Category Archives: Contributor

Sauza Reposado & Silver Tequila Review

For my inaugural post at SDD, I feel compelled to be completely  honest with y’all: tequila and I have a rocky past. And by rocky…  I mean sitting-on-the-curb-crying rocky. Fortunately for me, however, the lovely folks at Sauza provided me with the opportunity to reacquaint myself with former cocktail nemesis.

sauzaFind me some limes and color me converted, because Sauza Blue Silver and Sauza Reposado are tequilas for anyone whose tequila experience ends abruptly with frozen margaritas. The Sauza Silver is warm and citrusy with a clean finish, while Sauza Reposado is sweeter with notes of pepper and caramel.

Moral of the  story? Tequila shouldn’t be shelved until summer rolls back around. Save yourself some liquor store browsing and snag some Sauza tequila and give one of these recipes a whirl!

Spicy Sauza-Rita
1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
2 parts beer
1 part frozen limeade concentrate
1 part water
A dash of hot sauce
Sugar (for garnish)
Salt (for garnish)
Red pepper (for garnish)
Chili pepper (for garnish)

In a small bowl, mix sugar, salt, red pepper and chili pepper. Dip the rims of the glasses in a splash of lemon juice then immediately into salt & sugar.  Combine tequila, beer, limeade, water and hot sauce. Shake well and pour over ice into rimmed cocktail glasses.

Fall Apple Cider Margaritas

2 parts Sauza® Reposado Fresh Blue Agave Tequila
4 parts spiced cider
1 part Grand Mariner or Cointreau
Dash of lemon juice
Raw sugar (for garnish)
Cinnamon (for garnish)
Cinnamon sticks (optional)
Apple slices (optional)

In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon. Dip the rims of the glasses in a splash of Grand Mariner then immediately into cinnamon-sugar mix.  Combine tequila, cider, Grand Mariner or Cointreau and lemon. Shake well and pour over ice into rimmed cocktail glasses. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or apple slices!

FALL into Skinnygirl Vodka

I consider it fate and not merely a coincidence that two bottles of Skinnygirl Vodka appeared on my doorstep on October 3rd, less than 24 short hours away from October 4th, which just so happens to be NATIONAL VODKA DAY.  As if that wasn’t enticement enough, Skinnygirl was kind enough to share some recipes featuring fall flavors (apple!) in order to help us kick off the season with a festive yet (practically) guilt-free libation! Ladies of DF/W (and guys … if you’re into that sort of thing), Halloween is rapidly approaching, and we need all the help we can get before it’s time to squeeze into this year’s “Sexy ____ “  (insert profession, zoo animal, beloved children’s character, etc.) getup.

First, a little bit about Skinnygirl Cocktails: Bethenny Frenkel’s (yup, that Bethenny Frenkel) line of low-calorie alcoholic indulgences came onto the scene with the introduction of the Skinnygirl Margarita back in 2011. Skinnygirls (and would-be Skinnygirls) near and far apparently clamored for more, as Bethenny has since rolled out a line of Skinnygirl ready-to-drink cocktails (I need to get my hands on the Skinnygirl mojito…), a Skinnygirl wine collection, and yes, a variety of Skinnygirl naturally flavored vodkas.

Skinnygirl Vodka with natural flavors is available in the following intriguing varieties:
– White Cherry Vodka
– Tangerine Vodka
– Cucumber Vodka
– Bare Naked Vodka

I received a bottle of the Skinnygirl Tangerine Vodka in addition to a bottle of the Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka for my sampling pleasure.  I enlisted my boyfriend to join me in my taste-testing endeavor, and he agreed to do so. (Though he did request that I refer to this product line as, “Skinnypeople Vodka” in my write-up. Request denied.)

I prepared two of the “fall flavor” cocktails based on recipes Skinnygirl provided. I will give the disclaimer that each of these recipes can be prepared with either apple juice or apple cider. I was disappointed to learn that my neighborhood grocery store had yet to roll out their apple cider for the season when I went to pick up my non-alcoholic goodies, so I had to go the AJ route*. If you decide to replicate these tasty little treats, I might go for the cider if you have it available. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

*Note from Susie: surprisingly, WalMart usually has Martinelli’s Apple Cider in stock.

