Pool season only just started, and I’m already tired of canned cocktails and sparkling seltzers. So what’s better than a can by the pool? … a tube. (Yes, you read that right.)
The people at Slim Chillers (the folks who make delicious boozy popsicles, Skinny Freezers) just came out with a new product, Slim Shooters. These premixed shooters are ideal for a pool day with friends when you don’t want to make a bunch of different drinks to accommodate all the picky guests. Just take the whole pack to the pool, throw them in the cooler to chill (which isn’t even necessary), and enjoy!
There are two different flavor packs you can get now—Creamy & Delicious or Refreshing & Fruity.
Refreshing & Fruity (Specialty): Coconut Lime, Black & Blue, Granny Apple, Raspberry Lemonade, and Just Grape
The flavors were all quite nice, but my favorite were Salted Caramel Pecan, Black & Blue, and Coconut Lime. The best part, though? They limited the sugar, so they’re not overly sweet and are a little kinder to your calorie budget!
Each pack comes with 30 tubes of vodka-based boozy shooters at 25mL each. Ringing in at 35 proof (17.5%), these little pockets of booze are true party starters. What even better is, if you don’t feel like lugging a cooler to the pool and emptying your ice machine, they can be served at room temperature!
35 proof (17.5%)
~$27.99 for a 30-pack
In the DFW area, these (and their Slim Chillers popsicles) are available at Total Wine, and other liquor stores. Look for a place close to you here.
Or order online here.
El Rincon, a local, family-owned Mexican restaurant, recently opened its THIRD location in Addison Circle earlier this year. This authentic spot’s first location opened in Carrollton in 2016, and they’ve been a neighborhood favorite since. (I even made the long drive from Dallas Proper to eat at their original location a couple times!) But, I’m delighted that their third spot is even closer to me.
Their dishes and cocktail are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and you can taste the quality. While TexMex in DFW is a cut throat category, they’ve continued to stand out, and rightfully so. (I broke my diet after this shoot so I could get my face in their queso … it was irresistible.) You’ll also melt when a hot plate of fajitas passes your table; because they’re legit. With five fajita options, there’s a little something for everyone. (Order extra tortillas … you’re welcome.)
As I say in nearly every review—I know why you’re here … THE BOOZE. And luckily, El Rincon has some great drinks. Their approach to the bar is simple yet impactful—they want quality spirits and cocktails, and that extends to their staff’s knowledge. They ensure their staff knows what they’re serving and where it comes from. They say themselves, “[they] believe in fully understanding where our drinks come from.”
Can’t decide which of their delicious-sounding margaritas to get? Opt for their margarita flight—three margaritas made with their house-infused tequilas. (Currently they’re offering tamarind, pineapple-serrano, and hibiscus-ginger margaritas in the flight.) For people like me who just like to try everything, it’s ideal. (It’s like a cruise … see what you like best, and then you can go back to it!)
One of their cocktails, the El Jefe Margarita, is really special. They bring together a house blend of Herradura Anejo Tequila (that they went to Mexico to pick themselves), Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar and they shake it tableside and serve it up in a martini glass. To make sure you appreciate their house Herradura blend, you get a small taste of it to sip on the side.
Beyond great cocktails, killer specials/HHs, and curated spirits list, El Rincon offers tastings and specials to help their customers appreciate spirits. They’re passionate about the juice, and want their guests to learn about them, too! Every Tuesday they feature a tequila and put it on special so guests have a chance to explore new brands, expressions, and flavors. Watch their website and social channels for regular announcements of the upcoming tastings and features. (Also ask about their tequila flights!)
The staff is friendly and ready to take care of your needs. As they say, “Come as a guest, leave as family.”
Many of us have these beautiful bar carts but have no clue what needs to be on them. (I use mine as booze storage … if you’ve ever seen my place, you know that’s a necessary evil.) I was having a chat with my friend who owns Talking Out of Turn and she said a Bar Cart 1010 would be a helpful post … ask and you shall receive!
Keep it classy. All due respect … this is not the place for your koozies and your favorite bottle opener from college.
Keel it simple. Don’t crowd your bar cart!
Let the booze do the talking. Many bottles are pretty enough to be art … show them off!
