All posts by SusieDrinksDallas

The Ultimate Cocktail Experience Returns for a Bigger 2017

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again … the only thing better than drinking is drinking for a good cause.

And that’s why I’ve enjoyed The Ultimate Cocktail Experience (the event formerly known as Trigger’s Toys). The event has, for five years already, brought the bar industry together for one spectacular event featuring pop-up bars, entertainment, and a hell of a lot of fun for a really incredible cause.

The general idea is that, one bar is great, but six make for a real party. So, each year, a theme is selected for the event, then captains conceptualize pop-up bars with their teams under the year’s theme. This year’s captains, cocktails, and bar themes are:
– Mexico City: Brad Hensarling & Megan McClinton, The Usual (Margarita)
– London: Omar Yeefoon, Shoals (Gin and Tonic)
– New Orleans: Keisha Cooper, Shoals (Sazerac)
– Hong Kong: Robbie Call, frmly of Filament (Rob Roy)
– Casablanca: Andrew Stofko, Hot Joy (Mule)
– Havana: Ravinder Singh, Rapscallion (Daiquiri)
(Each pop-up will also be accompanied by a food truck.)

In past years, the event has featured bar and hospitality talent from some of the best venues right here in Dallas. This year, the event has beaconed talent from across the country—and from as far off as Australia—to participate. Making the trip to support the cause will be Ash Hauserman of Blacktail in New York (Best New American Cocktail Bar*), Iain Griffiths from London’s Dandelyan (Best International Hotel Bar and Best Cocktail Bar in the World*), Ezra Star from award-winning Drink (Boston), and Mitch Bushell formerly of Melbourne’s internationally renowned Black Pearl.

Trigger’s Toys, the charity to benefit from the event, is a Dallas darling. “The organization is dedicated to reducing the financial and emotional stress placed on chronically ill children and their families by providing financial assistance and supplemental therapy to those in need.” Last year’s event raised more than $200,000, and their goal is to surpass that in 2017.

Bryan Townsend of The 86 Co., founder of the event

THE ULTIMATE COCKTAIL EXPERIENCE
ultimatecocktailexperience.com
Facebook | Instagram
September 30, 2017, 6:30pm
Klyde Warren Park (Dallas, Texas)
21+ only

PURCHASE TICKETS

General Admission – $65
Event entry (6:30pm)
Champagne upon entrance (while it lasts)
Passport to all (6) bar concepts with cocktails
One food truck item

VIP – $125 (Limited Quantity Available)
Early entrance (6:00pm)
Champange upon entrance
(3) Vegas Area Tokens – $60 value
Complimentary Valet Parking – $20 value
Passport to all (6) Bar Concepts with cocktails
One Food Truck Item

Trigger’s Toys | Ultimate Cocktail Experience 2016 from Beyond on Vimeo.

*Named at the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards

The Calamity of the Eclipse

So the eclipse is coming up on Monday, August 21, and people are really f**king excited about it. Since we won’t be able to see the next one until April 2024, I guess I get the appeal.

Everyone is talking about the super small town directly in the path that will get the best “view” of the eclipse that’s been inundated with entirely too many people, the best eyewear, etc … but I really only care what libation will be in my hand when I “see” it.

That said, I’ve seen a lot of other recipes for cocktails with a dark liquor float on top, but I thought I’d go for the next level of gimmick. I created ice balls with activated charcoal in them to look like the moon, and I mixed up a riff on a traditional gin cocktail, the Bees Knees, that’s gold in color … ya know, like the sun. I chose to use Calamity Gin because it has delightful citrus notes along with light hints of juniper, rose, and cardamom. I also threw in just a bit of Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur to give it some heat. To make it festive, I made ice balls colored with activated charcoal*.

***Before using charcoal in your cocktails, or before ingesting activated charcoal at all, really, you should know the risks. Yes, risks. Charcoal is showing up now in juices and capsules to act as a health aid to do anything from reduce gas, improve digestive health and lower cholesterol to acting as a killer hangover cure. But, what people aren’t telling you is that, while it does all that good s**t, it also can mess with your medications. Since it’s a natural purifier/filter, it can render your medications ineffective. Meaning: DO NOT DRINK THIS IF YOU’VE TAKEN ANY MEDICATION LESS THAN TWO HOURS BEFORE, AND DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR AFTER. That is, unless you’re ok with your birth control failing, ladies.***

CALAMITY OF THE ECLIPSE
2oz
 Calamity Gin
0.75oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
0.5oz honey syrup
0.5oz Ancho Reyes Liqueur
560mg activated charcoal (usually two capsules, do not use casing)*
5oz water

The night before, dilute the activated charcoal into 5oz of water. Stir, then funnel into a round ice mold. Freeze overnight.
Mix the remaining liquid ingredients together with ice until chilled, then strain into a rocks glass over the charcoal ice ball. Enjoy immediately.

