Category Archives: Contributor

Partida Tequila: Product Review

I am Florida born and raised on vodka cocktails and rum punches, but when I moved to Texas four years ago, I found my true love for tequila was just undiscovered. Whether it’s swirled with hints of fruit in a margarita or straight up on the rock, I like it smooth with salt and lime. Naturally, Texans love Cinco de Mayo because it celebrates God’s gift of Mexican food and tequila. So, as my favorite holiday quickly approaches, I wanted to share my thoughts on one of my recent discoveries, Partida Tequila.

One of the many perks of working with Susie Drinks Dallas is getting to try different lines of liquor, spirits, and wines. Recently, Partida Tequila sent me samples of their Partida Blanco line.  From the production to packaging to blend of flavors, this tequila will have you feeling classy and sophisticated compared to the partiers throwing back shots at the bar. Disclaimer: I am not against tossing back shots, but that would just be a waste of the goodness that Partida has to offer.

All “tequila” must legally contain at least 51% blue agave, but the best contain 100%. Partida’s agave comes specifically from their estate, rather than multiple growers, which allows for consistency and control in the production process. After 7-10 years of cultivation, the agave is harvested by hand. (Talk about a labor of amor!) Most agaves are cooked “the old fashion way,” in stone ovens, which gives a bitter taste from soot that builds in the oven over time, but Partida uses state-of-the-art stainless steel ovens. The agave bakes over a period of 20 hours under precise temperature control and then the juices ferment slowly for 36-40 hours before distillation.

The unaged tequila is bottled as Partida Blanco and the rest is aged in one-pass Jack Daniels American oak barrels. (WHAT?! Did all my dreams just come true?) The barrel provides a rich, copper color with notes of cherry, almond, dried fruit, and allspice in addition to the peppery notes lent by the agave. One can sense hints of honey, chocolate, pear, and vanilla upon tasting. Reposado and Anejo are aged 50% more than required, which only enhances the flavor profile. None of the tequila contains additives or coloring agents.

Particularly, Partida Blanco makes me feel like I should be relaxing on the beaches of Cancun as the blend of blue agave, citrus, fresh herbs, and tropical fruit, are subtle and balanced. It lends a smooth taste that lets even those that swore against the powers of tequila to enjoy the flavors. It’s a great choice for cocktails and those looking to branch out from mediocre drinks. If you’re ever going to become a tequila sipper … this is the one to start with.

Vemma Energy Drink Review

On paper, Vemma’s Verve Energy Drink kind of reads like a dream come true. It is marketed as “insanely healthy energy,” and with the controversy over normal energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster being bad for your health, this seems like it could be a winner. Or is it?

Crack open a can of the bright orange Verve original, Bold, Partea (really?), or the Zero Sugar and you are greeted with a a nice aroma of citrus. The taste somewhat resembles a citrus blend of pineapple and orange juice that has vitamins added to it. There actually is no orange juice or pineapple in it, so I believe this is what the main ingredient, Mangosteen, tastes like. The citrus is somewhat consistent throughout the line of drinks, with the Bold being a little more…well…bolder, for lack of a better word, and the Sugar Free being a little less sweet. The Partea, being my favorite of them all, taste like orange juice and slightly sweet tea mixed together. It may not sound all that tasty, but it was delicious. There was no aftertaste at all to speak of which I am quite happy about. Overall, all of the drinks were crisp, refreshingly tropical in flavor, and had a hint of carbonation but not overpowering.

Now, looking at the nutrition labels, and you can see why it is labeled as a “healthy” energy drink.  The fact sheet says there are three products inside Verve. A “refreshing, fast-acting energy blend. An ultra-premium vitamin and mineral supplement. And a powerful super juice with mangosteen and aloe phytonutrients.” All of these are natural ingredients that come from plants and there are no artificial flavors or colors in the formula.

To compare to the equivalent 8.4 oz RedBull, Verve is packing less caffeine, (which is probably why I did not feel any buzz from it,) less calories, less sugar, and less carbs. All of which are by a margin of 9g or more, which may not sound like a lot, but it can make a big difference.

Just looking at the labels, it does indeed look like the Verve is a slightly healthier choice from the current energy drink dominators. The taste is pretty good, and the ingredients all come from nature which is a huge advantage. If you happen to come across one at the supermarket, and my guess would be that it would most likely be in a Whole Foods or Central Market, you might as well pick one up and try it for yourself.