The cart itself makes a bold statement. My brass and mirrored cart is from West Elm (and matches some other furniture), but you can find many different styles to reflect your home or the kind of drinks you make. Here are some suggestions for different …
There’s not much more stunning than a nice set of glassware. Having a stack of rocks glasses I think is the classiest look on a bar car, and I think these Talking Out of Turn rocks glasses ($20, set of 4) really make an impact. This set of four glasses offers four different gold prints—I like the grid the best as it reminds me of some of the glasses my grandmother had on her bar cart.
If you’re allowing your guests to make their own cocktails, make sure to have a variety of glassware handy so your guests can make anything from shots to martinis.
Choose a color and invest. I have multiple sets for my cocktail pictures, but you should choose a finish and lean in. I prefer tools by Barfly; their tools are well made, well weighted, and reasonably priced. Cocktail tools are NOT the place to buy cheap; you want tools that will be reliable. The last thing you want is for your cheap shaker to bust open when you start shaking a cocktail. (Aunt Sue still hasn’t forgiven me for the incident last Thanksgiving involving a whiskey sour with egg white.)
Basic cocktail tools I suggest you have on-hand: jigger (measuring cup), shaker, stirring glass, stirring spoon, strainer, and muddler.
Barfly sells their tools on their website or on Amazon.
I picked out these adorable canvas coasters from Talking Out of Turn ($12, set of four). I’ve just about had it with glass coasters that get stuck to the glass and then fall off. I’ve decided that fabric is the way to go. They’re easier to store and actually do their job!
Your bar cart shouldn’t look like a bookshelf, but a well placed book (or stack) is not only convenient, but necessary. And many books look stunning enough to be considered art. My go-tos this season have been:
– Drinking with Chickensby Kate Richards ($20): This book, y’all … is greatness. Kate actually drinks with her chickens and takes pictures of it. Look for hilarity and high balls from this book.
–Beautiful Booze by Natalie Migliarini & James Stevenson (~$20): Another well named cocktail book … this one really is beautiful. My friends Natalie and James are beyond talented and this book is proof. The pictures are stunning and the cocktails are all well-balanced and unique.
– Very Merry Cocktailsby Jessica Strand ($17.21): this lovely holiday cocktail book has plenty of merry mixes to keep our holiday spirits high
–Texas Cocktailsby Nico Martini ($16): This Lone Star State cocktail guide happens to be written by another friend of mine! Look for classic Texas cocktail recipes and signature cocktails from your favorite bars across the great state complete with the stories behind them and lovely photography.
INGREDIENTS – Booze, Bitters, & Modifiers
While you’ll never have EVERYTHING you need (there will always be a recipe that calls for some obscure liqueur from Norway or a bar spoon of Malört), you can have a basic stock of the following to make quite a few classics:
Basic liquors: whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, vodka (there are many different varieties of each, but these are the basics) Modifiers: sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, orange liqueur (Cointreau), elderflower liqueur (St-Germain) Aperitifs/Digestifs: Campari, Averna, Montenegro Bitters (the salt and pepper of bartending): Angostura, Peychaud’s, orange bitters Sugars/syrups: simple syrup, demerara (unbleached sugar), sugar cubes Citrus juices: lemon, lime Mixers: soda water, tonic, ginger beer Garnish: Luxardo cherries, whole citrus (for the rind), dried fruits (these last longer and are edible!)
The space on a bar car is obviously limited, so if you run out of room, you can use something like this metallic wine total from Talking Out of Turn ($18) to hang a bottle on the side. (This also makes a great hostess gift with a bottle of wine or a unique amaro.)
We were all sad when Kentucky’s most well known horse race was rescheduled to September. And now we’re even more bummed that it was announced that it’ll be run with no spectators. (Though it’s understandable, given the circumstances … it still sucks!)
Luckily, my friends over at Maker’s Mark whisky want to give you some fall-inspired juleps to sip so you can still celebrate the fastest two minutes in Sports in true southern style (with a julep in-hand) … and they brought me in to help you do it!
They sent me (and some of my other blogger buddies), a box with some horse race goodies and the following items: cinnamon, star anise, and a handful of syrups (mint, cran, vanilla , hazelnut, and noisette.) We were asked to pick at least two of those items to use in our juleps, and I went with THREE—vanilla syrup, cinnamon, and star anise.
