Category Archives: Guides

Travel Must-Haves

I’ve been traveling a lot more the last couple years since I quite my “job”. I like to think I’ve gotten better at it, but I’ve also realized that part of being good at traveling is having the right stuff so I can arrive at my destination somewhat refreshed. So, here are some of my must-have items when I hit the road!

1. AWAY Luggage with Ejectable Charger
This suitcase is my new best friend. With four wheels that roll like butta and a tough, hard shell to keep your valuables safe. What’s more, you’ll never need a charge because the bags have a built-in (ejectable) battery! Even more exciting for someone like me who travels with a laundry bag is that there’s one built right into the bag. And they’re cute as hell.
$225-$295 at AwayTravel.com

2. TRTL Travel Pillow
Some of the most helpful travel items look … well, ridiculous. Case in point: the Trtl “pillow”. It’s a neck brace that you wrap around with the super soft tail with velcro. It’s machine washable and super light, so it’s easy enough to travel with.
$29.99 on Amazon

3. Powerbank
If your plane doesn’t offer electrical outlets as some are now, this will save the day. Arrive fully charged with this powerbank that holds more than five charges for an iPhone.
$29.99 on Amazon

4. TILE Bluetooth Tracker
These little bluetooth beauties help you keep track of your luggage using an app! While it won’t ensure your luggage shows up at your destination, you will know exactly where it is!
~$40 for a 4-pack on Amazon

5. L’Occitane Lavender Hand Cream
Keep your mitts moisturized with this heavenly smelling goop. With shea butter and essential oils, you can avoid the usual horror of dry skin! (Other scents and sizes available.)
$12 for 1oz on Loccitane.com

6. Bucky Eye Mask
Traditional eye masks can be too tight, not fit our noses, or tend to just be downright heinous. This lightweight, foam mask is contoured and allows room for blinking and plenty of room for eyelash extensions for us ladies! (Available in 23 colors.)
$9.99 – $22.99 on Amazon

7. OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Crème
Right before landing, dab a bit of these vitamin C-rich cream below your eyes for a quick brightening effect.
$38 at Sephora

8. Cooling Eye Patches
Flights often mean early mornings, so get rid of those bags with these depuffing eye patches. Bonus: they’re natural and paraben-free.
$16.95 for 12 pairs on Amazon

9. Go2 Compression Socks
For long trips, it’s important to keep your blood flowing. If you’re (God forbid) in a middle or window seat, it can be difficult to get out and stretch your legs. Compression socks can help reduce swelling on these long flights … and we finally found some that aren’t hideous. (They come in 35 colors/designs!)
$12.13 on Amazon

10. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones, Series II
If you’re anything like me, the kid in the row behind you playing a video game with the sound on is basically the devil. Instead of having to deal with confronting the parents, best to get some noise canceling headphones. I’ve tried a few, but these are the winners. Bluetooth and soon to be Amazon Alexa-compatible, you’ll find plenty of use for the 20 hour battery life.
$349.95 (or custom for $449.95)

StretchLaces
(Not pictured.) If you haven’t found the perfect travel slip-ons, these stretchy laces make it easy to shimmy out of your kicks.
$8.50 for three pairs on Amazon

EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK BAG
I always travel with a bag of travel goodies that come in handy in a pinch. Make sure to pack helpful, little items like Advil, Simply Sleep, mouthwash, mints, hand sanitizer, ear plugs, etc. … and don’t forget a small bottle of your favorite booze.

 

Repeal Day 2016

Bowen House | 4-7pm | Special menu from Papas Pilar Rum

The Cedars Social | 9pm-2am | $3.33 prohibition cocktails and $5 beer, wine, and craft cocktails

Fat Daddy’s | 6pm | $5 select classic cocktails

Eastwood’s Bar | 6-10pm | 1/2 priced Old Fashioneds

The Standard Pour | 8pm-2am

Victor Tangos | 5-7pm | $0.83 cocktails

Whiskey Cake Plano | 11am-midnight | $5 classic cocktails, 20s music, photo booth, costume contest where you can win a trip to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail


