Category Archives: Event Recaps

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***

A First-Timer’s Guide to SACC

by Tiffany Tran

Guys, I finally did it – I made it to San Antonio Cocktail Conference, more familiarly known as SACC. Held every January in the heart of San Antonio, bartenders, brand ambassadors, bar owners, and service industry enthusiasts alike gather in the city to attend classes led by influential industry leaders, and you know, PARTY.

However, since the event is five days with pairing dinners up to a week ahead of it, it may prove rather daunting to an unprepared SACC rookie. So, I’m here to help! Armed with my first full SACC experience, I’ve distilled it down to what I hope is a helpful guide  to navigate and fully enjoy the spirited waters of everything ext year’s San Antonio Cocktail Conference has to offer.

STAY CLOSE TO THE ACTION
One of the best things about SACC is that almost all of the events take place in the same five or six blocks next to the famed Riverwalk. So, it’s in your best interest to book a room close to the action. I had the pleasure of staying at the St. Anthony Hotel with Ms. Susie Drinks herself, and we found that we never had to walk very far for classes, bar takeovers, or event-hosted parties, mostly because many of them took place inside our hotel. Yes, Uber and Lyft are easy options for quick rides to events, but if you’re there for the full five days, those rides add up. And whatever you saved by booking that AirBnB 15 minutes outside of the city quickly disappears when you add up the ride receipts. (And who wants to have to take an Uber at 2:30am?) There are plenty of hotel options along the Riverwalk such as the Hotel Valencia, Sheraton Gunter, and Hotel Havana that make excellent locations for home base.

PACE YOURSELF
Repeat after me: “I don’t have to finish every drink. I don’t have to finish every drink. I don’t have to finish every drink.” It’s your new mantra. Why? Because YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH EVERY DRINK. Friends. this is a COCKTAIL conference. As you can surmise, there’s no shortage of alcohol flowing during any of the five days you may be there, so take care of yourself. One glass of water for one alcoholic beverage. Remember to eat. Sure, chances are you’ll slam some snaiquiris with your people, but you don’t have to slam ALL of your drinks, right? Right. Also, get plenty of sleep. It’s a very full five days, so conserve your energy in order to ensure that you make it to the end.

LEARN
There’s no shortage of educational opportunities. Peruse the schedule and find one or four that speak to you. They offer classes for the cocktail enthusiast and the experienced industry members alike.

Speaking of pacing yourself, know that even in the seminars you’ll be served some tasty cocktails. Talk about incentivized education! I wish college was more like SACC classes; I would’ve learned so much more.

Yes, there’s plenty to do in San Antonio Cocktail Conference even if you don’t attend a single class, but you’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you don’t take advantage of what the classes have to offer. I had the opportunity to meet Ezra Star from Boston’s Drink in her class, “Building Culture of Hospitality”. It was amazing to hear her philosophy on the culture that drives her bar: “We serve people, not drinks.” And in more depth, how that philosophy drives how she hires people for her team, how they create rituals that drive their culture and inspires her team to take initiative to further their own education. The class ran for an hour, and there was plenty of time dedicated to a Q&A, a rare opportunity for class attendees to pick Ezra’s brain and learn from her expertise.

Classes cost ~$45 each and  run all day on the Friday and Saturday of the conference.

GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Not everything you do during the conference will have anything to do with the conference itself. While there are plenty of hosted dinners and grand parties to attend at night, like Waldorf on the Prairie, there’s still plenty of time to explore the city’s other offerings. Do me a service and check out a couple of spots that I discovered on my trip and totally fell in love with. Like …

I keep telling myself that I’ll go back to San Antonio just to stay at the charming and historical Hotel Havana. But, with so few rooms, availability is rare. I understand since there’s a wonderful restaurant and bar there that keeps people coming by to discover the hotel. During my stay, I met up with some friends at Ocho at the Hotel Havana for lunch, and upon first glance, I was hooked. The space is encased in a glass observatory and offers pan-Latin food and Cuban-inspired cocktails. Personally, I recommend the Cuban sandwich and the coffee. Take some time to recharge for a day of SACC here. It’s a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle, and the decor is both warm and whimsical.

Another San Antonio gem I had the pleasure of enjoying is the new bar Downstairs at the Esquire Tavern. Located beneath the historic Esquire Tavern downtown bar, Downstairs is directly on the Riverwalk, and boasts a well-curated back bar as well as dark wood and intimate lighting details. The drinks are expertly executed by friendly and knowledgeable staff, and the walls are adorned with a bit of Esquire’s trademark taxidermy touch. This is my favorite San Antonio bar for sure.