First, the unanimous favorite: the Crisp Apple Cooler. This seemingly simple cocktail consisted of Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka, apple juice, agave syrup, and a green apple garnish. Easy enough to throw together, right? This cocktail tasted like a delicious candy apple in a glass. The Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka was perfectly smooth and blended beautifully with my mixers. We could not discern that this was a low-calorie alternative to classic vodka. In other news, I think this would be uhh-mazing with a caramel rim. Wait, does that defeat the purpose of sipping on low-calorie booze? Let’s consider it a compromise.

Skinnygirl2Crisp Apple Cooler
1 ½ parts Skinnygirl® Bare Naked Vodka
¾ part apple juice
¼ part agave syrup
Green apple slice for garnish

Stir agave syrup with vodka in the base of a shaker until the agave syrup dissolves. Add apple juice and shake thoroughly with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a green apple slice.

Next, the Fall Festival-tini, consisting of Skinnygirl Tangerine Vodka, apple juice, light rum, and lemon for garnish. The tangerine flavor added some subtle interest to this grown-up apple juice concoction. I might suggest skipping the rum and doubling up on the Skinnygirl Tangerine if you are looking for a citrusy kick; especially if you are going the apple cider route. Heck, you could even get fancy and toss in some cinnamon, or nutmeg, for a festive punch.

Fall Festival-tini
1 part Skinnygirl® Tangerine Vodka
3 parts apple juice/cider
½ part light rum
Lemon wedge for garnish

Mix ingredients in a shaker, and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Just for good measure, we also sampled the Skinnygirl Tangerine Vodka on the rocks … you know, in the name of science. We found it to be light and refreshing, without any kind of a fake, “diet” taste. This was a pleasant surprise. With Skinnygirl’s help, I will be slithering into that “Sexy Orphan Annie” costume in no time.

Here are some additional Skinnygirl recipes, for your low-calorie sipping pleasure.

*Samples were provided free of charge. Thanks, Skinnygirl!*

Pegaso Mexican Diner- Fort Worth

Last week I was privileged to attend a media dinner at a new Tex-Mex restaurant in Bluebonnet Circle, Pegaso Mexican Diner. The circle has made a huge turn around since the days of the Qui and Tiff and Andi’s. Now the circle is full of great restaurants and retail, and Pegaso is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.

Pegaso is set up like Freebirds or Chipotle where you go through a line to build your plate. They also offer a few platters were everything is already chosen for you want a quick decision. The basics of the menu are: enchilada plates, burritos, burrito bowls, salad bowls, and street tacos. With almost everything, you pick your filling, sauce, and sides. My first experience was awesome because I was able to try a lot of the menu in small portions. I kept thinking about how good the food during the rest of my week that I went back a few days later for my weekend Mexican food fix. Going through the line for the first time was somewhat overwhelming with all of the choices. It was safe to say that I’m pretty sure I would not have been disappointed with anything I would have chosen. The simple things like the rice and refried beans are amazing. The food is such high quality (this is nothing like Taco Bell fast food).

Eventually they will be offering late night on weekends as well as breakfast.

I’ll admit it … I’m a queso fanatic. For that reason, I deem myself qualified to say that their queso blanco was amazing. My other top recommendations are the enchilada platter with chicken tinga, chipotle crema, vegan cilantro rice, and pinto refried beans. One of the best sides I have tried is the Spicy Mexican Elote (a corn dish with chipotle crema, mayonnaise, and queso fresco). This dish has a great mix of sweet and spicy flavors.

So awesome food, now what about the drinks? Yes, this is considered “fast casual”, but the margaritas are hand shaken using 100% agave Tequila (your choice of Silver, Reposado, or Anejo). I was a big fan of the skinny margarita on the rocks ($8.50). The cucumber margarita on the rocks ($10.00) was a refreshing twist on a traditional margarita and the cucumber mellowed out the sweetness.

Pegaso also offers a selection of domestic ($2.95), imported ($3.75), and local ($4.25) bottles. (I feel that I shouldn’t have to say that you can’t get the drinks to go … but I’ll err on the side of safety.)

All of the items at Pegaso are made with high quality ingredients and sustainable harvested produce when possible. They use healthy fats such as Canola oil in their fryer as well as accommodate any vegan request that is possible. This is a family-friendly restaurant with a very reasonably priced kids menu ($3.75).

