Category Archives: Event Recaps

A LUV Letter to Southwest Airlines

WARNING: THIS STORY ISN’T ABOUT BOOZE; IT’S ABOUT MY FAMILY AND HOW AWESOME SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IS. If you aren’t interested … scroll along. 😉

Being an aunt to two beautiful children is the most fulfilling thing in my world. Yes, sharing my adventures and drinking experiences with y’all is really fun, but knowing that I can help shape my niece’s and nephew’s lives brightens mine every day.

When my sister learned of her first child, Ten’s, severe peanut allergy, we were all greatly concerned and hoped we could find a way to help him live a normal life—because I don’t care what anyone says, a severe allergy to something common like peanuts can make a child’s life difficult. Thanks to a ton of research, my sister found a doctor in Dallas who offers exposure therapy for children. (This is a proven and safe treatment … if you have any questions, just ask!)

The idea was simple—every week for 18 weeks, Ten gets dosed up and monitored—but the execution was less than simple. Her beautiful family lives in Albuquerque, a full 650 miles from said doctor. My parents and I live in Dallas, so she made the choice to make the trip from Albuquerque to Dallas every.damn.week. With flight costs being what they are and most airlines’ cancelation policies and change fees being strict and expensive, it was a daunting idea. (Especially because, if there was any change in Ten’s heath 24 hour prior to the appointment, that week’s appointment had to be postponed.)

And then Southwest Airlines swooped in to save the day. Alice starting squirreling away miles, watching for fare sales, and setting up her weekly flights to make it happen. And, since Ten wasn’t yet two years old, he flew free. (Huge win.) Even more incredible, if Southwest is alerted that there’s someone onboard with a peanut allergy, they don’t serve peanuts that flight* and families are allowed to board early to get the wee ones settled.

My amazing sister made it happen. She schlepped her pregnant, nauseous self and her adorable, allergic boy on a weekly flight to Dallas to make his appointments where he progressed beautifully, winning over every nurse in the office as he went. And, just before his second birthday, he went to his last appointment. Ten could now eat peanuts, giving him the chance to enjoy what is now his favorite food (peanut butter, or “baya”) and his family the peace of mind that a rogue peanut butter and jelly sandwich wouldn’t take him down.

Over the course of what ended up being 22 weeks of appointments, he grew to love airplanes and, of course, Southwest. When he saw a heart, he’d point and say in a proud tenor, “Southwes!” (He had trouble with the second t for a while.) He loves watching airplanes and will tell you that the planes are going to “Dayas” or “Querque”. (He was also well-versed with the safety cards.)

To mark the end of his treatments and his second birthday, my family figured that the best way to celebrate the extraordinary process he went through was with a Southwest Airlines-themed party. The company being what it is, we made some calls and told our story to any employee that would listen—which was pretty much every one we spoke to—and were given little children’s games, pretzels, gifts, and such here and there.

Then, we started amassing extra napkins from flights along with pretzels and cups … and things like custom Southwest teddy bears and paper airplanes started to show up in the mail. A friend even sent him a branded t-shirt (that is now his favorite clothing item) and some other little gifts from their employee store! Apparently we’d struck a cord …

Living in Dallas, our family knows an employee or two, so we called in some favors. None were too busy to at least try to help. We were blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. In the end, we pulled together a pretty festive party for the little man.

We are all so appreciative of Southwest on so many levels—for being the airline they are so that my nephew could make his weekly appointments and for being so generous to help him celebrate two huge milestones. Thanks to EVERYONE who helped make it happen.

There’s no question it’s called the love airline.


*This was before August 2018 when Southwest stopped serving peanuts.

Howdy, Smithworks Vodka!

I recently had the privilege of welcoming Smithworks Vodka into the Lone Star State with an amazing Blake Shelton concert at the famous Billy Bob’s Texas!

Smithworks Vodka was launched in early 2016 and I’m happy to say that Smithworks has recently expanded its distribution to Texas. Over the next few months, Smithworks will be available in twenty- four states.

Smithworks is an American-made vodka that is made with corn from Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and water from Lake Fort Smith. Smithworks is distilled three times and charcoal filtered for a smooth taste and clean finish. It’s finished and bottled with pride in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and named after the dedicated team there and their hardworking values are symbolized through the tractor icon. They say, “Born and bred in the traditions and values of America’s Heartland, Smithworks embodies the values of the place in which it comes from – local pride, simplicity and hard work.”

Blake Shelton is part of the Smithworks family. He said that he had been waiting to partner with the right brand and he found his home with Smithworks; Shelton said he shares the same values and mission as Smithworks (Vodka. His favorite way to drink Smithworks is with diet lemon-lime soda garnished with a lime. Simple enough.)