NYLO Las Colinas | cocktail feature: Blueberry Moonshine Lemonade

Cinco de Mayo 2016

Cinco de Mayo Cocktail Recipes


CANTINA LAREDO
Special: Verde Infusion ‘Rita ($11.50)
Events/Perks: PARTIES AT SELECT LOCATIONS (see below)
Hours: April 27 – May 5
Location: all locations

Addison – The party on the patio includes an outdoor food and beverage bar with entertainment by DJ P from 6-10 p.m.
Frisco – DJ Sonido Mart will play from 6-10 p.m. and the party will be both inside and on the patio. There will be giveaways and prizes all evening.
Grapevine – DJ Dos Aces will spin tunes and giveaway prizes from 5-9 p.m.
Lewisville – Hit the dancefloor when The Enablers Band starts at 7 p.m. Between songs there will be giveaways and prizes.

LA VENTANA
Events/Perks: parties at all 3 locations (see below)
Hours: May 5, all day

Downtown Dallas – live music from Tamborazo de Arranque (7-9pm), photo ops with a luchador
Addison – live music from Tomborazo de Arranque (7-9pm)
Dallas Farmers Market – $2 frozen or rocks signature margaritas

MEXICAN SUGAR
Special: $5 Classic and Frozen margaritas
Events/Perks: live band on the patio starting at 5pm
Hours: May 5, all day
Location: Plano – The Shops at Legacy

MI DIA FROM SCRATCH
Special: $5 Mi Dia Frozen Over, $5 Mi Dia Rita Rocks, and a discounted Margarita of the Month
Hours: Thursday, May 5, 11am-10pm | Reservations Strongly Recommended: (972) 403-7474
Location: Plano only

NICK & SAM’S GRILL
Special: Cinco de Mayo themed feast that includes: stuffed jalapeños, shrimp diablo, lobster queso flameado, roasted qual, posole, skirt steak, tostada, lobster rice, flan, churros, and other dessert items paired with “top-shelf tequila and Mezcal cocktails”
Price: $55/person
Hours: May 5, 6pm (reservation required: 214.379.1111)
Location: Dallas – Park Cities

CAFE HERRERA – OMNI
Special: $10 Maximo Margaritas, $2 street tacos, small bites available starting at 7pm
Events/Perks: live mariachi music
Hours: May 5, all day
Location: Dallas – Downtown

ON THE BORDER
Special: House Margaritas 14oz Cinco Cup – Frozen/Rocks $4
14oz Cinco Cup Dos XX Lager/Ambar & Corona Light Drafts $3
Variety of Cinco Shots for $2/$3/$4
Dos XX Ambar/Lager bottles & Corona/Corona Light bottles $3
Location: all locations

PAUL MARTIN’S AMERICAN GRILL
Special: Shrimp Campechana ($9) and Mesquite Grilled Poblano Chile Relleno ($13)
Hours: May 4 & 5
Location: Dallas – Cedar Springs

PUBLIC SCHOOL 214
Special: “recess” (aka happy hour) will be available until 11pm, $10 Cinco de Mayo Nachos
Hours: until 11pm
Location: Dallas – Uptown/West Village

SNUFFER’S
Special: $3 frozen or rocks house margaritas
Dates: May 5-8
Location: all loctions

TEN 50 BBQ
Special: $1 off Dos Equis pints
Events/Perks: all guests will receivea complimentary Dos Equis collector’s pint glass with purchase of Dos Equis beer (while supplies last)
Hours: 4-9pm
Location: Richardson

Fa-la-la-la-liquor: Festive Cocktails

’Tis the season for good cheer generosity big freakin’ family gatherings. Do you have a game plan for ensuring your loved ones remain in a holly-jolly mood? If you don’t, you should. Arrive armed and ready, and even your Aunt Irma (you know, the one who dresses her cats in little outfits and takes them for walks in a stroller) will be feeling merry and bright by the end of the evening. Allow me to introduce two festive new spirits on the scene- just in time for the holidays- sure to please everyone on your naughty AND nice list …

First, meet Jim Beam AppleJim Beam’s newest offering. With a refreshing take on family tradition, Jim Beam distillers brought together the taste of crisp, green apples and Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The result is a perfect balance of apple and delicious bourbon, with a light, juicy twist. I found Jim Beam Apple to be delightfully smooth and sippable straight or on the rocks, with a bright, apple flavor, and mellow, oaky undertones.

