Category Archives: Contributor

RED, WHITE AND BREW

A few years ago, I made a decision to kick my caffeine habit once and for all. This required an unexpected and unwanted amount of detox, headaches, and general unpleasantness to get through, but the end result has paid off. I was freed from drinking sludge for fuel, and it eventually led to the demise of an intense diet soda habit (you’re welcome, body). Now, my point is not to indoctrinate you with the evils of caffeine –just giving a little context. I still have soda and coffee, but if I’m going to drink it, it has to be really freaking good. I only give you this brief history to set the stage for me to review CoolBrew Coffee – both as a beverage and as a mixer.

My plan for reviewing this coffee was simple – find 3 good friends, wait for a reason to have a dinner party and grab a ton of mixers that pair well with coffee. What I didn’t expect was how long this would take to make happen, so I was able to also try the CoolBrew flavors on their own before spiking them. If you’re not familiar, CoolBrew comes in containers of concentrate that can be mixed with hot or cold water or milk. I tried a range of flavors – Original, French Roast, Vanilla, Toasted Almond, Decaf, Hazelnut, Mocha and Chocolate Almond – and was impressed how good they were on their own. I even added a bit of the Chocolate Almond to my morning smoothie for flavor (the products are all unsweetened and about 4 calories per serving) and was quite peppy far beyond lunch (although I was also asked to stop fidgeting in a meeting, so that was a onetime experiment.) If you’re just looking for a simple way to supplement a coffee habit, this is a pretty cost effective and delicious way to do it. (My iced latte-a-day fiancée has nixed her daily Starbucks run in favor of CoolBrew with milk over ice in a travel tumbler.)

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Breaking: People still play Cards Against Humanity

But, you’re not here for coffee bargain shopping tips with Brian; you’re here for the alcohol. For the booze portion, we gathered ‘round and made four drinks for the group to toast the end of our Memorial Day dinner:

  • Iced Hazelnut coffee with skim milk and Grand Marnier
  • Hot Toasted Almond coffee with skim milk, Jameson and whipped cream
  • Iced Chocolate Almond coffee with skim milk and Frangelico
  • Iced Vanilla coffee with skim milk and Bailey’s

After sharing and swapping all four, it was official – these were perfect after-dinner drinks with a lot of flavor. We liked using the concentrate versus regular brewing as it was really quick to make and avoid having an extra batch of unwanted coffee afterwards (and yes, I’m aware Keurigs exist, I just don’t care.)

If my recipes don’t tickle your fancy, check out the amazing things you can do with CoolBrew on their website, including BBQ sauce, Coffee Martinis, and Midnight on the Bayou™!
COOLBREW RECIPES

CoolBrew is based in New Orleans, but you can find it in a ton of stores here in DFW.

For more info, check out www.coolbrew.com.

Price(online): $5.99 per 500ML container

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.

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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.

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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!

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

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!