Category Archives: Contributor

Citadelle Gin

 

Written by Lauryn Bodden

You should know by now I am an avid gin drinker and I will praise its herbal notes to my grave. A spirit that is meant to be mixed and bring depth to drinks, gin is the most used alcohol in classic cocktails. A friend once told me, “Saying you don’t like gin is like saying you don’t like sauce.”  Gin uses juniper as its main ingredient, but ranges with flavor profiles from cucumber and rose to lavender to lemongrass and black pepper.

Citadelle Gin from Cognac Ferrand proprietor, Alexandre Gabriel, combines the delicacy of fresh flowers, jasmine, honeysuckle, and cinnamon—a flavor profile reminiscent of springtime picnics and summer patio sipping. Citadelle is the only gin in the world distilled in small, Charentais copper pot stills over a naked flame.  (That sounds pretty sexy.)

Intrigued by flavor possibilities imparted from aging gin in different types of casks, Gabriel began to experiment in the mid-200s and introduced the Citadelle Gin Reserve in 2008. Going back to the style of “yellow gin”, Citadelle Reserve matures for several months in old oak casks to produce the freshness of Citadelle gin with older, cask-aged spirits. Each year since 2008, Gabriel releases a limited edition aged gin each year to give customers new, exciting flavor profiles.

In 2013, Gabriel hit the holy grail of gin production. He came to the conclusion that a cell master should not age gin in just one cask, but several casks and then marry the liquid. This process is called solera, which means you have a “mother solera vat” that maintains the blend profile.

The process appears grueling, but basically involves putting new-made Citadelle into three types of casks from two to five months. Here’s the breakdown of casks used:

1.)  ex-Cognac that are rinsed with gin, so the Cognac doesn’t overpower the gin

2.)  ex-Pineau des Charente that imparts a full-bodied mouth feel, a little spice and a flowery roundness

3.)  American oak casks, which is the mother solera vat that contains a special taste profile created by Gabriel. The gin marries in the mother solera vat and then bottled.

As you prepare to embrace this Texas summer heat with a cool, refreshing cocktail, check out Citadelle Reserve Solera to make the perfect drink by the pool (or, ya know, anywhere).

Here is a recipe for a more exotic Gin & Tonic using Citadelle:

Created by Citadelle’s Spanish team.

  • 35ml Citadelle gin
  • 140ml Tonic
  • Orange
  • Licorice root

In a wide glass, place two slices of orange. Pour gin then tonic.  Add the licorice. Garnish with orange peel.

LYFT Energy Stir Sticks

written by William Merkel

I drink a lot of energy drinks. (Like … a lot. I may or may not have written this review with a Monster in front of me and a Monster box on my head.) So I was the natural choice to review LYFT Energy Stir Sticks.

The idea behind LYFT is simple. Put powdered caffeine in a stick that can be stirred into any drink imaginable to give it an extra little kick of energy. But this isn’t just your regular “run-of-the-mill” caffeine that can be found in sodas, no sir. This is “clean caffeine”. It has zero calories, and is made from green coffee bean extract with vitamins A and B complex.

Depending on what drink you stir LYFT in to, the taste will vary. Their website gives some examples such as orange juice, water, soda (which already has caffeine save for a few root beers, caffeine free, etc), mixed drinks, or how I personally tried it, on the rocks.

Now, I may have chosen a bit of a strong drink to put it in … I used Mount Gay Barbados Rum and followed the directions on the stick: remove label, stir for 10 seconds. The claim is caffeine equivalent to one tall coffee, but not being a coffee drinker, I cannot attest to that fact. It did, however, give the rum a subtle, slightly sweeter taste which was unexpected. As for an energy boost, I did not feel anything. (Again, I drink multiple energy drinks each day, so I wasn’t surprised.)

Since there were two sticks in the package I decided to have another go. I used the second stick in a bottle of Seven Water and, in this, it did have a noticeably different taste. It was sweater, and a bit cleaner aftertaste. A lot different that my experience with rum, and it did give a little caffeine buzz, but still nothing too drastic.

Personally I think LYFT would be best enjoyed in water or a juice, something other than an alcoholic beverage which would overpower the the amount of caffeine in the stick. I can definitely see myself buying a couple more of these to put in juices or maybe coconut water to mix up my morning routine.

PURE LYFT ENERGY STIR STICKS
www.purelyft.com
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Instagram: purelyft
Twitter: purelyft | #purelyft  #cleancaffeine

The Ritas

bud light ritaIf you’re looking for a sweet addition to your cooler, I would suggest trying any of the four flavors of Bud-Ritas from your local grocery store. I’d say that the best part about these Ritas is the alcohol content—they weigh-in at 8%, so it’s a good bang for your buck. But, unless you have a major sweet tooth, I would steer anyone who has not tried these margaritas to not buy them expecting a great tasting beverage. Instead, I recommend using these 8oz cans as a mixer. They are much more pleasant as a flavorful addition to your light beer of choice while taking in some sun at the pool or lake this summer (and they add an extra boozy punch to your drink)!

