Category Archives: Contributor

Scotch & Sausage

We’ve all heard of this deliciousness that plopped down on Oak Lawn earlier this year to much expectation.  I know that, personally, it seemed to offer two of my favorite things … scotch and sausage (obvi.), and I was game to get down on some serious high end hot doggage.

Rico and I ventured in a couple weeks ago to try some of the new menu items popping up, and were far from disappointed.  We each had a couple drinks mixed by badass bartenders Jesse and Erick and enjoyed every minute of our evening.

P.S. They have live music that is amazing. There’s serious talent in there.

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SCOTCH & SAUSAGE
2808 Oak Lawn Ave
(469) 802-6753
scotchandsausage.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Yard House Measures Up

If you can’t find something to love at Yard House, you either hate good food, cold craft beers, and carefully mixed cocktails … or you’re wrong. Addison’s newest watering hole, Yard House, is a place where with so many choices that repeat visits are a must.

The drink menu offers up an impressive (and massive) list of American and international craft beers, cocktails, wine and sake.  For those counting calories, but needing to indulge in an adult beverage, the drink menu includes a selection of cocktails between each 150-200 calories such as the Citrus Crush, Skinny Margarita, and Juniper Fusion.  In addition to an already abundant amount of options, the restaurant mixes it up with a rotating selection of brews for their Chalkboard series.

Ruby Red Cocktail
Ruby Red Cocktail

Given the ample selection of beers, I thought it only proper to go with a tall, cold draft brew,  Blood and Honey from Revolver, before going back to more familiar territory with an Upper Manhattan cocktail, featuring a peach puree that added a nice touch to this well balanced drink. My better half opted for two of the house martinis (one at a time of course), the Ruby Red and the Strawberry Fields, both of which she would have liked to order seconds of. But lo, reason prevailed on a Tuesday night and she stopped at one (of each).

Yard House craft beer
Blood & Honey

The food menu (whose length rivals the drink menu’s) has a nice selection of food — animal, vegetable or mineral. From a wide selection of bar snacks to full-blown meals, there is something that can and will satisfy anyone’s booze-fueled whims. Carnitas tacos, spicy Thai chicken pizza, Hawaiian poke stack … the bottom line is that you should go to the Yard House hungry!  Take my advice and try the Mac & Chesse – chicken, bacon and wild mushrooms mingle with pasta in a decadent cheese sauce with hints of truffle. If that’s not the perfect food to go with one of Yard House’s craft brews, I don’t know what is.

Picture courtesy of Yard House

The interior of Yard House is just the right mix of modern upscale and contemporary casual. (Think Kona Grill meets BJ’s Brew House.) It’s a great place for a little after-work drink or a fun first date where you may need some distractions. There is an outdoor patio, which would be a great place to relax, drink a beer and watch a game or two.  The large, central  bar is a great place to pull up a chair and admire the 100s of beer taps all waiting to be pulled.

Yard House Bar Addison, TX

No one can go to Yard House and not talk about the music. The playlist was the absolute perfect mix of everything from classic rock to modern day hits varying from rock to reggae and everything else in between. It took everything in me not to get up and start dancing, but there may have been some head bobbing going on.

Give Yard House a try-and if you see a bald fellow rockin’ out…it’s not me.

Yard House
www.yardhouse.com | (972) 716 – 4004
5100 Belt Line Road, Dallas, Texas 75254
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Happy Hour:
Monday – Friday: 3 pm to 6 pm,
Sunday – Thursday: 9 pm to 11 pm

  • $1 off domestic pints and well drinks
  • $2 off craft & import pints and goblets, domestic half yards,  Fresh and Skinny™, beer cocktails and mules, call & premium spirits and wine by the glass
  • $3 off house martinis
  • $4 off craft & international half yards

 

DIY Bloody Mary Bar, starring Zodiac Vodka and Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary Mix

I enjoy brunch. Good thing for me, because I’m pretty sure if you live in DFW and the “powers that be” find out that you are ANTI-BRUNCH, stealthy ninjas will break into your house while you sleep, extract you from your bedroom, and deposit you somewhere else. Maybe here; I’m not sure, though.  In my humble opinion, the best part about the brunch ritual has nothing to do with fancy eggs or $17 french toast. Brunch drinks, my friends. Brunch drinks. More specifically, the ever-versatile Bloody Mary. When I am really honest with myself, without something tasty to sip on, eggs are just breakfast. And sometimes, especially following a particularly “spirited” Saturday night, public appearances before mid-afternoon on Sunday can be … challenging.

