2018 Dallas Chocolate Festival

“Chocolate Wasted” is an understatement. Prepare to get chocolate obliterated.

If you love chocolate, you are gonna love this. Dallas is lucky enough to have an annual chocolate festival. A yearly celebration of all things cocoa.

This year’s Dallas Chocolate Festival celebrates the “Future of Chocolate”, an exploration into where the chocolate industry is headed. A $35 ticket* gets you access to the main hub of the festival when all the demos and samples take place! 70+ exhibitors will be on show during the festival, which runs September 7th-9th at the Fashion Industry Gallery downtown.
Tickets to the main event on Saturday, September 8th can be purchased here.

The first night of the festival features a VIP Party with chocolate cocktails, treats, goody bags, and more. Most of the vendors will be at the VIP party so you can sample and purchase once you’re a little tipsy on the chocolate cocktails. (Make sure to Uber home!) Tickets to the Friday night VIP Party are $75, but you could buy a two-day pass that’s good for Friday and Saturday for $100.
You can purchase VIP Party tickets here.

The final day of the festival is when all the workshops take place. Here you can learn how to make chocolate from bean-to-bar and everything in between for just $100 per person, or you can take part in a very extensive tasting experience for $60 per person. If your tastebuds are still kicking, you could even do both for $150 for the all day pass. The workshops will all take place at the Preston & Forest Whole Foods.
Tickets to the workshops can be purchased here.

No matter what day you choose to go to the Dallas Chocolate Festival, you’re bound to taste some delicious chocolate made by local chocolatiers … and you may just learn something about the chocolate industry.

I was lucky enough to attend a preview for the Dallas Chocolate Festival, and there’s a lot to look forward to. Make sure to get your tickets online and plan to ramp up your sugar intake in the week before so your sugar rush isn’t a handicap at the festival. Because there’s a lot of chocolate to be had.

 


THE DALLAS CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL
The Dallas Chocolate Festival
September 7-9, 2018

Event being held at The Fashion Industry Gallery (FIG)
Fashion Industry Gallery
1807 Ross Avenue (Downtown Dallas)

*$5 for kids under 10)

Velvet Taco’s New Uptown Home

When Urban Taco outgrew its Uptown location on McKinney, we were all left wondering what would take its place in such a walkable and restaurant-filled area. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that another taco joint has taken its spot. But boy am I glad it’s not just any taco joint—it’s Velvet Taco.

While this new location is quite close to the existing location at Knox and 75, this location offers all the same tacos you know and love (and a couple new ones), just with a new patio view of McKinney Avenue instead of a highway.

Their menu features tacos with delicious base options like fish, chicken, beef, pork, and many others. My two favorite tacos, you ask? The Spicy Chicken Tikka taco and the Bacon, Egg Frittata Taco. Taco prices range from $3.50 to $6.75 and they allow substitutions if you’re a little picky or have an allergy. They also have “WTF” tacos and brunch tacos served all day in case “normal” tacos aren’t enough for you.

The new tacos available at this location are:
– Chicken & Waffles – crisp tenders, country gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, peppered bacon, red chili aioli, chives, waffle tortilla. $4.75
– Monte Cristo – strawberry jam, honey ham, gruyere, strawberry jalapeño salsa, powdered sugar, micro mint, French toast flour tortilla. $4.25
– Flank Steak & Egg Frittata – crispy potatoes, Sambal hollondaise, arugula, tomato, pickled fresnos, queso fresco, micro greens, flour tortilla. $5.25
– Ahi Poke (Raw) – sesame soy vinaigrette, arugula, pickled red onions, pickled fresnos, seaweed salad, wasabi crema, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds, lettuce wrap. $6.75

 

 

 

Don’t forget to grab a margarita and a side dish like Red Curry Coconut Queso ($4.95), Elote Corn ($4.25), or my personal favorite: Crisp Tots & Local Egg. The Crisp Tots are tater tots covered in herb goat cheese, smoked cheddar, avocado crema, chili butter, and peppered bacon, then topped with an egg for $5.25.

If you happen to look up from your tacos for a breath of air, you might notice some pieces of art work portraying Marie Antoinette. Well, you do know what her most quoted phrase was, right? “Let them eat cake!” And red velvet cake you must eat when frequenting Velvet Taco.

