Category Archives: Laura

Afternoon Wine Tasting at Mercy Wine Bar? Wine-Not?

A few weeks ago I attended Mercy Wine Bar’s Passport to Rioja tasting series, featuring wines from the Rioja wine region. The event allowed us to taste a full spectrum of Rioja offerings, including centenary wines, classic modern styles and collector’s wines.

A little background on Rioja Wines: Rioja is a wine region in Spain that is famous for it’s Tempranillo wines. Tempranillo is an Old World wine that pairs well with food. (Obvious,but for real. I was craving a steak dinner after the event!) In terms of flavor, Rioja wines vary from more fruit-forward to silky, smooth with a bit of spice. To learn more about Rioja Wines, check out

photo-2About the Event: There was no twisting my arm needed to get my RSVP. So on August 19th, I happily dashed up the Tollway to their Addison location.

Every table at the tasting featured several wines from different winemakers in the Rioja region. The event was thankfully relaxed and intimate, so I was able to learn about each wine I tasted. There were several wine retailers and restaurateurs in attendance (which made me feel prettyyyy fancy) who all seemed to be intrigued and impressed by the wines represented — which even further reassured me that I was about to be blown away.

The Wines: For your sake, I won’t go into every wine I tasted in this review. In short: I felt spoiled to be able to try the best of the well-known and typical varietals from Rioja, as well as explore some blends and whites that I didn’t even know existed.

The Reds: I was able to try some vintage and reserve wines from Faustino, including one from 1964! I also fell in love with Palacios Remondo’s La Montesa which uses organically-grown grapes making a light and delicious tasting blend of Mazuelo Tempranillo and Garnacha; a perfect red to sip out on a patio in the summer. As the gentleman at the tasting table put it, “It has a great slam ability factor.” (Yes, he said that.)

For White Wine lovers: The biggest and most pleasant surprise of the event for me was how much I loved the white Rioja wines, made from Viura (or Macebo) which is a Spanish white grape variety … and a severely underrated one at that! They tasted full-bodied and substantial light and refreshing; somewhat like a Sauvignon Blanc but less sour and less fruity. I especially enjoyed the white from Milflores (the bottle is gorgeous too).

Food: Thankfully, with all that wine tasting (I couldn’t get the hang of the spittoon), they passed around several delicious hors d’oeuvres such as Risotto Balls and Smoked Bruschetta (which is Smoked buffalo mozzarella, garlic olive oil, marinated tomatoes, and balsamic reduction).

Mercy Wine Bar’s Passport to Rioja tasting series was a truly unique experience that forced me out my Pinot Noir and Savignon Blanc comfort zone to learn and taste the best of the best wines from a historically rich and renowned region in Spain. I’ll be back soon, Mercy Wine Bar, to try a glass (or two) of something new and unexpected!

TIP: Mercy also will sell their wines to you at retail price. So be sure to grab a glass of Rioja wine at Mercy Wine Bar next time you are up in Addison and then take a bottle home with you!



5100 Belt Line Rd #544, Dallas, TX 75254
(Located in the Village on the Parkway, at the southeast corner of Beltline and the Dallas North Tollway, between Sebastian’s Closet and Blue Mesa.)
(972) 702-9463
mercywinebar.comFacebook | Twitter

Hours of Operation:

  • M-W: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
  • Th-F: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
  • Sat: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am
  • Sun: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

HAPPY HOUR SPECIAL | 4pm – 7pm daily
$5 wines by the glass (choice of 11 different wines)


About Mercy Wine Bar:

To be honest there is a lot of big chain restaurants and bars up in Addison, so Mercy Wine bar is a perfect antidote, with its small, cozy setting and unique wine and food selections. This award-winning Dallas staple is a great place to go grab a glass of wine before or after an event up there.


