Category Archives: Contributor

Saint Arnold Brewery Beer Dinner at Cook Hall

Written by: Lauryn Bodden

Each month, Cook Hall teams up with a regional brewery to create a menu pairing of intense flavors that highlight the buzz-worthy notes of select beers. The dinner encourages community members to come together like an intimate gathering of friends and learn about the craft behind some of the best brews in town. For the month of April, Cook Hall joined forces with Saint Arnold Brewery to create a menu pairing of five courses that appealed to individuals of all palates and cravings.

Upon arrival, guests were greeted with the Weedwacker, a Bavarian Hefeweizen. This light beer has notes of spicy clove and banana esters that come from different yeasts. Saint Arnold’s only unfiltered year-round yeast, Weedwacker embodies a pale malt barley with a dash of malted wheat. Accompanied by a frisee salad with pickled peaches, this course was a light start to our indulgent meal.

Next, came the Elissa IPA, an authentic version of traditional Indian Pale Ale. The huge hop additions in the kettle give the beer a bitterness that is then dry-hopped in the fermenter to create a floral, hoppy nose. The maltiness comes from British Maris Otter malt. The citrusy flavor of the brew goes perfectly with any seafood, which made its pairing of Grilled Swordfish and Orange Vinaigrette an obvious choice.

Course three included the Icon Brown Porter with Kalbi Beef Short Rib Tacos.  The Brown Porter is a dark, medium bodied ale with rich chocolate malt notes and an aroma mix of chocolate, nuttiness, and coffee. The tacos were a hit across the restaurant, as many platters were wiped clean before the course presentation was even done. Add a dash of Cook Hall’s special hot sauce and this meaty treat washed down easy with the Brown Porter.

At this point, individuals began unbuttoning their top buttons, shifting in their seats, and doing whatever possible to make room for the two remaining courses…amateurs.

My stomach waited the entire night and was fully prepared for the moment the Rack of Lamb and Divine Reserve #13 graced our table. This Belgium brew has a relatively simple malt bill with caramel and chocolate malts. A large amount of Belgian Extra Dark Candi Syrup is added during fermentation, which gives it a dark fruit-like flavor and boosted alcohol level (WIN!).  All tableside manners were tossed at this point as I traded off between going at the lamb like a chicken wing and guzzling down the rich Divine Reserve.

Lamb is hard to beat in my book, but the grand finale was no letdown. Each guest received a plate of Warm Sticky Date Toffee Pudding with Coconut Sorbet and the Bishop Barrel #5, Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale. The Bishop Barrel begins as the Divine Reserve No. 4, gold medal winner at the 2008 World Beer Cup in Strong Scotch Ale category, which include tasting notes of caramel, toffee, dried figs and cocoa. Aged in a bourbon barrel, the base mixes with flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of pipe tobacco to create a rich creaminess. Directions for this course are as follow: take a heaping scoop of sorbet with equal parts of toffee pudding, shovel in your mouth, and immediately guzzle gulps of the Bishop Barrel. The result is perfection.

Bennette Frugé of the Saint Arnold’s brew crew led us through the tale of each selected beer and menu pairing. Known to many as Flappy for his ever-flapping lips and ability to talk for hours about his love of beer, Bennette lived up to his nickname. Between jokes and jeers with the crowd, Bennette highlighted many interesting facts for beer connoisseurs and newbies alike. My favorite fact may just be that if he could be an animal, he would be a pterodactyl.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company, located in Houston, is Texas’ oldest craft brewery (and is reportedly haunted). Founded by Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, the first keg was shipped on June 9, 1994. Brock, a longtime home brewer, always considered opening a brewery as far back as college, but didn’t go through with the idea until seven years after graduating. Enlisting Kevin, the two chose Houston because it was the largest city in the country without a microbrewery. The small crew brews, filters, kegs, bottles, sells, and drinks each beer to ensure the best quality. Brews are distributed and enjoyed throughout Texas, Louisiana and Colorado.

Cook Hall’s next beer dinner features Harpoon Brewery on May 23 for $55 a seat (and a certain drink blogger whose name rhymes with boozy will be in attendance). Grab your friends or go alone; either way you will take part in good food, good brews, and good company.

