All posts by Susie O

#RaiseItForward and Give Water to Those in Need with Absolut Elyx

March 22 is World Water Day. Water is an incredibly precious resource, and there are billions around the world that don’t have access to a clean, reliable source for it. Not for profit Water for People works to supply water to those people.

2.1 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water and 4.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Women and children spend more than four hours walking for water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases.

So, to lessen the number of people in need, Absolut Elyx teamed up with Water For People to supply water and water sources to them. They’ve upped the game each year for the last four, and this year’s a doozy. For every bottle of Elyx or copper pineapple sold, Absolut Elyx will supply one week of safe drinking water (~140 liters) to someone in need. They’ll also donate a week of water for every Instagram post bearing the hashtag #RaiseItForward March 22 to April 22. Even more: This year, if they reach our goal of 10,000 posts, they’ll increase the donation to one month of safe water for every post.

I’m delighted to be working with Absolut Elyx to spread the word about this great cause. So they allowed me to sweeten the deal by giving anyone who uses the hashtag #RaiseItForwardTX the chance to win a copper swan ($399 value) or one of three copper coupes ($39.50 value each).

Please raise a glass with me to this great cause!

 

Details: http://bit.ly/2T5ZsIv
Details on the Water for People + Absolut Elyx partnership

Pictures by BECKLEY

Charleston Wine + Food 2019 – Here We Go!

I couldn’t be more excited to be heading back in Charleston after being away for more than four years. My first visit to Chucktown was life changing for many reasons, and not the least of which was thanks to their progressive food and drink scene. Thanks to my amazing friend Elise Cordell whose parents happen to live in Charleston, I was encouraged to attend Charleston Wine + Food … and here I am.

The Holy City’s culinary carnival is more than just tuck and tipples; the festival offers education opportunities (from tastings to hands-on classes), excursions, and paired meals rounded out by various wellness opportunities like yoga classes and aliment ambles.

To make us all feel better about stuffing our faces with great food and drink, it’s all for a food good cause. “Charleston Wine + Food is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports Charleston and the Lowcountry’s diverse culinary + hospitality community.” Cheers to that.

If you find yourself in the area March 6-10, join me for a drink or three at one of their 100+ events! Tickets for select events are still available!

Follow along on my social handles this week to see what trouble I get into!


CHARLESTON WINE + FOOD
March 6-10, 2019 | Charleston, South Carolina
charlestonwineandfood.com
Facebook: /ChsWineandFood
Twitter: @chswineandfood
Insta: @chswineandfood

Pictures courtesy of Charleston Wine + Food

A LUV Letter to Southwest Airlines

WARNING: THIS STORY ISN’T ABOUT BOOZE; IT’S ABOUT MY FAMILY AND HOW AWESOME SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IS. If you aren’t interested … scroll along. 😉

Being an aunt to two beautiful children is the most fulfilling thing in my world. Yes, sharing my adventures and drinking experiences with y’all is really fun, but knowing that I can help shape my niece’s and nephew’s lives brightens mine every day.

When my sister learned of her first child, Ten’s, severe peanut allergy, we were all greatly concerned and hoped we could find a way to help him live a normal life—because I don’t care what anyone says, a severe allergy to something common like peanuts can make a child’s life difficult. Thanks to a ton of research, my sister found a doctor in Dallas who offers exposure therapy for children. (This is a proven and safe treatment … if you have any questions, just ask!)

The idea was simple—every week for 18 weeks, Ten gets dosed up and monitored—but the execution was less than simple. Her beautiful family lives in Albuquerque, a full 650 miles from said doctor. My parents and I live in Dallas, so she made the choice to make the trip from Albuquerque to Dallas every.damn.week. With flight costs being what they are and most airlines’ cancelation policies and change fees being strict and expensive, it was a daunting idea. (Especially because, if there was any change in Ten’s heath 24 hour prior to the appointment, that week’s appointment had to be postponed.)

And then Southwest Airlines swooped in to save the day. Alice starting squirreling away miles, watching for fare sales, and setting up her weekly flights to make it happen. And, since Ten wasn’t yet two years old, he flew free. (Huge win.) Even more incredible, if Southwest is alerted that there’s someone onboard with a peanut allergy, they don’t serve peanuts that flight* and families are allowed to board early to get the wee ones settled.

My amazing sister made it happen. She schlepped her pregnant, nauseous self and her adorable, allergic boy on a weekly flight to Dallas to make his appointments where he progressed beautifully, winning over every nurse in the office as he went. And, just before his second birthday, he went to his last appointment. Ten could now eat peanuts, giving him the chance to enjoy what is now his favorite food (peanut butter, or “baya”) and his family the peace of mind that a rogue peanut butter and jelly sandwich wouldn’t take him down.