An Unforgettable Experience: Asador’s Harvest Dinner with Cocktail Pairings

Last Friday I was lucky enough to have a seat at Asador’s 3rd Harvest Dinner. If you take anything away from this review, understand that you MUST dine here. I was quite honestly blown away with every dish and every cocktail. I was also impressed how friendly and obviously talented the executive chef and mixologist were. Asador did one of the very best executions of farm to table high-end dining I’ve experienced. With the current craft cocktails trend being craft cocktails with “everything but the kitchen sink” muddle in (where some bartenders sacrifice taste for shock value), I was happy to discover that Asador’s cocktails were inventive, but with a real purpose behind every ingredient.

Let’s dive in, shall we? The Harvest Dinner took place in the new ballroom and rooftop terrace at the Renaissance hotel, which boasts great views of the Dallas skyline. It was a perfect summer night, and I enjoyed taking in the beautiful sunset while enjoying Asador’s amuse course, which was a Bay Scallop Ceviche and the Classic Rum-Brandy Punch, with nutmeg sprinkled on top.

The full menu can be found here, but in efforts not to write a novel, I’ll just cover my personal highlights of the evening.

photo 2 (11)The second course was Octopus Carpaccio, comprised of paper-thin slices of octopus paired with pickled plums and jicama. It was a light and refreshing summer dish, but the octopus made it a bit more substantial and very flavorful. The paired cocktail was called the Air Mail, which was a crowd favorite (lime juice, honey syrup and Prosecco). It brought out the sweetness of the pickled plums and tempered the acidity of the octopus.

The fourth course was Mesquite Roasted Texas Rib Eye with corn pudding, charred corn succotash and grilled baby jewel lettuce. This was truly one of the best pieces of beef I’ve ever had–it was cooked perfectly rare and melted in my mouth. (I’m sure there’s a pun here, but I’ll skip it.) The cocktail pairing was the Bourbon Thyme Smash. I stay away from bourbon drinks normally because I’m a ‘fraidy cat (to Susie’s everlasting disappointment), but this cocktail was tangy and refreshing thanks to the clove and honey syrup and fresh lemon. I’d come back just for a cocktail.

Last but not least … dessert! I audibly gasped as I tasted the fruity yet savory dessert, Texas Grapefruit Curd, topped with toasted coconut, a shortbread cookie and just the best whipped cream I’ve ever tasted. They paired the dessert with a simple Aperitif Cocktail of Amaro Nonino. This was the perfect ending to an absolutely flawless meal.

The executive chef explained that he had created the courses keeping in mind that it was just a bit warm outside (good joke), so he made sure every course was light and refreshing. #nofoodcoma

Everyone I interacted with at the Asador was genuinely friendly and hospitable. This would be a great place to take parents or to go for a romantic dinner because you can be assured that both the service and the experience will be impeccable. Even if you just have time to stop by for a cocktail, you are in for an absolute treat. And don’t forget that it’s restaurant week, so this is a perfect opportunity to try Asador out for the first time or for a refresher evening.

Thank you to Asador for the spectacular evening!


A Modern Texas Farm to Fire Cuisine located in the Renaissance Hotel
2222 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas TX 75207
Facebook | Twitter & Instagram: ‪@Asador_Dallas

Monday-Friday | 4pm – 7pm

  • $4 Draft Beer & $6 House Wine
  • $6 Select Specialty Cocktails
  • $1 Appetizers

Down By the Bay, Where the Watermelons Grow …

National Watermelon Day was on August 3rd, but in my world, it’s always watermelon day! (I love watermelon, especially in the summer. I’ve even started eating it like a Texan; by adding salt to it!)

What else pairs well with salt and watermelon? Tequila! I was sent a bottle of Sauza Blue Silver Tequila, made from 100% blue agave, to try it out and create a few cocktail recipes using it. Sauza Blue Silver Tequila is really great tequila, and I love tequila to begin with, so doing a product review was obviously a pleasure.

On its own it has a smooth, clean, citrus finish. Also Sauza mixes wonderfully in cocktails. For those of you who aren’t huge tequila fans, you might like this one, because it is very smooth and easy to drink.  

Sauza Tequila and Watermelon Cocktail Recipes

Do yourself a favor and get a watermelon and some Sauza tequila and try out some cocktail recipes like the ones below! I guarantee they will cool ya down!

