Category Archives: Education

BAR CART STYLING 101

Many of us have these beautiful bar carts but have no clue what needs to be on them. (I use mine as booze storage … if you’ve ever seen my place, you know that’s a necessary evil.) I was having a chat with my friend who owns Talking Out of Turn and she said a Bar Cart 1010 would be a helpful post … ask and you shall receive!

GENERAL SUGGESTIONS

  • Keep it classy. All due respect … this is not the place for your koozies and your favorite bottle opener from college.
  • Keel it simple. Don’t crowd your bar cart!
  • Let the booze do the talking. Many bottles are pretty enough to be art … show them off!

CART

The cart itself makes a bold statement. My brass and mirrored cart is from West Elm (and matches some other furniture), but you can find many different styles to reflect your home or the kind of drinks you make. Here are some suggestions for different  …

For the drinker who wants to be just like Susie: Terrace Bar Cart (West Elm, $399)
For the Romantic: Champagne Cart (World Market, $199) | Kiven round Bar Cart (Wayfair, $145)
For the Lucite Lover: Atka Bar Cart (Wayfair, $214)
For the Bourbon Lover: Wood & Gold Bar Cart (Target, $150)
For the Bachelor: all black Hoskin Bar Cart (Wayfair, $215) | Dram Bar Cart (Burrow, $295)
For the Tiki Fanatic: Opalhouse Rattan Bar Cart (Target, $150) | Darcy Bar Table (Williams-Sonoma, $595)

GLASSWARE

There’s not much more stunning than a nice set of glassware. Having a stack of rocks glasses I think is the classiest look on a bar car, and I think these Talking Out of Turn rocks glasses ($20, set of 4) really make an impact. This set of four glasses offers four different gold prints—I like the grid the best as it reminds me of some of the glasses my grandmother had on her bar cart.

If you’re allowing your guests to make their own cocktails, make sure to have a variety of glassware handy so your guests can make anything from shots to martinis.

BAR TOOLS

Choose a color and invest. I have multiple sets for my cocktail pictures, but you should choose a finish and lean in. I prefer tools by Barfly; their tools are well made, well weighted, and reasonably priced. Cocktail tools are NOT the place to buy cheap; you want tools that will be reliable. The last thing you want is for your cheap shaker to bust open when you start shaking a cocktail. (Aunt Sue still hasn’t forgiven me for the incident last Thanksgiving involving a whiskey sour with egg white.)

Basic cocktail tools I suggest you have on-hand: jigger (measuring cup), shaker, stirring glass, stirring spoon, strainer, and muddler.

Barfly sells their tools on their website or on Amazon.

COASTERS

I picked out these adorable canvas coasters from Talking Out of Turn ($12, set of four). I’ve just about had it with glass coasters that get stuck to the glass and then fall off. I’ve decided that fabric is the way to go. They’re easier to store and actually do their job!

BAR BOOKS

Your bar cart shouldn’t look like a bookshelf, but a well placed book (or stack) is not only convenient, but necessary. And many books look stunning enough to be considered art. My go-tos this season have been:
Drinking with Chickens by Kate Richards ($20): This book, y’all … is greatness. Kate actually drinks with her chickens and takes pictures of it. Look for hilarity and high balls from this book.
Beautiful Booze by Natalie Migliarini & James Stevenson (~$20): Another well named cocktail book … this one really is beautiful. My friends Natalie and James are beyond talented and this book is proof. The pictures are stunning and the cocktails are all well-balanced and unique.
Very Merry Cocktails by Jessica Strand ($17.21): this lovely holiday cocktail book has plenty of merry mixes to keep our holiday spirits high
Texas Cocktails by Nico Martini ($16): This Lone Star State cocktail guide happens to be written by another friend of mine! Look for classic Texas cocktail recipes and signature cocktails from your favorite bars across the great state complete with the stories behind them and lovely photography.

INGREDIENTS – Booze, Bitters, & Modifiers

While you’ll never have EVERYTHING you need (there will always be a recipe that calls for some obscure liqueur from Norway or a bar spoon of Malört), you can have a basic stock of the following to make quite a few classics:

Basic liquors: whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, vodka (there are many different varieties of each, but these are the basics)
Modifiers: sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, orange liqueur (Cointreau), elderflower liqueur (St-Germain)
Aperitifs/Digestifs: Campari, Averna, Montenegro
Bitters (the salt and pepper of bartending): Angostura, Peychaud’s, orange bitters
Sugars/syrups: simple syrup, demerara (unbleached sugar), sugar cubes
Citrus juices: lemon, lime
Mixers: soda water, tonic, ginger beer
Garnish: Luxardo cherries, whole citrus (for the rind), dried fruits (these last longer and are edible!)

