Category Archives: Guest Contributor

Product Review: Pickle Juice Chaser

Written by: Anna Tomczyk

Designed with the trendy “pickleback” shot in mind, The Pickle Juice Company has announced their brand new product, The Pickle Juice Chaser. What is the big “dill”, you might ask? (Yeah, I made the pun … whatever.) The chaser provides 10 times the electrolytes, vitamins, and zinc and is ready to easily pour out of a bottle (forget making a mess with old fashioned pickle jars).

The Pickle Juice Company boasts 15+ years in the pickle juice arena, but up until now their primary focus remained in the innumerable health benefits in this powerful beverage. The juice is a big hit for pickle-lovers nationwide and those looking for a 100% natural, healthy thirst quencher. Pickle juice is proven to prevent dehydration and muscle cramping, which has also made it a great choice for athletes of all levels. (Yes, drinking can be considered a sport.)

As a pickle lover myself, I was eager to give The Pickle Juice Chaser a shot … a literal shot, by trying the infamous pickleback shot first. I found the chaser a satisfying balance of savory and salty. To my surprise, it completely took away the harsh sting that can follow a shot of whiskey. The aftertaste was as if I bit into a juicy dill pickle, slightly salty with full pickle flavor.

63034ae01b041240dbc5cd88853c38cbThe Pickleback
1 shot Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 shot Pickle Juice Chaser

Pour each shot into separate shot glasses. Drink the whiskey shot immediately followed by the shot of Pickle Juice Chaser.

If you aren’t into shots but want to try the chaser, The Pickle Juice Chaser works great in cocktails and martinis as well.

The Dirty Pickle Martini
8 oz gin or vodka
½ teaspoon dry vermouth
2 tablespoons Pickle Juice Chaser
2 pickled okra spears for garnish

Add ice halfway up the cocktail shaker. Add gin, vermouth and pickle juice. Shake well and strain into 2 martini glasses. Garnish with a pickled okra spears.


The Pickle Juice Chaser by The Pickle Juice Company
www.picklepower.com
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Available for purchase online or at Kroger, Academy, and HEB.

Product Review: Equality Vodka

written by Kevin Craft

Fall is coming, which means Dallas Pride is just around the corner! For those of us that that it means our favorite event of the year is coming, you’ll need an impressive cocktail to serve at your pre-pride festivities. I got you covered with Equality Vodka.

I wasn’t sure about taking on a new Texas Vodka (I’ve been a Tito’s fan for a while now), but Equality was very smooth, and pairs with almost any mixer you’ve got in your fridge. Equality Vodka for sure found staying power in my liquor nook.

The best part? Finally you can drink as much as you want and know you’re supporting a good cause. (Because that was what was holding us back, right?) For every bottle purchased, Equality Vodka will make a donation to a nonprofit organization recognized for advancing the equality movement for LGBTQI communities.

I created this cool refreshing cocktail recipe that’s perfect to celebrate before hitting the parade and as simple as it can get.

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Equality Vodka® Rainbow Sour
2 parts Equality Vodka
3/4 parts Lemon Juice
Water or Club Soda
1 slice of lemon
Water
Food coloring, three colors max

First step: (PROCRASTINATOR ALERT! You’ll need to do this the night before.) Make at least three colored ice cubes in an ice cube tray. You won’t need yellow … it comes into play later.

Second step: When life gives you lemons … slice them and use them as the perfect pop of color in your drink! Lemons not only add flavor to the cocktail, but they’re totally photogenic. (Perfect for any Instagram addicts out there.)  Put the ice cubes in a clear glass, add Equality Vodka, the lemon juice, and the water/or club soda in that order.

Product Review: Limoncello di Capri

written by Jim Hargreaves*

Limoncello is a difficult spirit to review … much like the glass it is often served in, it has an inherently narrow profile. Take some fruit, steep in ethanol, add sugar, and limoncello is born. However, it is exactly this singular focus — the lemon — which makes this liqueur such a challenge to create without revealing subtle flaws, and likewise, so brilliantly delicious to imbibe when made right

Limoncello di Capri is crafted using organic lemons strictly harvested from the Italian islands of Capri and Sorrento, using a cold infusion process, without artificial colors or additives. Long story short … it’s the real deal. In fact, the brand was the first to patent the term “limoncello”, using a recipe that was handed down from the drink’s original creator, Vincenza Canale. Canale, an innkeeper on the isle of Capri, first served the elixir to her guests in the early 1900s.

While the packaging appears generic compared to other premium spirits, the vessel belies the quality of the liquid contained within. Limoncello di Capri pours a milky, pale yellow, rich color, though not as brilliant as others. It’s a hue deserving of a hot summer day, though, quite frankly, drinking a good limoncello is just as enjoyable in the depth of winter. (Hey, you can’t sit around waiting for the weather to change to write a review!) The aroma is bright and fragrant, with a clear hint of alcohol.  Keep in mind, limoncello is often upwards of 60+ proof — a wolf in really delicious sheep’s clothing. There is a distinctly sharp citrus character in the nose, though the scent of sweet sugar and lemon oil found in some of the best examples is rather subdued. All in all, breathing in the vapor certainly entices one to take a healthy sip.

