TX Bourbon by Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co.

Back in January, Amanda gave us the good news that Fort Worth’s own whiskey distillery, Firestone & Robertson, debuted a bourbon to accompany its sweet blended whiskey. More recently, we were delighted to be invited to taste the new expression with the distillers and proprietors, Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, at the distillery. The partnership was unexpected–both were separately making plans to open a whiskey distillery in Cowtown when they got wind of the others’ plans. F&R was born and has flourished–much to the surprise of the owners, but no surprise to the consumers who love their original blended whiskey.

Firestone, Robertson and head distiller, Rob Arnold, set out to create a new, unique expression with a providence that can be appreciated using local ingredients (corn and wheat from Hillsboro and a yeast derived from a Pecan tree on a friend’s ranch in Glen Rose), and of course, they decided it had to be a bourbon because it’s “America’s spirit”. And the product … is good.

The spirit is surprisingly smooth with notes of dried fruit and a warm, long finish. The approachable yet deep flavors make this a unique intoxicant. It’s no surprise that it has been in such high demand.

Nose: oak, honey
Flavor: vanilla, honey
Finish: smooth, short
Aged: 4+ years
Proof: 82 (41% ABV)

While bottles of the TX Straight Bourbon have been a beast to get your hands on, they’ve recently released additional inventory to liquor stores. If you aren’t a fan or hunting for bottles, stop into the distillery where you can buy one bottle each month. (And yes, they keep track.)


The distillery itself is quaint, yet puts out a hell of a lot of product. (And they have to in order to keep up with demand.) One of my favorite things, beside the liquid itself, is the corks. Each one has a piece of cloth, leather, fur, etc., making each bottle unique. F&R works with local bootmakers to source the leather, and they’ll even work with you to create completely custom bottles using materials you bring them … but you have to ask nicely.

Keep an ear out for news on their new distillery, set to open late summer 2017. Expect a shiny, new distillery, aging warehouse, offices, an event space … and maybe even a driving range. My team is stoked to take a trip to the 109-acre facility once it’s complete.

Firestone and Robertson Distilling Co.
frdistilling.com
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901 W. Vickery Boulevard (Fort Worth)

They offer distillery tours on select Saturdays.

VINO-Palooza

Vino Palooza is a traveling wine and music festival that recently made a stop in both Fort Worth and Dallas this year. The Dallas event was held at Happiest Hour and featured wines from more than 20 different wineries as well as some beers and ciders.

J-Si Chavez from The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show hosted and several “Top 40” artists performed including Ryan Cabrera, Nash Overstreet of Hot Chelle Rae, and Ryan Key of Yellowcard, all in the name of helping local non-profit organizations. Snacks were provided, but the full Happiest Hour menu was available for those looking for substance.

The day couldn’t have been more pleasant at 75-ish degrees and sunny–everyone clearly enjoyed the wine, the music, and the atmosphere. This event is a must if you can grab a hold of tickets before they sell out!

 

VINO-Palooza
vino-palooza.com
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Recipe: Orange Cava Popsicles ft. Segura Viudas Brut Cava

Summer is coming … and it’s going to be a rough one, so being poolside with a cocktail and something cold is going to be the way to cope. Since all day pool parties aren’t always conducive to mass amounts of liquor, I figured out a little less aggressive way to up my booze intake … and get some extra vitamin C while I’m at it–Orange Cava Popsicles.

Made with a few simple ingredients, the easy to make popsicles are a perfectly refreshing poolside treat. Just freeze overnight and, voila, a boozy treat to cool you off … and they look pretty damn cool, too.

Orange Cava Popsicles
1 cup Segura Viudas Brut Cava
1.5 cups orange juice
0.5 cups water
3 tablespoons agave syrup (or other flavored syrup to your liking)
Orange halves

Combine liquid ingredients and mix until the syrup is dissolved. Place an orange slice in each popsicle mold, then fill with the mixed liquid leaving a little room for expansion from freezing. Depending on your molds, either place sticks in the molds immediately, then freeze overnight, or let freeze for one hour before placing the sticks.

