Category Archives: Craft Cocktails

Miracle in Cowtown

Is there really anything better than too much tinsel and tacky sweaters? Holiday cocktails, of course! The Miracle Holiday Pop-up Bar made its way to Fort Worth at Proper. This festive pop-up will occupy the cocktail bar until New Years Eve. Last year Dallas saw its own in One Arts plaza, and Proper is hosting the only one in DFW to host the pop-up this year.

The famous Miracle Pop-up launched at Mace in New York City in 2014. This year, there are more than 50 of these pop-ups all over the world. Basically, you need to drop whatever you’re doing, put on a Santa hat, and go to Proper.

All the drinks were created by the Manager of Mace, Joann Spiegel, as well as the Mace bartender, Nico de Soto. All of these drinks are sure to deck your halls and get you in the Christmas spirit(s). The cocktails are served in Cocktail Kingdom’s custom Miracle glassware which all looks super vintage with anything from Collins glasses with Santa and his whole reindeer crew, rocks glasses depicting Santa’s downfall thanks to egg nog, and even mugs with Santa’s face and his pants … and all are available for purchase. (A perfect stocking stuffer, in my opinion.) Even better, 10% of the glassware proceeds will be donated to Action Against Hunger.

The custom menu has a cocktail for everyone and even a naughty or nice shot.  The Jingle Bell Nog and the Fa La La La La, La La La La were my personal favorites, and Susie loved the Bad Santa (a warm option). The nog is one of the best eggnogs that I’ve had made with cognac, sherry, peanut butter, almond milk, pandan, cream, nougat syrup, egg, and nutmeg. The Fa La La La La, La La La La (fun to sing to the bartender) is made with gin, aquavit, hazelnut liqueur, cardamom, vanilla, lemon, egg white, club soda. You really can’t go wrong with any of these cocktails … the only issue will be getting through the whole menu!

Proper will be decked out in its Christmas best from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to midnight Christmas Eve, and noon to 2 a.m. New Year’s Eve.

 

Proper on Magnolia
409 W Magnolia Ave (Fort Worth)

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MIRACLE

#miraclecocktails

Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen

Admittedly, I tend to be a little bit of a pizza snob. I’m from South Florida—the land of New York and New Jersey transplants. In other words, I grew up surrounded by hole in the wall pizzerias owned by guys with names like “Vito,” and “Nicky”. Since moving to Texas over ten years ago, I have been on a tireless quest to find pizza that lives up to my seemingly impossible standards. A few spots have come close, but I hadn’t found “the one” … until now.  Enter Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen. I never would have guessed that my new favorite pizza spot would be located in The Colony (ok, they have a Dallas location, too). 

I recently visited Dough Bro’s location in The Colony where I had the opportunity to sink my teeth into some of their pies, and they were phenomenal. The crust, made in-house daily (secret ingredient: locally sourced honey!),  is delightfully chewy yet crispy. Dough Bro’s marinara sauce is perfectly balanced with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a hint of sweetness. The mozzarella on our pie was plentiful, and fresh. I was really sad I didn’t have leftover pizza to eat for lunch the next day, because … we ate it all. Oops.

In addition to pizza, Dough Bro’s features a variety of shareable starters, wings, salads, sandwiches, and calzones, as well as a lineup of entrees. The Deconstructed Fresh Lasagna is said to be a favorite of regulars, featuring house-made noodles, a sausage and beef blend, fresh spinach, and mozzarella. If red sauce and cheese isn’t what you’re after, Dough Bro’s offers a variety of “modern classic” entrees, such as a grilled pork tenderloin served with risotto and asparagus, and wild salmon served with zoodles and a whole grain mustard sauce. Be sure to save room for dessert.  The Lemon Butter Cake … ye-um.

Dough Bro’s features an impressive collection of rotating craft beers and microbrews—the beer list is well-curated and offers options locals beyond the “usual suspects”.

Additionally, they also offer an impressive cocktail list featuring seasonal inspirations. On my recent visit, I tried the Basil Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire, fresh squeezed lime, basil, simple syrup) and I am happy to report this is the best version of this cocktail I’ve found since the closure of Hibiscus (RIP). And that’s high praise in my book. We also sampled a Red Pepper Martini (Deep Eddy, fresh squeezed lime, Tabasco, simple syrup, muddled red bell pepper), which was equal parts smoky, spicy, and smooth.

And of course, vino is available, by the glass or the bottle.

