All posts by Lauryn Bodden

Product Review: Don Chelada

If there’s one thing I don’t undervalue it’s the art of convenience. Particularly, when it comes to tailgates, beach-side sipping, or floating the river, I want a drink that travels easy and carries the party with it. Enter: Don Chelada. Between this company’s bottled michelada mix and rimmed Styrofoam cups with pre-packaged spices, all you really need is your favorite beer to achieve optimal day-drinking status.

I have to say Don Chelada’s Styrofoam cups are a fascinating thing. It’s one of those million dollar ideas I wish I would have thought of. Offering three flavors of Lemon Lime, Spicy, or Original, the rather large cups come with a “Mega Moist Rim” of natural ingredients, including chili powder, lemon powder, sea salt, chili powder, sugar, pepper, citric acid, and silicone dioxide (for, you know … “anti-clumping”). Inside you’ll find the corresponding spice mix, depending on awaiting an introduction to your beer of choice, which may depend on your cup flavor. Bonus points: the rich formula allows the addition of another beer, which you will obviously want to add. The key here (and make sure you read this carefully) is to pour slowly and let the drink sit for a minute afterwards. This allows for the suds and spice mix to settle into the beer.

The cups serve as a great product for the right kind of consumer. Personally, I had a bit of trouble blending the package of spices into my beer, but I could envision this as a staple for enhancing your average beer at tailgates, fraternity parties, trips to the lake, or even as a hangover remedy. Out of the two products, I enjoyed the liquid mix better as I found it was easier to incorporate with my beer – but, maybe I just need to work on my pouring technique.

You can go a step further personalizing this with even more spice, garnishes, or maybe an additional splash of alcohol. It’s your michelada and you can drink it how you want to.

Check out Don Chelada’s website for more recipes, such as the below, Tequila Tropical. Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching and this might just be your best move.

Don Chelada Tequila Tropical
1.5oz tequila
Mineral Water
Lemon Lime Soda

Add to your Don Chelada Michelada Cup: ice and 1.5oz tequila. Fill with equal parts mineral water and lemon lime soda. Stir lightly, let sit for a minute and enjoy.

Don Chelada Michelada Cups
6 Piece Party Pack, $13.74
Party Pack Case – 36 Pieces, $64.44

Don Chelada Michelada Mix
25 oz. Bottle, $10.99


DON CHELADA

donchelada.com
Facebook | Twitter | instagram.com/donchelada

Going Green with 360 Vodka

I’m not sure where 2015 went, but the past couple months have been a blur. With the onslaught of holiday parties and football gatherings, drinks are something that seem to be ever-present. A generous box of spirit(s) arrived on my doorstep at a pivotal moment in this season’s madness to provide me the essentials of holiday cheer.

I’ve noted in the past that I tend to be wary of vodka, but when distilled just right and mixed with the right ingredients, it becomes my drink of choice. In particular, 360 Vodka (produced by Earth Friendly Distilling Company, a division of McCormick Distilling Company, Inc. … don’t cringe) comes distilled four times from American grain using column distillation process and filtered five times featuring proprietary charcoal coconut filter system. The smooth, earthy finish  of this grain vodka along with a mild bite and subtle lavender notes, makes it an easy choice to mix in any cocktail. 

This vodka’s clean taste is echoed in the company’s eco-friendly attitude from development, production, to distribution. The bottle (commonly reused by consumers for water and olive oil) is made from 85% recycled glass, giving each bottle a unique green hue.  The label on the bottle is made with 100% post-consumer paper with special water based inks that won’t harm the environment; and the swing‐top closure comes with a pre‐paid envelope empowering Americans to return it for reuse and have $1.00 donated to a local environmental organization. Additionally, McCormick, with the assistance of the Missouri Department of Conservation, launched FOREST 360, an effort to plant indigenous trees on 40 acres of the land around the distillery.

Essentially, consumers can grab a super-premium bottle of vodka at a reasonable price and give back to the environment – as if you needed an excuse. And, with the recent trend in all things organic and green, 360 Vodka makes for the perfect holiday bar staple or hostess gift. The range of flavors can seem somewhat overwhelming with options like Georgia Peach, Sorrento Lemon, Buttered Popcorn, and even Glazed Donut.

