Category Archives: Drink Specialty

Pisco Portón Celebrates Pisco Sour Day

February 4th is the 14th annual Pisco Sour Day! Taste some classic sours as well as some intriguing new takes on the Peruvian cocktail at several locations including (but not limited to) Jettison, Armory De, Quarter Bar, La Duni Northpark, Bolsa, Cafe Salsera, and Victor Tangos.

(If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll know that Brian and Susie are both big fans of the distilled grape spirit.)

Can’t be asked to make it out tomorrow? Make your very own Classic Pisco Sour at home!

Pisco Portón’s Classic Pisco Sour
2oz Pisco Portón
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1oz egg whites
Dash of Angostura bitters

Add all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for 15 seconds. Stop blender and add 5 cubes of ice, then pulse the blender 5 times. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with 3 drops of Angostura bitters.

Pisco Portón
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***Header photo borrowed from the badass @beautifulbooze. If you don’t follow her on Instagram, do it now!***

Salsa Limon – Fort Worth Centro

I’m pretty sure most Fort Worthians (I think that’s what we are called) will agree that Salsa Limon turns out some of the best tacos this side of Arlington. That said, I was really excited to hear that they opened a new location in downtown Fort Worth in the Tower building. This isn’t just a typical Salsa Limon … oh no … because this one serves liquor. Now you can get a margarita or a spiked agua fresca while enjoying the yummy tacos. Blessed be the taco gods.

Salsa Limon is trying to honor and preserve true Mexican taquerias–they use only the freshest ingredients. Their best selling taco is the El Capitan, which just happens to be my personal favorite. A buttery, toasted flour tortilla, Oaxaca-Jack cheese, pickled cabbage, onion, cilantro, and whatever filling you want. BRB I have to go wipe my drool real quick. I’ve always gone with my “safe” order of a Chicken El Capitan, but I got to experience some different meats that might have changed my order. I tried the Tripa for the first time last week, and to my surprise, I enjoyed this Mexican delicacy. If you want to just trust me that it’s really good, but not know what part of the animal it comes from … stop reading now. For those of you who are curious: cow intestine.

Now for the salsa. I may or may not be known to ordering large quantities of their amazing salsa and to keep it in my fridge … but let’s not spread that around. So the tomatillo (my favorite) and piquin are traditional taqueria salas, and the jalapeño and habanero are family recipes. Basically, if you haven’t tried all of their salsas, especially the jalapeño, you must. I personally believe that the range from mild to crazy hot goes a little like this: tomatillo > piquin > jalapeño > habanero. Salsa Limon says that piquin is spicer than the jalapeño, but try it at your own risk.

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The difference between this location and the others, as previously mentioned, is that they have booooooze to calm your fired-up taste buds. I would recommend the sour margarita as it’s as pure a margarita as you can get here. All the limes are squeezed by their fun orange juice machine regularly, so it’s fresh fresh fresh. Not into margraitas? You can also add rum, vodka, or gin to their agua frescas. I personally enjoy the hibiscus tea with gin.

 

Bonus- This location is perfect for late night. I have always felt that downtown Fort Worth was lacking in late night eats- problem solved. They are open till 3 am Friday and Saturday nights. Double bonus- they have a pretty great patio that looks onto the streets of downtown.

Salsa Limon- Centro
Website
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550 Throckmorton Street (Fort Worth)
817-615-9760

Hours:
Monday- Thursday: 7am-10pm
Friday- Saturday: 7am-3am
Sunday: 7am-9pm

 

#SUSIEDRINKSCLASSICS: THE SIDECAR

The Sidecar, another of the classics out of New Orleans, is perhaps one of the first cocktail I remember hearing about in my childhood. Incredibly simple–brandy, lemon, and triple sec–it’s none too sweet.  Luckily, the sugared rim adds a nice amount of sweetness and plenty of sexiness.

The Sidecar has seen many offshoots, but is said to have come from the Brandy Crusta.  It’s disputed to have been created at either Harry’s Bar in Paris or Buck’s Club in London–either way, it has been mentioned in just about every cocktail book since World War I.  Wherever it came from, its ingredients have remained constant.

THE SIDECAR
2oz brandy (I went with Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège)
1oz fresh lemon juice
1oz triple sec (like Cointreau)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice then shake until very well chilled.  Strain into sugar-rimmed glass.

Garnish: sugar rim
Glass: martini

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Last Week: The Whiskey Sour
Next Week: The Sazerac


If you’re looking to experience Dallas’s best Sidecars, join SDD Contributor Tiffany and I for a Sidecar Tour tonight, December 15, sponsored by Hennessy!  We’ll start at Rapscallion at 6pm … join if you dare!


***Thanks to Hennessy for providing a bottle to create the cocktail!***

Sweat Out the Chill with a Marker’s Mark Hot Toddiablo

Y’all … this weather is weird.  30º one day, 60º the next … it’s enough to give anyone a sniffle.  The best cure?  A hot toddy.