PEGASO MEXICAN DINER
3516 Bluebonnet Circle
Fort Worth, Texas 76109
Website | Facebook

Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday: 11am- 9pm
Friday- Saturday: 11am- 11pm
Sunday: 11am- 9pm
CLOSED MONDAY

Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday 4-6:30 ($1 off all alcoholic drinks)

*TCU students receive a 10% discount with ID.

Cascade Ice

One of the best parts of product reviews is finding my next new drink obsession. I have to say, I have tried many flavored waters to try to kick my Diet Coke habit, but haven’t been successful until now. Cascade Ice Water was generous enough to send me a few bottles of their coconut mango water and coconut pineapple water. I originally was just going to use these as a mixer (which I did), but also drank them straight up. I will definitely purchase more from this line of naturally flavored water. All of the flavors are zero-calorie, sugar-free, caffeine-free, sodium-free, gluten-free, and zero carbs. They have a great, natural flavor with light carbonation.

I used these as mixers for an easy vodka drink. There are some very yummy looking recipes on Cascade’s website that you should check out.

*Cascade Ice Coconut Pineapple with Tito's over ice
*Cascade Ice Coconut Pineapple with Tito’s over ice

I will be on the lookout for other flavors to try. There are twenty-one flavors in the zero-calorie line as well as a Sparking Organic, Sparkling Essence, and Sparkling Mixer line. In our local area, Kroger and Sprouts carry the organic line and Albertson’s carries the zero calorie line. Check this link out to find Cascade Ice in your local area.

 

CASCADE ICE WATER
cascadeicewater.com/blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest

*Cascade Ice generously sent me these samples for free.

Keeping it LOCL at NYLO Plano

Chances are, you may already be familiar with NYLO Hotels’ Southside  property; after all, the hotel is home to SODA Bar, NYLO’s trendy rooftop watering hole which boasts what is arguably one of the city’s best views of THE BEST SKYLINE IN THE WORLD (Nice try, Chicago. Better luck next time). Here is something you may not realize: The original NYLO hotel, which opened its doors in 2007, is located just up the road, in Plano. You may find yourself wondering: In the absence of the illustrious SODA Bar, what does Southside’s big bro to the north have to offer us suburbanites?  Let me assure, the answer to this question is a resounding, “Plenty!”

NYLO PlanoI was lucky enough to receive an invitation to sample the new menu at NYLO’s restaurant and lounge, LOCL. Before I get into the highlights of the evening (food and booze, duh), I would be remiss in not mentioning how hip and unique this NYLO property truly is. Upon entering the lobby, I forgot that I was in Plano after about two seconds. The decor is modern minimalist, with dim lighting and geometric shapes and colors that give the lobby an art deco feel (hello, suspended egg chair). LOCL is NYLO’s indoor restaurant and lounge area, where the minimalist vibe continues, as evidenced by polished concrete floors and exposed ducting. Polished silver antlers adorn the chandeliers, giving you a subtle reminder that you are, in fact, still in Texas. The LOCL menu tasting event took place outside, on NYLO’s amazing terrace. I’m not really sure what NYLO could have done to make their courtyard (read: event space) any more awesome. The courtyard features a good-sized gazebo with a bar area, and beyond that lies a sleek lap pool, flanked with a giant, kick-ass fireplace. Just beyond the terrace, a large event tent beckons you to partake in a night of clumsy, drunken dancing at a wedding or office Christmas party.

NYLO PlanoNow, onto LOCL. I had the opportunity to sample four of LOCL’s fresh and inventive cocktails during this event:

  • First, my personal favorite, the “Grapefruitini” (Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, Cointreau, grapefruit juice, sugar rim, $12); The grapefruit juice in this tart and tangy cocktail made all the difference in the world; it tasted very fresh, and really made this drink pop. Riiiight up my alley. Yum.
  • NYLO Tini
    NYLO Tini

    The signature “NYLO Tini” (Tito’s vodka, pomegranate liquer, triple sec, pineapple juice, presecco, $12); Pomegranate lovers, this one is for you. The pom this drink brings to the table is not subtle!