So there we have it, my First-Timer’s Guide to SACC.
You’ll bump into friends everywhere you go.
You’ll get to know the city’s bartenders really quickly.
You’ll make friends with people from all over the country.
You’ll eat amazing food and drink delicious drinks.
You’ll avoid all hangovers while you’re there. (God willing.)
And you’ll learn so much from people who’ve been in the industry for years.

You’ll have an amazing time! See you next year at SACC 2018!


See also:
SACC 2015 Recap
SACC 2016
San Antonio Travel Guide
Saint Anthony Hotel Review

A Warm Texas Welcome for Austin’s Original Craft Brewery

If there’s one thing Austinites love, it’s originality. (Ok, originality and music … and tacos … and Willie Nelson.) When famed Belgian brewer Pierre Celis opened the doors to Celis Brewery in 1992, it was Austin’s very first craft brewery, an establishment at the forefront of what’s now a thriving industry ’round these parts.

The brewery gained national and international notoriety with its Celis White, a Belgian witbier that Pierre Celis championed in his hometown of Hoegaarden, Belgium. The beer’s popularity led to the rapid growth of the brewery, which was subsequently sold to the Miller Brewing Company. In 2001, the brewery closed its doors. (Sad face.)

Line at July’s Celis Brewery Grand Opening

On Tuesday, July 11th—exactly 25 years to the day of the original brewery’s grand opening—droves of eager beer lovers gathered to welcome back one of Austin’s originals with a celebration featuring live music, brewery tours, and a special Celis-infused menu by Frank. The sweltering summer day was a perfect backdrop for the formal introduction of Celis’ first three Texas brews:

Celis White: first brewed by Pierre Celis in 1965, the signature witbier is made with the original Celis recipe including Cascade, Saaz and Willamette hops, coriander and orange peel, as well as the proprietary yeast strain from Belgium. Its slightly tart fruit flavors are balanced with light maltiness and wheat, and the citrus and spice finish delivers a refreshing taste that pairs perfectly with a summer afternoon in Texas.

Celis Pale Bock: this Belgian Pale Bock is brewed with caramel malts and Saaz, Willamette and Cascade hops, giving it a deep copper color and a creamy Belgian-white head. The Pale Bock has dry berry with caramel-malt and citrus aromas, and delicious flavors of subdued berry, malt, a touch of citrus, hints of herbs and spices, and a touch of bitterness at the finish. 

Celis Citrus Grandis IPA: Celis Brewery’s first new recipe is an East Coast style IPA made with the finest Azacca and Citra hops. This zesty Caribbean-inspired brew mixes juicy citrus and tropical fruit aromatics in its hazy golden depths. The IPA pours hazy pale orange with frothy, paper-white head. The effortlessly drinkable beer has bold flavors of grapefruit, orange rind and melons followed by light peach, passionfruit and pineapple notes. It finishes with lingering piney, hop bitterness that begs for a second sip.

You can look forward to more releases in fall 2017, including Celis Grand Cru!

Christine Celis and Daytona Camps 2017

Christine Celis, Pierre’s daughter and partner in the original brewery, has rebuilt the legendary establishment, which features some of the original equipment from Belgium and a taproom with its majestic centerpiece, the original Celis Brewery’s massive hand-beaten copper kettle from the early 1900s which has been converted into a beautiful bar. The 22,000-square-foot brewery in northwest Austin has the capacity to brew more than 50,000 barrels per year, with a technologically advanced 50 HL BrauKon brew system modified specifically to use old Belgian brewing techniques.

Celis Pale Bock 2017

Now available on tap at more than 100 bars and restaurants in central Texas, availability will expand to Dallas Fort Worth in July, and San Antonio and Hill Country in August. Celis beers will be available in bottles in retail locations in August 2017.

Swing by the brewery now for some refreshing drinks at their stunning new bar. I know I’ll be returning very soon!


CELIS BREWERY
celisbeers.com
FacebookInstagramTwitter
10001 Metric Blvd. Austin, Texas 78758

Taproom Hours
Monday: closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 3pm–10pm
Friday-Sunday: 12pm–10pm

Celis Brewery, founded by Christine Celis in Austin, Texas, brews Belgian-style ales and other beers, including the original witbier that Pierre Celis brewed in Hoegaarden, Belgium. The brewery is an extension of the Celis family legacy and builds on the award-winning craft beer heritage for which the family is known.

Cover picture courtesy of Celis Brewing Company