Personally, I took advantage of the crisp fall season to mix up a vodka-forward version of Susie’s Cool Weather Punch* with the original 360 Vodka.


360 VODKA

www.vodka360.com
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ABV 40% / 80 Proof
Retails for around $35 per 750ml bottle

 

 

Summer Sipping: UV Sangria

It’s a hot summer day in New York City with the sun shining and people watching at its peak. I find myself in a dilemma. On one hand, I couldn’t imagine anything better than a cool pitcher of red sangria and a picnic spread on the Great Lawn at Central Park. On the other hand, it’s hot and it’s Saturday and I just want to cut loose with some friends.

Enter: UV Sangria

This drink brings the best of both worlds with sweet notes of citrus and exotic fruit alongside that sultry burn of liquor. It’s the first ever of its kind, which makes you wonder, “Why has no one else thought of this yet??” (Note: UV Sriracha hit shelves just before this baby did.)

Upon my first sip, the hairs stood up on the back of my arms. Maybe, I just forgot this was vodka not the mulled juice I’m used to? Maybe it’s a drink that grows on you? Or maybe the more you drink the less you care? Whatever the case, my second go around proved successful as I mixed the spirit as it should be: pitcher-style for all to enjoy.

Combine UV Sangria with sprite, sliced fruit of your liking, and serve over ice for optimal boozing purposes. It’s the American twist on a Spanish classic that makes it perfect for cocktails during outdoor entertaining season and get-togethers with friends and family. (To be honest, it may be why my Fourth of July was such a hit.)

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Distilled four times, UV Sangria brings a blend of citrus with a light zest in the background, finishing with an exotic taste that lingers on the palate. UV Vodka offers a diverse portfolio of over 20 fun, colorful flavored vodkas. The lineup also includes interesting flavor profiles of UV Blue Raspberry, Sugar Crush, Cherry, Apple, Salty Watermelon, Chocolate Cake, and even Candy Bar.

The suggested retail price is $12.99 for a one liter bottle, $11.99 for a 750ml bottle and 99 cents for 50ml bottle.

Here are a couple recipes for your next summer gathering:

SANGRIA SUNRISE
1 part UV Sangria
1/3 part grenadine syrup
3 parts orange juice

Pour over ice & garnish with orange slice.


SANGRIA MARTINI
1 part UV Sangria
1 splash cranberry juice
1 splash triple sec

Shake with ice and strain in a martini glass

UV Vodka
www.uvvodka.com
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***Disclaimer: This beauty came to me for free from UV. God Bless America.

“Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom” Launch

Moving to New York City from a state flowing with craft brews, local spirits, and wines lining either side of the highway through the heart of Texas Hill Country, I didn’t believe there was a land more proud of their distilleries. Texas is a state that wears its pride on its sleeve as a badge of honor; whereas, New York is the kid everyone knew was talented, but now they’re charming everyone with a whole new bag of tricks.

Wednesday night, All the Tastes of New York threw an intimate launch party at Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse to kick off their book, Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom by Heather Dolland. The evening featured tastings from over 20 local craft distillers along with passed hors d’oeuvres and first-hand discussion on the importance of “Farm to Glass” movement. Guests enjoyed sips of gin, moonshine, vodka, cider, bourbon, and more… each went down smoothly with a bite of slider and helping of chicken parm. My favorite cocktail of the night goes to a spicy blend of Port Morris moonshine muddled with jalapeño dubbed the “Salma Hayek”. However, I could sip (or gulp) a whole bottle of Sorel, the wheat spirit distilled with hibiscus, ginger, nutmeg, cassia and clove, and sweetened with cane sugar from distillery Jack from Brooklyn.

The book Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom dives deeply into the movement “Farm to Glass”, sharing the journey of 30 craft distillers, their journey to success, and what it means to grow locally in terms of spirits. The book is set to release on July 4, 2015 for $29.95 and will be available through retailers such as Amazon.com. You may not be able to get your hands on a copy just yet, but you can read below to gain a little insight into Heather’s background, what this “Farm to Glass” movement is all about, and what you should be sipping on this summer.