Shelton is quoted as saying, “I grew up in Ada, Oklahoma and was raised on the values of hard work, humility and an appreciation for the simple things that make up a good life. As part of the Smithworks family, I’ve been involved in the development of the brand and I’m excited for everyone to finally taste what we’ve been crafting. At its core, Smithworks celebrates that moments in life are better spent with good people and great drinks.”

For the rich mouthfeel and smooth (lack of) flavor, we were surprised by the low price tag—just under $20. A great price for this smooth, clean vodka.

SMITHWORKS VODKA
smithworksvodka.com
~$19.99 / 750mL

We’re eagerly awaiting distribution in the great state of Texas … a note from Smithworks: For now, you can find Smithworks Vodka in AR, CO, IA, KS, LA, MI, MO, NE, OH, OK, TN, IL, NC, and PA. If it’s in your neck of the woods, ask your favorite local spot about us—it’s usually the personal touch that gets it done.

Banner image courtesy of Smithworks.

Another Round of the SACC Begins This Week

Every January San Antonio gets drunk … drunk with power knowing that most of the cocktail industry flocked to the home of the Alamo to party, learn … and party some more at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference (the SACC). Bartenders, bar owners, and newbies come from the reaches of the south to mingle with brand ambassadors, media, and daywalkers civilians enthusiasts at seminars by day and parties by night (and, in actuality, by day too).

Leading up to the main event, brands offer dinners for the locals or the early arrivals with thoughtful and usually quite opulent pairings. Seminars are offered Thursday-Saturday alongside an absolutely overwhelming tasting room experience. And, every night of the main SACC time, there are incredibly well executed parties and celebrations featuring brands offerings tastes, cocktails, and expertly-paired food … and, if done well, a fun hook to keep people hanging at their bar.

Seminars each year offer anything from light tastings with a side of education to a full-out exploration of terroir in a specific spirit aimed at attendees ranging from industry professionals to novices and aficionados. Expect anything from the history of women in mezcal led by the brilliant Emma Janzen and Graciela Angeles Cerreño, functional bar flair instruction from our friend Phillip Smith, a history of Japanese whiskey, and a history of tiki cocktails to a class about cooking with rum. A fun twist I’m excited about this year is an offering of a daily hour of health courtesy of Ketel One and The Healthtender. If you can rouse yourself to make it to one, your body will, no doubt, thank you.
Side note: I’m delighted to see such a female presence this year in the programming; it’s beautiful to see!

There is truly something for everyone here … so long as he can enjoy a cocktail or sip some whiskey. Seminars are all sold separately … so come for one or a ton!

This year’s signature cocktail is the Call Me, Honey, created by Jordan Corney of the local Bohanans Steakhouse. (He also created Patrón’s Margarita of the Year in 2016.)

Image courtesy of the SACC

Call Me, Honey
2 oz Deep Eddy Original Vodka
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz honey syrup (2:1 honey to boiling water)
1 oz orange juice
Green cardamom pod
Lemon wheel and cinnamon for garnish

Muddle cardamom pod in a shaker tin and add remaining ingredients. Add two cubes of ice and shake. Strain with fine mesh strainer into chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon wheel and dust with cinnamon.

I’ll be attending Friday and Saturday’s festivities, so if you make it to Alamo City, send me a DM! If a trip south isn’t in the cards, you can follow along with this year’s SACC experience on my Instagram stories, or follow the conference hashtag #SACC2019.

SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE
sanantoniococktailconference.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

SACC 2016 Recap
A First-Timer’s Guide to SACC (by Tiffany Tran)
SACC 2015 Recap & 2016 Teaser

Kane Brown serenades Uptown Dallas Thanks to Hilton Honors

Amazing views of the Dallas skyline, a private concert by CMT winning artist, Kane Brown, a potato bar (yeah you read that right), and delicious hand-crafted cocktails. A dream come true, am I right?? Those were just some of highlights of the killer party that Hilton Honors threw at the new Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown.

Let me paint the scene: We walked in and were greeted with a fun photo-opp and trays of specialty cocktails that were so absolutely amazing that you don’t want to put them down. You turn the corner and see even more cocktail bars, a bacon bar, AND a mac and cheese bar! There was a crew creating Hilton Honors merchandise in real-time. There were also photographers snapping Polaroid pictures of guests that will later be turned into magnets at the afterparty. (Mine is below, so cute, right!?)

As we continued through the venue, there were trays of locally-sourced bites being passed in addition to Texan craft brews and cocktails. I was lucky enough to try a chicken wing (or three) wrapped in a waffle and drizzled in maple syrupso so good! In the opposite corner, there is a massive DIY taco bar where you could choose from brisket, chicken or pork and then add any topping you could imagine. 

Our group was invited back to gather around a small stage for a private, intimate concert. Kane Brown came out and treated the audience to an acoustic set of his songs and some other popular country songs by some of his friends.

