Product Review: Equality Vodka

written by Kevin Craft

Fall is coming, which means Dallas Pride is just around the corner! For those of us that that it means our favorite event of the year is coming, you’ll need an impressive cocktail to serve at your pre-pride festivities. I got you covered with Equality Vodka.

I wasn’t sure about taking on a new Texas Vodka (I’ve been a Tito’s fan for a while now), but Equality was very smooth, and pairs with almost any mixer you’ve got in your fridge. Equality Vodka for sure found staying power in my liquor nook.

The best part? Finally you can drink as much as you want and know you’re supporting a good cause. (Because that was what was holding us back, right?) For every bottle purchased, Equality Vodka will make a donation to a nonprofit organization recognized for advancing the equality movement for LGBTQI communities.

I created this cool refreshing cocktail recipe that’s perfect to celebrate before hitting the parade and as simple as it can get.

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Equality Vodka® Rainbow Sour
2 parts Equality Vodka
3/4 parts Lemon Juice
Water or Club Soda
1 slice of lemon
Water
Food coloring, three colors max

First step: (PROCRASTINATOR ALERT! You’ll need to do this the night before.) Make at least three colored ice cubes in an ice cube tray. You won’t need yellow … it comes into play later.

Second step: When life gives you lemons … slice them and use them as the perfect pop of color in your drink! Lemons not only add flavor to the cocktail, but they’re totally photogenic. (Perfect for any Instagram addicts out there.)  Put the ice cubes in a clear glass, add Equality Vodka, the lemon juice, and the water/or club soda in that order.

New Amsterdam Pineapple Vodka

It’s August and I’m clinging to summer with everything that I’ve got.  I’m still living in flip flops and shorts on the weekend, our cornhole boards remain resolute in my back yard, and most importantly, I am far from prepared to part with refreshing summer cocktails. And why should I? It was approximately 146º out there tonight with about 114% humidity. #texas

Enter: New Amsterdam Pineapple Vodka. I happily received a bottle in the mail, and let me tell ya, this stuff is basically sunshine in a bottle. New Amsterdam Pineapple is delightfully fruity … enough to be sippable on its own, but it really begs to be highlighted in a cocktail. This vodka is sweet enough to eliminate a real need to add much in the way of additional sugary mixers. In fact, New Amsterdam Pineapple’s sweet flavor profile really begs for a punch of spice to balance it out. Here are two sweet ‘n’ spicy recipes to try (I whipped up the Midsummer Mule, and it was quite delicious.)

IMG_0006Midsummer Mule
2 oz. New Amsterdam Pineapple Vodka
0.5 oz. Lime Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup*
2 oz. Ginger Beer
6 slices, diced chili peppers

Muddle 3 chili slices in a tall glass and then pour in all liquids. Add ice and garnish with the remaining 3 chili slices!

*While I did include the simple syrup in my cocktail, I might try leaving it out next time. I’m not convinced it’s necessary since the vodka is really quite sweet on its own!

Highball’s Paradise
2 oz. New Amsterdam Pineapple Vodka
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz. Lime Juice
1 tbsp. Jalapeno Jelly

Shake and strain into tall glass over ice. Then, add 2 oz. of soda water. Garnish with sliced chili peppers (optional) for an extra kick!

IMG_9998NEW AMSTERDAM PINEAPPLE VODKA
www.newamsterdamspirits.com
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NAPV is available at most liquor stores. Check out their availability maps on their website.

A huge “Thank You,” to New Amsterdam for the complimentary bottle of Pineapple Vodka, and for helping me to hold tight to summer for just a little bit longer. 

 

A Warm Welcome at Ron’s Place

When it comes to bars, it’s nice to see that more and more are placing an emphasis on including Texas-brewed craft beer. A few weeks back, I had the good luck to try out the latest addition to Addison’s bar scene that does just that, Ron’s Place.