The taste, obviously of lemon, is lighter and crisper than many lesser brands, washing away cleanly and quickly prompting the next swig. A boozy burn comes through quickly as the spirit meanders down the throat. The flavor is long and lasting, with a noticeable bite and a slightly dry finish. Above all, there is the fruit, clean and striking and strong in a way as to make your cheeks salivate. Simple yet delicious. If you could squeeze a yellow sun until it dripped with nectar, one might imagine it to taste of good limoncello.

limoncello_01

For those seeking an entry into world of this famed Italian spirit, Limoncello di Capri is a more than a suitable offering. A bit bold, and lacking some of the subtleties of more balanced makes like Villa Massa, it is nevertheless mouthwatering, and like any good limoncello, unapologetically focused. Find a patio, some friends, and try a sip … and presto (as the Italians would say).

Serving Suggestion: Store in the freezer and serve cold, straight, in a cordial glass or small champagne flute

For recipes, visit www.limoncello.com/en/ricette_cocktail.html.

LIMONCELLO DI CAPRI
www.limoncello.com/en/
Ask for Limoncello di Capri at your local liquor store as it has only recently been imported in to the US.
*NOTE FROM SUSIE: Jim is my cousin who also designed my amazing logo.  Check out his other amazing work at www.hhargreaves.com!

Cook Hall’s 2014 Grand Finale Beer Dinner

Cook Hall’s grand finale of its 2014 Beer Dinners was grand indeed, and the pairings with Community Beer Company’s local selections made it even better. We were welcomed at the door with a glass of “bonus” beer (score), putting us all in a jolly mood right off the bat.

1menu

Roasted Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup greeted us shortly after we were seated at the community style tables. I felt right at home because this soup perfectly emulated my grandmother’s signature holiday casserole dish (only much lighter, and sans the two cans Cream of Mushroom Soup). It was fresh and light, loaded with freshly-shaven Parmesan and garnished with herbed oil.  This was paired with Pepe Nero from Goose Island. I found the Pepe Nero to be fairly mild, and a smooth introduction to the meal.

2soup

Out came the Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Black Pepper and Lime Aioli, paired with a Trinity Tripel from Community Beer Company. These nuggets of deliciousness were perfectly juicy, not overcooked, and crusted to perfection. I wanted three plates … but I knew there was so much more to come that I resisted the urge. (Tough life.) The Trinity Tripel was a perfectly golden, citrusy and spicy brew that went nicely with the lime aioli. This was my favorite beer of the night, by far. Shout-out to the local Community Beer Company!

3chicken

Just when I thought my palette couldn’t be merrier, the Foie Gras Brûlée with Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche was presented. It was delightfully buttery and there was just enough salt to cut the richness from the brûlée. The Spiced Fig Jam screamed “holiday”, and that decadent combination was complimented by the Belgian strong dark ale, Inspiration, another Community concoction that boasts a 9.6% ABV. (It’s a damn good thing they serve such a large meal to go with all of this beer.)

4FG

I’m a fan of all ribs … but I definitely love me a good short rib. These glazed short ribs, served with herbs, roasted carrots and puree, were a thing of true beauty. Not only did they melt in your mouth, but they were packed with a powerful punch of sweet and savory and blended perfectly with the Delirium Noel (Brouwerji Huyghe). This beer is a strong, dark amber ale loaded with citrus notes and, in my opinion, was an excellent pairing. PLUS the bottle had cute little pink elephants in Santa hats, so, what could go wrong there?

6shortrib

It was time for the grand finale of the grand finale … Banana Crème Pie, Walnut Shortbread and what sounded like the most interesting beer of the evening – Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale from Rogue. It was interesting, indeed. We were instructed to taste the beer first, alone, and then experience it with the food. I was not a fan of the beer by itself, as it was quite dark, dense, and very bitter. Yet, when paired with the Banana Crème Pie, it miraculously transitioned into a sweet, chocolate cappuccino-like dessert in and of itself. The fresh whipped cream just melted and caramel mixed with walnuts and fresh banana chunks oozed out of every bite.

5dessert

At this point, my table seemed to be fading into a heavenly food-and-brew coma, but I was steadfast in my pursuit. I finished it. Every last little bite. Oh, night divine.

Check out cookhalldallas.com to find out when the next Beer Dinner will be hosted … and get your stomach ready for this gastronomic extravaganza.