To make a reservation for the Harpoon Brewery dinner, call (214)397-4111.

To view the Harpoon Dinner Menu, please click here.

Event Recap: Central Market’s Passport to Italy

Written by: Lauryn Bodden

There are normal grocery stores with your essential food items (ice cream and wine), and then there’s Central Market, which is every foodie’s heaven. On April 30, Central Market will debut this year’s two-week themed Passport celebration that spotlights the culinary delicacies of Italy.

With more than 40 winemakers and cooking classes led by renowned Italian chefs, Passport Italy delivers eclectic, authentic Italian cuisine straight to the Lone Star State. Everyone knows wine is the classy way to end a long day and get drunk with friends, but Passport Italy will make you the wine connoisseur you have always dreamed of becoming. (And what better way to enjoy a chilled glass of Prosecco than with some of the world’s finest meats and cheeses?) Showcasing traditional foods and ingredients, Central Market will also provide hundreds of new items such as gelatos, breads, pastas, cured meats, wines, cheeses, oils, vinegars, and chef-prepared foods. Winemakers, chefs, and producers alike will be on-hand to walk customers through the ultimate Italian food and wine experience.

The featured winemakers include:

  • Luca Bosio of Luca Bosio Vineyards brought in a wave of freshness and novelty to both the technical and commercial areas of his family’s vineyards, reinventing the way they do business. With a mix of technology and rural tradition, he blends his family’s grapes with grapes from hundreds of farmer organizations from different parts of Piemonte, giving them greater diversity in their winemaking.
  • Stefano Chiarlo oversees the cultivation of 110 hectares of vineyards, all while taking care to adhere to the most exact ecological requirements needed by winemaking. By focusing their vineyards on hilly zones and rigorously thinning out grape bunches, Michele Chiarlo Vineyards has ensured the production of highly elegant wines with excellent longevity.
  • Umberto Cosmo directs the Bellenda estate, located in the Vento wine region. Especially known for producing fantastic Prosecco, Bellenda is fresh and clean with delicate bubbles that enhance its subtle citrus flavor.
  • Franceso Daddi runs the Ormanni farm, which is ancient and deep-rooted in Italian history. Owned since the 1200s by the Ormanni family, mentioned in Dante Alighieri’s famous Divine Comedy, and at one point owned by the legendary Medici family, the Tenuta Ormanni Vineyards focus on tradition and detail. Tenuta Ormani wines have an artisan feel and clean taste.
  • Antonio M. Zaccheo Jr., the son of Carpineto co-founder Antonio Mario Zaccheo Sr., is the latest in a long line of family winemakers blending old world heritage with modern expertise. With an extensive bottle-aging program, Carpineto has ensured the production of elegant wines of approachable intensity, with the majority of their focus being on red wines aged three or more years.

Highlighted below is a list of all the boozy events (basically everything) taking place during Passport Italy for you to enjoy:

Passaporto Italia Kick-off with Umberto Cosmo, founder & winemaker of Bellenda

Wednesday, April 30 from 4-7 p.m.

Join us as we kick off Passporto Italia in style! Be our guest at our Prosecco Party where Umberto Cosmo, founder and winemaker of Bellenda, joins us for a Prosecco tasting.

Italy Meets Texas

Thursday, May 1 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Join us for a Texas-sized Sip & Stroll to celebrate the beginning of Passporto Italia! We’re kicking off two weeks of celebrating everything Italian with a stroll through the store where you’ll be able to sample the likes of Truffled Pasta, Fresh-Made Sausages,

Cannolis, Italian cheese, and salumi, along with new offerings from our Chef’s Case. We’ll have hundreds of new items; many never before seen in the U.S. Don’t forget the wine! We’ll pair all our items with a wine that will have you sighing, “Amore!” A commemorative glass also will be available for purchase at the Information Desk.

Zardetto Prosecco Wine Dinner with Filipo Zardetto

Friday, May 2 from 6:30-9 p.m.