After Kane Brown serenaded us, we headed up to the after-party at Upside, the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant. There were more cocktails, a wide assortment of desserts, and the coveted view of the Dallas skyline. The weather was being a little tricky so the skyline was playing peek-a-boo in the mist, but it gave the whole atmosphere a somewhat mysterious, exciting vibe! 

A big hats-off to Hilton for being gracious enough to invite our team to this experience that they put on for their Hilton Honors members. The platform allows members to cash-in points for VIP access to sporting events, bucket list-worthy adventures, private concerts (like this one), and even singing lessons with chart-topping artists. I don’t know about you, but after looking at all the things you can cash in your points for—Belgium getaways, Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert Tickets?!—I’m totally ready to become a member!

Sound good to be true? Check out all the things Hilton Honors members are experiencing on Instagram.

And if you haven’t been to the Upside at the Canopy in West Village – it’s an excellent choice for date night, girls’ night or just casual after-work drinks! 

Upside at the Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown
upsidewestvillage.com
canopy3.hilton.com
2950 Cityplace West
Dallas, Texas 75204

Axe and the Oak

You guys… I may have found my new favorite old fashioned! Okay okay, it’s at least in my top three. But let’s back up.

Last week I went to 3Eleven Kitchen and Cocktails for the launch of Axe and the Oak Distillery to try out some cocktails featuring their Colorado Mountain Bourbon and Incline Rye Whiskey. If you haven’t heard of Axe and the Oak Distillery, that could be because they operate out of Colorado Springs, CO and just started distributing to Texas—and they made Dallas their first stop!

I had the chance to chat with some of the Axe and the Oak team that came into town for the launch. Everyone was so excited about the expansion into Texas and they couldn’t stop gushing about their experience with the distillery. They said the best thing about their brand was that “they’re surrounded by the best people in the world.” The vibes were almost contagious as everyone enjoyed snacks, cigars and most importantly, the whiskey.

Now, about that old fashioned. For the launch, they had ingredient driven provisions being served. The one I sampled was a delicious variation of a Kentucky Mule. But, I’ll be honest; their signature cocktail was the real show-stopper—the Tobacco Old Fashioned. It was almost as fun to watch them make it as it was to drink it. They got the deep smoky flavor by torching a plank of wood and then trapping smoke inside the glass before they added the bourbon … and other good stuff. The smoky flavor wasn’t overbearing and the other flavors were perfectly mixed by beverage manager, Jay Khan.

Axe and the Oak was awarded the New York International Spirit Competition “Colorado Whiskey Distillery of the Year.” You can now find their Bourbon and Rye Whiskey at Specs, Goody Goody and Siegels (with even more retailers coming soon) starting around $42 a bottle.

For more information, visit them at www.axeandtheoak.com.

Jackson Family Wines + Harwood District Wine Dinner

The Harwood District has given Dallas some of (my) favorite new restaurants and spaces in the last few years—Mercat Bistro, Marie Gabrielle, Magnolias: Sous Le Pont, etc.—so it was surprise to me when I realized I hadn’t yet visited Dolce Riviera when I was invited to a wine pairing dinner there. I couldn’t say no. If it was anything compared to the other restaurants in the district, I was in for a treat. Bottom line: the food, the wine, and the “show” were all incredible.

The wine dinner featured Jackson Family Wines and was led by none other than Julia Jackson herself, daughter of the famed winemaker, Jess Jackson who began the brand in 1974. Each course got an introduction from someone from the restaurant, an overview of the paired wine and a colorful anecdote from Julia, and a step-by-step demonstration by Executive Chef Michele Scarpa.

Jackson Family Wines is a family-owned and operated wine company that owns vineyards, wineries, and brands throughout the world with brands spanning price ranges and various winemaking techniques. They continue to product incredibly wines and push teh envelope when it comes to innovation—both in winemaking and in eco-friendly practices. Well-known US brands include Freemark Abbey,  Kendall-Jackson, and La Crema.

The.meal.was.amazing. Each course was beautifully prepared and the paired Jackson Family Wines were exquisite and paired flawlessly. The risotto and Valodorna Supertuscan pairing was, by far, my absolute favorite. I’ve never been much of a risotto fan, but Chef Scarpa’s was life changing. Not kidding. The Supertuscan pairing was perfect as its bold notes of black cherry and spices cut the creaminess and richness of the risotto.

The food at Dolce Riviera is inspired by Chef Scarpa’s roots in southern Italy and dishes are authentic, but with a slight French slant. Everything is made with fresh ingredients from scratch to finish and is beautifully and intricately crafted to not only taste authentic, but to be presented beautifully as well. Dolce Riviera aims for simple, yet elegant.