The space on a bar car is obviously limited, so if you run out of room, you can use something like this metallic wine total from Talking Out of Turn ($18) to hang a bottle on the side. (This also makes a great hostess gift with a bottle of wine or a unique amaro.)

ETC.

Some extra items to have handy:

  • Cocktail picks & swizzle sticks: for your garnish
  • Bottle opener
  • Wine bottle opener
  • Hand towel: it’s just good sense
  • Ice bucket: make sure to get good ice!
  • Ice mold: I love my custom gold ice press from Bevratech! It makes a perfect sphere every time, and it’s a great party trick!(presses start at $199)
  • Vegetable peeler: these allow you to peel a citrus garnish
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Cocktail napkins: it’s right there in the name …

Again, these are the BASIC ITEMS that will allow you to make quite a few cocktails. If y’all love this and want a Bar Cart 201, let me know!

 

 

Fried Chicken + Bubbles = the Dream Team

I love sparkling wine.
I love fried chicken.

(I’d like to meet someone who doesn’t agree with the above. … actually, I don’t think we’d get along, so NM.)

Street’s Fine Chicken sent out a press release, and they have the right idea: fried chicken + sparkling wine. The pairing is classic, and one of my favorite things in the world is to pair haute elements with food that comes in a cardboard container of some sort.

So, of course, I HAD to do some “research” to verify that their fried chicken did, in fact pair nicely with sparkling wine. And, research I did. (Not like I didn’t know what the research would return, but it’s best to do your due diligence.)

Luckily, my results were correct. Using bubbles to mitigate the richness of the chicken is just about perfect. Acid can act as a palate cleanser, which is why you’ll often see pickled items served alongside fried items. Since sparkling wines usually ring in 2.5 to about 4.5 pH, their acidity helps to cut the richness and greasiness of the chicken. Choosing a dry sparkling wine helps to push through the fat, and makes for a delightful experience.

Street’s Fine Chicken’s signature fried chicken is “brined for 24 hours and fried in herbs from various French Provinces.” They take their time to do it right, and they get it right. They also offer sparkling starting at just $5 a glass and $18 a bottle, so you can try out the pairing for yourself. (Enjoy.)

 


STREET’S FINE CHICKEN
streetsfinechicken.com
3857 Cedar Springs Rd. | 469-917-7140
5211 Forest Lane, #108 | 972-803-5181

Women in Whiskey

Jim Beam. Booker Noe. Evan Williams. Henry McKenna. John Jameson. Hiram Walker. The list goes on. The whisk(e)y industry is seemingly dominated by men, and I was given another chance to appreciate that at the “Women in Whisk(e)y” event at Sissy’s. We heard from the following:

  • Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Vice President of Operations at Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • Vicky Stevens, Global Brand Ambassador for Laphroaig Scotch Whisky
  • Tish Harcus, Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club Whisky
  • Stella Lacken, Brand Ambassador for Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

With the smell of Sissy’s delicious fried chicken hanging in the air, the women shared their paths to their current positions with their respective brands along with how their love of whiskey was forged. I was happy to share with Victoria after that my mother was actually the person who turned me on to whiskey (she’s a huge Maker’s fan) … she even gave me Whiskey Women for Christmas, which they all recommended we read.

WIN FOR DALLAS: Tish from Canadian Club even let us know the women in Dallas are ahead of the WORLD when it comes to their love of whiskey.  (Way to go, ladies.)

To get us through the late lunch, Sissy’s served us some goodies. Along with some of Sissy’s delicious bites, we were treated to tastings of Maker’s 46, Laphroaig, Canadian Club Sherry Cask, and Kilbeggan and cocktails made with each.

To continue the day of awesomeness, I was lucky enough to stop by the Maker’s Mark happy hour at Bolsa that they put on for their local ambassadors. (P.S. If you’re not an ambassador, sign up now.)  While there, I had another chance to chat with Victoria from Maker’s Mark and she deemed to snap a picture for me to send to my mom. (HI, MOM!)

The day of awesomeness ended with dinner at Smoke, where we were treated a traditional Scottish song to start the night.  (Don’t you love his kilt?)  Each delicious and well seasoned course of BBQ was accompanied by tastings of the four whiskeys and cocktails that showed off how they lend themselves to mixing, and we were treated to another round of addresses from the whiskey women.