Located in the heart of Italy’s famous Prosecco territory between Conegiano and Valdobiadene, Zardetto has been a leader in making sparkling wine for more than 40 years. This vibrant and refreshing, off-dry Prosecco is produced from carefully selected grapes grown on the finest hilltop vineyards, modern technology, and traditional practices that result in an acclaimed brut. Learn more about the grape-growing and production methods, and sample these wines that display the traditional flowery, fruity characteristics of Prosecco wines paired with Asiago & Sopressa Vicentina with Bellini; Salad of Kale, Radicchio & Pancetta; Risotto with Radicchio, Ubriaco & Chestnuts; Orata al Forno con Gli Aromi (Roasted Sea Bass with Herbs); and Crema Fritta (Fried Custard Cream). $65. Reserve your seat at centralmarket.com.

Under A Tuscan Sun

Thursday, May 8 from 6:30-9 p.m.

Antonio Sanguineti, winemaker/Principal of Sanguinetti Wines; Lorenzo Gatteschi, Winemaker/Owner of Podere Ciona; Alessandro Bocci, Winemaker/Owner of Perazetta Winery; and Luca Brunelli, Owner of Brunelli Wines

Join us for a festive wine dinner served family-style, featuring the winemaker/principal of Sanguinetti Wines; the winemaker/owner of Podere Ciona; the winemaker/owner of Perazetta Winery, and the owner of Brunelli Wines. While these experts discuss their wines and the special regions in which their grapes are grown, our Cooking School staff will demonstrate the techniques you’ll need to know to recreate this Tuscan feast: Cutting board of Tuscan cheeses paired with Antonio Sanguineti Vermentino IGT; Insalata Caprese with fresh Burrata paired with Antonio Sanguineti Chianti DOCG; Tagliatelle with Wild Boar in a tomato basil cream sauce paired with Perazetta Rita Sangiovese DOC; Roasted Duck with a mushroom demi-glace paired with Podere Ciona Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG; Fried Rice Fritters with a dark chocolate dipping sauce,; and strawberries paired with Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. $65. Reserve your seat at centralmarket.com

Henderson Tap House has a lot to offer

Though the “I’d tap that” slogan of Henderson Tap House may conjure images of another classic Dallas dive bar, the upscale interior and swanky cocktail menu will get you to rethink those gym shorts and sweatshirt. But, don’t worry because this place is home to people of all ages, moods, and drink types.

The brick garage-like entrance houses a large, covered patio with long picnic tables and high-tops, which are crucial for the prime outdoor drinking weather quickly approaching. Walk inside and you’ll find leather seats, comfy couches, high tables, and long open seating in the back to accommodate the big crowds that swarm this place. Even though seating can become hard to find at times, Henderson Tap House offers two large, spacious bar areas on either side of the establishment. The place may get packed and depending on what section you are sitting in the service can be slow, but ordering a drink isn’t hard if you go up to the bar. Henderson Tap  House is still fairly new, so I’ll give it a pass for now, but I look forward to when the timeliness of the service matches the charm of the servers and the taste of the indulgent menu.

One of my favorite aspects of this full-service sports bar and restaurant is the tap room enclosed by large glass windows, allowing drinkers to see the vast 50-plus local and craft beers they have to offer. Though, the Revolver Blood & Honey is my normal go-to, I had the opportunity to try three of the restaurant’s popular cocktails.

Wyatt Berry Fizz: Bombay Sapphire gin, fresh lemon and lime juices and raspberry schnapps topped with a splash of soda and served over ice in a pint glass. The gin pairs well with the berry notes of the schnapps to make it refreshing, but not too sweet.

Moscow Bull: Three Olives Citrus, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer in a mason jar. The ginger beer sold me on this cocktail.

Spicy Paloma: Pepe Zevada “Z” Tequila Blanco tequila, fresh lime, jalapeño juice, sliced jalapenos, agave nectar and grapefruit juice served over ice in a pint glass. The bar’s version of a margarita, this drink was not my favorite because I am a margarita snob after trying most of Dallas’s favorite cocktail. The jalapenos bring a little kick, but the spice didn’t balance well with the other flavors.