Take a proven recipe for success, add in copious amounts of beer and hard liquor, and you have something worth talking about. Ron’s Place opened July 23rd and is the latest on Addison’s restaurant row (a.k.a. Beltline). Ron’s Place is the brainchild of twins Mark and Dirk Kelcher, and these guys are seasoned professionals; they’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years. Locals may be familiar with their other bars (The Hub also in Addison and Ron’s Corner Tavern in Bedford). I have gotten to know The Hub since it’s the home to football watching parties for my alma matter, Texas Tech (GUNS UP!), so I was eager to see what they had in store.

The Kelcher brother’s newest endeavor is a smaller scale bar that focuses on craft beer and also has a vast selection of bourbon, whiskey and scotch . Inspired by their eccentric Uncle Ron and his obsessive beer can collection, they’ve created a friendly little neighborhood bar. (You know, like one of those places where everyone knows your name.) There is plenty of character packed into the place, given the modest size of the bar. Dimly lit, the walls are flanked with rustic-looking bookshelves displaying their booze and some of Uncle Ron’s famous international beer can collection. It’s a welcoming bar where you can go as you are, get a good drink and probably strike up a conversation with a fellow patron.

While the hard liquor they offer is worldly, I found that the beer list is mostly American. They pride themselves on taking advantage of domestic brewed beers and, get this … offer at least 12 Texas-brewed beers on tap.

During my visit, I managed to maneuver myself through the packed space to score a seat at the bar. I tried out two different beers I haven’t seen in many other Dallas bars. The first was a beer out of Montana’s Big Sky Brewing Co. called, funny enough, Moose Drool. Despite the name, this brown ale was rich, tasty and full of flavor. It was a bit creamy and could complement a wide variety of foods. The second beer I tried was from even further up north, the Alaskan White. This was a fairly typical style Witbier with hints of citrus and spice.

If you’re anything like me and suffer from analysis-paralysis when it comes to decision making, you will understand my appreciation for the concise beer descriptions on the menu. It won’t make the decision for you, but should help make the job easier. That said, the staff was very personable and attentive, and are glad to help out. The descriptions worked for me as both beers I went with were well worth it. Next time I will probably go for one of their Texan brews and maybe a whiskey (or two).

Tack on a short and sweet menu of bar food favorites and Ron’s Place has a winning combination that Uncle Ron would be proud of.

Maybe it was that I went on Grand Opening Day, or that it was happy hour and The Hub is next door, but parking spots were hard to come by. I ended up finding a spot behind the building without too many problems. Just know, when visiting Ron’s Place, go ahead and take the first spot you see, even if it’s a few doors down. (It’ll be worth the walk.)


RON
’S PLACE
www.RonsAddison
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4145 Beltline Road, Addison, TX 75001
(214) 628-0634

The Kelcher Brothers and Uncle Ron picked up the first two drinks for myself and the other patrons during its Grand Opening party.  Thanks, gents!

Drizly for Rizzy

109º.  My car today said 109º.  Let’s be serious, y’all … that’s some bullshit.  Temperatures anywhere north of 95º shouldn’t be a thing, but when they are, the best place to be is firmly in a pool … and preferable with a cool pool float*.

Well … I did just that last weekend.  Only problem?  I didn’t take enough booze with me down to the pool to outlast the whole arc the sun makes over my pool.  I had a cooler with a couple bottles of water and the remnants of the six-pack we started the day with, but we knew that wasn’t going to do.  Enter: Drizly.  I’d heard about the many alcohol delivery services that have hit the Dallas scene as of late, but I went with them because their logo is adorable  (Drizly … it’s like grizzly! Adorable.)

With a refreshed hope for the remainder of the afternoon, we navigated the app to pick out some whiskey, vodka, and cider (for the gluten-intolerant faction amongst us) to hold us over.  To round out the order, we tapped in some bar goodies for later (ahem, Luxardo cherries), a bag of ice, and some mixers.

IMG_1473Seemingly immediately, I got a confirmation that my order was on its way!  We were stoked.  Since we were clever enough to note on our order that we were by the pool, we listlessly paddled around the pool anticipating the delivery.