Dough Bro’s offers a happy hour Monday-Friday featuring $6 specialty cocktails and $1 off liquors, beer, and wine. Additional drink specials are featured on Tuesdays, with Ziegenbock and Fireball on special for just $2. For additional offerings, specials, and events (including live music!), check out Dough Bro’s Facebook page.

Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen
doughbro.com

The Colony
2851 Plano Pkwy #270
(469) 353-8182

Addison
5181 Keller Springs Road
(469) 248-0058

A special “Thank you” to Dough Bro’s for a delicious meal! An instant favorite, in our book. 

Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival

It’s almost time for my favorite weekend of the year..that’s right- the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. This year, the festival will be held March 30 – April 1, 2017. Tickets just went on sale, so don’t wait- or you will be sorry!

Here is a recap of last year if you need more convincing of how awesome this weekend truly is.

Head on over to the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival website to buy tickets … like now.

Craft Cocktails Go Mainstream at Houlihan’s

Houlihan’s is bringing craft cocktails to the chain restaurant scene with their new 10-drink menu. (At least as much as a chain of its caliber can.)  Houlihan’s introduced new drinks for our tasting pleasure at the Prestonwood location in Addison over a week in May. Using unusual techniques and unique spirits, Houlihan’s new drink menu looks more like something out of a hipster speakeasy than a suburban chain restaurant.

Take, for example, their Oak Aged Manhattan.  This cocktail is aged on-site, using a mix of orange peels and oak staves for a barrel-less aging process. Houlihan’s mixologists claim this technique gives a smooth, subtly nuanced spirit in less time. When I tasted it, there were undertones of maple and vanilla. It is a simple but well-balanced cocktail–just as it should be. Mine came served with a salty, fatty, perfectly candied bacon.

Oak Aged Manhattan
Oak Aged Manhattan

My second drink, the Houdini, took a decidedly sweeter, fruity direction despite the high-proof spirit used. Henry McKenna Single-Barrel Kentucky Bourbon mingles with maple syrup and homemade ginger-peach syrup. This is refreshing cocktail is a perfect patio drink.

The Houdini
The Houdini

The rest of the new drink menu really has something to suit all tastes. One of the more classic additions is a slightly remixed Dirty Martini, shaken up with the addition of huge olives stuffed with pungent gorgonzola cheese and some delicious candied bacon. They even offer a tiki drink–the Blue Taboo. It looks like a sugar rush in a glass, but it’s more than just that; the drink is undeniably sweet, but it is well-balanced by the addition of Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada, which is a handcrafted black tea brewed in coconut water with chai spices and pineapple juice. Now I didn’t sample it, but the Bleeding Rose is definitely one of the more original creations offered on the new drink list.  St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, Absolut Hibiskus and fresh sour mix create the base of this cocktail which is poured over an Aperol-tea ice cube. The melting Aperol, a blazing orange-colored bitter Italian aperitif, will change the flavor profile of the Bleeding Rose over the course of the drink. And on another positive note even the ice is made of alcohol –so it’s the drink that keeps on giving!

Let’s not forget the food, because drinking on an empty stomach rarely ends well.  I tried out the avocado toast with burrata. This summer special has a ton of fresh avocado smeared on top of toasted rustic bread and is seasoned with jalapeño, cilantro and garlic, to give it a bit of kick.  A sweet, creamy burrata cooled the heat and added to the overall decadence of the dish. The portion size was generous enough to make for a light summer dinner. And not letting an opportunity get away to try something else from the limited time menu, I went with the Mahi-Mahi salad, complete with jumbo lump crab and a sweet and tangy citrus and pineapple salad.

The 10 new cocktails are only available at the Prestonwood location, but eventually they will roll out to Houlihan’s restaurants around the country.

… I guess, for now, we are the lucky ones.  Cheers!

Houlihan’s Restaurant and Bar
www.houlihans.com
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5225 Beltline Road #220, Addison

*Thank you to Houlihan’s for picking up the tab and inviting me to check out the new menu items!*

 

California Pizza Kitchen: the Next Chapter

Once upon a time, when I was  starving college student, I worked at the mall. Upon clocking out for my 30 minute lunch break, my M.O. was to pick my sad granola bar from my purse or maybe grab a kids meal from Chik-fil-a (in my defense, it did come with a fun toy), because we all know $128 text books don’t pay for themselves. But once a month or so, when I was feeling particularly saucy, I would splurge and spring for a BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad from California Pizza Kitchen. I’m pretty sure in some instances that salad was the highlight of my month.