That being said, WHAT IF … hear me out here … WHAT IF, I were to forego said outing, and enjoy my own, fancy-pants, custom, (BOTTOMLESS!) Blood Mary bar, in the comfort of my own home? PJs + couch + dog + football +Bloody Mary bar … think about it. It’s perfect. So perfect, it had to happen. Allow me to share with you the beauty of my own, personal DIY Bloody Mary bar – and read on for some ideas on how you can construct one of your own.

bloody 7I think it goes without saying, a high quality vodka is a must when concocting the perfect Bloody Mary. Let me tell y’all about Zodiac Vodkaa handcrafted, gluten-free American potato vodka, new to the market and hailing from Idaho. I can honestly say that I have not been this excited about a new spirit discovery in a long time. Zodiac is silky smooth with such a clean finish, you can literally sip it. Apparently this is attributed to the fact that Zodiac uses 100% pure water from the Snake River Aquifer, which is then filtered using hand cut Canadian Birch Charcoal. According to Zodiac, this process results in a naturally sweet, pure, gluten free, and distinct tasting vodka. I tend to agree. I used Zodiac Vodka for my Bloody Mary bar, and I suggest you do, too. You will not be disappointed.

Secondly, you are going to need to hook yourself up with an exceptionally tasty Bloody Mary mix. With so many delicious options on the market these days, there really isn’t a need to make one from scratch. Take for instance Powell & Mahoney’s Bloody Mary MixThis classic “vintage” take on the Bloody Mary (recipe circa 1926!) is deliciously thick and robust. Mildly spicy, it serves as a perfectly delicious base- tasty enough to drink undoctored, but mild enough to be highly doctor-able. Powell & Mahoney’ s Bloody Mary mix was cast in the starring role in my Bloody Mary bar – and I highly recommend you give it a screen test in yours.

Now, let’s get started …

  • Make sure you have a respectably-sized glass.  No one likes a tiny Bloody Mary … or one that’s hard to stir.
  • First, rim your glass with something delicious. Penzey’s Prime Rib Rub is a great option; use lime juice instead of water to make it stick.
  • Fill your glass 3/4 full+ with ice.
  • Fill the glass 1/3 full+ with vodka.
  • Top with Bloody Mary mix.  (Don’t fill it too far or you won’t have room for the rest!)
  • Let’s talk goodies. This is the fun part. The sky is the delicious limit, and you can get as creative as you want. Here are some suggestions, ranging from the obvious to the outrageous:

Bloody 3

FIXIN’S

– celery (duh)
– lemon or lime (duh)
– olives (spicy, garlic-stuffed, blue cheese stuffed, etc.)
– pickles (McClure’s are delicious)
– pickled okra/beets/cauliflower/carrots/green beans
– crispy roasted Brussels sprouts
– cooked bacon
– oysters
– pearl onions
– baby shrimp (or hell … make ’em big.)
– jalapeños
– pepperocinis
– marinated artichokes
– capers
– hard boiled eggs
– cheese squares
– ginger

seasonings

Seasonings

– cracked pepper
– Old Bay seasoning
– celery salt
– Creole seasoning
– garlic powder
– Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
– Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic seasoning blend
– smoked paprika
– cayenne pepper

suces

Sauces

– Worcestershire sauce (duh)
– pickle juice
– olive brine
– hot sauce
– Sriracha
– BBQ sauce
– horseradish
– Chipotle Tabasco
– steak sauce

My personal philosophy tends to be something along the lines of: the more stuff I can cram into/on top of that glass, the better. So, don’t be afraid to go nuts. And the good news is, if you aren’t satisfied with your first Bloody Mary attempt, you can mosey on over to (*your very own*) kitchen and make another one.

Bottom line: everything tastes better in PJs. Sorry, not sorry, Uptown.

Bloody Mary 5

*I was graciously provided with complimentary products to try from Zodiac Vodka and Powell & Mahoney. Deeeee-licious!*

Cook Hall Fall Menu Tasting

Cook Hall, located at the W’s Dallas-Victory hotel- has rolled out a new menu for the fall, and I was lucky enough to attend a tasting to see what they have in store for the season. In case you are unfamiliar, Cook Hall is an American gastropub, with a heavy emphasis on craft cocktails, craft beers (including some nice local offerings), and thoughtful wine selections. Their menu places a heavy emphasis on both small plates and family style dining options that encourage sharing and socializing.