Could you give me a little more of your background and how you got into the wine and spirits industry? What interests you most about it? I am the founder and owner of All The Tastes of New York, a startup firm that organizes and hosts themed “food crawl” dining experiences at some of Manhattan’s top restaurants. Launched in 2012, All the Tastes of New York enables groups of eight to 30 participants to enjoy appetizers, entrees and desserts at three restaurants within walking distance of each other.

For more than 8 years, I was also a Brand Ambassador for many premium wine and spirit brands. Working with these brands and creating Food and Wine Festivals to promote them, led to my awareness of the increasing number of distillers in New York State. After getting to know many of these craft distillers, I was inspired to tell their story.

What do you hope to achieve with your book? By writing this book, I will like to aid in the awareness of what it means to be a craft distiller and help support this budding New York industry. Because my business focuses on promoting brands, my desire is that we can grow together.

What is your connection to the “Farm to Glass” movement? Why do you think the importance is behind it? For years we have heard about eating local and the farm to table movement. Now with the influx of craft distillers, we are able to drink local and embrace the farm to glass movement. It’s important to remember that the Farm Distillery Act that passed in 2007 to make distilling easier in New York State, was about allowing farmers to increase the value of their crops. Many of these distillers make Vodka and Gin distilled from New York apples and Whiskey and Bourbon from New York corn. A large number of these distillers come from generations of farmers.

What is your go-to drink and food pairing? I really do not have a ‘go-to’ food and drink pairing. I have a tremendous love of food and drinks. Most of this is the joy of creativity and exploring new tastes and flavors. I rarely eat the same food and drink combination because I thrive on new experiences!

Do you have a favorite spot in the city to grab a drink? One of my favorite spots to have a drink is Middle Branch. A speakeasy in Murray Hill.

What is your top summer cocktail recipe? I am very fond of Tequila and generally spicy cocktails. My top summer cocktail is a Passion Fruit Margarita with Jalapenos.

All The Tastes of New York
allthetastesofnewyork.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Discovering The New York Craft Spirits Boom
Pre-order/purchase at Amazon.com

 

Ké Spirits’ wKé

College taught me a number of things, but one of its most important lessons was my love for whiskey. It’s an acquired taste that began as a means to drink with the boys and developed into my own guilty pleasure. I like it over ice or with a splash of ginger ale.

Typically, whiskey offers a slight bite with some smoky, woody qualities. Particularly, Ké Spirits’ Whiskey (wKé) delivers a rich, smooth flavor of grain and wild flower that brings a lasting bite. It’s a strong, but pleasing aroma of elements.

Ké describes its grain components as an uncommon combination that is processed by slicing, rolling, and in some cases, crushing them to capture and retain the unique flavors. Then comes the two-phase fermentation process in which the temperature and environment are closely controlled. Lastly, the liquids are distilled through small handmade copper pot stills in a two-phase copper distillation column. This lends hand to its opulent caramel color.

The legend of Ké Spirits originates in the late 1400s when the art of distillation made its way to Ireland. Irish Catholic monks used it to craft a beverage, whiskey, (“water of life” in English). It was made quickly and crudely to offer a barely drinkable solution. Then, in 1498 Padraig Barry discovered a grain process that turned young, hardly drinkable whiskey into a surprisingly rich and smooth beverage.

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Fast forward 470 years, Joe Barry learns of secret family stories detailing the mysterious “Ké” distillation that generations before him worked to protect from kings, invaders, thieves, and raiders. After retiring in 2007, Joe Barry journeyed to Ireland to unveil the truth of “Ké.” For the next five years he worked with distillers to recreate the original process himself and now offers three varieties: Ké (vodka), tKé (tequila), and wKé (whiskey).

Keep warm by the fire with a glass straight. If that doesn’t do the trick, here is a recipe provided by Ké spirits for a wKé Irish Coffee:

unnamed-18wKé IRISH COFFEE
1 ½ oz wKé
4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
Fresh Whipped Cream
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, or Chocolate

Combine wKé, coffee, and brown sugar in a warm Irish coffee glass and stir until sugar is dissolved. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate.