  • The “Basil Lemondrop” (Tito’s Vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, fresh basil, sugar rim, $12); fresh and lovely, sweet with a hint of basil.
  • The “Southern Lady” (Tito’s, creme de cassis, triple sec, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice, pineapple, juice, prosecco, $12); Pineapple lovers, apply here. Aptly named, this drink was sweet and bubbly.

I did not fully appreciate when I arrived at this event how badly I would want to put on my stretchy pants by the end of the evening. I was fortunate enough to sample a LARGE selection of fun and creative dishes from LOCL’s newly revamped menu.

photo 1 (14)General Manager Joe Massar (a most gracious host, I might add) explained that Chef Anthony “Tony” Knight set forth to “step outside the box,” regarding the marriage of flavors and textures in his menu additions. An excellent example of this would be my favorite of the four appetizers we sampled, the “Green Apple Guac“. This was pretty much exactly what it sounds like: your traditional guacamole recipe, blended with small bits of crisp green apple. This at-first surprising flavor combination lent itself to a marriage of zesty and sweet; crunchy and creamy. In addition to the expected side of traditional corn tortilla chips, the guac was served with an assortment of fresh veggie slices, and yes, crisp green apple slices. This appetizer seemed to be a crowd favorite. Other tasty starters, or “Big Boards,” if you will, included “Shrimp Summer Rolls” with cashew cucumber sauce, the fresh and tasty “Ode to Acapulco Shrimp Cocktail” with zesty tomato and avocado, and “The Big Cheese,” a beautiful cheeseboard, featuring 5 farmstead cheeses, local honeycomb, dried fruit, and nutty bread (all “Big Boards” are $12 and feed 3-4 people). 

photo 2 (11)We sampled three salads, including my personal preference, the gorgeous “Chop Chop,” which consisted of baby kale, mountains of crunchy vegetables, chopped egg, and a light, fresh vinegar based dressing. Fresh mint really popped in this salad. Also delicious were the “Toasted Haloumi Cheese” salad, featuring arugula, two kinds of tomatoes, generous chunks of cheese, and a hint of mint, and the “NYLO Caeser,“a deconstructed take on the traditional Caeser  featuring parmesan cheese, anchovy filets, and DEEP FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS…yes, you read that right (All salads are $9; salads are large enough to share).

Flank Steak
Flank Steak

Following the appetizer and salad courses, I felt my food coma coming on…and that’s when the entrees made their appearance. The stars of the show were the “Peppered Flank Steak,” ($12) featuring tender strips of marinated beef seared to a lovely medium temperature accompanied by some delicious mushrooms that were definitely not of this earth, and the “Dragon’s Breath Burger,” ($9) featuring melty white cheddar, hot horseradish, house mustard, and chopped onion; juicy and tender, this burger definitely lived up to its name…and, the hand-cut French fries ($6) that accompanied it may have brought a little tear of joy to my eye. Also sampled were the “Wicked Garlic-ky Chicken,” ($12)

Mahi Mahi
Mahi Mahi

served with feta tzatziki and warm pita, “Crab Fried Rice,” ($12) featuring jasmine rice, gulf crab, and basil, and the “Market White Fish,” ($12) which on this particular evening consisted of a lovely curried mahi mahi creation served atop steamed banana leaves with assorted spring vegetables. Additionally, we were treated to delicious “Texas Beer Battered Zucchini Sticks,” ($6) served with a spicy romesco dip, and our “Something Green” ($6) for the evening, crisp, garlicky broccoli rabe, which was perfectly prepared.

Finally, dessert. I felt like a real American Hero at this point in the evening, sacrificing my personal comfort and future good health in the name of food and beverage blogging. The “Blueberry Crisp,” and the “Chocolate Mousse”  (dessert prices and availability may vary) we sampled were a perfect, sweet ending to this immensely enjoyable event

In conclusion, I’m sold; NYLO Plano is a great spot for locals and visitors alike to sit back and enjoy a tasty cocktail and a delicious meal. Do yourself a favor and check out their new menu, soon.