Then … it happened … Jose strolled into the pool area with a bag of ice and it couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes after I placed my order.  He greeted us, confirmed I was the one who ordered (because who wouldn’t want to intercept THAT delivery?!), dropped off the ice, then scurried off to get our box of goodies.  (Yup, it was a whole box … we’re ballin’.)  Back again with the goods, he offered to fill my cooler and ice down the drinks.  I mean … that’s some white glove service!

With the cooler and my glass full without so much as removing my pinky toe from the pool, my friends and I were ready to wait out the sun properly lubricated–both with liquor and sunscreen.  A huge thanks to Drizly for the seriously special delivery!

Visit the website or download the app (Apple, Google), sign up for Drizly, and use my referral code (SusieDrinks) to get $5 off so you’re ready the next time you need that assist–be it in the pool, around 5pm on a particularly boring work day, or even as a lifeline at a party when you’re running low on ice or (banish the thought) whiskey.

DRIZLY
www.drizly.com
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Referral code SUSIEDRINKS (get $5 off your first order)

*One of my cool pool floats … I have the pink one, too!  Check out Urban Outfitters to get your own! (I ordered mine through the Mockingbird Station store!)
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I received a $100 credit for Drizly to try out the experience.

Village Burger Bar

I remember the days when weekend nights were spent at The Loon (RIP) and were often followed by late night burgers and fries at Village Burger Bar.  If I had a dollar for every time I called a cab to pick me up at VBB, I’d have about $7.  (I miss the days that I could do that and not feel like death warmed-up the following day. Damn y slowing metabolism and adult responsibilities.)

Village Burger Bar has been around for years and has proved its staying power.  So many other burger joints have come and gone, but they’re still around flipping burgers and slinging drinks until 2am in West Village — oh … and at three additional locations now.

Throughout the years, I remember craving their frozen rum & Cokes (which are a bit sweeter than what I usually go for).  On these 100º+ days, though, they’d be a welcome refreshment.  However, VBB recently switched out their longstanding Cuba Libre with an even more summery option–Frozen Cherry Limeades.  Let me tell you, folks … they’re dangerous.  They’re sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.  Make sure you bring a Sharpie to keep count of how many you’ve downed.

The next drink that hit the table (gently) was a Strawberry Martini (vodka, strawberry puree, simple syrup).  It packed a decent vodka punch … along with some serious vitamins.  The strawberry was just enough to give the drink some flavor without making it too goopy. 

While VBB is famous for its burgers (and bar), that’s not all it has to offer.  Their Grilled Buffalo Chicken Strips are a light way to start a meal, served “naked” with their hot sauce on the side.  However, if you’re into the whole “eat so much that I need to unbutton my pants” thing, go for the West Village Dip.  This dip’s legit, y’all … cheese, bacon, tortilla chips … damn.  I mean damn.

VBB offers “Bespoke Burgers” where you can choose your own patty (beef, turkey, or chicken) then pair it with any (and all) of 9 cheese, 14 sauces, and 17 toppings (including a fried egg, dried cranberries, and bourbon caramelized onions).  I kind of hate math, but my calculations show that you could make … a lot of different burgers.  If you’re not super into the whole “define yourself by your burger choices” thing, they offer eight suggestions.  My long time favorite has been the Swiss ‘Shroom Burger.  Make that happen sometime.

I took my dad along for this review and he’s a finicky eater.  (It was his second review with me and he’s getting good at it!  I don’t have to smack his hand anymore when he tries to take a bite of his food before I’ve gotten sufficient documentation.)   When I say finicky … I’m not kidding.  This man likes well done cheeseburgers, “plain and dry with ketchup only and a side of well done fries” … and that’s exactly what he ordered on our visit to VBB.  He said, as boring as his cheeseburger was, that it was a great burger and the accompanying shoestring fries were perfectly crispy.

To top off the meal, my dad got a tall, frosty glass of St. Arnold’s draft root beer.  I mean … I was sick to death that I was sick (literally) and couldn’t steal a sip of it.