Watermelon Sangria (makes 2)
3 ounces of Sauza Blue Silver Tequila
1-2 cups of watermelon, diced small
1 orange, squeezed
1 lemon, squeezed
1 lime, squeezed
White wine
Soda water
Lemon and lime garnish
Muddle the watermelon in a shaker, then add the tequila, orange, lemon and lime and add ice. Shake like there is no tomorrow. Strain into glasses over ice, top off with white wine and a splash soda water and garnish. photo copy

Watermelon Spritz
1½ ounces of Sauza Blue Silver Tequila
3 ounces of watermelon juice (to make your own … cube watermelon, quickly blend, and then strain)
1 lime, squeezed
1 lime, cut into wedges
Soda water
Fill glass with ice, add tequila, add watermelon juice, lime juice, and add cubed limes, top off with soda water.

If you don’t want to whip up your own cocktail, you should try Sauza’s sparkling margaritas.

According to their website: “Our ready-to-serve sparkling margarita is made with real tequila, and comes in Original Lime, Mango Peach, Wild Berry flavors and now Watermelon!” 



Another SDD Blue Chair Bay giveaway! (LUCKY!) This time we’re giving away a bottle of Blue Chair Bay’s latest flavor, Banana Rum! Enter to win ye a bottle o’ rum, me matey, and check out some recipes Laura whipped up using the delicious banana rum (and only a few banana-related puns and catchphrases).

My take on Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum:
In my experience, flavored liquors are very hard to do right… but Blue Chair Bay did it right with their Banana Rum. Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum has a rich flavor and a real banana taste. First, I tried it straight up, and it tasted exactly like Bananas Foster, evident by its buttery, caramel finish. It doesn’t taste artificially sweet either. I even tried it as a twist on the old standard rum and coke, and it was actually pretty darn good.

My Recipes:
I’m not typically a dessert or sweet drink person, save for the occasional espresso martini, so I knew I’d be my own toughest critic. But not to toot my own horn (toot toot), but these turned out pretty darn delicious. All of them are best served ice cold, which should be pretty appealing since we are smack in the middle of a Dallas summer.

photo 2Not Your Nana’s Banana Crème Pie Martini
3 oz Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
2 oz clear crème de cacao liqueur (I used Hiram Walker brand)
3 oz half-and-half
Garnish: Graham cracker rim (to make: first rim martini glass in honey and then in graham cracker crumbs)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, and pour into graham cracker rimmed martini glass.


photo 1Frozen Chocolate Banana Martini
1½ oz Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
1½ oz white or dark crème de cacao liqueur (I used Hiram Walker brand)
1½ teaspoons of chocolate syrup
1 cup of ice, add more if necessary
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except for cherry) in a blender with ice, blend until slushy. Pour into martini glass, garnish with a cherry, add chocolate syrup for garnish or to make even more chocolate-ly. (Because … chocolate.)

photo 3Banana Rum-ssian
1½ oz Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
¾ oz coffee liqueur (I used Kamora brand)
¾ oz half-and-half
¼ oz of Icebox ice coffee concentrate (you can find this at Central Market or online) or CoolBrew Coffee

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, and pour over ice.

For a refresher on the rum recipes Susie came up with before with the Blue Chair Bay White Rum, click here.

Enter to win a bottle of Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum!!!

Win a bottle of your very own by doing any (and all) of the following BEFORE NOON on Sunday, August 10 and tell us which one of the recipe above that you’d like to try using Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum (or make up one of your own!!).  

(One entry per platform per person will be accepted.)

Yo ho and a bottle of (banana) rum! Enjoy and good luck!

About Blue Chair Bay Rum:
Blue Chair Bay Rum is born on the beach for the times you just want to let go and live in the moment.Blue Chair Bay Rum is a collection of premium-blended rums created on the shores of the Caribbean and inspired by multi-platinum singer-songwriter’s Kenny Chesney’s love of the island lifestyle. Each of Blue Chair Bay Rum’s four varieties, White, Coconut, Coconut Spiced and Banana is 100% beach-made and mellowed in casks at one of the oldest, most respected distilleries in the Caribbean. Imported from Barbados and bottled by Fishbowl Spirits, Rochester, NY. Blue Chair Bay White Rum 40% ABV, Blue Chair Bay Coconut, Coconut Spiced Rum and Banana 26.5% ABV. Available in 750ml and 1.75L bottles

Please enjoy Blue Chair Bay Rum responsibly.