Here’s the scoop on NYLO’s happy hour: Drink specials and promotions rotate on a daily basis, and the schedule changes month to month. Friday evenings feature live musical entertainment. Be sure to check out their website for happy hour times/prices and entertainment schedule. Here is the scoop for October:

October 2014 Happy Hour/ Live Entertainment Schedule

NYLO PLANO AT LEGACY
972.624.6990
8201 Preston Rd, Plano, TX 75024
Website | Facebook

LOCL Restaurant & Lounge
Reservations are not required; walk-ins welcomed

Breakfast:
Monday-Friday | 6am-10:30am
Saturday & Sunday | 8am-12pm
Lunch/Dinner:
Monday-Thursday + Sunday | 10:30am-10pm
Saturday | 10:30am-12am
LOCL Bar:
Sunday-Thursday | 11am-12am
Friday & Saturday | 11am-1am

Breakfast Menu | Lunch/Dinner Menu

Flight Song

I was excited to receive my latest SDD delivery of Brancott Estate Flight Song wine. Anytime wine is delivered to my front door is a good day in my book!

I got to taste a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. I would have never guessed these were low calorie wines and I was sold on the taste immediately. This isn’t like a “diet” version of wine by any means. According to Brancott Estate, “these wines are twenty percent lighter in calories in comparison to a traditional glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. The grapes are harvested earlier than usual so that it is naturally lighter in sugar, calories, and alcohol content.”

The Pinot Grigio will be a staple in my wine refrigerator from here on out. Each 5oz serving is an average of 87 calories. (Most wines average 123 calories/5oz.) It has a fruity, tart taste that reminded me of green apples. This wine was light and refreshing, which was perfect for a warm day.

I’ll say that I usually don’t enjoy Sauvignon Blanc wine, but Brancott Estate did a great job on this wine as well. It did not taste “diet” or watered down either, even though it is also naturally lower in calories. Each 5oz serving of this variety has an average of 88 calories.

In summary- try this line of wine, you won’t be sorry. For those of you who have a slight guilty feeling when pouring that extra glass of wine, this is for you. Think of it as your 100 calorie snack.

Retail Price: $14.99 ($11.57 at Spec’s)
brancottestate.com | facebook | twitter

*Disclaimer- I received these bottles compliments of Brancott Estate.

The Classier Side of NOLA

While on a weekend getaway to New Orleans, I wanted to see another (dare I say “calmer”) side of Bourbon Street. I had heard lots of good things about the Carousel Bar that is housed in the Hotel Monteleone. It’s a bar and show all in one … just as the name says, the bar is a revolving Carousel.

There are 25 seats at the bar along with a beautiful, spacious lounge. I would have to say that this bar can be quite confusing (especially after a few drinks). If you leave to use the restroom, your seat will not be where it was when you left it. The bar makes a full revolution every 15 minutes. The first question I had was: how do the bartenders enter and exit the inside of the bar? I could not find any openings. Within a few minutes, mystery was solved- these bartenders have to be quite limber because they literally crawl over the bar.

The Carousel bar has lots of history and is popular with locals as well as tourist. Before you plan your trip, check their website for their live music lineup.

I played it safe and my first drink was a Cuba Libre and it was very smooth. A simple drink of plantation dark rum, coke, and a lime-high quality ingredients and packed a punch. This simple drink was so good … that it called for seconds. My boyfriend ordered the Perfect Storm which was New Orleans cajun spiced rum, ginger beer, and lime. He said it was a nice change up from the usual Moscow Mule.

The speciality drinks on the menu run about $9, as well as they offer a full bar and a few local beers on tap.

I would recommend this bar to anyone visiting New Orleans. Not only is it just plain awesome because its a moving carousel (duh), but the drinks are outstanding. Great atmosphere, music, and drinks- what else could you ask for?

Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge
hotelmonteleone.com | facebook twitter
214 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 523- 3341

Open 11am-1am daily (no happy hour specials)

Sailor Jerry’s Pins & Pin-Ups

Earlier this month, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum threw fun bowling competition amongst some of your favorite bar staffs from around the DFW area called “Pins & Pin-Ups”.  The evening at Bowlounge in the Design District included free Sailor Jerry cocktails, an open taco bar, raffle prizes, pin-up models and, of course, bowling! It was a great event packed full of fun, tasty rum cocktails and good times by all in attendance. Thanks, Sailor Jerry!

Try out one of my favorite cocktails from the evening:

Jerry & Ginger
2 parts Sailor JerryGinger beer
2/3 lime wedgesGlass: highball / beer glass
Build in glass over cubed ice & garnish with squeezed lime wedges.