Over the course of what ended up being 22 weeks of appointments, he grew to love airplanes and, of course, Southwest. When he saw a heart, he’d point and say in a proud tenor, “Southwes!” (He had trouble with the second t for a while.) He loves watching airplanes and will tell you that the planes are going to “Dayas” or “Querque”. (He was also well-versed with the safety cards.)

To mark the end of his treatments and his second birthday, my family figured that the best way to celebrate the extraordinary process he went through was with a Southwest Airlines-themed party. The company being what it is, we made some calls and told our story to any employee that would listen—which was pretty much every one we spoke to—and were given little children’s games, pretzels, gifts, and such here and there.

Then, we started amassing extra napkins from flights along with pretzels and cups … and things like custom Southwest teddy bears and paper airplanes started to show up in the mail. A friend even sent him a branded t-shirt (that is now his favorite clothing item) and some other little gifts from their employee store! Apparently we’d struck a cord …

Living in Dallas, our family knows an employee or two, so we called in some favors. None were too busy to at least try to help. We were blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. In the end, we pulled together a pretty festive party for the little man.

We are all so appreciative of Southwest on so many levels—for being the airline they are so that my nephew could make his weekly appointments and for being so generous to help him celebrate two huge milestones. Thanks to EVERYONE who helped make it happen.

There’s no question it’s called the love airline.


*This was before August 2018 when Southwest stopped serving peanuts.

Fried Chicken + Bubbles = the Dream Team

I love sparkling wine.
I love fried chicken.

(I’d like to meet someone who doesn’t agree with the above. … actually, I don’t think we’d get along, so NM.)

Street’s Fine Chicken sent out a press release, and they have the right idea: fried chicken + sparkling wine. The pairing is classic, and one of my favorite things in the world is to pair haute elements with food that comes in a cardboard container of some sort.

So, of course, I HAD to do some “research” to verify that their fried chicken did, in fact pair nicely with sparkling wine. And, research I did. (Not like I didn’t know what the research would return, but it’s best to do your due diligence.)

Luckily, my results were correct. Using bubbles to mitigate the richness of the chicken is just about perfect. Acid can act as a palate cleanser, which is why you’ll often see pickled items served alongside fried items. Since sparkling wines usually ring in 2.5 to about 4.5 pH, their acidity helps to cut the richness and greasiness of the chicken. Choosing a dry sparkling wine helps to push through the fat, and makes for a delightful experience.

Street’s Fine Chicken’s signature fried chicken is “brined for 24 hours and fried in herbs from various French Provinces.” They take their time to do it right, and they get it right. They also offer sparkling starting at just $5 a glass and $18 a bottle, so you can try out the pairing for yourself. (Enjoy.)

 


STREET’S FINE CHICKEN
streetsfinechicken.com
3857 Cedar Springs Rd. | 469-917-7140
5211 Forest Lane, #108 | 972-803-5181

Another Round of the SACC Begins This Week

Every January San Antonio gets drunk … drunk with power knowing that most of the cocktail industry flocked to the home of the Alamo to party, learn … and party some more at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference (the SACC). Bartenders, bar owners, and newbies come from the reaches of the south to mingle with brand ambassadors, media, and daywalkers civilians enthusiasts at seminars by day and parties by night (and, in actuality, by day too).

Leading up to the main event, brands offer dinners for the locals or the early arrivals with thoughtful and usually quite opulent pairings. Seminars are offered Thursday-Saturday alongside an absolutely overwhelming tasting room experience. And, every night of the main SACC time, there are incredibly well executed parties and celebrations featuring brands offerings tastes, cocktails, and expertly-paired food … and, if done well, a fun hook to keep people hanging at their bar.

Seminars each year offer anything from light tastings with a side of education to a full-out exploration of terroir in a specific spirit aimed at attendees ranging from industry professionals to novices and aficionados. Expect anything from the history of women in mezcal led by the brilliant Emma Janzen and Graciela Angeles Cerreño, functional bar flair instruction from our friend Phillip Smith, a history of Japanese whiskey, and a history of tiki cocktails to a class about cooking with rum. A fun twist I’m excited about this year is an offering of a daily hour of health courtesy of Ketel One and The Healthtender. If you can rouse yourself to make it to one, your body will, no doubt, thank you.
Side note: I’m delighted to see such a female presence this year in the programming; it’s beautiful to see!

There is truly something for everyone here … so long as he can enjoy a cocktail or sip some whiskey. Seminars are all sold separately … so come for one or a ton!

