West
214.291.9591

Mon – Thur: 11am – 9pm
Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat: 10am – 10pm
Sun: 10am – 9pm
Brunch: Sat & Sun | 10am – 4pm

Viva la #PatioVida at OTB

I’m a queso fiend … I’m not ashamed to admit it. Add a patio, some nice weather, live music, and friends, and I’m one happy girl. Since I was meant to be leaving for a trip to Mexico next week that fell through, I needed a little tequila and sunshine to soften the blow.

Turns out, On The Border was the spot to get both, because OTB is helping us take our patio happy hour game to the next level this summer with amazing food and drink deals. What’s more, select locations will have live music every Thursday on their patios across the country this summer. (Dallasites: you can enjoy fantastic live music and a lively patio at their Knox location!)

I ventured out the last couple of Thursdays to enjoy the festivities with friends, and each was more bold than I when ordering. I’m a creature of habit–if I know I like something, I go with it. (Mostly because I’m too lazy to be bothered to order something else.) I took a bit of a chance on my last visit and used OTB’s #PatioVida Quiz that suggests food and drink pairings. (My result was their new Limeade Fresca and Empanadas … which I promptly enjoyed.)

Since I’m hugely into drinks, we’ll talk booze first. Starting in May (and ending September 4), OTBs across the country started offering a seasonal margarita, a Watermelon Margarita, made with watermelon purée! To make it more exciting, OTB is offering this fresher-than-fresh margarita for just $4 all day on Thursdays! (For $1 more, make it a grande, and for $2 more you can make it a Coronarita!)

Not into tequila? (I hear you, friends.) OTB is now offering four new non-tequila cocktails–the Limeade Fresca,  Cuba Libre, Padre Island Tea, and Poncho Punch–all unique, new options for OTB.

They didn’t stop at new drink options–they are also offering new food items on their bar menu that launched last month. If you want to try all of their new items, make sure you’re in for happy hour (4-7pm weekdays) where you can get snacks starting at just $2. (If you’re too cheap to shell out the $2 for queso, go ahead and sign up for Club Cantina and get a free queso or sopapillas!)

So, cheers to inexpensive happy hour snacks and booze at OTB this summer. And make sure to snap pictures of your visit and post them using #PatioVida!

 

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of On The Border . The opinions and text are all mine.

Celebrating Negroni Week with Strawberry Negroni Popsicles

If you aren’t aware of Negroni Week, get on board. Every year at the beginning of June, Imbibe Magazine and Campari get together to raise money for worthy causes across the US, each bar choosing its own charity to which to donate. Check out their website to see which bars across the country are celebrating and giving back.

Now, a little on the Negroni: it’s a classic Italian cocktail that has been around since the early 1900s that is made with equal parts gin, Campari, and red vermouth with an orange peel garnish, served on the rocks. Campari is a bright red, bitter, Italian liqueur that gives this drink its unique flavor profile. The Negroni is considered an apéritif, which the Italians will sip before a meal to prepare their stomachs.

I know that we’ve all had a traditional Negroni or two this week, so to stir things up a little, I tried my hand at Strawberry Negroni Popsicles for a pool party yesterday! These pops are as easy to make as they could be and are a perfect way to cool down in this oppressive heat.

STRAWBERRY NEGRONI POPSICLES
1 1/2 lb strawberries, hulled
6 T turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
2.5 T Seersucker Gin
2.5 T Campari
2.5 T Sweet Vermouth
1 T Orange Flower Water

Combine hulled strawberries and sugar in a blender, let them sit for 10-20min, then blend until smooth. Add other ingredients and blend for another 20 seconds. Freeze in popsicle molds for at least 8 hours.

 

 

National Bubbly Day

National Bubbly Day is June 3!

We’re obviously obligated to celebrating the effervescent elixir that has improved more than one wedding/New Year’s Eve/casual Tuesday afternoon and my health in 2017 (no kidding). While I’ll be hanging in my pool with some mini bottles of Segura Viudas to commemorate the day (screw the forecast that’s calling for rain), there are plenty of other ways to celebrate. Enjoy a chilled glass, boozy popsicles, sparkling sangria, or my newest creation, the basic girl favorite frosé (recipe below).

Visit my Instagram page (@susiedrinks) before Sunday, June 4 at 6pm for the chance to win a bubbly goody bag from Segura Viudas including a full size bottle of Segura Viudas Brut and two mini bottles, a portable Bluetooth speaker, a badass cava straw like the one in my picture, and some other goodies.


The frosé has been a recent favorite around town, but I decided to triple down on the booze by adding orange liqueur and vodka. (Because, I mean … it’s me.) Using frozen strawberries automatically chills the drink, so no ice is required that would eventually water it down.