 


VELVET TACO
VelvetTaco.com
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NEW LOCATION: 3411 Mckinney Avenue (Uptown)
OLD LOCATION: 3012 N Henderson Avenue (Knox-Henderson)

Savor the New Happy Hour at Savor Gastropub

Savor Gastropub in Klyde Warren Park hit us with the real deal—their all-new happy hour menu has arrived … and I’m just wondering what took it so long. With great deals on drinks and food, there’s no reason to not make it in to their (air conditioned!!) digs and try it out sooner than later.

For those who haven’t been yet, Savor Gastropub is a glass box-esque restaurant right on the North Western side of Klyde Warren Park. They have a chef-driven menu with shareable plates (or not shareable if you’re anything like me) and options for lunch, dinner, brunch, and even a pre-show option if you’re in a hurry to catch the latest performance downtown.

During their new happy hour, you can expect to see these great choices:
$3 select beers
$6 Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds, Sidecars, French 75s, Moscow Mules, Oleo Daiquiris, select wines, and their dangerously delicious frosés

Also included in the Happy Hour are these tasty dishes:
$3 Tator Tot Poutine smothered in cheese curds, gravy, and bacon
$10 Margherita Flatbread
$6 the Q Dog drowning in bacon, onion, relish, cheese, ketchup, and mustard
$6 Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders with horseradish pickle, roasted onion, maple vinaigrette on a brioche bun
and so much more!

Their delicious and highly flavorful happy hour runs 4-7pm Monday through Friday. Even more clutch, they offer happy hour ALL DAY when it rains or temps rise above 100ºF, which kind of makes the heat somewhat bearable.


SAVOR GASTROPUB
SavorGastropub.com
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2000 Woodall Rodgers Freeway (Downtown)

Book Review: Booze & Vinyl

Cocktails and vinyl records—two of my favorite things. So, when Susie sent this book along (because she knew I’d enjoy reviewing it while my record player spun out a tune), I immediately started thinking of what I’d listen to while reading.

Brother and sister duo, André and Tenaya Darlington, collaborated to create an amazing book that pairs records from the 1950s through the 2000s with a perfect set of cocktails. Each highlighted album has a Side A and Side B set to a complimentary cocktail pairing. There are seventy featured albums including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, Thriller, Pet Sounds, and Hotel California … classics we can all appreciate.

Of course, the book is all about the cocktails, but it is so much more. The pictures are amazing and the authors also included tips on throwing your own boozy listening party. The book is broken up into four genres—rock, dance, chill, and seduce. (Ohh la la.) No matter what mood you are in, you can easily find a cocktail and record to compliment.

I picked two cocktails out of the book for a sampling; the Harvey Wallbanger paired with the Saturday Night Fever album. The Harvey Wallbanger dates back to the 1970s and is basically a jazzed-up screwdriver. The jazziness comes from the addition of Galliano, a sweet, herbal liqueur.

The Suffering Bastard is a classic tiki cocktail that the authors urge you to serve in a simple glass. This has become the drink of choice in my house lately. The combination of gin and bourbon is fantastic. This went nicely with the Johnny Cash Folsom Prison album, though I’d have thought they’d go for a bit more tropical since it’s tiki.


BOOZE & VINYL
Purchase From Amazon
boozeandvinyl.com
Author Website
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3Eleven Brings Clever Cocktails to Dallas’s West End

As a soon to-be senior in college, I drink Burnetts and sprite on the weekends. We go to the same bars with sticky floors, sweaty people and loud music. It is what it is, but when you come home for the summer, and Susie asks you to go to events in downtown… well, I’m a little spoiled now. She’s on a mission to help me appreciate the finer points of cocktails, spirits, and food.

Recently, I had the pleasure of going to 3Eleven’s grand opening party and had such a fantastic time. I walked along a red carpet, was greeted with wine and crab cakes, and found a new favorite bar in Dallas’s West End. Liv-ing the life.

For those who don’t know, 3Eleven is a stylish restaurant and bar that puts a modern twist on historic downtown. When you walk in, you’re taken back by the little details that make this place unique. The entire staff is kind and passionate about making sure you have the best experience possible.

3Eleven gives a nod to some of Dallas’s most infamous history, stories, and lore. The cocktail menu itself pays homage to Dallas history, and food itself isn’t bad at all. The entire experience was fantastic, and the drinks were also an experience.

 

Risky Business. This spicy cocktail was made with 3Eleven’s very own vodka, infused with cucumber and jalapeño, giving it just the right amount of punch to go with the lime juice, and simple syrup. It definitely has a spicy edge, so be warned.

