Shake Shack Holiday Menu

With the changing of seasons comes the changing of the guard … err … shakes at Dallas’s newest burger chain. Shake Shack has a new holiday menu that would turn even the Grinch into a cheerful SOB. You can get three new shakes and a hot chocolate treat to keep your spirits bright from the inside out.

Pumpkin Pie Shake: vanilla frozen custard blended with Four & Twenty Blackbirds pumpkin pie and topped with whipped cream and spiced pie crumbles ($5.79)

Christmas Cookie Shake: sugar cookie frozen custard topped with whipped cream and red and green sprinkles ($5.79)

Chocolate Peppermint Shake: chocolate frozen custard blended with peppermint and topped with whipped cream and chocolate peppermint candy crumbles ($5.79)

Brownie Batter Hot Chocolate: a blend of bittersweet dark chocolates and rich fudge sauce, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles ($3.89)

Don’t forget to check out the Custard Calendar to find out what custard is being featured daily at Shake Shack!

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2500 North Pearl Street

Repeal Day 2016

Bowen House | 4-7pm | Special menu from Papas Pilar Rum

The Cedars Social | 9pm-2am | $3.33 prohibition cocktails and $5 beer, wine, and craft cocktails

Fat Daddy’s | 6pm | $5 select classic cocktails

Eastwood’s Bar | 6-10pm | 1/2 priced Old Fashioneds

The Standard Pour | 8pm-2am

Victor Tangos | 5-7pm | $0.83 cocktails

Whiskey Cake Plano | 11am-midnight | $5 classic cocktails, 20s music, photo booth, costume contest where you can win a trip to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

NYLO Las Colinas | cocktail feature: Blueberry Moonshine Lemonade

Milagro Tequila

To me, it always seemed that tequila was the shot you ordered after you had a few too many and needed an excuse for eating late night pizza. After my night of tequila tasting with Milagro Tequila, the spirit is so much more to me.


The night was an in depth look into the smells and tastes of different types of tequila. Before tasting anything, we were given an aroma kit with samples of all the different notes you get from tequila. (I think of doing this when tasting wine, but not tequila.) The twelve aromas ranged from lemongrass and pineapple all the way to black pepper.





Now, Milagro is no ordinary Tequila. When the owners tasted the final product, they said it was a miracl (hence the name Milagro). The owners wanted to pay homage to the heritage of tequila, and it shows in the process. This tequila is made from 100% blue agave tequila from the Jalisco Highlands. (Blue agave is sweeter and creates a more fruity and aromatic tequila.) The master distiller employs a century old cooking method using a traditional hand built brick oven. The agave is slow-roasted for 36 hours. That is a long time in the tequila world, but it creates a much better tequila. Once the agave is roasted, it goes into Milagro’s two pot system for the distillation, a pot still and a column still. The column still creates the smoothness found in Milagro.


Curious as to how good Milagro really is? Milagro entered the San Francisco World spirit competition in 2007. The Select Barrel Reserve Repasado was awarded best of show. Not only did it beat out other tequilas- but rums, gins, and vodkas. Milagro currently has more awards than any other tequilas. Milagro ranges from $37 for Milagro Silver to $102 for the Select Barrel Reserve Anejo. My personal favorite is the Milagro Añejo. It has been aged in American oak barrels between fourteen and twenty-four months. This aging process gives this tequila a spicy and savory taste.


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Americano’s Aperitivo Hour

Americano is a restaurant and bar in the Joule Hotel Downtown.  Let’s just say that it’s decidedly Italian, but with an incredibly modern vibe and clean aesthetic … but sadly, a severe lack of Vespas and Italian accents.

Recently Americano launched their “Aperitivo Hour”, the Italian’s take on happy hour, but with a point. Cocktails served as apéritifs are meant to prep your stomach for a meal, and most contain bitter spirits such as Campari along with vermouths and gins.  (The post-meal version–digestifs–help with digestion and can be anything from fortified wines to liqueurs like Fernet Branca and Chartreuse.)  Look for options like the classic Negroni (gin, Campari, and rosso vermouth) and the Lone Star Sbagliato (rosso vermouth, Campari, and Lone Star Lager).

Along with the traditional Italian cocktails, they’ll be serving up some tap wines by the glass and carafe along with draft beers–both Italian and local.  You know … for the less Italian inclined of us.


Along with the cocktails offered, Americano has a menu of small food items available from 2-5pm with options like their fried olives (my personal favorite), arancini, and fried calamari.