Henderson Tap House is a prime location for large groups and individuals that are looking to stick around for a while. The food menu is extensive with dishes like wood-fired pizza, fish tacos, lobster mac n’ cheese, and even warm cookies with a shot of milk. The full menu is offered until 10:30 p.m. nightly, and the pizza oven keeps burning until 1:30 a.m.

Whether you are looking to catch a game, chow down, grab a drink, dance, party with strangers, or enjoy the sunny weather on the patio, this place is your destination. Keep it classy … or get a little weird with their “Upside Down Rodeo Clown”.

The Rum Also Rises

Written by Brian Bianco

Like any good (yet slightly irresponsible) 16-21 year old, the apparent virtues of rum were well known to me. Girls love that shit, so it was common practice to make sure someone got a bottle of Malibu for the party or social gathering, and then maybe something better to be mixed with soda for everyone else. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with rum, but as an adult, I’ve mostly narrowed my sights on the brassiest IPAs, whiskeys and bourbons I can find, which means everything is straight, filling and/or easily mixable with soda. This is a narrow and terrible view – especially as there are now dozens of bartenders around Dallas who can easily show you the wonderful possibilities of vodka, gin and all the other “non-bro” spirits being poured today.

Still, when Susie asked me to taste a sample batch from Papa’s Pilar, my first instinct was to outsource this to the first friend I could find from Florida, but after my calls were not returned, I realized it was time to teach myself how to really taste this stuff and see what I could find out. The rum is named for Ernest Hemingway (bet you love that clever title up there now), so I figured if anyone could teach me to give rum a chance, it’s a man who survived multiple plane crashes and was an all around badass who just happened to be pretty damn eloquent.

After doing some quick research, I learned rum tasting works a lot like wine tasting. You check the legs, you use your sense of smell, you swirl and you let it breathe.  I decided I would do both straight tastings and quickly mix a Dark and Stormy to evaluate the two samples and I’ve recorded my notes below. To reset my rum pallet, I tasted a few sips of a third brand of rum to make sure I had a baseline for comparison, and then I dove in.

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate the really interesting packaging. From the wooden box to the ship style bottles, the presentation of even a simple sample was actually exciting to tear into. They provided background literature from their website that focused on their history, the distillery and the solera aging process they use for both types of rum. Even if you’re just a history nerd who plans to never drink a sip, it’s an interesting read. For more on how the rum is made, here’s one of the most direct summaries I found if you don’t feel like poking around the website.

Papa’s Pilar Three Year-Old Blonde Rum

Straight

This was very easy to drink, with a wash of fruit tastes on first sip (especially grapefruit), followed by a deeper vanilla flavor. White rum is usually not my thing, but this had just enough going on to make the sipping experience enjoyable – in fact, I ended up drinking double my planned amount after I made it through the tasting process.

Mixed

I didn’t do anything elaborate – just some Reed’s ginger beer to see how a simple recipe turned out. While I had only made a Dark and Stormy with darker rums in the past, this actually made a nice and refreshing summer drink I would happily revisit as soon as Texas decides to stop having random freezes in April.


Papa’s Pilar Twenty Four Year-Old Dark Rum

Straight

First, this rum took a double gold medal at the World Spirits competition in San Francisco (and the blonde also was recognized at the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami), so my expectation to be blown away was high. As much as I tried to fight it, once I had the glass poured, my mind kept telling my mouth to get ready for bourbon. However, the first sip was excellent and I actually had that same rush I get from a good sip of the usual stuff, with complex flavors and a smooth finish. It was spicy, but not in an off-putting way and you could tell the impact of the solera-aging process (thanks, bourbon barrels) and the influence of the different casks.

Mixed

As good as this rum is neat, mixing it in a cocktail almost felt wasteful. I tried to only give it a few splashes of ginger beer, but even that was a waste. If you’re going to drink this one, neat or on the rocks is the way to go.

So, in summary, I enjoyed both of these rums immensely and recommend you start exploring cocktails with the blonde and keep the dark one on hand to be enjoyed by the secret rumelier hidden deep inside you.