Whiskey Sour. Their version of this classic was delicious—amaretto instead of whiskey, lemon, sugar, and egg white. This simple cocktail made me question why I drink whiskey and coke. (Again, thank God for this internship.) The flavors were well-balanced and made this cocktail easy to drink.

Stop by 3Eleven for creative cocktails, unique atmosphere and of course, the crab cakes!

3ELEVEN KITCHEN & COCKTAILS
311 North Market Street, #100 (West End)
3elevendallas.com

3Eleven’s Happy Hours:
Monday All Day
Tuesday through Friday: 2-6 pm

  • $2 appetizers and PBR
  • $1 off beer, wine & cocktails
  • $3 sangria

Peru Gourmet Fusion Cuisine

If you’re someone who loves trying new things and experiencing other cultures, this restaurant is the place for you. Peru Gourmet is an Peruvian-fusion restaurant and bar located just north of Six Flags in Arlington.

As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with smiles and the welcoming smells. The restaurant felt cozy and comfortable, with beautiful decor and dim lighting. They have a large selection of food on the menu, and if you’re indecisive like me, it’s a lot to choose from. I sat up at the bar and asked the bartender, Michael, to surprise me with some good cocktails and meal. Because, after all, who knows a restaurant’s menu better than the employees?

Firsts things first: cocktails.

The Pisco Sour. Their take the quintessential Peruvian cocktail (which is usually shaken) is frozen and blended! Made with egg whites, house-made simple syrup, lime juice and of course, pisco (a brandy distilled from grapes). Peru Gourmet offers this by the pitcher, and for good reason.

The Chilcano. This cocktail was so simple and refreshing; it would be perfect to have poolside. It’s made with Pisco, lime zest, ginger ale, and lime juice. I could drink 10 of these, and so could the owner, whose favorite cocktail it is.

The Machu Picchu. My personal favorite, because who doesn’t love a rainbow drink? There’s not just a technique to making it, but there’s also a technique to drinking it! Starting from the bottom, carefully lift your straw and sip at the same time, tasting every one of the flavors separately on the way up. Do that till it’s gone! Very challenging when you’re 5’3 with a tall cup at a bar, but I did it and it was worth it! Grenadine, orange juice, pisco and crème de menthe work together creating a beautiful, fun drink that will get you feelin’ good fast.

Now on to food …

Ceviche. (PICTURED AS HEADER) Hands down the best Ceviche I’ve ever had, I mean … amazing. Citrus and garlic-cured sea bass, peruvian peppers, peruvian corn (which is giant kernals), sweet potatoes, and chullbe (peruvian corn nuts), and garnished with red onion, cilantro and lime juice. This colorful dish is a must-have on the menu.

Lomo Saltado. Diced savory beef steak sautéed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and secret seasoning and served with crisp potato wedges and white rice. The steak on this dish packs so much flavor it would be a crime to not eat all of it.  For the steak lovers out there, this one’s for you.

Peru Gourmet gave me a new love for Peruvian food and drinks. The intriguing flavors of the region are beautifully exemplified in the dishes and cocktails. Call it a little Per(u)view of what to expect if you ever make down there!

Happy hours: Tuesday through Sunday, from 4-7
$3 domestic bottles
$4 premium beers, house wines and margaritas

Bartenders You Should Know: Austin Millspaugh

When you walk into The Standard Pour in Dallas, Texas, a quick survey of the men behind the bar will show you one of the most creative barmen in Dallas. Just look for the one with the beard … in a hat … and usually a scarf when it’s not 101º.

That’s Austin Millspaugh.

For years he’s been slinging well-made cocktails to the masses, but always tries to take classics or his own creations to a new level with a unique ingredient, unexpected substitution, or over the top garnish. (I just had a thought … could it be his hats are his own garnish? I’ll give you a moment to discuss.) If you’ve spent any sort of time at his bar, you’ve seen the mad scientist at work. Whatever his chosen kooky element, he usually can find a way to make a thoughtful, unique cocktail from it.

So, when he recently won regionals in the United States Bartender Guild’s 12th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition presented by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin on May 31, Dallas celebrated, but we weren’t surprised. He was crowned regional winner and will compete against 16 other top barmen (and women!) from North America and England in London in September.

Those of us going to Tales of the Cocktail this week in New Orleans will have the chance to see Austin (and the other finalists) take on a training challenge to prepare them for London. Because practice makes perfect, no?

The cocktail that won the crown for Austin was his “Mi Cheng” cocktail. I’ve included the cocktail below … but let’s appreciate how f**king gorgeous it is. He knows that our eyes eat first.