The original, Lime-a-Rita, is great considering how fast it can be prepared (pop open the can and pour over ice), yet, as previously mentioned, it’s too sweet for my taste. The other three flavors, Straw-Ber-Rita, Raz-Ber-Rita, and Mang-O-Rita, were on par with the other flavors—just a bit too sweet to drink the entire small 8 ounce can.

PRO TIP: I recommend the Raz-Ber-Rita to any TCU horned frog fan in search of a purple drink to add to your tailgate lineup. (Used as a mixer, of course … because, tailgating.)

To sum up my experience with “the Ritas”, I would say throw them in the cooler at the pool or beach as a sweet addition to your beer. Use caution if choosing to drink them straight from the can- get ready for a sugar coma.

 

Twitter: @TheRitas

www.budlight.com/our-beers/Bud-light-lime-Ritas.html

Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey

written by William Merkel

Whiskey is one of my favorite beverages. Almost 100% of the time I drink it straight with no ice so I can enjoy the flavor, smell, and subtleties of a good, stiff drink. Another one of my favorite things is Texas. So when I got a chance to try Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey I was preeettty … pretty stoked.

imageMade in Texas (more specifically, Carrollton) by JEM Beverage Co. The process is started with pure Texas water and then whiskey is aged in new charred American Oak Barrels and then bottled at 82.4 proof (yesssss). Each small batch is hand-bottled (and “hand tasted”) to ensure each and every bottle is up to snuff.

Proceeds from each bottle sold go to Texas Native Wildlife Conservation (which I am happy to support since I go to state parks regularly). The bottles are all silkscreened with the pictures of the animals that the conservation is helping to protect. (And they look pretty awesome.)

Put your nose to the glass and you will smell sweet, floral notes with a slightly strong alcohol smell. The taste is also slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla and has a nice potency in your throat as it goes down your gullet. Also noticeable is one of my favorite things about whiskey is the oak. You can literally taste the barrels that it was aged in, and I love that. The oak may be a bit overpowering for some people, but for me it hit the mark. Overall, it is not too complex a whiskey, but had enough complexity to make it interesting.  In short: I would buy this.

The price is around $30 for a 750ml, and yes, I know you can get other great whiskeys around this price point like Bulleit or Old Forester Kentucky, but give Red River a chance and you may have a new top choice of what to drink when cuddling an empty glass. And don’t forget, it’s made in Texas.  GO TEXAN.

Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey
$30 for 750mL bottle
jembevco.com/redriver.html

About JEM: JEM Beverage Co. produces Red River in Original (reviewed above), young rye, and Canadian.  They also product Western Son Vodka, Southern Son flavored vodkas, Stingray Spiced Rum, and South House Moonshine (both original and flavored), 

Mellow Out at Mellow Mushroom

 

There’s a holiday for everything. Pizza lovers, mark your future calendars for May 15th, National Pizza Party Day. I went to one of my favorite pizza restaurants in Fort Worth to celebrate, Mellow Mushroom. My usual drink of choice is beer, but this time I decided to let summer come early and try a specialty mixed drink. All of the Mellow Mushroom drinks make you feel like you are relaxing on a beach (without the hassle of sand in your crack and sunscreen streaked across your face).

They told me that their most popular speciality drink is the Shroom Tea (vodka, gin, rum, Triple Sec, Razzmatazz, Blue Curacao, sweet n’ sour, and Sprite); it’s their version of a Long Island iced tea. Not only is this a great deal at $4.00, but it was deeeeelicious and it reminded me of an adult cherry limeade.

My next two drinks were very similar. The first, was named the Head Bitch in Charge and the Pearl Jam.  HBIC is Myers Rum, Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay Coconut, Apricot Brandy, orange and pineapple juice. It was a very frothy, orange juice cocktail with a coconut aftertaste. My favorite drink of the night was the Pearl Jam.  This is a mix of Smirnoff Orange and Vanilla Vodka, club soda, and orange juice.  A dreamsicle in a glass with some oomph!

Stop by Mellow for some pizza (obvi) and choose from their bottled, draft, or canned beers ($4-6), wine list, or specialty drinks ($4-7) while enjoying their laid-back atmosphere.  Great music and staff made this an awesome visit that I would highly recommend a visit.

Mellow Mushroom
3455 Bluebonnet Circle, Fort Worth, Texas 76109 | 817-207-9677
OTHER LOCATIONS

Current Happy Hour Specials:

  • Sunday-Friday (4-7pm) $2 Well Liquor and House Margaritas
  • Texas Sundays- $1 off Texas Beers all day (excludes High Gravity and Seasonal Beers)
  • Margarita Monday- $2 Margaritas
  • Trivia Tuesdays- Extended Happy Hour until 9pm
  • Wino Wednesdays- $2 House Wines from 4-7pm
  • Thrifty Thursdays- $2 off Pitchers (excluding seasonals) from 4-7pm

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.***