To find a bottle in Dallas, just check out http://www.papaspilar.com/#/wheretobuy/store.

Papa’s Pilar Three Year-Old Blonde Rum – ~$30
Papa’s Pilar Twenty Four Year-Old Dark Rum – ~$40

Plucker’s: Addison

After much anticipation, we arrived at the Addison Pluckers “soft opening” to see a line that must have been a couple hundred customers eager for some wings and beer.  There is plenty of parking available around the restaurant in the Village on the Green Shopping Center sparing people from playing parking lot Hunger Games.  All the tables are good size and able to accommodate groups (i.e. plenty of room for multiple plates, Motherpluckers, baskets, AND drinks without feeling like you’re flying coach and have to keep your arms tucked to avoid getting knocked around).  The restaurant is loaded with large flat screens on nearly every wall, facing every direction, making it impossible not to get a good view of the game.  (Sorry, non-sport enthusiasts … yes, we’re listening to you even if we’re not looking at you.)

Being Pluckers virgins, we relied  on our waiters (one trainer & one learning the ropes) for recommendations.  They done good.  (Note, Pluckers doesn’t use table runners or bussers, instead these type of tasks are a basic expectation for all staff which translated into prompt and attentive service throughout your visit.)

We started off with a baskets of Magic Mushrooms, complete with their famous Dirty Bird sauce, and washed them down a signature Pluckers Lemonade for myself (a vodka Lemonade cocktail perfect for a sunny spring day) and a Psychedelic Frog (a 4 liquor, 3 mixer neon green drink) for Katie*.  Both drinks were served in mason jars, which is just cool.  Pluckers’s cocktail menu offers diners better-than-typical drinks you wouldn’t expect to find at a wing-bar, like Toxic Tea (a sweet tea, lemonade, vodka drink), the Batman (made with Austin’s own Tito’s Vodka), Effen Good Bloody Mary, and more.  The drinks were decently strong, and incredibly dangerous.  (Wait, there was a bunch of liquor in that? Someone call Uber.)

 

For the main event, we ordered a basket of boneless wings with spicy mandarin sauce and the buffalo chicken sandwich.  Among the plethora of places serving wings these days — most of which all I have frequented many times over — the wings really differentiate Pluckers from the others.  The wings themselves were hefty, providing considerably more meat than I was use to getting, and they are perfect glazed in the requested sauce and not drenched or dry fried batter nuggets commonly met with disappoint by wing lovers everywhere.  The wings and sandwich were enjoyed with our second round of drinks, the Batman and the Effen Good Bloody Mary (which seriously lived up to its name).

Bottom line:  This place has good food, GREAT wings, and some unique food options (like the fried Twinkie!) along with decent prices and attentive service.  Drink-wise, they have a variety of “specialty” drink options and plenty of beers on-tap (because: sports + beer = good).  Pluckers is making a (bigger) name for themselves in DFW with more locations opening left and right, and rightfully so! Needless to say, I know where I’m watching the NBA playoffs!


Pluckers Wing Bar – Addison
www.pluckers.com | @pluckers
5100 Belt Line Road, Suite 520 | Addison TX
(972)490-WING

Daily Specials (full list of this location specials here)
Monday – drink specials/All You Can Eat Wings (every other week)
Tuesday – Texas Tuesdays (drink specials on TX beers and liquors)
Wednesday – Pluckers Club Special (coming soon)
Thursday – Tijuana Thursdays(drink specials on Mexican beers and liquors)
Friday – Teacher Freebie Friday

*Note from Susie: Katie is his beautiful, new bride (of one month).  Send them your congratulations!!

Picture of Motherplucker borrowed from Pluckers!

This Place Doesn’t Bite

Being a Virgo, I don’t often step outside of my comfort zone, but one stop to Bite City Grill in Fort Worth changed that.

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Bite’s signature cocktails are all named after the twelve astrological signs. The menu lists characteristics and celebrity for each sign. Additionally, each signature drink comes with a eye dropper of the bitters that they suggest you add to the drink to your liking (the bartender said to experiment and only add a little at a time). I decided to try a Scorpio, Sagittarius, and a Capricorn.

