Stay tuned for a complete review of Blue Nectar tequila later this month!
Truth be told, I find wine to be a bit intimidating. I can’t do what sommeliers do. I’m a beer guy. I have no idea how to really even “taste” wine as a professional would, seeking out hints of boysenberry (what does boysenberry even taste like???) or a lingering aftertaste of leather or graphite (whaaa?). I couldn’t tell you if a wine should be older or drunk the same year it’s made, and I have no idea of the “terroirs” associated with different wines. (Wait … since when are dog breeds involved in wine-making???) Nevertheless, the staff at Astoria Caffe & Wine Bar in Addison Circle makes me feel like a pro and helps me get to just the right glass (or three) of vino.
I recently had the chance to visit this corner bar with the wife for a light dinner of wine and cheese (which is totally acceptable). This wine bar is family-owned, completely unpretentious, and boasts a diverse selection of wines and a small, well thought-out menu. It’s the kind of place where you can see yourself being a regular. For those who aren’t big wine drinkers, don’t fret, Astoria stocks a selection of domestic and imported beers, too.
For the casual wine drinker who doesn’t want to an entire bottle (or the indecisive), there are plenty of choices available by the glass. I thought that the prices for both glasses and bottles of wine were quite reasonable. If you’re looking for something in particular or just need help with a recommendation, the staff is eager to help and knowledgeable about the bar’s offerings.
Astoria is intimate and cozy, allowing one to quickly feel right at home. The interior has a dozen or so small tables as well as a dog-friendly front patio surrounded by lush trees. This wine bar attracts an eclectic mix of patrons that range from the mature wine snob to young couples to hipsters. Those looking for a great first date spot in Addison or those simply looking to unwind with a glass of good wine in a relaxed atmosphere can look no further.
Whether you’re an experienced wine buff or an amateur like me, there’s a lot to appreciate at Astoria Caffe!
Happy Hour: Daily from 3pm to 7pm
- Monthly bottle specials
- Live-music on select nights
Bread Winners rolled out a new line of cocktails for the summer, and they’re pretty delish!
- Brunch Punch (split of champagne, St. Germain, cranberry) – the St. Germain is a perfect touch to this poinsettia. It’s light and perfect for those of us looking for a mimosa replacement.
- Texas Bluebonnet Mojito (Texas rum, fresh mint, berries, lime) – all I have written in my notes here is “yum”.
- Mango Fizz (split of prosecco, fresh mango puree) – this wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, but others were pretty into it.
- Prickly Pear Lemonade (vodka, lemonade, prickly pear nectar) – vroom vroom party starter!!! I really liked this one. It’s really light, not too sweet, and had a unique flavor.
- French Kiss (split of prosecco, X-Rated liqueur) – this simple drink was another that I wasn’t all about–mostly because I had a bad weekend in college with X-Rated liqueur.
These “hangover elixirs” will run you $10 each. And just because these are new and sexy does’t mean you can ignore the Bloody Diablo. Just sayin’.
***I was able to try these cocktails free of charge.***
Ice cream, desserts, and booze: these are a few of my favorite things.
With national ice cream month upon us, it appears there is no better time than now to enjoy this match made in heaven. Pick your favorite frozen pint of dairy, blend it with a splash (okay, splash is a little naïve) of Kahlua or booze of choice and top with desired toppings like whipped cream, peanut butter cups, and fudge.
But then again, Dallas has its fair share of adult milkshakes floating around town and something of this measure should really be left to the experts. That being said here is a roundup of some of my favorite places to get that boozy shake fix.