Since this IS susiedrinksdallas.com, we’re going to offer the obligatory cocktail recipes to use Verve in the most boozy (and delicious) ways.  We tried out a couple, and our favorites were definitely the Citrus and the Orange.

Verve! Caribbean Passion
1 Can Verve! Bold Energy
2 Ounces Raspberry Vodka
2 Ounces Malibu
2 Ounces Cranberry Juice
Splash of Sprite

Verve! Orange
1 Can Verve! PARTEA
2 Ounces Orange Vodka
1 Ounce Peach Schnapps
Splash of Sprite

Verve! Cosmo
½  Can Verve! Zero Sugar
2 Ounces Vodka
½  Ounce Triple Sec
1 ounce Cranberry Juice
1 Cup Lime Juice

Verve! Creamsicle
1 Can Verve! Original
2 Ounces Captain Morgan
2 Splashes of Sprite

Verve! Citrus
½  Can Verve! Low-Carb Shot
2 Ounces Citrus Vodka
1 Ounce Chambord Liqueur
½  cup Grapefruit Juice
A splash of Sweet n’ Sour mix

useful site

Toast to Spring with a Crabbie’s Spiced Orange

The Dallas beer scene is poppin’ right now, and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer is about to make a big splash with the start of warmer spring weather. (Pun kind of intended.)

There is no doubt that Texas loves its beer. You have your local craft man that totes his personalized growler everywhere he goes. There’s the Bud Light guy that bleeds red, white, and blue for his country. Next up, are the cider sippers that know the location of every city beer garden (even if cider isn’t technically a beer … we let them get away with it). The list goes on, but what about the people throwing back a couple of hard ginger beers? (Who are these guys and what’s a hard ginger beer?) That’s what I found myself wondering this past week before I was introduced to the magical wonders of Crabbie’s.

Long ago in the land of Edinburgh, Scotland, merchant-explorer John Crabbie set sail for the best drink ingredients, including ginger and exotic spices. Once selected, the goods were transported by elephants from the markets to the ships, which then set sail for the port of Leith. Over 200 years later, the Crabbie’s adventure is making its way across American soil. Its elephant logo reflects this search for the drink’s four secret fruits and spices, which are steeped with ginger for up to eight weeks. Last year, Crabbie’s debuted its original recipe in Texas and received high praise for its smooth, refreshing finish. (You can read Susie’s thoughts about the original recipe Crabbie’s on her review!) A cross between a hard cider and ginger soda, the drink is the perfect combination of spice and sweet.

Back for round two, Crabbie’s teamed up with The Ginger Man to roll out their newest flavor profile, Spiced Orange. During their debut event, Crabbie’s Spiced Orange was served chilled over ice with a slice of citrus. This is the perfect drink to double-fist poolside or even drink casually out with friends. The flavor profile is similar to the original, but offers a lighter ginger kick and zests things up with a tangy orange twist.

The Ginger Man teamed up with its neighbor Crushcraft Thai Street Eats to offer guests the ultimate experience of drinks and sweet dough pretzel bites, served with two Thai-inspired dipping sauces curated by Chef Paul Singhapong to pair with the Spiced Orange. The grub mixed the open patio of long picnic tables made for a prime social drinking atmosphere. The Ginger Man is a team of great minds because there are very few things better than (ginger) beer and pretzels.

That is unless you tried one of the Crabbie’s floaters. Imagine a large scoop of Vanilla Hagen Daaz combined with the zesty powers of Crabbie’s, and you have yourself an adult version of an Orange Julius.

If the floater doesn’t get you (who the hell are you?), try blending the beverage into a variety of ginger beer cocktails, such as a Dark and Crabbie or a Moscow Mule.

But let’s be for real … Crabbie’s has been killin’ it the past two centuries, so why mess with perfection?  Crabbie’s offers something for every kind of drinker. Give it a try and it’ll be hard to stay away.

Crabbie’s is currently available in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin and Waco where it is distributed by Favorite Brands.  For more information on Crabbie’s, please visit them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@CrabbiesUSA) #icewithaslice.

Event Recap: La Marca Happy Hour at Times Ten Cellar

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


written by Rachael Evans Kohler

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

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

Top Golf in The Colony Sunk This One (In a Good Way)

We’ve all been part of the group outing where quality drinks and food are thrown to the wayside in exchange for the convenience of buckets of domestic beer and reheated frozen chicken tenders. Bowling, movie/food combos and miniature golf generally end with food regret, a half-drunk pitcher of Miller Lite approaching room temperature and a bill that does not come close to matching my level of enjoyment. With this bias admittedly in mind, I recently had the opportunity to check out the newest TopGolf location in The Colony and sample what was the beginning of an ever-changing, chef-inspired food and beverage menu.