Segura Viudas Frosé
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup of Segura Viudas Rosé
0.5 oz agave syrup
0.75 oz Cointreau
1 oz Reyka Vodka

Blend all ingredients on high. Pour into a flute, then top off with more rosé. Garnish with a strawberry half and a sprig of mint.

 

 


Special thanks to Segura Viudas for providing the giveaway goodies!

Chelsea Corner

Chelsea Corner is BACK!

The McKinney Avenue and Monticello corner spot from the 70s is back in it’s old stomping grounds, and it has just the right mix of nostalgia and shiny new offerings. The owners wanted to bring it back to its former glory but also provide customers with food for today.

We were curious what we’d see when Corner Bar shut its doors last year, and they’ve made some really fantastic improvements to the once dingy space. First, everything has been completely overhauled. It’s clean, and aside from the general layout, there’s no sign of the previous dive bar to be found. (Thank goodness.)

The bar has individual rooms to give a “house party” feel with video DJs playing oldies videos on all 17 TV screens around the restaurant and bar. The vibe of the whole place is laid back during the day, but can get wild in the evenings. You’ll see anyone from college students to empty nesters to business men stopping in for a drink (and a quick glance at some PYTs) after work. You might see one guy popping a bottle right next to another guy popping a bottle … of milk for his kid.

Overall, the new Chelsea Corner is a neighborhood bar that’s all about the neighborhood with environments to pay love to the area … with a bit of a naughty side at night.

May 19th marks the opening of their new 3500 square foot dog-friendly patio that seats 90 people with a back entrance off of Monticello. It will be perfect for day drinking with friends and pets.

The menu features classic Chelsea Corner bites such as giant pretzels, pizza, and burgers. A few personal favorites:

  • Big Daddy’s White Pizza – fresh ricotta cheese and oven dried roma tomatoes
  • Twisted Fried Chicken Sandwich – crunchy fried chicken breast, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and house-made honey mustard
  • Best Darn Steak Sandwich – beef tenderloin, chelsea brandy butter, caramelized onion, and manchego or blue cheese (pictured below)

Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am to 3pm (beignets are a must), and on Tuesdays they have live jazz and 1/2 price bottles of wine and champagne.

Don’t even think about leaving without ordering the warm chocolate chip cookies. You can thank me later …


CHELSEA CORNER
www.chelseacornerdallas.com
Facebook | Instagram
4830 McKinney Avenue (Knox/Henderson)
(469) 726-2211

Mon    4p – 12a
Tue     4p – 2a
Wed   4p – 2a
Thu    4p – 2a
Fri       11a – 2a
Sat      10:30a – 2a
Sun     10:30a – 12a
**brunch sat & sun 10:30a-3p

Seersucker Gin Gin Juleps for the Kentucky Derby

Grab your gaudy hat and seersucker suits, boys and girl, it’s time to get to the starting line for the Kentucky Derby!

The traditional drink of the Derby is, as we all know, the Mint Julep. Traditionally made with whiskey, sugar, mint, and a touch of water. the well known cocktail has been the feature of bars at Churchill Downs for nearly a century. No kidding, it’s said that they serve about 120,000 of them each year!

Not being one for tradition, I wanted to put a twist on the usual Mint Julep recipe. Luckily, Seersucker Southern Style Gin challenged me to come up with a cocktail that I’d serve at my Derby party using their brand new spirit, so I had a fun starting point and a unique spirit to work with.

To highlight the botanicals in Seersucker (citrus, coriander, juniper, mint), I paired it with a genever (the father spirit of gin) and ginger syrup. (So, really, this should be a called a “Gin Gin Gin Julep”!) The flavors play nicely together and make for a unique take on the well known recipe.

GIN-GIN JULEP
1 oz Seersucker Southern Gin
0.5 oz Bols genever
0.25 oz simple syrup
0.5 oz ginger syrup
~5  mint leaves
Top with Club soda
Garnish with a piece of candied ginger.

 

Seersucker itself is proud of its riff on the traditional julep, the Gin Julep. (They added citrus to bring out the botanicals and reserved the water.)

GIN JULEP (Recipe courtesy of Christopher Ware of Azar Family Brands)
2 oz Seersucker Southern Style Gin
0.25 oz of lime juice
0.25 oz of lemon juice
0.5 oz of simple syrup
~5 mint leaves + more to garnish

Combine gin, citrus juices, mint leaves, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, then muddle mint lightly. Strain into a julep cup over crushed ice. Garnish with more mint.

 

SEERSUCKER SOUTHERN STYLE GIN
seersuckergin.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

~$26 for 750mL
Available in 200ml, 750ml, and 1.75L

Pictures by @JureeGoode.

susie knows all things boozy in dallas …