The Hot Toddy (or tottie or “hot whiskey”) is traditionally made using a dark spirit (usually whiskey, rum, or brandy), hot water, sugar, and some spice.  Typically, we see lemon added to make it … you know … more “medicinal”.  And while they’re said to be a good way to mitigate cold symptoms, I’ve found that I enjoy them whether I’m sickly or not.

The word “toddy” itself comes from the Hindi work tārī, which was a drink they made using the toddy palm.  The British adopted and adapted the drink (as they do), and then it made its way to America’s deep south and they did the same using rum and local spice and sugars, but these drinks were served cool.  The more well-known HOT version is thought to have come from Scotland and was used as a cold cure.  

Wherever it came from, I’m a fan.  That said, I came up with a version that will add some (literal) spice to your holiday …

Hot Toddiablo
1½ oz Maker’s Mark
1/4 oz Ancho Chili Demerera Syrup*
1 bag Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea
3 oz hot water
2 dashes Orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, then stir until combined.
Glass: hot drink glass

Garnish: orange slice and cinnamon stick (and slice of ancho chile if desired)

Ancho Chili Demerera Syrup
2 cups demerera sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
1 cup water
2 ancho chilis, stemmed and seeded

Bring ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.  Strain through a find sieve, and let cool completely.  Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Maker’s Mark: ~$30/750mL
Tea: Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea, $2-$24
Cup: Crate and Barrel, $1.95

***Maker’s Mark generously provided me with product to create this recipe.***

Absolut Elyx Gibson Tour

Hi, my name is Tiffany, and I’m a cocktail onion addict.

Whew! There, I said it. It was love at first sight – I remember that night so clearly: My friends and I were sitting in a dimly-lit corner of a New Orleans restaurant during Tales of the Cocktail and were primed to order our first round of drinks. Our local Absolut Elyx brand ambassador, Kyle Paris, was with us and suggested that I try the Gibson martini, and I’M SO GLAD I LISTENED TO HIM. (He knows things sometimes.) I love me a well-made dry martini, but when you garnish it with a crunchy, briny, house made cocktail onion? Game over. Take me away.

What I couldn’t believe was how long it took me to eat my first ever cocktail onion. In all honesty, I vaguely remember seeing the little pearls on various bar tops, but it never occurred to me that they were briny. I always thought they were raw, and I’m definitely not a fan of eating raw onions. Yuck. However, now that Kyle had set me straight, I had so many questions. Why have my bartender buddies been withholding this pickled treasure from me? Do all of my favorite bars back home have cocktail onions? If so, do they make the cocktail onions in-house? Am I the only one with whom Kyle shared this brilliance?

I needed answers.

My Dallas Gibson cocktail discovery mission had a rough start.  I had the unfortunate incident of receiving a Gibson that was garnished with cocktail onions from the bottom of a very large, very old-looking jar. (The bar name will be withheld to protect the not at all innocent.) To say the least, it was an unpleasant experience – the onions lacked the freshness and crunch that I enjoyed so much with my first Gibson. I learned a paramount lesson that night: Store-bought jarred cocktail onions be gone. Say it with me: House made garnishes only!

That’s when I partnered up with Kyle to organize the first ever (as far as I know anyway) Absolut Elyx Gibson Tour. We reached out to some of our favorite bartenders around the city to see if any would be interested in coming up with their own cocktail onion recipes. As it turns out, many of them were.

Five bars.
One night.
Six friends on average at each boozy stop.
Who knows how many Gibsons to consume.

The Absolut Elyx Tour was officially on.

STOP #1: VICINI

Our first stop was in the ‘burbs at Vicini Frisco. Barman Brian McCullough served up some delightful Elyx cocktails with his variation of the cocktail onion – pickled spring onion bow ties. I really enjoyed Brian’s version; it had welcome, grassy notes, the familiar brininess, and a touch of whimsy. What’ s not to love?

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STOP #2: BOULEVARDIER

From Frisco, the Tour braved Friday rush hour traffic all the way down to Bishop Arts District to pay Boulevardier a visit. This popular restaurant/bar is one of the few spots that already make their own cocktail onions. Ashley Williams made an excellent classic onion garnish; so excellent, in fact, that I enjoyed six of them. (Two onions per cocktail, carry the three … you do the math.)

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STOP #3: THE MITCHELL

After two delightful stops, the Tour was starting to hit its stride. From Boulevardier, we Uber’d our way downtown to The Mitchell where they offered not one but two cocktail onions to sample that night, one in a “garden brine” and one made with hatch chilis. I’m a bit of a spice wimp so I steered clear of anything marinating in a hatch chili situation, so I opted for the garden variety. Without hesitation, I popped the onion in my mouth, anticipating a deliciously briny vegetable medley. What I got instead was a mouthful of sharp, raw onion. Oh boy, that was surprising. No kissing for me that night for sure. I downed the rest of my Gibson to alleviate the biting flavor.