Juleps are such simple cocktails (bourbon, sugar, water, and mint), so I wanted to keep it simple. So, I added some chai to the vanilla syrup (recipe to make your own below). I named it “Chai Chai Again” because I thought that was a name that could actually be given to a horse running the race. (I will honestly say that I partially bet on horses with great names.)
I will be making this cocktail often … it’s quite easy once you make the vanilla chai syrup (also easy to make)! Upon first sip, I was delighted and really wished it was starting to get chilly out. The chai lent some spice and the Maker’s Mark 46 complimented it perfectly thanks to the extra nine weeks they let it rest in a limestone cave with French oak staves added.
CHAI CHAI AGAIN
2 oz Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon whisky
1/2 oz chai vanilla syrup (recipe below)
Cinnamon stick garnish & sprinkle
Combine whisky and syrup in a julep cup, stir, then top with pellet ice. garnish with mint leaves and sprinkle with a touch of ground cinnamon. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, fresh (slapped) mint, and a star anise.
CHAI VANILLA SYRUP
4 chai tea bags (straight chai … make sure it’s not chai spice!)
1/3 C maple syrup
1 T vanilla bean paste (extract acceptable if paste isn’t available)
1 C water
In a pot, boil water, then remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 12 minutes, then remove bags and stir in maple syrup and vanilla. Put back on heat and bring to a boil again for 3 minutes. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Some of my lovely neighbors, Victoria and Stuart, had planned to attend this year and were ready to be dressed to the nines with matching outfits, hats, etc. … and even had some custom masks made so they’d look fancy AF in the stands. I was sad that they were going to miss it, so I invited them out to show off their duds and drink some of my vanilla chai juleps with me during this shoot! Don’t they look great?!
Big thanks to @makersmark for letting me play along on this sponsored campaign! #ad
After our visit to West Texas, my friend and I decided we’d keep giving y’all fun road trips that were safe to take during all this … and we decided that Shreveport/Bossier City had to happen. You know, for the people.
If you need a little break from the city, The Horseshoe in Bossier City is open and ready for visitors. It’s an EASY 2-1/2 hour drive from Dallas, and they’re currently offering some great rates.
With times being as crazy as they are, The Horseshoe in has made safety a priority for their guests and their staff with the following measures:
– masks are mandatory in public areas
– hand sanitizer everywhere
– rooms are ultra sanitized with an electrostatic sprayer and then sealed with a sticker and staff won’t enter unless requested
– social distancing is encouraged everywhere, especially in the casino where every other slot machine is blocked off, only three are allowed at table games, and they’re SANITIZING THE PLAYING CHIPS
– the valet is temporarily closed
Learn more about Caesars and the Horseshoe’s COVID-19 health and safety measure and protocols at caesars.com.
Because we felt safe, we took advantage of the chance to enjoy some much-needed down time to enjoy the hotel, part of which included (a really delicious) breakfast in bed*, time by the pool in a private cabana, and meals at their restaurants.
*They’re currently only offering room service during breakfast hours, but it’s a meal that’s not to be missed. They’re famous for their ham steak (for good reason), and the yogurt parfait is DELICIOUS. Don’t sleep on their biscuits and bacon, either.
Some of their eateries are closed, but Jack Binion’s Steakhouse, Jasmine’s Noodle Bar, and 8 oz. Burger Bar are open. (Make sure to get the french onion soup at Jack Binion’s … it’s a sneak winner beside the filets and potatoes au gratin!)
Their hotel pool, DARE, is usually a “day club”, but it’s currently only open to hotel guests. The pool offers a full bar, private cabanas, one of which has a PRIVATE POOL so you can have your own socially distant pool day. Make it a party with their lineup of frozen drinks.
Make sure to sign up for Caesars Rewards to get special offers, and be SURE to swipe it anytime you can.
Horseshoe BC gets my stamp of approval … just make sure to be a good human if/when you go … as we should all be doing, be respectful of others when you’re in public, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance … and don’t be an asshole.
With bars across the U.S. closing (temporarily, we hope), we’ve all been challenged so far this year to make our own cocktails. I believe that the Old Fashioned has long been a cocktail that allows us to define ourselves, much like our Starbucks order. (For example, I’m a triple grande almond milk latte with sugar-free vanilla over light ice. Because I can make those demands.) But, whether you watch your bartender’s every move to understand the right way to flame an orange peel or eyeball something until it looks like it’s almost the right color, we could all use a few tips on the home bar front when it comes to making one of the most popular cocktails of the last decade.