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**Disclaimer: This bottle of joy was provided to me by Ké spirits**

Grapevine Urban Wine Trails

With the growing number of restaurants, brewing beer scene, countless prix-fixe meals, and weekly festivals, I find myself stuck in the Dallas bubble. Once the weekend hits, I stick to the familiar streets I know and the comfort of my bed. But once I discovered the land of Grapevine and its vast wine trails, my weekend routine might be left for afternoons of adventure and discovery.

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Grapevine offers a “trail” (as some of us would call a “crawl”) of wineries and one vineyard (Delaney) that allow for daily tastings and special events throughout the year. An array of strong and bold reds to crisp and clean whites, you can sip on local grapes over a plate of charcuterie and learn the history of the city. (And did you know that Texas is actually the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S. with Grapevine serving as a leader in the Texas wine industry for more than 25 years?) At the end of summer season, thousands flock to the streets of Grapevine in celebration of music, tapas, family-friendly activities, and, most of all, grape crushing at the annual GrapeFest in September.

Last month, the city added Sloan & Williams Winery to its lengthy list of wine makers. Owners, Alan Kunst and Ralph Mattison, are both military veterans that found they could put their “Code of Conduct” to the test when it came to the wine industry. One bottle to note at this stop is the 2013 Serenity white wine (65% Chenin Blanc, 14% Gewürztraminer, 11% French Colombard, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier) is  crisp, fruity, medium-dry blend that isn’t too dry or bitter. On another note, the 2012 Serendipity red blend (30% Carignan, 30% Cinsault, 20% Tempranillo, 15% Mourvedre, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) gives a rich spice of red fruit aromas that balance well with the boldness of the Carignan.

In addition to their wine menu, the winery offers an array of tapas from dips to breads. My one rule: You must have a flight of wine ice cream before you go. My favorite is the merlot.

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However, the best way to discover the city is with a full glass and designated driver to steer you in the right direction. Grapevine Wine Tours shuttle guests from one tasting room to the next, while guides enlighten guzzlers on the history of wine-making through the North Texas region. Lunch and dinner tours are offered on most days, but itineraries rotate daily. More about Grapevine Wine Tours.

In Grapevine news: by the end of 2014, two more wineries are set to open.

Taking the holidays to the next level, the Christmas Wine Trains run each year from December 1 to 18 at 7 pm. Each guest receives a complimentary beverage in a special Christmas wine glass. Envision live holiday music, a festive train ride, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and even a special appearance by Saint Nick. Then come spring, enjoy the marriage of cool jazz and smooth wine aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. March 21 and 22 ride along the Jazz Wine Trains in 1920s classic railroad cars. The trip includes a box dinner and wines from Grapevine’s wineries and tasting rooms. Tickets are $55 per person.

Besides the wine (said no one ever), Grapevine boasts more than 80 locally owned shops, boutiques, and art galleries with 200+ restaurants to choose from. Word on the street is that an Uber from Dallas to the downtown square runs for about $30. Split that between your group of friends and you’ll rejoice in one hell of a deal. I suggest making a day of it and getting to know the faces of some local artisans such as Dr. Sue’s Chocolates and Tolbert’s Restaurant, along your journey through the grapes of Grapevine.

GRAPEVINE WINE TRAILS
www.grapevinewinerytrail.com
Instagram: @VisitGrapevine
Twitter: @VisitGrapevine

Chopin Vodka

Upon my latest Susie Drinks Dallas delivery I immediately thought, “Yay vodka! Let’s make some drinks and kick off this weekend early!” Mind you it was only Tuesday and this was much needed. Then I figured I should skim the label and, to my surprise, I held potato vodka in my possession. Chopin Potato Vodka to be exact.

(Potatoes and I have a longstanding relationship. Mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potato gratin, baked potatoes, potato skins and all the other which ways potatoes come …I love them all.)

Chopin came to the U.S. market in 1997 from Poland and has notes of vanilla, green apple and that ever-so-alluring earthy finish. It comes crafted from potatoes grown naturally (good news for all your organic, non-GMO sticklers), yeast and purified artesian well water. It takes 40 potatoes to make one 750 ml bottle of vodka. (That’s like … a whole sack’a’potatoes.)