I had the opportunity to try two of their craft cocktail offerings. Holy. Moly. Sooooo, so Good. It was really difficult to pick a favorite, but they really weren’t playing fair with their first offering, the Garden Smash (Nolet’s gin, cilantro, Fresno chili, and lime, $12). I’m pretty sure they must’ve known I was coming, because this drink was RIGHT up my alley. The Garden Smash was delightfully fresh tasting, and so interesting, with a bevy of strong, distinctive flavors playing off of each other in this zippy little cocktail. Apparently I do not stand alone in my enthusiasm for this drink, as I was informed the Garden Smash is their #1 seller.

Garden Smash

 

Next up was the Autumn Giant (Plymouth gin, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain, Lemon Juice, & Simple Syrup, $12). I really love gin drinks, so again, this was not a tough sell for me. The flavors in this cocktail were so unique, words don’t come easy to describe it. Sweet, but not too sweet, with an interesting kick. Totally refreshing, and would definitely order it again.

Autumn Giant

I was way sad our super-tasty cocktail hour was over, that is, until they began parading out our starters (“snacks,” per the Cook Hall menu). We sampled a small plate featuring Pecorino, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Pistachios ($9) which consisted of sourdough toasts accompanied by herbed goat cheese, Asian pears, and crushed pistachios; this tasty plate would be a great, light dish for sharing. Next was the Chicken Liver Mousse, and … my fellow diners thought this was great – I mean, they were really blown away by it … and moreover, I am apparently a 6 year old child at heart because I just can’t, y’all. I just can’t.

Moving on…to maybe one of my very favorite dishes I sampled all night … the Butternut Squash Soup with Oyster Mushrooms ($8). So-stinking-good, y’all. This soup was incredibly decadent and creamy, drizzled with a fresh pesto garnish, and chock full of delicate oyster mushrooms that added a seriously tasty element of surprise to this rich fall favorite. Basically, this soup alone is reason enough for me to come back.

Oktoberfest and Butternut Squash Soup

On to the entrees (“Plates”!). First, let me tell you about my very fav, the Crispy Sea Bass, served with roasted Brussels sprouts, heirloom carrots, and spiced apple jus (heh) ($28). This was one of those dishes that made me want to reenact the whole When Harry Met Sally Katz’s deli scene. My eyes rolled back in my head with every bite. Chef Nicholas Jimenez’s creative spin on this fish dish incorporates bold, surprising flavors, like horseradish and mint- which were perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the apple. I loved this unexpected dish.

 

Honorable mentions are rewarded to the ridiculously delicious Fresh Tagliatelle, with smoked bacon, tomato, jalapeño, and arugula ($19). I have to admit that I’m generally not a big bacon fan (I know, I’m barely human), but the smoky-spicy-bitter trifecta  (aka bacon-japs-arugula) really rang my bell. 10/10, would get again.

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Also sampled:

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich – served on a ciabatta roll (baked by the delicious  Empire Baking Company in Dallas) with spiced fig jam, goat cheese, and arugula ($13); the sweet fig spread and delicious, fresh bread made this sandwich just special.
  • Seared Shrimp – served atop warm lentils, with Linguica sausage ($24); holy crap, this was buttery and decadent. I PROMISE YOU, you have never had lentils this good.
  • Caramelized Beef Tenderloin – with a red wine miso glaze & potato gratin ($38); tender and flavorful tenderloin, with creamy, cheesy, potato-y goodness.
  • Seared Scallops – in a soy yuzu broth, served top spaghetti squash ($26); surprising ingredients in the broth (burnt popcorn and Thai chiles) gave this dish a uniquely interesting kick.

Tenderloin

PSA: If you don’t save room for dessert at Cook Hall, you’re doing it wrong. My favorite offering of the evening was the Autumn Cheesecake, decked out in a Riesling gelee and a crown of poached figs ($8); decadent ricotta cheese and a moist, cinnamon graham cracker crust set this cheesecake apart from the ordinary, and, the Riesling gelee … I mean, really? Need I say more? Also delicious were the S’mores with Graham Cracker Ice Cream ($8); house-made marshmallows? Yes please. And finally, the Warm Spiced Pear Crumble, paired with cinnamon ice cream ($7), which is basically like autumn in your mouth. I also want to go ahead and say that they serve up an amazing cappuccino ($5).