Admittedly, I haven’t visited California Pizza Kitchen much since my mall days ended. No real reason; I guess I just sort of forgot about it. Fast forward double-digit years: I recently revisited California Pizza Kitchen at their Willow Bend location to check out their new “Next Chapter” menu. I was excited to revisit an old favorite (but also anxious to see if they still served my coveted salad), and to see what their new menu was all about. I won’t make you wait in suspense: CPK did indeed still have my beloved salad along with several other familiar salad selections. The pasta and pizza selection also appeared relatively unchanged, with classic offerings like the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza and Thai Chicken pizza still gracing the menu.

So, that said, what’s in CPK’s “Next Chapter?” California Pizza Kitchen has recently updated its menu to focus on high quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients, and *most importantly* (OK, maybe that’s a matter of opinion, but barely) hand-crafted cocktails, and locally brewed beers.

Speaking of those craft cocktails; I’m going to go ahead and admit I was pleasantly surprised (if somewhat skeptical) when I looked at the new menu, which billed CPK’s cocktails as “unique and spirited”. The new cocktail collection features premium spirits paired with fresh fruit purées and herbs, with an extra surprise of unexpected ingredients. One such cocktail I sampled was the California Roots, (fresh avocado, shaken smooth with Svedka vodka, mint and lime, garnished with a fennel salt rim, $10.29). While I wouldn’t characterize the avocado flavor as identifiable in this imaginative cocktail, it definitely gave my drink a pleasantly rich and smooth consistency. I loved the zippy lime and mint, and the fennel salt rim was an awesome touch.

We also tried the  Blueberry Ginger Smash (fresh blueberries, lime and cranberry with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Domaine de Canton Ginger, $10.89). This one was packed with berry flavor, and about as summery as a whiskey drink can get. Most notably, the cocktails we sampled packed a rather surprising punch. I have tried my fair share of “fancy dranks” that look pretty and taste good but seem to be characterized by a relative lack of booze, but rest assured, this was not a problem we encountered. (I’ll note that it’s a dangerous thing to get mall-drunk … drunk shopping is real, y’all.)

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Picture courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

 

CPK has also added a stellar sangria flight to their lineup. It includes Orchard Sangria (white wine, St. Germain Elderflower, Monin Stone Fruit, orange and cranberry juices), Red-Berry Sangria (red wine, Rémy VSOP, Monin Blackberry, raspberry purée, cranberry juice, lemonade), and the seasonal Harvest Sangria (Bacardi Superior Rum, St. Germain Elderflower, Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay with muddled grapes, basil & fresh agave sour), all three for $10. In additional to being a pretty amazing value, all three varieties were very nicely balanced. Additionally, CPK has a variety of wines available in 6oz or 9oz pours as well as by the bottle. And they offer a “Wine Adventure Guarantee”, encouraging patrons to be adventurous and try a new wine … and if it doesn’t thrill you, they will replace it with your regular favorite.

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Their craft beer selection is also slowly expanding with offerings from the likes of Chimay, Rogue, and Goose Island gracing the menu. Additionally, CPK has added a selection of local favorites, currently including Lakewood Hop Trapp, Lakewood Temptress (yum), and Nine Band Pale Ale.

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After sampling so many drinks, it was a good thing CPK invited us to try several of their new menu items, too. They have a new collection of small plates and flatbreads, ranging from Crispy Mac ’n’ Cheese to White Corn Guacamole. We sampled the new Bianco Flatbread (whipped truffle cream, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and fresh sage, $6.99), and the truffle cream was approximately as outstanding as it sounds, and the fresh sage was dee-lish.

CPK has added a variety of new entree options to their menu, emphasizing “globally inspired” seasonal ingredients. We sampled the Hearth-Roasted Halibut (wild caught from Alaska and roasted on a cedar plank with butternut squash farro, grilled asparagus and baby kale, $19.49) that was incredibly flaky and tender, and the butternut squash farrow was one of those dishes that just warms the soul. Even my husband, who tends to be somewhat of a “fish snob”, gave this dish two thumbs up. We also tried the Roasted Garlic Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables (a crispy-skin chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce, with a medley of the seasonal vegetables) that was amazingly decadent and moist, bursting with buttery lemon garlic flavor. CPK is also featuring a new Fire-Grilled Ribeye (house-made pinot noir sea salt, topped with creamy bleu cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad, $25.99).

Overall, I was quite impressed with California Pizza Kitchen’s “New Chapter”, and I think this may be a “New Chapter” for CPK and I, as well (mall job not included).