 *If you’re not comfortable using activated charcoal, there is black food coloring! Or even purchase a pomegranate juice for a fruity take on this cocktail.

Calamity Gin was nice enough to give me a bottle of gin to play around with to find a fun recipe for the eclipse and sponsor this post.

Scala’s Bistro at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake

San Francisco is a land of plenty—and especially plenty of dining choices. While staying at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake during my last visit, I ventured down to their lobby restaurant, Scala’s Bistro. I’ve found that Kimpton Hotels have excellent restaurants, and this was no exception.

The rustic Italian eatery masquerading as a French cafe-style bar gives diners the chance to take a trip away from the streets of San Francisco and off to the Mediterranean, if just for an hour. (Our meal lasted a good deal longer thanks to the many rounds of cocktails and one three rounds of pasta. We couldn’t have been more excited for each and every course to hit the table.

The food was all as fresh as it could be from the seafood pasta to the burrata. They offer traditional and inventive pasta options along with wood-fired pizzas and a ribeye that looked so good I nearly nicked it from the next table when it was delivered.

While I usually have an extra sidecar as dessert, we were convinced to order from their post menu. And we were damn glad we did.  Their desserts are all handmade in-house by Chef Kimberly and her team. They offer a truffle assortment that’s not only decadent and delicious, but they’re also hand painted and are interesting flavors to represent the different neighborhoods of SF. Think the Castro (white chocolate Negroni), the Mission (pasilla and arbol chiles) or the Haight-Ashbury (““Honest‎ officer, its smoked oregano!”). The chocolates were really a unique end to the meal.

I was also floored by the staff; every person was as helpful as they could have been. Service was prompt and everything hit the table quickly. And, seeing as the restaurant was at capacity, we were doubly impressed by the expedience of the dishes.

Big thanks to my buddies, @thesamgraves, @craftandcocktails, and Ashley’s lovely husband out in San Francisco for joining me for this meal! What a delight!


SCALA’S BISTRO
scalasbistro.com
432 Powell St, San Francisco
(415) 395-8555

Thanks to the Kimpton for showing me a lovely time at this meal!
Header image courtesy of Scala’s Bistro

Kimpton Sir Francis Drake (San Francisco)

In San Francisco, you have no shortage of offerings—from ridiculously amazing seafood restaurants (thank you, California) to hiking spots and historic monuments … all of which will astound you—or at least the price tag will. That’s why it’s important to get as much from every aspect of your visit as you can. I chose, on my last trip, to stay at a historic hotel, the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake, so that my entire visit was meaningful … and had some nice perks.

The building, originally opened in 1928, is gorgeous with opulent high ceilings and gilded touches, and thanks to renovations that kept the original charm of the 1928 hotel, it integrity of the historic building was kept intact. During WWII, some rooms were even used to house military on the way to the front. The building also houses a historic venue. The venue offers a beautiful space for large events with a grand staircase as an accent.

The Union Square hotel offers more than history and a great location; since it’s a Kimpton hotel, you know it’ll be a luxe experience. (And I absolutely love Kimpton Hotels … like too much.) They kept the hotel’s original opulence and added to it with modern touches and furniture. They also kept the unique touch of their greeters dressed as beefeaters; they couldn’t be more courteous and make your arrival less stressful.

Image courtesy of Lonely Planet

All Kimpton Hotels come with great amenities and perks—free local wine in the lobby at 5-6pm daily, a great restaurant attached, and IGH Rewards (formerly Karma Rewards) offer free WiFi and dining credits. (Sign up … it’s free!) Kimpton Hotels also ensure their rooms are comfortable, and they have some of the most comfortable beds you’ll find during your travels.

There’s plenty of to while you’re at the SFD; visit Scala for a delicious rustic Italian meal, grab a drink at Bar Drake, or venture up to the Starlight Room for live music, cocktails, and a great 21st-floor view. Bar Drake is their over-the-top lobby bar with plenty of seating and a well thought-out cocktail menu. You’ll find plenty of fellow guests and locals at the bar after hours.

Looking for some slightly off-beat entertainment while you’re there? Join the SFD in the Starlight Room on Sundays for their famed Drag Brunch.  At $77 a seat (includes tax + tip), you get great entertainment and a wonderful meal.