Don’t Be a Square, Check out Full Circle Tavern

Last night I attended Full Circle Tavern’s cleverly named “360° One-Year Anniversary” party down in the Cedars area. Owners and winners of Food Network’s “Food Court Wars”, Lara Whittington and Jennifer Bonner, celebrated with an 80s cover band, prize giveaways and 360° drink and food specials, including $3.60 Stoli drinks, $3.60 Brooklyn Lager beers and $3.60 Full Circle sliders.

I arrived right after 5pm when the festivities were scheduled to kick off. They were still setting up the band and I couldn’t really tell if the event had started yet. Nevertheless, I grabbed a seat outside on their patio, which was very pleasant on a beautiful spring day.

I had a great server, Tamara, who was friendly and attentive. Even though I don’t normally drink vodka before sundown, I ordered one of my favorite vodka cocktails—Stoli Blueberry with soda and a splash of cranberry. I also ordered the Cheese Curds, a first for me. While I waited, Tamara brought me a bowl of their homemade chips, which was a nice touch. My cocktail was nice and strong and was delivered quickly, which was appreciated as I was parched. The cheese curds were, as promised, very tasty but I’m not a huge fried foodie, so I only had few. I was intrigued by their menu, which is pretty extensive and includes several gluten-free substitutions/options, (which I greatly appreciate since my husband has a gluten allergy).

In my opinion, Full Circle Tavern just makes sense. It’s located in South Side/the Cedars in the same complex as Bill’s Records and is next door to the NYLO hotel and down the street from Gilley’s.

Full Circle Tavern is comfortable, friendly neighborhood spot with what I found to be great people watching. It seems like a perfect spot for NYLO guests and South Side on Lamar or The Beat residents to kick back and enjoy happy hour or a lazy Sunday. Since it’s not close to my neighborhood, I might not necessarily go out of my way to return unless I have something going on down in that area, but when I do, what better place to grab a cocktail and fill up on some carbs before a concert than Full Circle Tavern?

Full Circle Tavern
1319 South Lamar Street
Dallas, Texas 75215

Happy Hours (as of 5/20/14)

  • Tuesday – Thursday (11:00 am – 10:00 pm)
  • Friday – Saturday (11:00 am – 12:00 am)
  • Sundays (11:00 am – 4:00 pm)

Kitchen closes 1 hour prior to closing times

Blogger WalkAround at The Shops at Park Lane

I attended a great event last Wednesday called the Blogger WalkAround at The Shops at Park Lane. The event gave Park Lane businesses the opportunity to feature a service or experience to a select group of bloggers. There activities ranged from a fashion show at Bloomingdale’s The Outlet to juice tasting at Elixir Juice Bar. The event’s format allowed you to pick your favorite activities out of several options, so that you could spend some quality time at each activity. (We won’t confirm anything … but they may have said that it’ll be a public event offered later this year…)

After grabbing my gift bag filled with goodies and coupons from many of the Park Lane shops and restaurants, I headed to my first activity: a blowout at the Aveda Institute of Dallas. Students do the services, and their instructor evaluates every service to make sure it’s to your satisfaction, so you know you will leave happy. A blowout includes a consultation, shoulder and neck massage, a hand massage while at the wash station, and of course, the blow out. Before you leave, they give you a “Purescriptions” sheet, so you know exactly what products they used. Do be sure to carve out a little more time than usual for a blow out, since they are still students it may take a few minutes longer. However, the result is on par of a salon, and at the Aveda Salon a blow out (with all the bells and whistles) is only $18, which beats the pants off those blow dry salons cost-wise. (Ahem, $35 + tip? Puhlease.)