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STOP #4: MIDNIGHT RAMBLER

Without hesitation, the Elyx Gibson Tour soldiered on to a tried and true spot down the street, Midnight Rambler. They garnish their Gibson, The Silvertone, with a mighty fine and smoky chipotle onion, to which I was no stranger. The Elyx was flowing and skewers of golden brown onions perched on about half of the cocktails on the bar top for a solid hour. This was the 4th stop on the tour and the group was feeling gooooooood — and Susie had finally joined us. (A little tardy to the party.)

By the time we made it to the fifth and last stop of the night, most of our friends had already bid us farewell. So then there were the final four.

STOP #5: HIGH & TIGHT

We approached the bar at High & Tight, excited to see what our favorite bar-behind-a-barbershop’s man behind the stick, Austin Gurley, had in store for us, and I am so happy that we made it to the last stop. The cocktail onion was so surprisingly flavorful, with citrusy notes of grapefruit and a spicy, peppery kick. It was by far our favorite of the night!

The Elyx Gibson Tour proved a success, and what kind of cocktail onion addict would I be if I didn’t try to cover more ground? A few days after the tour, I visited Hugo Osorio at The Theodore to sample the onion batch he prepared. The onions were wonderfully balanced with crunchiness, brininess, and jalapeño spiciness … so yeah, pretty much cocktail onion heaven.

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This last Gibson falls outside of the Dallas area … like, really far outside. But, due to its Absolut awesomeness, it had to be included. A few weekends ago, I went to Chicago and had the pleasure of ordering the Elyx Gibson off of Vol. 39‘s brand spanking new cocktail menu at The Kimpton Gray Hotel. As far as I was concerned, it was kismet. The cocktail onion had bursts of Chinese five-spice and red wine vinegar. It sparkled atop my glass like a garnet jewel. If you ever find yourself in downtown Chicago, don’t think twice before visiting this bar. Thank me later.

I write this in hopes of drawing out existing Gibson lovers and converting the Gibson-ly ignorant into cocktail onion enthusiasts. And then, maybe one day, this particular tipple will experience a comeback of Old Fashioned’s proportions. A girl like me can dream, right? In the meantime, if you’re curious about trying out the Gibson for yourself, give me a call. I’m always down.

SPECIAL THANKS TO ABSOLUT ELYX FOR HELPING US MAKE THIS NIGHT HAPPEN!


Vicini: 7777 Warren Parkway #104 (Frisco)
Boulevardier: 408 N Bishop Avenue #108 (Bishop Arts District)
The Mitchell: 1404 Main Street (Downtown)
Midnight Rambler: 1530 Main Street, inside The Joule Hotel (Downtown)
High & Tight: 2701 Main Street #180 (Deep Ellum)
The Theodore: 8687 North Central Expressway #1804, inside NorthPark Center (North Dallas)
Vol. 39: 39 S. La Salle Street, inside the Kimpton The Gray Hotel (Chicago, Illinois)

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!*

 

French 75 Popsicles

I recently turned 30, and I wanted a little extra something to booze my guests up at the big celebration.  My party was outside … in June … in Texas, so I thought that boozy popsicles would be ideal.   And what better drink to freeze than a French 75.

Traditional French 75 cocktail was first documented in 1927, but an iteration of it was mentioned as early as 1867 (and by Charles Dickins!) and, once named, was named after a French field gun.  The first recipes called for bubbly, sugar, citrus, and gin, but newer recipes have introduced cognac as an alternative.

I had to make sure the popsicles were easy to eat (since some of the guests would be wearing white), so I did a bit of research and found the perfect solution: Zipzicles!  They’re the tubes you grew up with, but with a convenient zip closure … so no scissors are required and no melty stickiness on my guests’ hands.

sw pops

The recipe was easy enough and filling the tubes only required a funnel. (And an extra set of hands made it MUCH easier.)  It took about 12 hours for them so solidify completely, and since there was gin in them, it was a soft freeze.

FRENCH 75 POPSICLES
12oz sparkling wine (I used Mia Moscato)
4oz cognac or gin (I used Bulldog London Dry Gin)
4oz simple syrup (I used ginger simple syrup in half of them)
3oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

Makes about 12 popsicles

Needless to say, these were a hit!  I ended up making about 65 of them, and the only trouble was keeping them cold.  (My suggestion would be to use an ice bucket (or galvanized bucket) filled with a layer of dry ice (on the bottom) and top it with regular ice.)

If you need suggestions for more boozy popsicles, check out a popsicle cocktail recipe book that I reviewed a few years back, Poptails!


Header picture courtesy of Madison Mentesana.

Zipzicles, Bulldog Gin, and Mia Wines gifted these items gratis.

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.