Aperitivo Hour is available daily from 4-7pm, so pop in before dinner and have a cocktail to start off a molto bene evening.  Your stomach will thank you.


The Second Floor Fall Offerings

The culinary team at The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich always manages to keep things fresh and interesting–and most importantly, delicious. With new addition Chef Ryan Barnett (formerly of Stephen Pyles) at the helm, this certainly continues to be the case. I recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to Second Floor to check out a French-inspired “Classics” prix-fixe menu that ran for a limited time. From the first bite of French Onion Soup down to the last taste of Cambozola en Croute, each dish was flawless and exceeded my expectations. Other highlights of the evening included a beautifully seared Steak Diane, as well as a masterfully executed Rack of Lamb. Thoughtfully curated wine pairings were available for each course. Chef Barnett informed me plans for future prix-fixe menus are on the horizon, so keep on eye The Second Floor’s website for a peek at what’s to come.

In the meantime, The Second Floor has debuted a new lineup of fall menu offerings that you won’t want to miss. Among them, the Texas Gold Shrimp & Grits with an anchiote tequila cream sauce ($14/$25), an Orecchiette Pork Ragu with slow-braised pork jowl ($15/$24), and a Lobster Risotto with roasted butternut squash ($14/$36). And, consider drinking your dessert; The Second Floor’s featured fall cocktail (created by Gina Gottlich) the Caramel Appleton, is made with Ciroc Apple, Bailey salted caramel, butterscotch, cranberry, cream and garnished with a caramel rim ($13). If whiskey is closer to your speed, check out the Cinnamon Whiskey Sour (Makers 46, cinnamon, cranberry, citrus, rocks–$13). See the full fall menu here.

The Second Floor Happy Hour:

  • Speciality cocktail of the day (changes daily) $5
  • Domestic Beer $4
  • “The Best Wine in the City”, Honoro Vera, Garnacha, Spain, or Les Costieres de Pomerols, Picpoul de Pinet, $5
  • Various Snacks and Small Bites $2-5

The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich
13340 Dallas Parkway (inside Galleria Dallas, Level 2)
(972) 450-2978


Bartenders You Should Know: Volume 1

The North Texas bar scene is expanding at an exponential rate, and with that comes the inevitable “training period” (as we’ll call it for the moment), the time when the number of bartending positions vastly exceeds the number of qualified bartenders to efficiently provide the level of service that patrons demand. Lucky for you, our team has your back. Herein lies a fresh list of bartenders around town that you should know–the first volume, to whet your palates.

A veritable consortium of badass drink makers that are equal parts speed and craft, these bartenders ensure that not only do you receive a well-concocted and thoughtful tipple, but you get it in a timely manner. On top of that, for those who are interested in delving a little deeper into the cocktail scene, these bartenders also give some insight and share of their experience in the world of Dallas bartending.

Angela Montesclaros (Henry’s Majestic/Atwater Alley)

Angela started as a server at Henry’s Majestic before Alex Fletcher tapped her to get into bartending. She was hesitant about making the jump, so it took almost six months before she agreed to do it. She saw the caliber of bartenders that have historically worked at Henry’s and had some reservations about stepping into those shoes: “I remember when Omar [Yeefoon] and Julian [Pagan] were behind the bar here … all these big bartenders, how do I perform on that level? The extent of my drink knowledge at that time didn’t go beyond discerning red from white wine.”

Fast forward a year later, and Angela is holding it down and kicking ass at Atwater Alley, frequently working the downstairs bar on her own. Over the past six months, more and more people have told me that she’s their favorite bartender, and given that most of those voices belong to veteran bartenders and seasoned bar patrons, that’s quite the compliment.

She gives due credit to her teammates who have helped mentor her in her craft cocktail journey so far: Hector Zavala, Ricky Cleva, and Tim Newtown; and when asked about her bartending philosophy, Angela simply stated, “The guest is always first, but I will always be in control. Craft cocktails take a little longer to make, but guests expect their drinks to get pushed out, so [I had to] learn to make quality drinks quickly.”

The fall and winter seasons are around the corner, and Angela has some drinks and ideas about what she’ll be slinging this season. Currently, she enjoys making the Ford’s Cooler on the current menu along with proper Negronis. As far as favorite ingredients to experiment with lately, Angela’s into sage and amaros. For colder weather drinks, she thinks there’ll be a renewed proliferation of hot offerings like creams and toddies.


Allison Sigler (Paschall Bar)

Allison’s journey to bartending started at a popular chain restaurant, and after moving up the ranks from hostess to server, she eventually had the top alcohol sales in the district which earned her a bartending position at the age of 20. Two and half years later, Allison landed a job at Paschall Bar in Denton’s historic town square.