If you want to go full-tilt basic, grab some fresh juice (or some extra cava) and drop your popsicle in. The drink will change with every sip since the popsicle will gradually melt into it!

SEGURA VIUDAS CAVA
seguraviudasusa.com
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#OpenUpCava #SeguraViudas

***Special thanks to Segura Viudas for buying the bubbly for these goodies!***


Heritage Pizza and Taproom

Upon moving to Texas ten years ago, my only reference point for “The Colony” was the occasional appearance on a Doppler Radar map while watching Delkus prognosticate various “weather events”. I must confess: I always thought it sounded like a creepy place, probably not too dissimilar from the town in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Fast forward to present day, and The Colony has actually evolved into a bustling hub for buying home furnishings and appliances (thanks, Nebraska Furniture Mart) … and slowly but surely, a place to grab a delicious bite to eat (often after a strenuous morning of test driving sofas).

The latest addition to The Colony’s growing collection of restaurants and watering holes is Heritage Pizza and Taproom. Located on Plano Parkway (practically in the shadows of Nebraska Furniture Mart). The bright and airy taproom and pizza kitchen is the newest offering from {33} Restaurant Group who also brought us Taverna Rossa, and Cadillac Pizza Pub.

While it’s obvious HPT is a pizza kitchen, we’ll get to that little detail in just a minute. First, let’s chat about the “Taproom” part … booze first, as Susie requires.

HPT offers 40 carefully curated craft beers on tap with a heavy emphasis on local/Texas brews; think Bitter Sisters, Revolver, Martin House, and Noble Rey, to name a few. Bring your growler along for the ride, and Heritage will fill it up with your favorite beer. Better yet, join the Heritage Growler Program, and earn a free pizza with every 10th growler fill.

But, what’s a guy or gal to do if you are ordering a pizza because you don’t actually plan on leaving the comfort of your (*Nebraska Furniture Mart*) sofa? Heritage Pizza will deliver beer (5% ABV or under) right to your door. What a time to be alive.

Now … pie time. Heritage Pizza’s menu incorporates fresh ingredients and ware from local artisans, including Hamm’s Meat Market and Henry’s Ice Cream. Their ingredients are fresh and flavorful, making some really fantastic pies. HPT features a collection of twelve signature pizzas, including the namesake Heritage pie (classic red sauce, cheese, chicken, baby spinach, artichoke hearts, tomato, feta, garlic, and olive oil). Additional pizza selections include some surprising ingredients such as the Mama’s Meatloaf (classic red sauce, homemade meatloaf, sharp cheddar, green onion) and the Santa Fe (avocado campfire ranch, garlic, roasted corn, black beans, cilantro, green chile, diced tomato, jalapeño). If you’re feeling less adventurous (or even more creative), you can simply opt to build your own pizza, choosing from a list of over 40 ingredients. Pizzas are constructed on a crispy, cracker-thin crust (a gluten-free crust baked in an off-site facility is also available). 

They also feature a variety of delicious appetizers–the Pretzels and Beer Cheese Fonduta and the Stuffed Mushrooms with sausage and goat cheese are not to be missed. Things like baked pasta, hot sandwiches, and fresh salads are also available.

Heritage Pizza and Taproom is open for business, but they will host a grand opening celebration with a full day of festivities TODAY, Friday, April 21. The first 100 guests to arrive for lunch (11 AM) will receive a free t-shirt, koozie, and a free pizza (voucher for a future visit). From 3-7 PM, The Ticket 96.7 FM Hardline hosts Corby Davidson and Mike Rhyner will be in the house, broadcasting live. After 6 PM, the first 100 people to partake in the Martin House Pint Night by buying a pint of their featured brew will keep the signature glass and receive a free Heritage Pizza Crowler.