When I arrived, I was greeted by Corporate Executive, Chef Seve Delgado, who had saved us a seat at the bar to sample their specialty cocktail menu and were later joined by Director of Food and Beverage, Mark Boyton, who was kind enough to join us straight from a flight home from a corporate F&B shoot earlier the same day. Their drink menu features craft cocktails, a house-made Sangria, a bloody mary bar and local beers specific to each location (for example, The Colony had Franconia on tap while the Dallas location features Four Corners Brewery.) They also allow bartenders throughout the company to bring new ideas based on current drink trends, which meant our first round featured Dark ‘n Stormy and a Texas Mule (because odds are even your college-aged little brother now has a copper mug and a four-pack of Fever Tree—which we’re completely cool with).

Seve told us they have to walk the line between making good drinks and being able to produce in volume, as their sales numbers are staggering*. The drinks themselves were fresh and the ingredients were strong (Tito’s vodka, Gosling’s rum, and quality ginger beer – not the mailed-in kind or coke/ginger ale sub that has ruined many a drink in other bars). Delgado told us that Top Golf’s goal is to make food and drinks as good as the game.  (Success.)

She also told me this menu was just the beginning (the location has been open less than two months), and we will soon see bourbon/whiskey (please hurry on this one), tequila and barrel-aged spirit-driven cocktails. They are working on other bar items such as house-made habanero syrup and other homespun ideas. The menu will rotate every six months and will be based on trend-watching more anything else. (We were told to expect more margaritas, more flavors of vodka and other options to arrive soon.) They are also in the process of building out a defined wine selection and have been focused on finding interesting options that pair well with their current food selections. A big bold cab may not be the best fit for trying to hit the ball cart when it cruises by (come on, admit you do it), but a focus on blends will give more options to find a good wine that matches both the person ordering it and the flavor profile of the dish.

We also tried a few of the sweeter drink offerings: the Orange Dream (a creamsicle-tasting drink that is their most popular specialty cocktail and comes in a 60oz souvenir golf bag fish bowl called the Rum-Runner Up). The sweet drinks are not my wheelhouse, but my drinking companion has experience bartending at a well-known chain restaurant and could vouch for them much better than I could. My take – they were good punch-type drinks, perfect for an outdoor setting, that don’t overwhelm with the sugar taste like so many similar options do.

In fact, despite the fact that we were only there to try the drinks, we heard about flavor profiles and the food so much, they told us they had just a few dishes we had to try – which turned into one heck of a feast. Delgado told us they “don’t want to be known for common food” and they take a similar approach to their menu as they do their specialty drinks. They allow chefs at each location to introduce concepts and ideas, and then identify the best of the best when the menu rotates March of each year. We tried the Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Brisket Chili, which was surprisingly good and admittedly way beyond what we expected. (That’ll teach us to judge a book by its cover.) We also enjoyed their take on a grilled cheese (remarkably rich and hearty with a nice tomato addition), a club sandwich that went beyond the usual chain restaurant feel and chicken and waffle sliders we learned should only be eaten with gravy added to the chicken and then syrup poured over the top. Delgado stressed they make the majority of the menu from scratch in-house and the difference showed.

 We spent the last part of the night talking and it was apparent that Delgado and Boyton are just getting started. Both have been with the company for about five years and were almost bashful about their impressive resumes. Both have catered for high end clients, with Boyton casually mentioning his experiences back home in the UK catering ho-hum events like the Beckham wedding as well as special events for Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Weber. They intend to keep building a chef-driven (I should have kept a counter on how often we used the term) powerhouse and The Colony location is off to a great start.

If you’re like me and have only been to the Dallas location, you need to head up north to see the three-story, wide-open building and course (which serves as the company’s new prototype). There is a large patio still under construction and we were told the existing locations will be remodeled in the coming months to match.

Drink strength: 3.2
Overall: 4.2

Written by Brian Bianco

Top Golf, The Colony
www.topgolf.com/thecolony
Twitter: @topgolfcolony | Facebook: /TopGolfTheColony
3760 Blair Oaks Dr, The Colony, TX 75056
(469) 213-5204

 *Last year in DFW alone, they outsold Cowboys Stadium. They are also the largest beer account in Collin County and have similar success in other locations (we were told the Houston location also outsold Reliant Stadium, although this doesn’t factor in what it must take to get through a Texans game this season.