It’s been a pretty good year for her in the cocktail scene. Allison recently won the Pisco Final Competition and earned herself a trip to Peru–not bad for someone who knew nothing about craft cocktails when she started at Paschall. She credits Matthew Long and Jeremy Dean with supporting her ongoing cocktail education. “With Matthew, I observed his work and listened to whatever he’d say to customers and other bartenders; I absorbed as much as I could. And with Jeremy, he has really opened a lot of doors for me and believed in me the whole way.”

When I asked her about her bartending philosophy, Allison shot me a smile and responded, “Everybody who comes into the bar is different and going through something different. My job is to find out why they’re there and accommodate them specifically for that reason … a tailored experience for each person.”

Her favorite menu cocktail to make is the Fleur de Mal, one of her own creations. (I’ve had it – it’s a floral masterpiece.) As for off-menu drinks, she’s a big fan of making the St. Vincent (whiskey, St. Germain, yellow Chartreuse, and Angostura bitters). Allison loves making cocktails with St. Germain, as it’s her perennial favorite ingredient. As for upcoming trends, she predicts a lot more cocktails coming out with stories about people in history, places and regions.

Reid Lewis_Bowen House

Reid Lewis (Bowen House)

Reid has been in the service industry since the age of 14, starting off as a dishwasher and working through practically every position until she reached bartender. Her first gig was at Anvil Pub in Deep Ellum in 2011, and now you can find her at Bowen House as the establishment’s bar manager. She’s come a long way since working with her mentor, Jason Kosmas, at The Porch and Neighborhood Services where he taught her how to make her first Old Fashioned.

Reid’s bartending philosophy is straightforward: “Make sure everyone’s having a good time. People go out looking for an experience, and it’s different from person to person. Cocktails tell the story of how their day is going. I want everyone to be happier when they leave the bar than when they arrived.” The most important lesson she’s learned from her profession is patience. “Patience is the biggest thing. Slowing down for people; you catch yourself when you find someone trying to talk to you, so you stop to listen. Some people just want to talk with you.”

Now Reid is curating Bowen House’s drink menu and creating bespoke cocktails for her guests. She’s going through an olive oil phase at the moment and informed me that it can be used in place of egg white for froth. It creates a unique mouthfeel and can be experienced in her Lucille Bluth cocktail which features a rosemary-infused olive oil floater.

As for upcoming trends, Reid foresees absinthe coming back with a vengeance and vodka repackaging itself as “artisanal” and trying to be more than what it is. She hopes to see more olive oil being used as well as black volcanic salt with egg white cocktails. “The color streaks when it moves through the froth.”


Mandy Meggs (Smoke Dallas/Bar Belmont)

Mandy already has a decade of service industry experience under her belt and shows no signs of slowing down. She started bartending at Whiskey Cake Plano and believes it’s a great outlet for creativity. Her philosophy is rooted in making people happy. “I really enjoy interacting with people all day long and making guests into regulars; leaving my mark on people, making their day. Then again, it’s only half of the job.” The other half, of course, is making the cocktails.

Mandy’s favorite menu cocktail is her own creation called Firing Squad, a cilantro-infused mezcal Paloma. I had the pleasure of trying it a few weeks ago, and it’s light, herbaceous, and just the right amount of citrus and sweetness. Mandy’s mentor, Kyle Hilla, is also a big fan of the new menu item and touts it as one of his all-time favorite cocktails.

Mandy emphasizes the importance of patience and pacing yourself when it comes to bartending. She notes, “That carries over into life, too. When it’s slow, do more. When it’s busy, take a moment to step back and evaluate what you’re doing. That’s when you need to take more care. There’s always room to learn. It’s about working everyday to be better at what you’re doing. Take pride in your work.”

As for what Mandy thinks will trend in the next year, she thinks gin and tonics are making a comeback. Ice will also be a big focus as well, especially cubes with unexpected and interesting ingredients frozen inside them. The bartending industry itself is in transition, and there’s a new generation of bartenders coming up and learning from veterans who seem to also be in transition themselves, whether it be into management positions, brand ambassadorships, etc.

There’s a changing of the guard, and that’ll be important for us to watch.

Grayson Social, Downtown’s Newest Southern Spot

Grayson Social, one of the latest restaurants to appear in Dallas, is Darlene Marcello and Daniel Tarasevich’s brainchild with a southern accept. Located in the old LTV Towers on Elm Street, the social club offers comfort food in setting equally as comforting, all while maintaining a sense of sophistication.