Grub Burger Bar (Greenville, Midtown)
- Bourbon & Caramel
- Mint Chocolate Chip: Vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe and Andes mints
- Birthday Cakefetti: Cake vodka and sprinkles
- Moonshine American Pie: Apple pie moonshine, applie pie filling, bakes pie crust, maple syrup, vodka and kosher salt, grated cinnamon and granola crumble
- Dirty Kitchen Sink: Chocolate vodka, pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds and potato chips
- Tipsy Worms & Dirt: Vodka, crushed Oreos and gummy worms
Kenny’s Burger Joint (Plano)
- Insomniac: Espresso vodka, Kahlua, Baileys and chocolate syrup
- Attitude Changer: Stoli vanil, Godiva dark chocolate liquor and Oreos
- Easy Rider: Maker’s Mark and caramel
- Chocolate Grasshopper: Crème de menthe, white crème de cocoa and Oreos
Pop Diner (Uptown, West Village)
- Jack Honey Shake: Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey
- Butterfinger Blitz: Rum, chocolate syrup, milk and butterfingers:
- Rumchata Shake: Premium Caribbean rum, dairy cream, cinnamon and vanilla ice cream
- Jam-O-Shake: Jameson Whiskey
- Milky Way Shake: Rum, caramel liquor, Milky Ways and chocolate syrup
- Vanilla Shake: Vanilla vodka
- Strawberry Shake: Strawberry vodka
- Chocolate Raspberry Shake: Raspberry vodka
- Cracker Jack Shake: Salted caramel vodka and butter popcorn vodka
- Strawberry Banana Shake: Banana liquor and strawberry vodka
Twisted Root Burger Co. (Various)
- Cookies & Cream: Amaretto and Oreo cookies
- Bailey’s & Banana: Bailey’s Irish Cream and 99 Bananas Liquor
- Chocolate Cake: Vanilla vodka, Frangelico and chocolate vodka
- Fruit Loops: Strawberries and 99 Bananas Liquor
- PB & Chocolate: Chocolate vodka and peanut butter
- German Chocolate Cake: Malibu rum, chocolate vodka and pecans
- Grandpa’s Favorite: Butterscotch schnapps and vanilla
- Rocky Road: Amaretto, chocolate vodka, pecans and marshmallows
- Chocolate Bananas: 99 Bananas Liqueur, chocolate vodka and chocolate chips
- Wayne’s Favorite: Tuaca
Hopdoddy Burger Bar (Uptown, Preston Hollow)
- You can add any booze you want to the shakes listed on the menu
- Current Special: Tiramisu
Dee Lincoln Steak & Burger Bar (Uptown, Plano)
- Tall In The Saddle: Nocello, white crème de cacao, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, white chocolate shavings
- Rio Grande: Stoli blueberi vodka house cheesecake, vanilla ice crea, whipped cream, blueberries
- Dusty Trail: Gin, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate shavings
- Rusty Spur: Amaretto, irish cream, Kahlua, chunk of fudge cake, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cherry
Snuffer’s Burgers (Greenville, Addison, Rockwall, )
They actually don’t offer them on the menu, but it’s a Snuffer’s secret that you can ask for them!
Alamo Drafthouse (Dallas, Richardson)
- Breckenridge Vanilla Porter Shake: Breckridge Porter (nitro)
- Grasshopper Shake: Crème de cacao, crème de menthe, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream
- Irish Coffee Shake: Bailey’s Irish Cream, vanilla ice cream, coffee and whipped cream
- Maker’s Mark Milk Punch Shake: Maker’s Mark, vanilla ice cream, nutmeg and whipped cream
- Reposado Chocolate Shake: Reposado tequila, chocolate, cinnamon and whipped cream
- The Temptress Shake: Lakewood Milk Stout (nitro)
P.F. Chang’s was kind of my bf’s and my Sunday night date spot. We would sidle up to the bar for a late dinner and a few drinks and enjoy the goings-on behind the bar and whatever we decided to gorge on that evening.
Luckily, we have some new items to explore! P.F. Chang’s has a new menu of small plates, sushi, and some yummy drinks to try out. How about a Twisted Whiskey Sour? Or a Coconut Water cocktail? Or a Long Island Rum Tea … yeah, they’re all pretty good. (Yes, I tried them all … yes, I had a hangover.) While their drinks have never been strong enough to get you into any trouble, the flavors are light and refreshing.
We enjoyed drinks (and more drinks), a couple appetizers (Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps … because Lettuce Wraps and Edamame Hummus–which was so f**king delicious that I was tempted to order another plate of it), some of their new sushi offerings (the Tempura Shrimp Hand Rolls are kind of out of this world and the Ahi Tartare is a winner), and dessert. The Great Wall of Chocolate is always a winner (especially the day after … right out of the fridge … with some extra raspberry sauce …) and their new Sweet Vanilla Cream Wontons (just get two because they’re really rich). Order a latte to-go so the drinks from the night before don’t slow you down too much.
So … I’m all about unconventional outings–for dates, girls’ nights, and Tuesdays. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of dodge and head to the ‘burbs, and Grapevine Wine Tours offer a fun evening away from the Big D that highlights Grapevine’s wine options.
I was lucky to join a group of media people on a wine tour on a Wednesday evening. The group met around 5:30pm and piled into one of their small, air conditioned busses to visit three wine-centric stops in Grapevine led by a GWT representative who fed us fun facts about the city of Grapevine and its wine offerings. (Fun fact: Texas is the 4th largest wine producing state!) Each tour will visit three of the seven partners in Grapevine, some vineyards, some tasting rooms, and some restaurants. The tour lasts around 4.5 hours and always includes a meal.
Our group’s itinerary was:
- Homestead Winery – this cute, little home close to Downtown Grapevine produces wine from vines grown in Ivanhoe, Texas. The owner of the winery walked us through a tasting of their wines (15+ — yikes). They have some wines that are incredibly unique and were happy to talk us through the flavors and nuances of the wines we were tasting.