Heritage Pizza and Taproom
heritagepizza.com
Facebook
3750 Plano Parkway, #600 (The Colony)
(214) 396-7333

Hours:
Mon-Thurs 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
Fri-Sat 11:00 AM-11:00 PM
Sun 11:00 AM-9:00 PM

Lovers Seafood and Market

West Dallas is swimming in fresh, delicious seafood thanks to one of its newest restaurants, Lovers Seafood and Market, opened last month by duo Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing who brought us Shinsei. LS&M took over the space occupied by longtime seafood restaurant at Lovers and Inwood, Rex’s Seafood, and they did quite a bit with the space. The Nantucket-esque interior makes you immediately feel like you’re in for great seafood … and you are.

With Chef Aaron Staudenmaier in the kitchen, the fresh seafood doesn’t have to carry itself, though it could. The menu offers some exquisitely simple seafood options with some classic, “down home” options.

Before the meal began, I was delighted that they had little things to nibble on like truffle popcorn and pot bread. (Bread made in a pot … obvi.) Start your meal with their dips–Grilled Shrimp Dip and Pimento Dip–which are surprisingly delicious, or opt for their tuna poke (because everyone’s doing it) or the avocado toast.

The seafood is as fresh as it could be, so their market fish of the day is prooooobably going to be a good pick. Have a conversation with your waiter to see what they’re offering and how the chef recommends it prepared.

More into a little less cooked seafood? Check out their raw bar that offers options like oysters and buttery sashimi. Sit down and talk it out with the chefs while you enjoy those options, or even their more unique sea urchin and crab.

As the name implies, Lovers Seafood and Market has … a market. They offer daily features of fresh fish and shellfish along with select beef cuts. Stop in and get the best Dallas has to offer from LS&M. Remember: the fresher and higher quality the meat/seafood you start with, the less you’ll have to do to make it taste amazing.

No time to cook a meal yourself,  or want to have fresh seafood for a get together? Call ahead and pick up a dozen oysters, shrimp cocktail, or poached salmon.

The new spot has already become a neighborhood favorite, and for a good reason. Pop in and find out how the former Rex’s spot has so much more to offer.


Lovers Seafood and Market
loversseafoodmarket.com
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5200 West Lovers Lane (West Dallas)
(214) 414-9880

Kimpton Hotel Monaco (Denver, CO)

I’ve always been a fan of Kimpton Hotels. To start, they just smell so damn good, and don’t get me started on the kitschy, Jonathan Adler lamp-filled decor.  Kimpton hotels have a distinct feel, and the Hotel Monaco Denver is no exception.

In the heart of Downtown Denver, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is a respite from the hustle of the city. (Or at least what was hustle before weed became legal.) The staff at the hotel made me feel welcome and important, and I cannot think of a better customer service experience I’ve had in recent years. To round out the stellar customer service experience, the doormen are extremely courteous and nearly make your day anytime you enter or leave the hotel. (I may have forgotten something in my room and, after remembering, intentionally walked outside before turning around so they’d chat to me  briefly.)

Possibly the best part of my last stay at the Hotel Monaco was the discovery of their daily happy hour in the lobby. (Oh, did I mention that it’s a FREE happy hour?) They offer snacks along with featured wine for a couple hours each afternoon to spoil guests.  The second best part was learning that they have hotel bicycles that guests can borrow … also for free.

The hotel’s decidedly western-inspired yet contemporary decor feels comfortable yet haute thanks to little touches and rich textures. Then the real comfort is realized when you first sink into their soft-as-they-could-be beds and fluffy pillows. The beds are comfortable enough that you may even forget to close the curtains, only to be woken up by the light streaming in, then refusing to get out of bed to close the curtains because you’re too cocooned-in to move.

If you can make it out of bed, this Hotel Monaco’s on-site restaurant, Panzano, is sure to please. From thoughtfully crafted cocktails to some of the best Italian-inspired food I’ve had in a while, it’s a great stop for lunch or dinner. (Just make sure to arrive in stretchy pants.)