Whisler’s (Austin, TX)

Written by Jaime Cawyer

Being from Austin, I was over the moon to have the chance to check out one of their newer bars, Whisler’s. Located in ever-growing East Austin, Whisler’s feels like it’s been there forever. The small indoor bar is perfect for small talk with your more than qualified bartender and the outdoor patio would be ideal for you and your group to sip all night. Whisler’s specializes in cocktails that are creations of their very own staff and I was lucky enough to have GM, Cesar Aguilar, concoct some of their latest drinks for me.

whisler's

Aguilar truly believes that he and his staff are never done learning and innovating when it comes to their cocktails. They create the menu by having the bartenders create their own cocktails and submit them to be on the seasonal menu. I had the pleasure of trying the fall menu of winners.

The first drink I tried was the simple and light Eastside Queen (vodka, lemon, and cranberry-rosemary syrup). If you like vodka (and I do!) then this is the perfect cocktail. Needless to say, this was something I would order a couple of in an evening.

eastsidequeen

Next I tried the Pink Lady (gin, apple brandy, lemon, honey, grenadine, and egg white), which tasted like I was drinking a cloud…a delicious, gin-filled cloud. This drink is sweet and creamy- definitely a hit with me. I probably would have claimed this one to be my favorite … until I found the next drink.

pinklady

My last drink was the I Yam What I Yam (butter-rum, meletti amaro, sweet potato shrub, and bitters topped with a roasted marshmallow). Yes … yes, you did read that right: Thanksgiving goodness … in your mouth in an easy-to-consume liquid form. (Stretchy pants not required.) This was, by all means, my favorite cocktail of the night. Sweet potato shrub is not something I had ever tried (or really had ever heard of) and I was apprehensive. I wasn’t sure it would translate into a cocktail. Foolish! It adds just the right amount of savory to counter the butter-rum and when you take a sip, while smelling the just-roasted marshmallow … well it’s just heaven.

iyamwhatiyam

The last thing we’ll mention is Whisler’s Oaxacan-style mezcalería, Mezcalería Tobalá. It’s a smaller bar upstairs carries a plethora of mezcals in half-pours to taste or full-pours.

Whisler’s is open everyday from 4pm-2am and is currently still serving their fall cocktail menu. Be sure to stay tuned for all of their future sure-to-amaze seasonal cocktail lists and be sure to ask who created your drink!

WHISLERS
whislersatx.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
1816 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702
512-480-0781

Frankie J + Dr. Pepper at the House of Blues

Frankie J. performed an intimate concert during the Dr Pepper One Of A Kind Concert Powered by Pandora at the House of Blues on October 22, 2014.

The eventful night was kicked off by DJ Big Syphe, and the fun continued with an open bar and photobooth. Frankie J had the crowd dancing with old favorites along with new songs off his latest album “Faith, Hope y Amor”.

Thanks, Pandora, for the fun evening!


About Frankie J | 
Frankie was recently nominated for 2 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards and a Grammy and is currently in the studio working on a follow-up to 2013’’s Faith, Hope y Amor, which is slated to be released later this year via Universal Music. This album also marks the reunion of long time friends and producers Happy Perez (Miguel, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige) and Play n Skills (Lil Wayne, David Guetta, Pitbull).

Carly LeMay
Written by Carly LeMay

Event Recap: La Marca Happy Hour at Times Ten Cellar

I am lucky to have some friends who can pinch hit when my day job heats up.  Thanks to Rachael Kohler for stepping in! (She’s also a legit sommelier, so her notes are going to be better than mine ever could be anyway!)  


written by Rachael Evans Kohler

Times Ten Cellar hosted the event, and was as rustic yet elegant as ever.

I was lucky enough to grab a minute with Carmen J. Castorina, Director of Communications for E&J Gallo Winery, and wine maker of La Marca, Fabrizio Gatto.  Both gentlemen were extremely charming and very enthusiastic on America’s perception of prosecco, and particularly the big interest from Texans!
I had the good luck to sit next to Meredith Steele, a food blogger/freelance food writer.  Her perception of the wine was interesting because she instantly commented on how friendly the wine was to the charcuterie we were enjoying. Not all wines are pleasant around cured meats, aged cheeses, and spiced sauces!
  • La Marca is now a DOC* and produces 35% of all prosecco in it’s designated region- biggest producer
  • They only produce this sparkling wine using the Charmat method, basically fermenting the juice in large tanks rather than inside the bottles as they do in Champagne.  This keeps it very light, fruity, and fresh.
  • They are not  trying to make a serious, intense, yeasty champagne-style wine, but rather a fan-pleasing style that goes with anyone, any food, and any time.
  • They’ve come a long way in the last 8 years, from two guys driving across the US trying to sell this unknown wine, to flying around the country to meet the demands of interested buyers.
  • The blue label and packaging are extremely close to “Tiffany Blue”- a point they swear is just coincidence … but one that works in their favor!
For the hour that I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  La Marca accomplished its intensions by opening up conversations, turning strangers into friends, and the demise of a delicious appetizer by everyone at the table.
*DOC means ”controlled designation of origin”.  Basically it is a classification of where a product came from. Read more.