“Breakfast In Bed” Cooking Demonstration

Chef Scott Gottlich and Andrea Maricich and Mixologist Seth Brammer “Breakfast In Bed” Cooking Demonstration

2nd floorThis was my first experience with a cooking demonstration, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. The menu sounded decadent, and considering that it combines two of my absolute favorite things on this planet (my bed and breakfast foods), I was eager to attend.  We walked into The Second Floor’s Privé private dining room and were greeted with a drink buffet of coffee, fresh squeezed juices, teas, a fire and roses strewn across the table. (Let’s just say that it was fittingly romantic.)

The chefs gave a short introduction and put an emphasis on learning the techniques they were about to share with us. They explained that, of course, once you master the techniques you can play with recipes for all tastes and occasions. They demonstrated each dish, and then we were delivered a sample from the back kitchen.  You know … to make sure they did it right.

First Course: Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis
Watching these chef’s make crépes made it all seem so simple. It’s all about the batter … if you can mix it right, you can really make any flavor–sweet or savory. The coulis only took about five minutes to reduce, and it made such a fresh alternative to syrup or Nutella. (Not that we’d ever consider replacing Nutella … we aren’t communist.) When it came time to sample this dish, there was definitely something left to be desired … in that I wanted five more helpings. They included orange zest in the filling, which was so refreshing and cut right through the richness of the cream cheese and chocolate batter. The raspberry coulis was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Let’s just say I had to resist the urge to lick the plate.

Tip from the chefs: Make sure to turn the pan in a circular motion to spread all of the batter thinly and evenly. This ensures even cooking and a proper crepe.

Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis
Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis

Second Course: Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham, and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce
This was another twist on a classic breakfast dish. Since this was one of the dishes Chef Maricich served when interviewing for her position at The Second Floor, I knew this was going to be a winner. The chefs went into detail about how exactly to mix the eggs and fat to emulsify properly in order to make the perfect hollandaise. They added stone-ground mustard and Tabasco to give it a little zing, and then moved on to poaching the eggs. They brought out the sample, and the portion was huge! The oysters were perfectly battered and crisp, yet still juicy. Unfortunately they served us regular Hollandaise and I was so disappointed. (I guess this served as more motivation to make the dish on my own.)

Tip from the chefs: Use a bit of vinegar and create a vortex of spinning water in the pot to helps keep the egg together and round.

Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce
Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce

Third Course: Lobster and Asparagus Omelet with Fontina Cheese and Arugula Salad
This was by far the easiest of the dishes to prepare. (Which means I may try it first.) The lobster was fresh, sweet and not overcooked, and the asparagus added texture. There was plenty of cheese and it oozed out of the center with every bite. It was very rich, but considering the fact that this was all for a special occasion, I didn’t mind. (Who am I kidding? I never can have enough cheese, regardless of the occasion … gluten intolerance be damned.)

Tip from the chefs: You may add water in an omelet, but no milk! Milk is reserved for scrambled eggs and will change the consistency of the omelet.

2nd floor omelette
Lobster and Asparagus Omelet with Fontina Cheese and Arugula Salad

Then it was time for cocktails! Mixologist Seth Brammer came out and demonstrated
A) a slew of drinks with fresh ingredients that were just what we all needed to liven us up for the remaining presentation, and
B) a bunch of pretentious drink-snob jabs while simultaneously being so full of knowledge and expertise that he was himself a real pretentious drink snob.

It was the perfect combination … not only did I learn how to make the best quality, fresh squeezed and strong mimosa, a made-from-scratch Bloody Mary and the tried-and-true Irish Coffee … I now know how and where orange juice is made and why it never really tastes like real oranges, what vodka ratio is the best for a true bloody mary (4 parts mix to 1 part vodka) and how to whip cream just perfectly thickened enough for any dish or drink. In Seth’s own words, “people don’t whip their own cream anymore, and that’s what’s wrong with America.” (Amen, my friend.)

Fresh Pressed Mimosa
Fresh Pressed Mimosa

Tip from the mixologist: In order to make the cream float on top of the coffee in an Irish Coffee, flip a spoon upside-down and pour the cream over the back of the spoon.

Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

After we all had each of the three cocktails, the chefs came back out and did a quick demonstration of a simple and classic “Egg in the Hole” paired with The Second Floor’s own maple-cured salmon. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat this dish! This was a huge menu, and Chef Maricich even joked that she maybe “bit off more than she could chew.”

Egg in a Hole & Salmon
Egg in a Hole & Salmon

In the end, I could have certainly bitten off and chewed even more because this entire spread was top-notch. I’m looking forward to practicing and mastering the techniques they shared with us!

For details about the second floor and other events, head to thesecondfloorrestaurant.com.