When visiting the Bay Area, remember the Sir Francis Drake for a unique lodging experience. Just don’t forget to spend your free dining credit and enjoy your free booze in the lobby!


KIMPTON SIR FRANCIS DRAKE – SAN FRANCISCO
sirfrancisdrake.com
Facebook: /SirFrancisDrake
Instagram: @sirfrancisdrakesf
450 Powell Street, San Francisco, California
Reservations: 800.795.7129 | Hotel: 415.392.7755

Amenities: pet-friendly, robes,yoga mats in every room, on-site restaurant and two bars, private dining, large event venue, meeting spaces, concierge, laundry service, daily newspapers, fitness center, free bicycle rentals,

 

3 Killer Summer Gin Cocktails ft. Seersucker Southern Gin

Gin is a delightfully refreshing spirit, and this summer I decided I wanted to find some new favorite gin cocktail recipes. While I love a Ramos Gin Fizz in the summer, they’re incredibly involved (think a minimum of a minute and a half of just shaking … and shaking … and shaking a tin) and they require fresh ingredients like egg white and heavy cream that I don’t usually have on-hand. (I hardly have butter anymore since I travel so often!)

That said, the recipes I’ve now fallen in love with are not only simple to shake up, but don’t require any super perishable ingredients. Shake these goodies up this summer with some Seersucker Southern Style Gin (because it’s a delicious citrus-forward gin with adorable branding) and let me know how they come out!


This simple cocktail uses whole cherries, which brings back amazing memories of summers when I was young when we’d pick and eat cherries right from the tree. This one requires a blender to create a cherry syrup, but you can use frozen cherries if you’d like a shortcut!

Cherry-Lime Gin Rickey
½ cup Seersucker Southern Style Gin
12 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2-3 tablespoons simple syrup
1 cup pitted sweet cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted
⅓ cup lime juice
2 cups soda

In a blender, puree cherries and lime juice. Then add the soda, gin, and bitters, followed by the simple syrup to taste. Blend lightly to combine, then pour into a fresh glass, garnish with a lime wheel and a cherry. (Makes four cocktails.)

This is a delightful summer brunch cocktail. With light and bright ingredients, it is simple and tastes absolutely amazing.

Drunken Tulip
2 oz Seersucker Southern Style Gin
2 oz pomegranate juice
½ oz elderflower cordial
Squeeze of lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a glass over fresh ice. Add a splash of sparkling wine on top, then garnish the drink with a couple pomegranate seeds (if you have them) and a slice of lemon.

Another of my usual summer go-to cocktails is a simple Italian classic, the Negroni. I thought changing it up a bit would be just the ticket, so I infused my gin with watermelon, changed to dry vermouth (to combat the sweetness of the watermelon and lime), and added just a bit of lime to brighten it up. Watch the video I did with Dinner Reinvented for further commentary!

Watermelon Negroni
1 oz watermelon-infused Seersucker Southern Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz dry vermouth (a Negroni traditionally uses sweet vermouth)
Splash lime juice

Cut up a small watermelon and add flesh to 750mL of gin in an airtight container. Leave in the refrigerator for 4-6 days, tasting along the way.

Combine ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, stir, then strain into a fresh glass. Garnish with a watermelon spear.

Taking on Texas: A Tale of Two Whiskeys

As a Texas outsider, I have learned there are several moments when it is best to just shut up. For example, if you wade into an Alamo discussion and start talking about who possibly disobeyed orders and if everyone really should have died, you’re going to get yelled at. (Please yell at Susie – this is her website.) What I like about Texas is that, as a whole, it’s a land of contrasts. You can go from large cities to beautiful hill country to mountains to desert to lakes and everything in between. You find global businessmen alongside ranchers in ten gallon hats, first generation immigrants eager to start a new life and suburban moms … all standing in sometimes nervous proximity of each other.

While there’s a popular narrative for what Texas is, the best part about it is the narrative never quite fits everyone. That’s why I enjoyed the opportunity to look at two different takes on what Texas whiskey is from two different distilleries – Devils River Whiskey and Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey.

As an outsider, the Mainstream Texas Nationalism can sometimes overshadow some of the really cool things about our state – like amazing nature areas – including the Devil’s River (94 miles of mostly unspoiled and pure, limestone-filtered water right here in the southern portion of the state). If you like history lessons and whiskey, Devils River Whiskey combines both as they’ve built their brand around the river John Coffee Hays named back in 1840. The bottle features river shots, Texas, and just about every other possible reminder that this whiskey came from the Devil’s River.

