Category Archives: Event Recaps

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

 

The Botanist Gin

The Botanist is a new way to gin.

THE GIN

The only gin made on the island of Islay, this artisanal expression by the Bruichladdich Distillery presents 31 botanicals—nine classicly found in gin, and 22 of which are hand-foraged locally (and responsibly) on Islay. Since 2011, this “progressive exploration of the botanical heritage of … Islay” prides itself on a forager’s spirit.

The distillation process is equally as unique as the botanicals. They slow simmer in a pot-still at low pressure for 17 hours to release the most flavor from the ingredients. The “slow burn” results in a unique and complex flavor.


One of my contributors, Aaron, and I were lucky enough to be invited to a celebration of this expression. First, we were walked through a quick bartending demonstration where they showed us how to make the Red Lady (this an all recipes are below) by the brand ambassador.

Then we were invited to join the Botanist Gin team for a four course meal—all made with as-local-as-possible ingredients  that complimented the flavors in the accompanying Botanist cocktails. Each cocktail was extremely unique and brought out the complexity of the botanicals.

THE COCKTAILS

Fruit of Thyme
1.5 oz The Botanist Gin
4 oz Tonic Water
1 slim Ruby Red Grapefruit wedge

Squeeze grapefruit wedge in glass and leave in glass. Add The Botanist Gin, then ice and top with tonic water. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Red Lady
2 oz The Botanist Gin
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 strips julienned red bell peppers
3 drops orange bitters

In a shaker tin, muddle red bell pepper. Add all remaining ingredients, then shake without ice vigorously. Add ice and shake briskly. Double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a julienned red bell pepper.

Smoke Show
2 oz The Botanist Gin
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz ginger syrup
0.25 oz Mezcal
4 drops orange bitters

Add all ingredients to shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain to a coupe glass and garnish with pickled ginger.

Gin for All Seasons
1.5 oz The Botanist Gin
0.25 oz Suze
0.25 oz fresh squeezed red grapefruit juice
0.75 oz simple syrup
3 oz soda water
1 pinch sea salt

Add The Botanist Gin, Suze, Fresh Squeezed Red Grapefruit Juice and Simply Syrup to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an iced highball. Top with soda water.

Regroni
1.5 oz The Botanist Gin
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Cocchi Dry Vermouth

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 20 seconds until chilled. Strain and pour over large ice cube in rocks glass. Garnish with a sweet pepper circle.

  



THE BOTANIST GIN
TheBotanistGin.com
ABV: 46%
Price: ~$30/750mL

***All images by Aaron Hendrickson***
Thanks again to The Botanist for inviting us to join in on such an amazing evening with such unique spirit(s).

Casamigos Cool Weather Cocktails

Generally speaking, you know you’re in for a good time whenever tequila is involved. If said tequila is Casamigos, just do yourself a favor and schedule an Uber and enjoy the ride … and the cocktails.

That the tequila brand itself was the brainchild of Randy Gerber and George Clooney, who simply sought to create a tequila that “they could drink all day and not be hungover in the morning” should be incentive enough to try it out. But at a time when every reality TV star has their own line of something, I was skeptical. Turns out I should have saved my skepticism for the D-list celebs peddling lip gloss, because these guys know their tequila. (Randy & George, if by some bizarre twist of fate you read this, I humbly and sincerely apologize). If all that isn’t enough, the recent sale to Diageo for $1B should lend the company some extra cred.


Casamigos mixes well, is smooth enough to sip on the rocks, and every recipe we made during the event at Jaliso Norte I attended recently was surprisingly tasty. (I say “surprisingly” because until then, I lived in a world where tequila’s only time to shine was with salt, lime or grapefruit juice. How sad my life was.) Consider me educated.

We were treated to a class where we learned to make tequila cocktails with thyme, whipped cream, apples and cloves … all were all delicious and unexpected. 

CASA BLOOD ORANGE
2 oz. Casamigos Blanco
1 oz. blood orange juice
1 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
2 serrano slices
½ thick rim of sugar, salt, tajin mixture (equal parts)

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Muddle fruit. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Fine strain into rocks glass. Add fresh ice. Garnish with blood orange wheel.

CASA PUMPKIN SPICE
2.5 oz. Casamigos Reposado Tequila
1 oz. Agave Nectar or simple syrup
1 oz. creme
.25 oz. almond liqueur
2 heaping bar spoons organic canned pumpkin (or fresh)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 10-12 seconds. Strain into Irish glass mug. Add dollop of whipped cream and lightly sprinkle nutmeg over top.

CASA CIDER
2 oz. Casamigos Reposado
1 oz. apple cider
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. ginger syrup
.5 oz. agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 pinch cinnamon

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain into rocks glass. Add fresh ice. Garnish with thin apple slice, thyme sprig, star anise and cinnamon sprinkle.
If served hot: add 1 oz. water and heat up contents. No ice needed.

CASA AMAGO
1.5 oz mole-infused Casamigos Reposado
.75 oz cocoa nib-infused Campari
.75 oz Carpano Formula Antica Vermouth
orange peel garnish

Combine above ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir for 50-60 revolutions or until well chilled and properly diluted. Garnish.

 

The venue matched the spirit of Casamigos perfectly—Jalisco Norte is stylish but down to earth, like that friend who dresses like an off-duty model but doesn’t just eat fries for likes. If you assumed that the last thing Dallas needed was another Mexican restaurant, set your assumptions aside and pay them a visit, you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure to pair your esquites and tuna tartare tostada with a Casamigos cocktail … even if it is a classic margarita.


***ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF N BARRETT PHOTOGRAPHY***