Cheesecake

Cook Hall features a multitude of very nice happy hour specials and signature events. For your consideration:

  • Check out Cook Hall’s 5@5 menu, featuring 5 cocktails and 5 snacks available for $5, at, you guessed it, 5 PM.
  • Live music and $5 draft beers are featured from 9:00-12:00 on Thursday evenings. Check out the live music schedule, here
  • Cook Hall features a bi-monthly beer dinner; I can attest that October’s was amazing (and you’ll get to hear all about it, soon! Stay tuned…).Their next beer dinner is scheduled for early December. Check back here for more details, at a later date.
  • Pro tip: You know how parking is like, really, really expensive for Mavs games/Stars games/concerts at the AAC? All you have to do is purchase one (delicious!) entree, and Cook Hall will hook you up with FREE PARKING during events, friends. Don’t forget to have your ticket validated- and don’t forget to tip your valet 😉
  • Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00-3:00.

Additional Info:

Cook Hall Dallas at the W DALLAS – VICTORY
cookhalldallas.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas (Victory Park)
214.397.4111

Mon – Thurs. 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Fri/ Sat. 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Sun. 11:30 AM – 9:00 PM
Reservations available online at Cook Hall Dallas, or via Opentable

 

Grapevine Urban Wine Trails

With the growing number of restaurants, brewing beer scene, countless prix-fixe meals, and weekly festivals, I find myself stuck in the Dallas bubble. Once the weekend hits, I stick to the familiar streets I know and the comfort of my bed. But once I discovered the land of Grapevine and its vast wine trails, my weekend routine might be left for afternoons of adventure and discovery.

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Grapevine offers a “trail” (as some of us would call a “crawl”) of wineries and one vineyard (Delaney) that allow for daily tastings and special events throughout the year. An array of strong and bold reds to crisp and clean whites, you can sip on local grapes over a plate of charcuterie and learn the history of the city. (And did you know that Texas is actually the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S. with Grapevine serving as a leader in the Texas wine industry for more than 25 years?) At the end of summer season, thousands flock to the streets of Grapevine in celebration of music, tapas, family-friendly activities, and, most of all, grape crushing at the annual GrapeFest in September.

Last month, the city added Sloan & Williams Winery to its lengthy list of wine makers. Owners, Alan Kunst and Ralph Mattison, are both military veterans that found they could put their “Code of Conduct” to the test when it came to the wine industry. One bottle to note at this stop is the 2013 Serenity white wine (65% Chenin Blanc, 14% Gewürztraminer, 11% French Colombard, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier) is  crisp, fruity, medium-dry blend that isn’t too dry or bitter. On another note, the 2012 Serendipity red blend (30% Carignan, 30% Cinsault, 20% Tempranillo, 15% Mourvedre, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) gives a rich spice of red fruit aromas that balance well with the boldness of the Carignan.

In addition to their wine menu, the winery offers an array of tapas from dips to breads. My one rule: You must have a flight of wine ice cream before you go. My favorite is the merlot.

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However, the best way to discover the city is with a full glass and designated driver to steer you in the right direction. Grapevine Wine Tours shuttle guests from one tasting room to the next, while guides enlighten guzzlers on the history of wine-making through the North Texas region. Lunch and dinner tours are offered on most days, but itineraries rotate daily. More about Grapevine Wine Tours.

In Grapevine news: by the end of 2014, two more wineries are set to open.

Taking the holidays to the next level, the Christmas Wine Trains run each year from December 1 to 18 at 7 pm. Each guest receives a complimentary beverage in a special Christmas wine glass. Envision live holiday music, a festive train ride, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and even a special appearance by Saint Nick. Then come spring, enjoy the marriage of cool jazz and smooth wine aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. March 21 and 22 ride along the Jazz Wine Trains in 1920s classic railroad cars. The trip includes a box dinner and wines from Grapevine’s wineries and tasting rooms. Tickets are $55 per person.

Besides the wine (said no one ever), Grapevine boasts more than 80 locally owned shops, boutiques, and art galleries with 200+ restaurants to choose from. Word on the street is that an Uber from Dallas to the downtown square runs for about $30. Split that between your group of friends and you’ll rejoice in one hell of a deal. I suggest making a day of it and getting to know the faces of some local artisans such as Dr. Sue’s Chocolates and Tolbert’s Restaurant, along your journey through the grapes of Grapevine.