The Scorpio included tequila, mango puree, lime, jalapeño, and mint. It was described as “determined, powerful, magnetic, emotional, and passionate”. (Sounded to me like the guy in high school that had a crush on me but didn’t understand the word “no”.)  The famous Scorpio listed was Bill Gates.  The drink was presented with the jalapeño and lime on a toothpick as garnish, and I went ahead and squeezed the lime and dropped the jalapeño in for full effect. The first taste was great; not too sweet, the mango was non-existent, and the small slice of jalapeño provided a little bit of spice that this drink needed to kick me in the mouth. The Scorpio came with their fruit bitters, and I went all-in and squeeze the entire dropper in my drink. The bitters acted as a neutralizer and completely overpowered the sweetness of the original drink. Overall, the Scorpio was a new twist on the simple rocks margarita.

The best drink of the night was by far the Sagittarius, and if you’re a Bourbon drinker, it’s a must-try. It’s smoked bourbon, sweet tea, limoncello, and St.Germain, but will say the main attraction is the smoked bourbon. The drink was delivered in a mason jar with a lid on, which I thought was a bit odd; once I opened the mason jar, I quickly realized the logic of the lid. They use a special gun that smokes tea leaves to fill the mason jar with smoke. As soon as you unscrew the lid, a wave of smoke engulfs you. (This is some second-hand smoke I’m totally OK with!) The first taste is definitely a surprise … the drink truly does taste like it was smoked. As I mentioned earlier, this is a must for any bourbon fan.

Bite is tucked into the back corner of Montgomery Plaza, a place where several restaurants/bars have tried before, but not succeeded. The atmosphere at the bar is the perfect spot to unwind during happy hour (4-6pm) after a hard day at the office. And, to top it all off, the bar has a few televisions if you are interested in grabbing a few drinks during the big game.

Bite City Grill
2600 West 7th Street | Fort Worth, Texas 76107
(817) 877-3888
www.bitecitygrill.com
facebook.com/bitecitygrillFW | @bitecitygrill (Insta & Twitter)
Happy hour: Monday – Friday, 4-6pm

Current happy hour specials:  

$1 Off All Draft Beers…

$6 Zodiac Sign Of The Month…


White By The Glass

5   Arca Nova Vinho Verde, Portugal
5   Dr. Loosen Riesling, Mosel, Germany
5   Sterling Aromatic White, Central Coast, CA
5   Bouchard Aine & Fils Chardonnay, France
5   Zonin Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

Red By The Glass
5   Bouchard Aine & Fils, VDP Pinot Noir, France
5   Joseph Castan Cote Du Rhone, France
5   Trevinto Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
5   Pacific Sur Cabernet, Central Valley, Chile 

Small Bites…
5   Baba Ganoush / Caramelized Onion / Sour Cream / Fine Herbs / Naan Bread
5   Beef Jerky / Seasoned Beef Jerky
8   Lamb Meatball / Foie Gras Cream Sherry Reduction Sauce / Manchego Cheese
8   Charred Octopus / Peppadew Peppers / Ginger Aioli
6   Shishito Peppers / Sea Salt / Romesco Sauce
10   Braised Short Rib / Caramelized Onion / Horseradish Cream
9   Margherita / Roasted Tomato / Basil / Fresh Mozzarella Cheese / Tomato Sauce

Addison’s Fork & Cork Festival to debut in May

 

Move over, Taste of Addison, and make way for the Fork & Cork Festival to debut this May. Not only will this event be more intimate and support local organization Café Momentum, but it’s more centered on wine and other boozy items. (Now that’s my kind of shindig!)

This past week, I had the opportunity to preview the all-new culinary event, and it well exceeded my expectations. Stepping through the archways of foodie heaven, guests were greeted with a Ginger Basil Gimlet, music by local artist Kelsey Lewis, scents of food to come, and a picturesque dining scene. The gimlet had me hooked right away with its strong notes of ginger and artistic blend of gin. Those that aren’t very fond of ginger may have struggled with the drink, but it was right up my alley. I couldn’t imagine things getting much better, but then there was the open wine bar, signature Old Fashioned cocktails, and mixology lessons from Eddie “Lucky” Campbell. So yeah, it got better.