This year’s signature cocktail is the Call Me, Honey, created by Jordan Corney of the local Bohanans Steakhouse. (He also created Patrón’s Margarita of the Year in 2016.)

Image courtesy of the SACC

Call Me, Honey
2 oz Deep Eddy Original Vodka
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz honey syrup (2:1 honey to boiling water)
1 oz orange juice
Green cardamom pod
Lemon wheel and cinnamon for garnish

Muddle cardamom pod in a shaker tin and add remaining ingredients. Add two cubes of ice and shake. Strain with fine mesh strainer into chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon wheel and dust with cinnamon.

I’ll be attending Friday and Saturday’s festivities, so if you make it to Alamo City, send me a DM! If a trip south isn’t in the cards, you can follow along with this year’s SACC experience on my Instagram stories, or follow the conference hashtag #SACC2019.

SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE
sanantoniococktailconference.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

SACC 2016 Recap
A First-Timer’s Guide to SACC (by Tiffany Tran)
SACC 2015 Recap & 2016 Teaser

Visiting Mexico’s Riviera Maya with The Beach Planner

I love to plan vacations. Like, really love to. But, between my consulting agency, freelance writing, and the time I put in for y’all here, I have less time to do the research to make for a great trip than I’d like. So, when I was planning a trip to Mexico and found The Beach Planner, and after hearing what she does, I was more than happy to let her take the reigns.

It sounded too good to be true—Devin Alenky, a former executive assistant, she opted for the beaches of Mexico over New York City to do what she loves—plan travel for the most adventurous of us. (We’ve all wanted to take that kind of a chance, right?) Her attention to detail and conscientiousness make her the perfect travel planner. From airport transportation to upgraded lodging and even restaurant and bar suggestions (including some menu item suggestions!), she handles the nitty gritty for you.

Each group she works with is given a completely tailored experience—bachelor(ette) parties, couples, families, etc.—she can make the best suggestions for your group, whatever your situation or budget. Her services allow you to take your vacation beyond the all-inclusive to get than a cookie cutter experience out of your vacation. “When booking an all inclusive resort, one essentially never leaves the hotel,” says Devin. “People are often hesitant or even afraid to wander the area on their own.” As a result, Riviera Maya travelers miss out on the true culture here, the real gems of Mexico.”

The Beach Planner assists with every aspect of your vacation, including:
– lodging
– airport transfers
activities like cenote tours (cenotes are natural sink holes used as swimming holes), mermaid school, private boat charters, zip lining through the jungle, and cooking classes
– dining and cocktail recommendations
– fitness class recommendations and ways to stay active
– currency exchanges
– general recommendations, travel tips, and more
– local event notifications

The best part of the completely tailored trip planning experience offered by The Beach Planner is that her trip planning services are free as long as you book your lodging through her. Tell me, honestly, how is this not worth it?!

In the coming weeks, I’ll write up the experience Sarah and I had specifically in my Riviera Maya travel guide—from airport transportation complete with bus beers to a full day of rooftop pool/beach club hopping. We were blown away by the detail, but ultimately happy to have found someone who wanted to make our experience so authentic and enjoyable. … because sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a vacation from time to time.

So, when are you heading to Mexico … and taking me along?


THE BEACH PLANNER
thebeachplanner.com
@thebeachplanner

Gold Bar Whiskey: It’s What Outside That Counts

I firmly believe there is a time and place for everything in the world of spirits. Yes, it’s nice to find a really great sipping whiskey or a gin with a few different notes that make a unique G&T, but I’m also intrigued by novelties. Visiting a new place? Hit me with your crazy, local novelty liquor. (Even you, Chicago … malört me.) Got a crazy bottle or random flavor idea to throw at me? Well you should know I’m the guy who went on like a full two year moonshine bender, just because I could. And I’m the guy who agreed to review Captain Morgan’s Jack-O Blast for Susie.

If you want to know exactly how Gold Bar Whiskey tastes, the easy review is that it’s fine. It’s a tad sweet with notes of honey and vanilla plus a bit of heat at the end. I would recommend it in a cocktail over it being a sipping whiskey. (And some cocktail recipes are included for you below.) There’s a bit of information on the bottle about being finished in French oak wine casks from Napa Valley (swanky), with a cursory line about the contents being a mash bill of rye, corn and barley. But the bulk of the information is about the gold packaging and the art on it. So, again, this is all fine. You will sip this, nod and go “alright, cool,” like me and our three other tasters, then you’ll start talking about the packaging if it hasn’t already been a large part of the conversation.