They offer a full bar, the aforementioned burgers, paninis, plenty of sides (the siren call of the onion rings and truffle fries was nearly unavoidable), some desserts (hello, root beer float), and plenty of other deliciousness.

Overall, Village Burger Bar is as good as I remember it.  Now that I have eaten it (a bit more) sober than I was accustomed to previously, I realize the quality behind the menu.


Village Burger Bar

www.villageburgerbar.com
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West Village: (214) 443 9998
Mon-Sat: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
 Allen: (469) 854 6616
 Legacy: (972) 801 2772
 North Dallas: (214) 484 4679

Dallas #BoozeNews: August 19

Americano_Instagram_612 (2)NEW OPENINGS

Americano will open at The Joule in the former Charlie Palmer space!  It’s a brand new restaurant concept for Dallas with a 1960s Italian feel echoing the spirit of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”. They’re hiring, so drop them a line if you’ want to be part of the team.

So last Tuesday, District Entertainment Group brought Dallas TBD, the newest club trying to make it in the seemingly cursed Republic space on Hall.  This week, they announced the September opening of Uptown Pawn, which will be almost what it sounds like … a pawn shop/restaurant/bottle service club(?), in the former Belly & Trumpet space.  (Stay tuned for it to make more sense.)  “The menu is focused on well-made, classic bar food like burgers and wings. The drinks menu will feature an array of beer, wine, Champagne and cocktails…”.  Other features: a patio, live music on week nights, a DJ on weekends, and the ability to get drunk and shop in one place.

Hot on the heels of the hottest days of summer, a new spot to cool down dropped anchor in the Design District, Anchor Design District Pool & Bar.  It’s in the DoubleTree Market Center and will feature plenty of tanning spots, cabanas, a bar, small bites, and private event space.

Oak … delicious.  El Bolero … delicioso.  Pakpao … อร่อย.  (That says “delicious” in Thai.)  The people who brought you those three concepts, with a little help from John Tesar, is going to do it again with a burger shop, The Royale, which will open in Plano next quarter!  The concept will have quality burgers (duh), some seafood options, a few poutines, and some “healthy” options.

Everyone and their dog should be excited about this … a SOCAL concept, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, will open September 23 in Addison!  The dog-friendly restaurant will have a Rocky Mountain feel that will seat 273 (interior) and 154 (patio) … and space for the pups.  Stay tuned for scratch food from Executive Chef, Gabriel (Gabe) Caliendo and plenty of charity/fundraising events.

image003 (6)NEW PRODUCT RELEASES

Beam Suntory’s Japanese whiskey brand, Hibiki, is releasing a new blend, Hibiki® Japanese Harmony. It’s a mix of more than 10 Suntory whiskies “aged in five different types of casks, from Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries. This delicate blend creates a oneness unfolding a full orchestra of flavors and aromas.

NEW OFFERINGS

Deep Ellum hotspot Braindead Brewing is now serving brunch on Sundays from 10am to 3pm!  Look for biscuits and gravy, bacon flights (uhhh yes), and, of course, beer.

Paul Martin’s American Grill, the new restaurant on Oak Lawn, is now open for lunch at 11am. “The lunch menu features $12 specials including Pork Chili Verde Enchiladas with slow roasted pork, mild chili, avocado, tomato and cucumber salad and the Grilled Salmon Sandwich with arugula, housemade tartar sauce and a fresh baked roll.”

Meat lovers … rejoice.  One of my favorite Fort Worth spots, Vivo 53, now offers 50% off their Meatlovers Pizze & Bolo Spaghetti in celebration of Meat Lover Mondays.

image005 (4)

 

UPDATES

Steel Restaurant & Lounge announced that a new chef is stepping into their kitchen.  Chef Thomas A. Lengnick, Jr.  (a.k.a. TJ), recently from Shinsei and less recently from Whiskey Cake, will “revamp and bring a new flair to the classic Oak Lawn restaurant, [and] you can anticipate a new menu in the coming weeks.”