When making an old fashioned, there are some shortcuts that can offer not only a great drink, but consistency. And to me, consistency is key. If you have friends over and one guest’s first cocktail is watered down and the next has too much bitters, you’ve already lost the battle. So, looking for something to give your home bar a consistent cocktail every time, we found DeKuyper Classic Ol’ Fashion Liqueur to be a reliable option.
They make it pretty easy to put together your cocktail … pour some of their liqueur over ice and just add bourbon. (We can all handle that, right?) They call it an easy “two-step solution for cocktail lovers of all skill levels.” They describe it as a “tart citrus balanced by bitter notes and a touch of sweetness, followed by hints of orange and bakery spice”. It’s easy, consistent, and you never have to worry about having the right ingredients on-hand or throwing on a mask and gloves to go to the liquor store to pick up a bottle of bitters.
On a recent road trip, I took the bottle along so we didn’t have to bring all the ingredients for an Old Fashioned. Poured over ice and combined with Jim Beam Black, all I had to think about bringing along was the garnish!
DeKuyper Classic Ol’ Fashioned Liqueur Order on Drizly.com
We’re all celebrating things and each other a little differently right now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t gather, dress up, celebrate each other, or enjoy a drink together! Since I’m sheltered in place with my mom, we wanted to have a little party, so we invited some of our friends to join us for a boozy tea party … over Zoom!
We sent out a PaperlessPost invitation and, amazingly, everyone was able to attend! (In my opinion, it’s best to keep Zoom “parties” a little smaller—8 or less—so people aren’t speaking over one another and everyone can be engaged and participate. We ended up with 11, which was lovely, but a little tougher to keep everyone chatting.)
Just because we couldn’t be in the same room didn’t mean I couldn’t still make it a real party, so we planned to deliver goodies to each attendee before. The local guests got hand delivered favors, drinks, and snacks, and we sent recipes and scheduled deliveries ahead of time for the out of towners. (Drizly is great for alcohol deliveries!)
My mom and I gathered whatever gift bags and crinkle paper we had on-hand and laid our materials out to stuff the bags. Mini bottles of booze, mixers, garnish for the drinks, boozy gummies from Sugarfina, tea, a bottle of Campo Viejo Brut Reserva Cava, a little bag of Pokey O’s cookies, a box of sweet items, and a box of “tea sandwiches”.
What’s a tipsy tea party without the tipsy?! Each attendee was given the chance to pick a spirit—TX Whiskey, Absolut Elyx, and Beefeater Gin—to enjoy a cocktail during our tea. I had a local bartender* create cocktails for us and batch them out and I purchased mini and 375mL bottles of my chosen spirits so each guest only had to add the spirit to the drink for a perfectly mixed cocktail.
Since our bars and restaurants are operating much differently than usual, many hospitality professionals are out of work. While I COULD have taken a few hours to have come up with these on my own, I decided that giving some work to a bartender was a better choice. Luckily, Chris (aka Betty Cocktail) lives around the corner from me, so I had her take over for me! (She is brilliant — if you need a cocktail class or cocktail pairings for a dinner, give her a buzz!!!) bettycocktail.com
STRAWBERRY BASIL FIZZ (Recipe courtesy of TX Whiskey)
1 oz TX Whiskey
.5 oz St. Germain
.5 oz lime juice
2 oz sparkling wine
3-5 basil leaves
Muddle strawberries and basil, then add TX, St. Germain, and lime juice. Shake with ice until well combined. Strain over fresh ice, top with sparkling wine and garnish with strawberries.
OOLONG AGO (Recipe courtesy of Betty Cocktail)
1.5 oz Beefeater
.5 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz Oolong syrup
For syrup: boil 3 cups of water with 12 oz doctored agave and dehydrated citrus peels, Add 2 Citrus Oolong teabags and steep for 2 hours.
DON’T BE DANDELYIN’ (Recipe courtesy of Betty Cocktail)
1.5 oz Absolut Elyx
.5 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz Dandelion Root syrup (boil 3 cups water with 12 oz dark agave, add 2 teabags and steep for 2 hours)
For syrup: boil 3 cups of water with 12 oz of dark agave, the add 2 Dandelion Root teabags and steep for 2 hours.