California Pizza Kitchen – Willow Bend
CPK.com
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6121 W. Park Blvd., Sp.D-126, Plano (South Side of Mall, Next to Crate and Barrel)
469-366-0060

 To view menus or find other locations, visit cpk.com 
Our team was invited in for a meal on the house.

Brunch at The Eberhard

If you are a twenty (or thirty)-something living in Dallas right now, you’ve heard of The Eberhard. (If you haven’t … it’s one of the more recently opened unst unst scene places on Knox/Henderson.) I guess they finally figured out that being the cool new kid on the block is fleeting, so it seems they’re stepping up their food game–starting with brunch.  (Because, Dallas.)

65-Foot Bar

The space itself is unique and versatile with two giant areas of living room-style seating and plenty of room, both inside and outside on their wraparound porch. The DJ booth, located up a spiral staircase, keeps the party going all night, and they offer a Mezzanine overlooking the rest of the space for private events … or “VIPs”. Oh … and the sixty-five-foot bar eliminates the wait time (relatively).

The Eberhard Mimosa

For their brunch, they have, of course, your go-to standard Mimosa. (#ProTip: If you go in before the end of May, they’re only $2!) They also have three signature sangrias to choose from along with signature brunch cocktails. Their Coco Colada (coconut vodka, Coco Real, and pineapple juice) is sweet and fresh. My personal favorite was the Eber’s King Julep (bourbon, honey ginger syrup, peach bitters and mint ), because … ’tis the season.

 

 

The cocktails are amazing, but they aren’t to be undercut by the brunch food menu. Their chef provides some brunch staples taken to the next level. The Eggs Benedicto and Buttermilk Biscuits & Gravy don’t just look amazing. The French Quarter Chicken & Waffles paired perfectly with my Eber’s King Julep.  They have an off-menu item that is a Breakfast BLT. Who doesn’t love banana nut bread? The Eberhard has taken a great American breakfast food and reinvented it. The Banana Nut French Toast served with Bourbon Brown Sugar Syrup and a fruit parfait.

 

While we all can begrudgingly agree that The Eberhard will continue to be a go-to place on weekend nights … it has now become what will be the new “it” place for brunch on Saturday and Sundays. Get in there before the end of May and take advantage of their $2 mimosas! You won’t be disappointed.


The Eberhard
www.theeberhard.com
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2107 N. Henderson Ave.

Grill & Vine

First: If you haven’t set foot in the newly open Westin Downtown Dallas yet, you should; it’s gorgeous. Secondly: Whenever you do set foot in the Westin Downtown Dallas, you should definitely pay a visit to Grill & Vine; it’s delicious.

The Westin Downtown Dallas Grill & Vine recently invited the SDD team in to check out the newly open restaurant and bar. I was immediately taken with the sleek, upscale-contemporary decor (If it feels vaguely familiar, here’s a spoiler alert: the Westin’s design team is also credited with the design of The Joule). Most of all, the view of the skyline is killer as seen through sweeping, floor to ceiling picture windows surrounding the dining room. The view alone makes this spot a great choice for a pre-dinner cocktail.

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Speaking of cocktails … Grill & Vine offers a creative collection of a dozen of ’em. I sampled the Elderflower Fitzgerald (Dripping Springs gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lemon, and angostura bitters-$11)–I found it to be delightfully light and refreshing, and begging for spring to hurry up and get here. Other intriguing cocktail offerings include the Smoke and Honey (Silver Star Texas Honey, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, cucumber, lemon, habanero shrub-$12), the Chamomile Mule (Chamomile-infused Absolut, lime, honey, ginger beer, $10), and the Provencal Lemonade (Dripping Springs vodka, Carpano Bianco, basil, lemon, and lavender bitters-$11). 

Grill & Vine’s wine list features in the upwards of 50 well-rounded offerings, nearly all of which are available by the glass. A short but sweet list of local craft beer rotators are available, in addition to the expected line-up of domestics and imports. And, may the gluten-intolerant of you rejoice as they offer several gluten-free beers .

After enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail (or two three … ) at the bar, we moved to a table. With Executive Chef Bill Lundstrom at the helm, Grill & Vine’s culinary program is heavily focused on regional flavors utilizing local ingredients, and a seasonally rotating menu. I was lucky enough to stay for dinner, and everything I sampled was fantastic. The Smoked Beef Brisket Tacos (pickled onions, smashed avocado, brazos valley queso-$15) were a favorite, and the House Mac & Cheese, made with Brazos cheddar and smoked gouda, is not to be missed. Oh, and save room for dessert–the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with creme anglaise and orange caramel was basically to die for.