The sumptuous downstairs area has ample dining space as well as an outdoor patio just beyond the impressive bar. Up the lavishly carpeted stairs flanking the hostess stand is a “members only” area, which provides slouch friendly couches and chairs along with a sense of exclusivity. Throughout the restaurant, marble tables are adorned with elegant, old volumes bookmarked by roses and adding to the atmosphere are wall mounted antlers and framed drawings of flowers.

Courtesy of Grayson Social
Courtesy of Grayson Social

The private upstairs area is for members and high spenders only. (Non-members must spend a minimum of $1,000 to feel like they’re a part of the secret club … womp womp.) Currently, the only way to become a member is by knowing someone who is already a member. It’s literally a “who you know” situation. Some of the benefits include:
– 15% discount on full-priced menu items
– Free WiFi (hello, business lunch)
– Exclusive invitations to special events
– A complimentary bottle of champagne and birthday cake for members’ birthdays
– Monthly previews of food and drink before they’re released to the downstairs peasants (don’t worry, we’re down there, too)

Each membership is valid for one year and will be automatically renewed as long as restaurant privileges are used throughout the year. It seems as if the hardest part about being a member is simply becoming one – after that it’s all bourbon and biscuits. 

Courtesy of Grayson Social
Courtesy of Grayson Social

I stopped by Grayson Social for their Bourbon & Biscuits event last night, which was a formal presentation of the restaurant and its offerings. A seemingly millennial crowd filled the posh space, (all of whom seemed like they just came from the office) and mingled with featured bourbon cocktails in-hand. As the event name suggests, bourbon cocktails and their “killer” biscuits were free flowing all evening long. 

The bourbon drink menu consisted of several creative concoctions such as the Bacon Bourbon Manhattan, the Vanilla Old Fashioned, and the Campfire Cocktail. The bourbon of the evening was Yellow Rose Distilled Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey, which is hand made from 100% corn and pot distilled right here in Texas. Many of the drinks included unique ingredients or elements such as house-cured beef jerky, rose essential oils, bacon-infused bourbon, and house made marshmallow syrup. (Can you say “yum”?)

The Campfire Cocktail was a mix of bourbon, whiskey, house made marshmallow syrup, and topped with a toasted marshmallow (my inner child jumped for joy). I fully expected this cocktail to be overbearingly sweet but was pleasantly surprised. The Beef & Bourbon (bourbon (duh), maple syrup, myrrh, cypress, honey, and a side of house-cured beef jerky) was also delicious. I may or may not have chosen these drinks because they came with an edible component … sometimes you need a little bite.


The appropriately named Killer Biscuits were unreal with flavors ranging from Margherita and pecan bacon to pimento cheese and pineapple coconut. Fear not, they also serve a classic buttermilk biscuit for all those set in their traditional ways that are served with house made jams like raspberry ancho chile, blueberry ginger, and strawberry lime. Also available for our noshing pleasure was a buffet line of fried chicken, a salami and prosciutto bar, and several ice creams.


Getting to Grayson Social is pretty straightforward. Valet is available if you enter on the Pacific Side, and there is a public parking garage right next door. From what I tasted at this short event, I would highly recommend visiting Grayson Social for brunch, lunch, or dinner so long as you try the biscuits, the fried chicken, and the bourbon. 

Grayson Social 
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1555 Elm Street (Downtown)
(972) 232-1728

#SusieDrinksClassics: the Boulevardier

With the classic cocktail resurgence that has been seen over the last couple decades, I realized recently that I didn’t know how to make many of them.  That said, we’re all going to learn together with my new series, #SusieDrinksClassics.

Our first less is the Boulevardier.  This cocktails is the whiskey version of an Italian favorite, the Negroni.  Since the whiskey warms the cocktail, it makes it a perfect transitional cocktail for the fall.

1.5oz rye whiskey
0.75 Campari
0.75 sweet vermouth

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, then stir with a bar spoon until well chilled.  Strain into a glass of your choice.

Garnish: orange peel
Glass: coupe or double old fashioned glass (if served with ice)
Ice: none if chilled, or over ice if desired

Items featured:
Wigle Rye Whiskey (Pittsburgh, PA), Campari, Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
Gold jigger: Cocktail Kingdom, $22.95
Mixing glass: Courtesy of Absolut Elyx
Coupe: Crate and Barrel, $12.95
Marble Slab: Crate and Barrel, $49.95

susie knows all things boozy in dallas …