GRAPEVINE WINE TRAILS
www.grapevinewinerytrail.com
Instagram: @VisitGrapevine
Twitter: @VisitGrapevine

Frankie J + Dr. Pepper at the House of Blues

Frankie J. performed an intimate concert during the Dr Pepper One Of A Kind Concert Powered by Pandora at the House of Blues on October 22, 2014.

The eventful night was kicked off by DJ Big Syphe, and the fun continued with an open bar and photobooth. Frankie J had the crowd dancing with old favorites along with new songs off his latest album “Faith, Hope y Amor”.

Thanks, Pandora, for the fun evening!


About Frankie J | 
Frankie was recently nominated for 2 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards and a Grammy and is currently in the studio working on a follow-up to 2013’’s Faith, Hope y Amor, which is slated to be released later this year via Universal Music. This album also marks the reunion of long time friends and producers Happy Perez (Miguel, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige) and Play n Skills (Lil Wayne, David Guetta, Pitbull).

Carly LeMay
Written by Carly LeMay

Candy Cocktails Recipe Book

Are you having a Halloween party? A Christmas party? Any other kind of party, in life, at any point in the future? Do you like booze? Do you like candy?  If you  have answered yes to any of these questions,  listen up: you’re going to want to hear this*. Candy Cocktails, people. That’s right … cocktails that taste like candy. Cocktails that are MADE USING CANDY. Enter: “Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist“.

(*If you did not answer, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, do not read on. Go here, instead.)

I received “Candy Cocktails” just in time for Halloween, but this cocktail recipe book by the Good sisters (curators of Fashionably Bombed) is chock full of fun and inventive cocktails for every holiday (Candy Cane Martini, anyone?). Holiday-themed libations represent only a small segment of this gorgeous little recipe book, however; in its pages, you will also find cocktail recipes highlight just about any kind of candy you can think of. Forget everything you think you know about dessert drinks … until you have sampled a Liquid Candy Bar, a Candy Fishbowl (yes, it has Swedish Fish “swimming” in it.  Shut. Up.), or a Pop Shot (yup, that would be a shooter integrating Pop Rocks), you know nothing.  Just imagine preparing a custom cocktail for your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/bestie/grandma/mailman based on his or her favorite candy. How much do I love this idea? (A lot.)

Candy Corn InfusionCandy Cocktails is going to have you “mixing outside the box,” if you will. I can attest to this because I found myself preparing candy corn infused vodka early this week. One of the really awesome things about this book is the fact that it gives you directions on how to create variety of sweet liquor infusions using at little as 1/2 cup of booze. Gone are the days of having to spend $17 a pop on multiple, giant bottles of random flavored vodkas that you know are probably only going to use once or twice to make that one cocktail you just had to have, on a whim (I mean, I don’t know many people whose “go-to” drink features marshmallow vodka, do you?). This section of the book is really quite practical and useful (as candy infused alcohol goes).

I prepared two Halloween inspired “Candy Cocktails” in the Plano branch of the Susie Drinks Dallas test kitchen.

Candy Corn CocktailFirst, the Candy Corn Cocktail,- hence the candy corn infused vodka. This drink was so pretty and festive, and just BEGGING you to serve it at your Halloween bash. It was not sickeningly sweet, and really, it was incredibly reminiscent of a lemon drop, with a subtle hint of something different. (You guessed it, genius … CANDY CORN!!!)

Peanut Butter Cup CocktailNext, the Peanut Butter Cup Cocktail, which was every bit as rich and decadent as it sounds. Interestingly (and only mildly disappointingly), this cocktail does not contain actual peanut butter cups (aside from the garnish). As the sisters point out in their book, sometimes the point is for the drink to taste LIKE the candy, as opposed to actually containing the candy. This blended concoction was comprised of vodka, crunchy peanut butter,  crème de cacao, and whole milk  (omg). This was 100% dessert, and they really nailed the peanut butter cup flavor. Nom.

If you are looking for a collection of really fun, unique cocktail recipes, getchoself a copy of Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist, today!

Available at Barnes and Noble (check out their nifty in-store pickup feature!), or on Amazon, for just $13.68.

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!