Grill and Vine
(972) 555-6689
1201 Main St., Dallas, TX 75202
Reservations | Menu

Happy Hour: Offered daily until 7pm
$2 off wine by the glass, $5 local drafts, and a selection of craft cocktails available for $6

Westin Dallas Downtown
westindallasdowntown.com
(972) 584-6650
1201 Main St., Dallas, TX 75202

Midnight Madness at Ida Claire’s

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day, and like a good appreciator of all-things food, I don’t relegate my breakfast enjoyment to the morning hours.  After a good night out, I can’t think of anything more enticing than ending it with some breakfast favorites: pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon and whatever else you can throw at me. Gone are the days of waiting in the drive-through lane for what seems to be an eternity for a  dismal chicken biscuit and hello to “Midnight Brunch”.

Ida Claire’s is the new southern-inspired entry to Addison’s already buzzing restaurant scene. This eatery is the newest venture from the team that has graced us with Mexican Sugar, Whiskey Cake and other local DFW favorites. This place really helps to fill a void in Addison for non-chain, creative restaurants. Plus, their assortment of cocktails are a step up from most of their competitors.

I was excited to attend the appropriately scheduled preview (started at 11 pm) of “Midnight Brunch”, back in the end of September. (I know, I know … time for me to get back on the #SDDContributor wagon.)

Ida Claire’s has a charm all of its own: Think eccentric Southern great aunt meets 60s flower child.  Whoever put the décor together for this place deserve a pat on the back–the place overflows with southern, vintage character and has just the right amount of quirkiness. Wood tables, birdcages hanging from the ceiling, and bright patterns form a welcoming and eclectic environment. And just because, there is a  a kick-ass Airstream trailer on the patio decked out in various psychedelic prints. (In fact, the trailer can be reserved for private parties.)

Airstream Trailer

The menu offers a wide variety of Southern-influenced dishes that tend to be on the heavier, lesssss healthy side, but that’s what I am looking for late at night.  As the night went on, the plates kept coming and we kept eating …

Food highlights:

  • Sweet Potato Chip Duck Confit. Freshly fried sweet potato chips smothered in duck fat gravy, goat cheese fondue and topped with a sunny side-up duck egg. Trust me, this one was as good as it sounds.
  • Crawfish Corn Fritters served with a smoked mustard remoulade. These were crispy on the outside and buttery on the inside, just the way a proper fritter should be.
  • Brisket Egg Burger. Ida Claire’s spin on a classic burger topped with B&B pickles, pimento cheese, black pepper aioli. This burger was huge and is definitely big enough to share, if you’re feeling generous.
  • And of course, the quintessential Southern breakfast food – Chicken and Waffles. Ida Claire’s version was jazzed up with chicory maple syrup and hot sauce butter. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Crawfish Corn Fritters
Crawfish Corn Fritters

The drink menu is no less thought out than the food menu. Naturally, a good Southern restaurant wouldn’t be caught dead without Juleps and I opted first for the Tobacco Peach Julep. Here, Tennessee whiskey, mint, tobacco syrup and peach bitters mixed for a true taste of all things Southern. Maybe a tad bit heavy on the ice, but good overall. From there, I went for the Vieux Carre (rye, brandy, Benedictine, sweet Vermouth, angostura and Peychaud’s bitters); it wasn’t a drink for the weak of heart.  Throwing caution to the wind (no not Gone With the Wind), my wife opted to go with the Airmail, a refreshing and potent drink crafted from gold rum, lime, honey and sparkling rosé, which apparently now rivals the classic Moscow Mule as her current favorite cocktail.  Her nightcap, a Scarlet Letter  (Bonnie’s  bathtub gin, hibiscus tea, honey, grapefruit, lemon and seltzer), was as you would expect from the ingredients: sweet, sugary and fruity, but all in a good way.

I have been fortunate to attend a number of events (thanks to Susie) and this one is certainly one of the more memorable ones.  From the delicious food and drinks to the overall ambiance of the place, Ida Claire has a lot to offer.  I will definitely be heading back sometime soon.  While our food and drinks were on the house this time, the prices looked reasonable considering the quantity you get and the quality of the items.

Hats off to Ida Claire for providing Uber credit for transportation to and fro! Southern hospitality at its finest.

Midnight Brunch: 11 pm – 2 am Friday – Sunday


IDA CLAIRE

www.ida-claire.com
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5001 Belt Line Road, Dallas, TX 75254
(214) 377-8227