ANTIPASTO: Half Crispy Quail over Green Asparagus with Quail Eggs and Sauce Mornaise
Paired with Cambria Clone 4 Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley, USA)

CRUDO: Venison Carpaccio with Wild Herbs, Late Radicchio Salad with Dried Apricot and Fresh Red Currant in White Balsamic Dressing
Paired with Yangarra Grenache (McLaren Vale, Australia)

PRIMO: Risotto Carnaroli with Pomegranate
Paired with Valodorna Supertuscan (Tuscany, Italy)

SECONDO: Veal Tenderloin Rollatino with Truffle Heart, Mix Wild Mushroom Sauce
Paired with Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, USA)

Harwood District gives diners incredible opportunities to dine delightfully with various events like these wine dinners, DJ Brunches, and more. Make sure to watch the Harwood District events page and their social channels to be up on all of the offerings coming from the district.


JACKSON FAMILY WINES
jacksonfamilywines.com

DOLCE RIVIERA
dolceriviera.com

HARWOOD DISTRICT
harwooddistrict.com

Bar & Gardens St. Patrick’s Day Yoga

This past Saturday, Bar & Garden teamed up with Outdoor Voices, Gather Kitchen, Roots Juices, and VITAL Fitness to give Dallasites a chance for a St. Patrick’s day detox before they retoxed with all that green beer and Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey. If you’re anything like (most) of us writers on “staff” here, it was kind of necessary.

After a revitalizing yoga class taught by VITAL’s Bobby Candelas, we got to enjoy some treats by the various vendors.

Bar & Garden in East Dallas is known for selling all organic wine, which comes from chemical-free vineyards, as well as spirits that are free of anything artificial. Their focus is on transparency and passion products. Even better, the store sells everything you might need for a chic at-home bar. (Because you can never have enough cheeky bottle openers.)

Every Saturday they have complimentary product tastings so you can try before you buy. Paired up with Roots Juices, Bar & Garden provides you with options for better-for-you booze options and cocktails.

Gather Kitchen has only been open for 6 months, but they’ve completely mastered the art of delicious AND healthy food. The classic American recipes took two years to develop, and the entire restaurant is dairy free and gluten free. (Cue singing angels.) Most items are also vegan or paleo. We got to try their vegan and paleo matcha muffins (green for the holiday!) and they were not only better than expected, but quite delicious!

Outdoor Voices gave us a nice green preview of their collection. They offer men’s and women’s “athletic wear for recreation”. We’re not quite sure what that means, but if it makes drinking in yoga pants acceptable, then we’re all for it.

Stay tuned for more events like this by following the Bar & Garden social updates. Namaste, y’all.


Bar & Garden
BarandGarden.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
3314 Ross Avenue, Suite 150 (East Dallas)

Gather Kitchen
GatherKitchen.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
1601 Elm Street (Downtown in Thanksgiving Tower)

Outdoor Voices 
OutdoorVoices.com
4539 Travis Street (Knox/Henderson)

Roots Pressed Juices
RootsPressedJuices.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
multiple locations

Harwood District DJ Brunch

Friday night vibes are best when they roll into Saturday morning for DJ Brunch.

DJ Brunch is a series by the Harwood District that rotated between Saint Ann, Mercat Bistro, Happiest Hour, and now, Dolce Riviera. Select Saturdays, you could nurse your hangover with some amazing food and hair of the dog while listening to some beats by DJs such as DJ Sober and DJ Souljah. We took the liberty of testing out the Mercat Bistro DJ Brunch for you. You know, for research purposes …

On the particular Saturday we went, it was oddly cold so we were #blessed that Mercat Bistro has a climate controlled, enclosed patio. We started the table off with a pastry basket of assorted fresh pastries, an order of shishito peppers, and the ricotta & honeycomb. Hey, we had a night of drinking to make up for!

As for drinks, well, we couldn’t only have mimosas, because that’s just too easy. … and we were with Susie. We ordered all three of their brunch cocktails—the Pêche Mignon, the Rose Gold & Bubbles*, and the Mango Cloud*. All were delicious, but the crowd favorites were the Rose Gold & Bubbles and the Mango Cloud. They both come deconstructed and the waiter pours your bubbles over gold flecked cotton candy. (Yes, our inner 5-year-old selves were jumping for joy.)

*no longer available

 

By now, our hunger had returned at full force. We tried the Quiche Lorraine, the Croque Madame Sandwich, and the Ham & Cheese Omelet. All were plated beautifully and tasted just as delicious.

But be sure to head over to Mercat Bistro for brunch and don’t forget to check out the Harwood events page to keep up with cool events like the DJ Brunch happening in the area.

The next DJ Brunch will be at Dolce Riviera on Saturday, March 10 between noon and 3pm. For reservations, call 469-458-6623.


Mercat Bistro
MercatBistro.com
Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
2501 N Harwood St., Dallas, TX 75201
214.953.0917

Harwood District