Hot of the heels of its new REMIX Happy Hour announcement, the W Dallas’ Living Room Bar announced its new cocktail options including a Champagne Mojito, Polish Mule (finally), Modern Negroni, and more.

LIMITED TIME OFFERINGS

Ya know how there’s construction EVERYWHERE right now?  Well, Pokey O’s and Hard Rock Cafe have decided to take full advantage and are offering construction deals!
Hard Rock Cafe is offering two cocktails–the Hammer Time Martini and the Wrecking Ball Sour–for $5.50 each, Monday-Friday, 11am to close through August 28.
Pokey O’s is offering a construction sundae Monday-Thursday, 12-5pm, for just $2 through the end of August!

Hopdoddy’s current special leave nothing to be desired!  (Not that they ever really do!)

The current burger is the Green Eggs & Ham Burger (Beef Patty, Fried Egg, Salsa Verde, Sliced Prosciutto, Manchego Cheese, Onion, Tomato, Arugula Salad, Egg Bun) … I just might try that, Sam I Am.
Available: through August 23
Cost: $11

Breakfast at any meal is really a good thing … so their new milkshake special, Demi’s Cinnamon Roll Shake Special, is damn tempting.  It’s handmade ice cream, cinnamon butter, cream cheese icing, cinnamon sugar, mini cinnamon roll bites, and whipped cream.
Available: through August 30
Cost: $6

Demis Cinnamon Roll
Demis Cinnamon Roll

Macaroni Grill – Steak, Frites, & More

Where Italian chains are concerned, Romano’s Macaroni Grill has alway been my fav. There’s just something awesomely comforting about doodling on your tabletop with crayons while drowning giant chunks of warm, crusty bread in that perfectly seasoned pool of glorious olive oil. Another thing I enjoy about Macaroni Grill is that they’re constantly changing their menu and adding new, sometimes unexpected, offerings to their lineup. Most recently, Macaroni Grill has launched a brand new Steak Frites menu, and I was lucky enough to be invited it to try it.

Macaroni Grill’s new Steak Frites menu features three entree options:

  • Balsamic Herb Steak Frites featuring a 10oz sirloin with a perfectly seasoned crust and topped with a rustic Italian herb and garlic sauce, served with crispy parmesan truffle fries and house-made ketchup ($21)
  • Bourbon Peppercorn Steak Frites featuring a 10oz sirloin with a perfectly seasoned crust and topped with creamy Maker’s Mark bourbon sauce, served with crispy parmesan truffle fries and house-made ketchup ($23)
  • Steak & Greens Salad featuring a 5oz sliced sirloin, balsamic herb dressing, baby kale, spinach, raddichio, arugula, crispy prosciutto, gorgonzola, and crispy onions ($13)

I ordered Steak & Greens Salad, mostly so I could feel good about shoving maximum quantities of bread into my mouth throughout the course of our meal. The steak on my salad was deliciously seasoned and I loved the crispiness that the fried onions added. The dressing was a bit salty and tasted like it has soy sauce in it, which wasn’t my favorite; I’d recommend ordering it on the side or at least asking them to go really easy on it. The sweet, frosty Ultimate Bellini (Bacardi rum, La Marca Prosecco, Valoroso Bianco, peach puree, black raspberry) a perfect accompaniment to this dish–just a little bit of flavor and zing but nothing overpowering.

My fella sampled one of the 10oz trail boss bad boys and our server was kind enough to bring out both sauces for us to try. His sirloin was seared with a delicious crust and the steak was nice and juicy. The Maker’s Mark bourbon peppercorn sauce was my favorite accompaniment, while my gentleman preferred the Balsamic Herb. (I think what I’m trying to say here is that you can’t go wrong.) The heaping pile of parmesan truffle fries (excuse me, frites) that accompanied the steak were hot, crisp, and delicious … and perhaps most importantly … yes, you can totally taste the truffle oil.