So, about the packaging … drumroll … it’s a giant faux gold bar.

Lay it flat and pretend you stole it from the world’s drunkest mint while cackling like a super villain.
… Use it for balance and display it, letting all your friends know that you have achieved the level of success required to drink from a golden container.
… Allow it to be a conversation starter about how the United States made a mistake abandoning the gold standard in the 1930s.
… Do a few “Austin Powers: Goldmember” lines until no one wants to talk to you. “I love goooold … the taste of it, the smell of it, the texture.”
… Use is as a photo prop. (Because, you will.) Make sure to search Instagram for those aspirational shots that will make you feel like you are part of something. By drinking gold, you truly become gold … right?

Ok, if you made it this far, I will again stress the whiskey is fine. You can make a pretty decent cocktail from it. I’d recommend it as a novelty for parties or housewarming parties, because think how cool it’ll be to be thought of every time someone comments on the giant gold bar on your friend’s bar. Again, there’s a time and a place for everything, so if you need to set a scene or mood or just want the pics from your next gathering to pop, this is a cool way to switch things up.

The Libertine

LIBERTINE
4oz Gold Bar® Whiskey
2oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2oz Simple Syrup
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
2 Tsp. Orange Marmalade
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp. Fresh Orange Juice
1 Egg White

New York Sour

NEW YORK SOUR
2oz Gold Bar® Whiskey
1oz Lemon Juice
1oz Liber&Co Gum Syrup
.5oz Red Wine


Gold Bar Whiskey
goldbarwhiskey.com
$39.99 -$49.99 per 750ML bottle
ABV: 80 proof, 40% ABV
Mash: blended whiskey, approximately 88% corn, 9% rye, 3% barley
Finished: French Oak Cabernet wine casks from the Napa Valley
Age: no age statement

Available in 27 states and 12 countries globally. Distilled in San Francisco, CA

***Brian was given a bottle of Gold Bar Whiskey to try out for a complete review.*** Images courtesy of Gold Bar Whiskey.

The Easiest Host Gift for the Fall

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Big Betty. The opinions and text are all mine.

Halloween. Potlucks. Thanksgiving. Football watching parties. Sunday dinners. Holiday parties. It gets exhausting thinking about how many times you’re going to be visiting someone’s home and, if you have some manners, toting a host/hostess gift. I’ve got you covered, my friends.

This cute company, Big Betty Wine (the real OGs thanks to their first hit product, the glass that fits a whole bottle of wine) has come to the rescue. All you need to do is order a pack of their Brews for You “six pack cards” and stop by your local Trader Joe’s on the way to the party. I love stopping into Trader Joe’s as they have seasonal and favorite individual beers your can pull to create your own six pack, therefore making each six pack special to that host.

Keep a pack of these gift card boxes and Sharpie in the car to scribble a little note to the host, and you’re done. (Really … it couldn’t be much easier. And you’ll look like Superguest for not showing up empty-handed.)

The six pack “cards” ring in at $9.99 for a four pack (with Prime shipping, thank you), so stock up on these and save yourself the $3.95 you’ll usually spend on a one-time use card. (Because he can use this gift box again … and it’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle, rigth!?)

What would your perfect six pack be?


BREWS FOR YOU
ilovebigbetty.com
Instagram: @bigbettywine

#Brews4You #ad

 

Halloween. Potlucks. Thanksgiving. Football watching parties. Sunday dinners. Holiday parties. It gets exhausting thinking about how many times you’re going to be visiting someone’s home and, if you have some manners, toting a host/hostess gift. I’ve got you covered, my friends.

This cute company, Big Betty Wine (the real OGs thanks to their first hit product, the glass that fits a whole bottle of wine) has come to the rescue. All you need to do is order a pack of their Brews for You “six pack cards” and stop by your local Trader Joe’s on the way to the party. I love stopping into Trader Joe’s as they have seasonal and favorite individual beers your can pull to create your own six pack, therefore making each six pack special to that host.

Keep a pack of these gift card boxes and Sharpie in the car to scribble a little note to the host, and you’re done. (Really … it couldn’t be much easier. And you’ll look like Superguest for not showing up empty-handed.)

The six pack “cards” ring in at $9.99 for a four pack (with Prime shipping, thank you), so stock up on these and save yourself the $3.95 you’ll usually spend on a one-time use card. (Because he can use this gift box again … and it’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle, right!?)

What would your perfect six pack be? Visit my Instagram and comment on the post about Brews for You before October 6 for the chance to win your own pack of gift boxes!


BREWS FOR YOU
ilovebigbetty.com
Instagram/Twitter: @bigbettywine

#Brews4You #ad