MI CHANG
2oz Bombay Sapphire
0.5oz honey blend (bee propolis and black garlic)
2.5oz coffee blend (2 beans/ 2 brewing methods)

Combine all ingredients and shake. Top with Cream Blend (condensed milk, egg yolk, heavy cream). Garnish with drizzled Cajeta

A LITTLE MORE ABOUT AUSTIN

Where was the first place you sold a drink in Dallas? Blackfriar, and my first cocktail was at Blind Butcher (R.I.P.)

How did you learn to bartend? I learned beer first because I was trying to get my cicerone certification. I never ended up getting the cicerone because I realized I needed to learn more about spirits before knowing “everything” about beer. So, I started as an enthusiast and bugged everyone by asking questions. Then I started cocktailing at Blind Butcher and then went to learn from Eddie Ekin to understand technique, specifics, and such.

What’s your favorite cocktail to drink? A Clover Club or a Bijoux—sweet, funk and spirit forward.

What’s your favorite Sunday night drink? I still explore to see what other people are doing. I look for the weirdest drink on the menu. I wish I could just stick with a shot and a beer, but curiosity gets me every time.

Who was your most formative cocktail mentor? I’ve been lucky enough to have many. The Dallas bar scene is full of supportive, inspiring people.
Omar Yefoon—he gave me the real advice, mostly to get my head out of my ass and pursue the industry and art of it all more aggressively
Vincent Paul Martinez—He was an amazing man that passed this year and he really had a lot to do with me seeing bartending as a viable career path. I was very lucky to know him.

Japanese or Leopold jigger? Leopold, all day

We all know you’ve come up with some really outrageous cocktails. What’s your favorite drink you’ve ever created? Oh, that’s easy … the fois gras cocktail at Meddlesome Moth. It was a fois gras fat washed-mezcal, sherry, and Averna, and it was all Barrel-aged for a month, then bottled served in a coupe served with dehydrated fois and a touch of truffle oil.

 

Stop in to see Austin at The Standard Pour in Dallas, Texas. He won’t be able to make you his award-winning cocktail (the ingredients are pretty damn complicated), but I’m sure he’ll mix you something incredibly creative and delicious. He is one of the 16 most imaginative bartenders, after all!

Truluck’s Debuts New Menu Items and a New Happy Hour

Truluck’s has been a longtime favorite of my sister’s and mine. When she first went to college and I’d visit, we’d stop in just to have dessert. Their Jack’s Sack was always our favorite—a chocolate shell hiding pound cake, berries, and whipped cream that the guest gets to crack and mix. It’s not just delicious; the destruction of the presentation is really rewarding.

It’s nice to see a longtime favorite with twelve locations continue to give diners new options to enjoy instead of adopting an “if it isn’t broken …” mentality. They recently released not just a new cocktail menu, but also a new happy hour and new menu items. The new happy hour is stupid good. (And I know happy hours.)

The new happy hour can be enjoyed Monday through Friday, 4:30-6:30pm and includes select cocktails starting at just $5.50 and appetizers starting at $6. More into wine? They have 12 from just $6 a glass.

The new cocktail list has a bit of everything among the 20 new cocktail options. Some new offerings have a slight tropical feel (like the Heart of Gold with pineapple juice and smoked orange syrup or the Sao Paulo Punch with cachaça, run, and pineapple syrup), some with a downright tiki vibe (like the Singapore Sling and the Uptown Swizzle) and others with a more traditional origin (like the Amaretto Sour 2.0, Uptown Manhattan, and the Aviator).

New food items like the Shrimp Primavera Flatbread can be enjoyed alongside old favorites like their shrimp cocktail (giant shrimp served over dry ice to keep them chilled) and Kung Pao Cauliflower. See the full menu of 20 cocktails, wines, and food items.

Beyond their new cocktails and appetizers, they continue to offer a large, thoughtful selection of wines and whiskey options (and obviously a full bar and beer). There aren’t many combinations I enjoy more than a dessert and a dram. I enjoyed the Balvenie Caribbean Cask with their Carrot Cake … and it was good.

Stop by one of their twelve locations during happy hour to enjoy their new half price options. While you do, you’ll be entertained by talented musicians and treated to incredibly attentive hospitality. Now, that’s the right way to unwind from a hard work day.


TRULUCK’S
trulucks.com
Uptown: 2401 McKinney Avenue (Uptown Dallas) | 214-220-2401
Southlake: 1420 Plaza Place (Southlake) | 817-912-0500
(+10 other locations)

Susie knows all things boozy …