At dinnertime, the party settled down at a long, rustic farm table, which bolstered a communal, chatty atmosphere. Guests can look forward to this same ambience at the upcoming festival. It was a great feeling to have Addison Mayor, Todd Meier, thank us for our attendance when really it is all my pleasure. (I did have a date with Netflix that night, but if the city of Addison needs me to stuff my face with risotto balls, wood roasted mussels, grilled Texas Kobe skirt steak, sweet potato grits, wood fired pizza, and countless other delights, then I will gladly reschedule to lend a hand.)

Like I mentioned before, Fork & Cork is designed more to feature craft breweries, wineries, and spirit makers, so let’s get to the dranks. The highlight of the night was by far the presentation of a perfect Old Fashion by “Lucky,” who helped curate the drink menu at the new Vagabond restaurant on Greenville. Between his fiery personality and natural ease with the crowd, I felt like I was kickin’ it with one of the bros. His tips to a well-balanced drink make even someone like me feel like I could whip up a fine dining cocktail. (I am a connoisseur of cocktails and liquor, but ask me to make a drink and you may lose all faith in me.) Apparently, dilution can make the biggest difference in the flavor and strength of a cocktail. Don’t skimp on the ice or stirring because you are only selling your drink short. Another lesson is to use the freshest ingredients because it’s hard to go wrong when you have fresh flavors to work with.

Fork & Cork will take Addison back to its culinary roots May 16 and 17 with interactive cooking classes, bites from some of the best restaurants in the DFW area, cocktail tastings, wine and craft beer seminars, a cooking demo by Marcus Samuelsson (James Beard Award winning chef and current judge on ABC’s The Taste), and music from Texas legend Pat Green.

A portion of the proceeds from Friday night will benefit Café Momentum, a non-profit organization that teaches critical skills that allow youth to apply what they have been taught in re-release programs in a safe, real-world environment of nurturing accountability. Or, in Chad Houser’s own words, “Café Momentum helps teach kids to play with knives and fire…and the town of Addison approves.”

Buy your Fork & Cork Festival tickets here.

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Below you can find “Lucky’s” Old Fashioned recipe:

2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon

1 Sugar Cube

3 Dashes Angostura Bitters

1 Orange Peel (Squeezed)

Vanilla Mist

In a mixing glass:

Add sugar cube, Angostura, squeezed orange peel, and water. Smash ingredients with a muddle to break sugar cube. Add Buffalo Trace Bourbon and ice. Stir 56 times (or until sugar is dissolved). Strain over large ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Squeeze a new orange peel over the surface, wipe around rim of glass, and place in cocktail. Spray vanilla mist over the surface of the Old Fashioned.

Event Recap: Mount Gay Rum Dinner at Sissy’s Souther Kitchen & Bar


Not a big rum fan? I can understand where you come from… From my earlier drinking days in high school…er… college, rum has always seemed like this girly liquor that was infused with fruity flavors like pineapple then mixed with even sweeter mixers and topped off with a paper umbrella. (Really?!) I am here to help change this bad rep rum has received from said rum experiences we’ve all had.

Mount Gay Rum recently invited me in for an evening of gorgeous cocktails and delicious food at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar. Having gone to the event with an open mind about rum, I was more than enthused to be persuaded to join rum’s team. After receiving the first delicious cocktail from Sissy’s amazing bar staff using Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, fresh herb-infused ice, veggies and juices (shown being made in the video above), I was sold! It was extremely refreshing to enjoy rum without the excess amount of sweet or sour flavors.

Throughout the evening, I was honored to try more cocktails of various styles paired with some amazing dishes. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, so much so, Sissy’s offered to make an old fashioned-inspired cocktail using it! And yes, it was pretty amazing.

Next time you’re in the market for a new beverage, have your bartender whip something up using Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum. You have this bourbon-lover’s word that you won’t be sorry!