Next I headed to Gordon Biersch for beer tasting, where I enjoyed a beer sampler of all of their own signature beers.


I’m half-Belgian, so beer should be in my blood … but it’s not really something I get too hopped up about (see what I did there?); but, I actually enjoyed all of their beers, even as we moved up the scale to the scary dark and hoppy beers. In fact, I would gladly order a full beer of any of their beers, which is a bold (and surprising statement coming from me), but true. My favorites were Hefeweizen, which is similar to Blue Moon, but finishes with a banana clove taste, which sounds strange but is delicious. I also enjoyed their Brewers Black beer, which is similar to Guinness, but a little lighter and honestly easier to drink. Finally, I tried their in-house brewer’s choice, which was a Rye IPA, and that was very flavorful and strong and dare I say, delicious!

So that we didn’t fall over after our generous beer sampler, we got to try two flatbreads, Bruschetta and the California Cobb, as well as a delicious turkey burger and their filet sliders with Havarti cheese. Next time I go shopping at Park Lane with my husband, I plan to drop him off here early on, and once my feet start barkin’ and I need a break from shopping (it happens!), I’ll definitely be throwing back a cold beer here to get my second wind.

After Gordon Biersch, I met up with everyone else at Bowl & Barrel to finish the evening with some snacks, cocktails, and bowling.Bowl & Barrel (B&B) is a fun and relaxed upscale bowling alley and more. The bowl stands for, you guessed it, bowling, and the barrel stands for their extensive selections of beer, wine and booze made in-house in barrels. (More on this later.)

Friendly, delicious and classy are not normally adjectives one uses to describe a bowling alley, amirite?

There have been many “high-end” bowling concepts over the past few years, but they are all a little ‘unce unce unce’ clubby for me, but B&B is right up my alley (promise that’s the last pun). It’s like a mixology bar, cigar lounge and gastro pub hybrid with a fun group activity thrown in for good measure.


B&B is an impressive space to bowl with great indie tunes playing and the décor is old saloon with a little restoration hardware feel. My favorite décor element is the use of wooden coffee tables instead of Formica benches at each of the lanes. Most importantly, the place is clean and smells great, a far cry from the many bowling alleys I’ve frequented in the past.

While you bowl you can enjoy table service and order drinks and food. I highly recommend the Hot Pretzel and their beer cheese sauce for dipping (wow). But their menu is far more extensive than that, and includes what you would expect of a gastro pub, including a variety of snacks, ranging from fries to oysters, and also a selection of yummy salads, sandwiches and burgers.

But let’s focus on the most important thing: the drinks!The most unique thing about B&B is their barrels, which they offer in addition to their full bar. Susie let me have a sip of her Old Fashioned (made by, of course, Billy), which she thinks is the best in Dallas … and now I agree! I also tried their barrel blonde beer and barrel Pinot Noir. The bar manager, Jose and head bartender, Billy, very generously let all of us taste some of their barrel crafted liquors. I tried “Kingston” which is a rum and bitters infusion, yummy, rich and warming. I also tried “In Like Flynn” which is a gin infusion. For those of you who hate gin, I swear this tastes nothing like what you think gin tastes like, i.e. pine trees and Lysol. In Like Flynn incorporated Campari, Cointreau and vermouth, so it takes the gin flavors to a different spectrum and makes it more fruity and refreshing. Both Kingston and In like Flynn can be incorporated into cocktails, but they are truly tasty enough to drink neat or on the rocks.

I was so impressed with their bar and cocktail choices, I would go to B&B just to sit at the bar and try out the drinks and chat with Jose and Billy, who were so warm and friendly and patiently answered my endless questions about liquor infusions. I was warned that it does get pretty busy on weekends, so the best nights for intimate date night setting would be Sunday or Monday. They also do private parties. I like going out to bars, but it’s even more fun when there is actually an activity besides drinking, so Bowl & Barrel is high on my list of places to revisit.

Thank you to The Shops at Park Lane for a wonderful evening … I’ll be seeing you again real soon!


***This evening was free for attendees.***