On the other end of the spectrum, Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey is made in Dripping Springs, TX with a brand focused on being a well-made craft whiskey with global appeal. If you’re a sucker for cool stories about people chasing their dream like I am, this blog post is a great place to learn more about Swift.

Now that my four paragraph commentary is out of the way, it’s time for opinion sharing. I poured each of these neat to start and had a couple of different guest reviewers try them both that way, with a bit of water, and then on ice. We started with the Swift and the first thing we noticed was there was a lot going on in each sip. The bottle tells you are getting notes of toasted vanilla and chocolate laced with hints of rose and white peaches. It’s a smooth, sweet sip with none of these flavors overpowering the others, but it was very different from what we were expecting.

For the Devils River, all the talk of bold flavors is implied by the bottle, the implication you’re one sip away from the forbidden river journey you didn’t even know you’d been dreaming of taking. There is a pepper and oak taste to it, but it’s also easy to sip and eventually falls into familiar notes of caramel and honey. The tasting group agreed that this was the better of the two whiskeys to drink straight.

We moved to a simple cocktail portion for the whiskeys and made manhattans, old fashioneds and a few custom recipes shared by the folks at Swift for us to try that were a little more off the beaten path. Both whiskeys made good cocktails, but the complexity of the Swift definitely stood out in the mixology phase of the review.

The two cocktail recommendations from Swift were simple to make and are worth making next time you pick up a bottle.

Wallace Mountain
1 oz Swift Single Malt Whiskey
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Averna Amaro

Pour ingredients into a mixing glass, ice, stir and pour in to a big rocks glass or highball.

Barley and Limestone
0.75 oz Swift Single Malt whiskey
0.75 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
0.75 oz Cherry Heering
0.75 oz Meyer Lemon juice*

Pour ingredients into a shaker, ice, shake and strain in to a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


Swift Single Malt
Nose: overall sweet with lemon and floral
Flavor: sweet and citrusy
Finish: long and dry – changes as it lingers with pepper as well
Aged: minimum 15 months
Proof:  (43% ABV)
Price: ~$55/750mL

Devils River Whiskey
Nose: sweet with hint of pepper
Flavor: honey and caramel with oak and a small amount of spice
Finish: warm, smooth and medium length
Aged: n/a + years
Proof:  (45% ABV)
Price: ~$29.99/750mL

Celebrate World Cucumber Day with Hendrick’s Gin

World Cucumber Day is June 14! Of course, I’m going to celebrate by putting cucumber in something boozy. And, as of late, frozen. (Because, Texas.)

I chose to work with Hendrick’s Gin for these recipes because the spirit already has a delightful cucumber note. (After macerating and distilling most of the botanicals with the alcohol, rose and cucumber essences are added.) And they get a kick out of cucumbers. They even have a cucumber blimp.

I wanted to try something a little different to add a peppery note to a Cucumber Collins (which is delicious, but not complex enough), so I added a little watercress. Watercress is incredibly inexpensive and also makes for a fun garnish.

Cucumber Watercress Collins
2oz Hendrick’s Gin
1oz fresh lime juice
0.75oz simple syrup
5 cucumber slices
Watercress
Club soda

Muddle lime, syrup, cucumbers, and about 10 watercress leaves in a cocktail tin. Add the gin and ice, then shake until well chilled. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice, then top with club soda. Garnish with a small bunch of watercress leaves.

Special thanks to Feo Forte from Rapscallion for the help workshopping this cocktail!

As you may have noticed lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with alcoholic popsicles. I’ve gotten a little bit of a wild hair to add a kick to things that aren’t meant to be boozy. Go ahead … call me an anarchist.

Cucumber Gin & Tonic Popsicles
2oz Hendrick’s Gin
1oz fresh lime juice
2.5cups tonic
1 cucumber, sliced

Combine liquid ingredients and stir. Place a few slices of cucumber in each popsicle mold, then pour liquid over. Add sticks, then freeze overnight or for at least eight hours.


Not in the mood to make your own drinks? Stop into your favorite drinking establishment this evening and see if they’re offering a special cucumber drink to celebrate the day.

DALLASITES: There are quite a few local establishments that will be offering special Hendrick’s options to celebrate. Maybe I’ll see you there! (Visit District 30, Rapscallion, Dish, The Fairmount, Public School 214, The Standard Pour, Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza, Parliament, Bowen House, The Mitchell, Stock & Barrel, Boulevardier, and The Londoner locations in Colleyville and Addison for features and/or specials tonight!)