My mom and I couldn’t agree on what we wanted the table to look like, so she went for a more classic tea look, and I took mine up a notch bringing some antique items and a contrasting table cloth together with plenty of flowers and gold accents. (Because that’s 100% my aesthetic.) And I topped it all off with a teapot from Vulgar Teacups. My mom hated it; I loved it.
To get everyone in the mood, I made a playlist of some of my favorite jaunty tea-party-with-an-edge songs. I have to admit that I started with a few songs from the “A Simple Favor” soundtrack, because it’s fire. Check it out below, and share it from Spotify!
What’s tea without some fancy bites? We packaged up some of our favorites like homemade cucumber sandwiches, cheese wafers, and chicken salad sandwiches. (I chose not to make the chicken salad myself and got it from Bowen House!)
CRIPSY RICE COOKIES
2 C sharp cheddar cheese
.5 C softened butter
1 C flour
.5 t cayenne pepper
1 t Worcestershire sauce
.5 t salt
.75 C Rice Krispies
Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix cheese, butter, flour, cayenne, Worcestershire and salt until mixture lightly sticks together. Gently fold cereal into dough. Shape into 1-inch balls and put on a baking sheet with about an inch of space for expansion. Then use a fork to flatten each and leave lines on top. Bake 15 minutes at 350º, or until they’re slightly crispy. Allow to cool on a rack.
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 C light mayonnaise
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion salt
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
sliced white bread, crusts removed
1 pinch lemon pepper
Slice cucumbers and allow to drain between paper towels for at least 10 minutes. (Best done in a colander.) Remove crust from bread. Mix all remaining items together and spread on one side of every piece of bread. Add cucumbers on half the pieces, spread out evenly. Sprinkle a bit of dill on each side with cucumbers. Build into sandwiches and cut into your desired shape.
Dallas didn’t get too cold (yet) this year, but on the days it has, I found myself craving something warm and boozy. Once I had gotten past my hot toddies and it was too late in the day for an Irish Coffee, I turned to hot chocolate cocktails!
I put together a few different spirited options for y’all … from the traditionally spiked vodka, then went to tequila and scotch options. Because it’s always fun to try something different, right?
PEPPERMINT WHITE CHOCOLATE (VODKA)
½ C Absolut Elyx vodka
½ C white chocolate chips
1½ C milk*
¼ C sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla extract or vanilla paste
whipped cream (if desired)
Add chocolate and milks to a medium saucepan and summer, stirring constantly, until chips are melted. Once melted, remove from heat and add vodka. Top with whipped cream and peppermint pieces, if desired.
SPICY HOT CHOCOLATE (TEQUILA)
3 oz Patrón Tequila (more if desired)
3 C milk*
3 T cocoa powder
3 T tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of sea salt
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients (except for tequila) to a saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat on low until it’s slightly boiling, then remove from the stove. Add tequila, then pour into mugs and top as desired. (I added cinnamon marshmallows and a pinch of cayenne pepper on top.)
HIGHLAND HOT CHOCOLATE (SCOTCH)
3 oz Highland Park Magnus Scotch whisky (more if desired)
3 C milk*
3 T cocoa powder
3 T tbsp granulated sugar
1 t Sugar in the Raw (or any coarse brown sugar)
Pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients (except for whisky) to a saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat on low until it’s slightly boiling, then remove from the stove. Add whisky, then pour into mugs and top as desired.
… you can also whip up my famous HAUTE CHOCOLATE and add whatever spirit sounds good to you.
¼ C cocoa powder
½ C hot water
20 oz semi-sweet chocolate
10 C whole milk
2½ C heavy cream
12 oz can evaporated milk
¼ t salt
Either in a crock pot or a large pot, whisk cocoa powder with hot water until mixed. Add in chocolate, milk, heavy cream, evaporated milk, and pinch of salt. If using a crock pot, cook for at least 2 hours on high OR low for 4 hours and stir occasionally. Keep on warm to serve. If using a pot on the stove, heat for about 15 minutes on medium and stir often. Then, keep on simmer and continue to stir occasionally. Makes about 20 servings.
*the higher the fat content of the milk you use, the richer your drink will be