I’ll break down the process for you: Cleaned and left unpeeled, the potatoes are pressure-cooked to create a “mash,” which ferments for three days. The fermented mash is distilled four times, creating an almost 100% alcohol spirit, which is then transported to Chopin’s bottling plant in nearby Siedlce, Poland. Here, it blends with artesian well water and filters five times before its final destination of master distiller Waldemar Durakiewicz.

Additionally Chopin produces a Rye (2011) and Wheat, the newest addition. Rye holds a medium body with hints of spice and aromas of rye dough. Wheat offers a bread dough nose with hints of honey and butterscotch. Basically, it sounds like you’re drinking a breadbasket. I would say that assumption rings fairly true, but it’s an interesting flavor profile that grows on you the more you give it a chance. The Rye and Wheat are close in flavor profile, but I felt the Potato finished smoother with less of a bite at the end.

The trio comes best served as the base for cocktails like martinis with extra olives or with a splash of cranberry and soda with lime.

Here’s a recipe for a “Chopin Cuban” using the Potato Vodka that I deem completely necessary as summer cocktail season winds to a close.

Chopin Cuban
3/4 tsp. sugar
3 fresh sprigs of mint
3/4 oz. lime juice
5 large ice cubes
2 oz. of Chopin Potato Vodka
a splash of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne.

Crush sugar, mint, and lime juice. Add ice cubes and Chopin Potato Vodka. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with a splash of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne.


CHOPIN HAND MADE POLISH VODKA

www.chopinvodka.comFacebook | Twitter

 

**Disclaimer: I received this boozy bottle of potatoes for free from Chopin Vodka**

Where to Get Your Adult Milkshake Fix in Dallas/Fort Worth

Originally written by Lauryn Bodden, edited and updated by Susie O.


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 | Photo credit: Susie O

Grub Burger Bar
grubburgerbar.com | multiple locations

– 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

Royale - adult milkshake
The Royale’s Adult Milkshake | Picture by Susie O

The Royale Magnificent Burger
royaleburgers.com | 3310 Dallas Parkway, Suite 121 (Plano)

These overdressed shakes are boohoozy. Options include some tamer options like their Salted Caramel Shake spiked with Nassau Royale Liqueur (pictured above) and their Banana Shake “jolted” with Maker’s Mark, then get a little crazy. Their Magnificent S’mores Shake (pictured as the header) has chocolate ice cream, fudge, toasted marshmallow, and a graham cracker rim … then they add marshmallow vodka. It’ll set you back $13.50, though! (Other options include vanilla with Myer’s Dark Rum, chocolate with Godiva Liqueur, and strawberry with Ford’s Gin.)

Kenny’s Burger Join’s Chocolate Grasshopper | Picture by Rachel Farrar

Kenny’s Burger Joint
kennysburgerjoint.com | Frisco & 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

Twisted Root Adult Milkshake (Big Fat Elvis)
Twisted Root Adult Milkshake, the Big Fat Elvis | Picture courtesy of Twisted Root

Twisted Root Burger Co.
twistedrootburgerco.com | multiple locations

– 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

Snuffer’s Burgers
snuffers.com | multiple locations

They actually don’t offer them on the menu, but it’s a Snuffer’s secret that you can ask for them!

Hopdoddy’s Strawberry Buttermilk Milkshake Special | Picture courtesy of Hopdoddy

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
hopdoddy.com | multiple locations

You can add any booze you want to the shakes listed on the menu!

Alamo Drafthouse
drafthouse.com | multiple locations

– Breckenridge Vanilla Porter Shake: Breckenridge 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)

Del Frisco’s Grill’s Vanilla Adult Milkshake | Picture courtesy of DFG

Del Frisco’s Grill
delfriscosgrille.com | D/FW locations only

Their more adult-seeming Vanilla Adult Milkshake is a blend of Nocello Walnut Liqueur, Crème de Cacao, chocolate liqueur, and vanilla ice cream.

Header image courtesy of The Royale Magnificent Burger.