- Delaney Vineyard – this vineyard is the only local vineyard and boasts 10 acres of vines, a winery, and gorgeous tasting room onsite. We were treated to a tour of the entire site and a tasting of their offerings. (I left with a bottle of wine from their gift shop … because I have a shopping problem.)
- Winewood Grill – we enjoyed a three-course meal at Winewood, complete with suggested wine pairings. I opted for the BBQ ribs, and it was a solid choice. They had live music in the bar, which was a nice bonus.
GWTs will coordinate with your party to determine an appropriate itinerary and pick-up location (at one of three Grapevine hotels, Embassy Suites Outdoor World, Hilton DFW Lakes, or the Gaylord Texan). Each tour is customized based on your group’s size and preferences.
Call 817.259.WINE (9463) or visit www.GrapevineWineTours.com for tour prices, schedules, group rates and other details.
Tours typically cost $79.50-89.50. You can save 10% discount on a lunch or dinner tour using the code BLOG10 (offer expires 9/1/14).
****I was invited to experience a Grapevine Wine Tour free of charge.****
This place is gonna rock. I can’t wait another week for it to open!
- Scotch & Sausage will open Thursday, July 24th at 2808 Oak Lawn Ave in Dallas
- Chef: Trevor Ball
- Owners: Dylan Elchami and Rami Rassas
- Modern sausage grill & beer garden
- All sausage sandwiches priced $8 and below
- 100+ varieties of whiskey & scotch
- Heavy focus on Belgian and German beer
- Open 7 days/week with late-night offerings Thursday-Saturday
Scotch & Sausage – A Sausage Grill & Modern Beer Garden Opens Thursday, July 24th
DALLAS, TEXAS (July 17, 2014)…..Scotch & Sausage – a sausage grill and modern style beer garden will open Thursday, July 24th on Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas.
The menu offers over 20 varieties of local and house-made sausage sandwiches (including several vegan, pork free and gluten free options), triple cooked belgian fries with house-made dipping sauces and two varieties of scotch eggs (vegetarian and classic). Featuring beef, chicken, venison, quail, antelope and more, all sausages are priced $8 and below. They are all-natural, small batch production with no by products.
At the bar, there is a heavy focus of Belgian and German beer on draft with local beers on rotation as well. A further extensive selection of bottled beer will also be available. Over 100 varieties of whiskey and scotch are available, all offered one of five ways: neat, on the rocks, old-fashioned, sour or Manhattan. Furthermore, a unique program called ‘The People’s Poison’ will offer a selection of $5 whiskeys.
Creator Dylan Elchami, whose family has been in the construction business for decades, oversaw design and construction himself and brought to life his vision for an edgy take on the traditional German beer garden, where guests could experience high quality sausage variations and a unique beer and liquor program in an approachable and inviting atmosphere. He sees the concept, which is open seven days a week from lunch to late-night, as attractive to all age demographics – young, old, businessmen and otherwise.
Elchami’s partner, Rami Rassas, comes from a long line of restaurant operators and has been an active Dallasite for over ten years. He was the Head Chef for his family’s neighborhood Italian restaurant, Leonardos’s (Frisco) and that same passion for cooking, led to him being a successful competitor on the FOX Network’s MasterChef. Rassas also famously customized the championship belts for the Dallas Mavericks and today he now operates one of the most successful car dealerships in the country. He is extremely excited by the prospect of being a part of another hospitality business.
Other partners include Cogent Creative, who will also operate the restaurant and Alexander Marko.
Chef Trevor Ball is heading the kitchen at Scotch & Sausage. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Ball began his food career as a young boy working behind the deli counter at his grandfather’s European market/restaurant and Dallas institution – Kuby’s Sausage House. He quickly followed in his family’s footsteps by becoming the 19th generation of chefs and sausage makers in his family. From Colorado to California and back to Texas, Ball became engrossed in the practice of working directly with farmers and local purveyors. He explains, “ I surrounded myself by chefs and farmers who guided me to create a deeper relationship with the earth and kitchen, pushing boundaries and stretching my creativity by utilizing and playing with seasonal ingredients. My perspective on food was forever changed.” Ball continues, “ I am beyond excited to be a part of the Scotch & Sausage team. A modern style beer garden serving local and house made sausages. A cool social atmosphere that’s open ‘till the wee hours of the night; how could I resist? I feel fortunate to be a part of the Dallas food scene once more.”
Smirnoff Vodka teamed up with Spotify to bring the lucky winners of the Ultimate House Party sweepstakes the ultimate house party!
Enter to win here: www.spotify-smirnoff.com
My contributor, Rico, got to attend one of the Ultimate House Parties. Check out his pictures!