IMG_8984

If you need some more frites to go with your frites, Macaroni Grill also offers a Loaded Frites appetizer/side dish option (French fries topped with prosciutto, parmesan, mozzarella cheese sauce, gorgonzola, calabrese peppers, $5.50). Yup, good thing I ordered that salad.

Loaded Fries
Loaded Frites

Whether you’re craving a nice, big bowl of pasta, a decadent steak, or – let’s be honest … a loaf of bread the size of your head – pay a visit to your neighborhood Macaroni Grill real soon.


Macaroni Grill

www.macronigrill.com
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Hours may vary by location; visit their website for more details.

IMG_8990

Whole Foods Uptown Dallas

Toot toot.  Whole Foods is coming to the trolley line in Uptown Dallas!  Yes, what we’ve all been waiting for has finally opened … Whole Foods Uptown will open tomorrow, August 12 at 7:30am!

I had the pleasure of taking a private tour of the store … and believe you me, there’s a lot to look forward to.  WFU will be trolley themed to honor Rosie, Betty, and the rest–their made-to-order sandwiches on their interactive touchscreen menus even allow you to order sandwiches named after our iconic trolleys!  The store even features wood from the very trees removed from the land cleared to build the store which was built partially on historic land.  Eight stories of Gables apartments will sit on top of the store  and 17 three-story townhouses will line the back of the store.

They have the shelves stocked with everything from (quite literally) soup to nuts–expect the fresh produce … which is now in place–and they’re ready to open to the public.  Opening day’s festivities include:

  • 7am – Dixieland Band and Notre Dame School cheerleaders
  • 7:30am – speeches and the breaking of the 6’ Challah loaf
  • 8am – the taproom opens early!!!
  • 6pm – Exclusive tapping and tasting of Post Oak Pale Ale (won’t be available to the public until September 18)

We all know what kind of amazing goods and produce Whole Foods features, but let’s get down to the real business … the booze.

The Uptown store will sell beer and wine, which were on the shelves begging to be consumed on our tour.  The wine selection rivals that of “the mothership”, Whole Foods’ flagship store in Austin.  The beer … phew … imagine in 36 FEET of cold beer. (That’s the length of a typical classroom.  Talk about getting schooled!)  They focus on local and craft beers in both the grab-and-go area along with the Taproom.  (More on that below.)

WFU’s Taproom is complete with 32 seats indoor and space outdoors.  (Ya know … for when it’s not hot as balls outside.)  Check out their 24 drinks on tap–19 beers, four wines, and even one local bourbon barrel-aged cold brew coffee.  Grab a drink and relax on their bar or patio complete with misters, six TVs, and a view of McKinney.  Don’t feel like hanging around?  Pick up a growler for your beer and/or wine to take some of the fun home.  (They’ll even sell kegs if you preorder them!)  Unique to WFU?  A firkin.  (WHAT THE FIRK DID YOU CALL ME!?)  The firkin, beside a unit of measurement (1 firkin = 0.697326051 of a keg), is a unique type of keg tapped on its side and theirs will be dispensed by a beer engine.

OH … and don’t forget that sharing is caring.  If you buy a beer for someone, they’ll note it on the “BEER IT FORWARD” board allowing the recipient to get a beer on you on their next visit!  (Sooooo who’s gonna buy me a drank?)

Other features of the store include:

  • Squeeze & Grind — a juice, smoothie, and coffee bar with an imported Italian espresso machine
  • A spacious parking garage with multiple floors and two electric car power stations
  • Racks for up to 24 bikes and a FREE bike repair kit
  • A custom filled cupcake bar (uhhhhh this is the only one in Dallas doing this … can I live here?)
  • More then 200 grab-and-go options including pizza by the slice sold 2 for $6!
  • A smokehouse with in-store smoked meats (and catering!)
  • A bunch of cheeses.  (What!? That’s super important.)


WHOLE FOODS UPTOWN DALLAS

wholefoodsmarket.com
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2510 McKinney Ave, DallasTX 75201
469-518-5814

susie knows all things boozy in dallas …