As Kimpton hotels go, the entire experience was delightful from the aforementioned comfy bed to the plush, animal print robes. I’ve decided that it’s my new jumping off point for all Colorado ski trips going forward … and maybe a random night or two when Denver sounds like a nice getaway.

HOTEL MONACO – DENVER
monaco-denver.com
Facebook: /monaco.denver
Instagram: @monacodenver
1717 Champa Street, Denver, CO
Reservations: (800)990-1303, hotel: (303)296-1717

Amenities: pet-friendly, robes, on-site salon and spa, 24-hour fitness center, free bicycle rentals, yoga mats in every room

Shake Shack Plano is here!

Shake Shack Plano is now open for business! Blazing the trail for a lineup of pretty amazing restaurants planned for the new Legacy West development, the Plano Shack marks the second DFW location for the NYC chain; the first was in Uptown.

ShackBurger, Link Burger, and Fries

In addition to Shake Shack’s classic lineup of juicy burgers, crinkle cut cheese fries and frosty shakes, the Plano location features a special selection of locally inspired menu items. Sink your teeth into a Link Burger, topped with a Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheddar sausage link, and wash it down with something cold and local from Four Corners Brewing Co. or Deep Ellum Brewing.

Brat Burger

Oh, and by all means, save room for dessert. Locally inspired offerings at the Plano shack include a tempting lineup of custard concretes: the West Slide (vanilla custard, Sugar Ray’s old fashioned strawberry cupcake, and strawberry puree), the Top Twirl (chocolate custard, Top Knot banana chocolate cake and miso caramel) and the Pie Oh My (vanilla custard and slice of Emporium Pies seasonal pie).

PRO TIP: If you’re running by during your lunch hour, use the app to preorder and skip the line!

SHAKE SHACK PLANO
shakeshack.com
7401 Windrose Avenue, Plano (in Legacy West)

Opening Hours:
11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday – Thursday
11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday

 

Ancho Reyes Verde

Who couldn’t use an extra spice in their life … or at least in their cocktail? In Texas, it is completely acceptable to add salsa or peppers to most any dish, so why shouldn’t we do the same to our cocktails?

I recently had the privilege to try a liqueur made from poblano peppers, Ancho Reyes Verde, that just became available in Texas. For those of you who are already a fan of the original Ancho Reyes, this is its new, “fresher” counterpart.

Ancho Reyes Verde is made from the same poblano chile as the Ancho Reyes, but the peppers used are green chiles harvested a bit early, then roasted. The original uses the late-harvest, sun-dried peppers . The heat that comes from Ancho Reyes Verde seriously tastes like a freshly picked poblano pepper–it even smells fresh and earthy.  Surprisingly, the liqueur has notes of ginger along with fruits like pineapple and a slight tomato flavor.

Both Original and Verde Ancho Reyes liqueurs are quite versatile, which makes it a perfect element for cocktails. Original mixes well with brown spirits, whereas the Ancho Reyes Verde seems to mix better with clear spirits. I personally loved the Verde in a cocktail, but the flavors when sipped alone were quite pronounced.

Ancho Verde Margarita
1 part Milagro Silver Tequila
1 part Ancho Reyes Verde
1 part fresh lime juice
⅓ part agave nectar

Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake hard and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass with half its rim salted. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Verde Chelada
1.5 part Ancho Verde
0.5 part lime juice
Big pinch of salt
12 oz Mexican lager beer
Salt for rim

Rim a cold beer glass with kosher salt. Add salt, lime, ancho verde to the cold beer glass and stir to mix. Add ice and beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

 


Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano Liqueur
AnchoReyes.com
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80 Proof/40% ABV
Retail price: ~$33/750mL

Ancho Reyes Verde was launched in New York in 2016 as a limited edition spirit, and it is now available in the lucky states of Texas, California, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, and Florida.

(Recipes and select cocktail images above provided by Ancho Reyes)

susie knows all things boozy in dallas …