Jim Beam Apple is also perfect for crafting simple, cravable cocktails. Here are two to try this holiday season:

Hot Apple
1 part Jim Beam® Apple
Hot Cider
Whipped Cream

Build in a heat proof mug. Top with whipped cream.

Jim Beam Apple & Soda
1 part Jim Beam® Apple
2 parts Club Soda
Lemon Wedge

Build over ice in a tall highball glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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Secondly, I would like to introduce you to your new favorite after dinner drink: Baileys Espresso Crème Irish Cream LiqueurI mean, what’s not to like here? As the name suggests, this new addition to the Bailey’s collection boasts a bold dark roast coffee aroma on top of the classic Irish Cream. Even granny will like this one.

Tempting cocktails you will want to sample:

Espresso Martini
2 ounces Baileys Espresso Créme
1/4 oz  Vodka
1/4 oz Espresso

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shake filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a Martini glass.

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Bailey’s Eggnog
1 1/4 ounces Baileys Espresso Créme
1/4 oz Irish Whiskey
3 oz milk
1 egg, unwhisked (optional)

Add ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass. Add a pinch of nutmeg and a cinnamon stick to garnish.

Enjoy these holiday spirits responsibly, and preferably in this mug. Happy Holidays!

I was graciously provided with complimentary bottles of Bailey’s Espresso Créme and Jim Beam Apple for my sampling pleasure. Both were, in fact, delicious. 

 

2014 Festive Finds Gift Guide

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SNAIL MAIL COCKTAIL
CHEERS by Southern Fried Paper & SusieDrinksDallas
,  a collaboration I’ve been working on with Southern Fried Paper, is now available for purchase! With boozy cards, prints, coasters, swizzle sticks, and more,  you can send a friend a note telling him he’s your cup of tea whiskey!

I mean … if you like me at all you’ll check out what we’ve done.  No pressure.

Price: $3.50 – $20
Purchase: At the Southern Fried Paper retail section of 2524 Converse Street or online starting December 15.

vertuo-chrome

BUZZED AND WIRED

Nespresso’s new Vertuoline brewing system is sleek, slim, and pretty damn sexy looking.  Oh, and it brews a damn good cup of espresso.  It was one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things” this year … and, well … if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me.

If you need ideas for cocktails to get you buzzed and wired, check out some of my Buzzed Boozing recipes here!

Price: $299 for the VertuoLine system
Purchase: Online or at the NorthPark Center boutique

I obviously need something to put my yummy espresso in … duh.  I chose Nespresso’s Pixie Espresso cups in black (Ristretto), but they come in a bunch of colors, including rose gold!  (I won’t judge your color choice.)  I also just realized that it looks like a pod upside-down.

Price: $35
Purchase: Online or at the NorthPark Center boutique

shotwell caramels

CHEWABLE COCKTAILS
Anyone can make an Old Fashioned in a glass, but how many of you can say that you can make it as a rich, chewy caramel?  Shotwell has a cute 4-flavor caramel sampler that includes each of their four featured flavors, including Old Fashioned and Craft Beer & Pretzel that is perfect for boozy gifting!

Price: $19.75
Purchase: Shotwell Candy Co.

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DON’T BE A TOOL … JUST GIVE A TOOL
My whole apartment is black, white, and gold, and that makes finding bar tools a bitch to find.  Luckily West Elm’s Deco Barware Collection is a set of gold-finish bar tools to help me round out my bar cart (which coincidentally was also purchased at West Elm).

Price: $79
Purchase: at West Elm or online

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BOOZY JAM
With flavors like “Drunken Monkey Jam” and “You’re My Boy Blue-berry Bourbon Jam”, you can’t go too far wrong with this 4-flavor boozy jam sample pack. Because toast deserves better than boring jelly.

Price: $15 for the 4 flavor sampler, $10 per full-size jar
Purchase
: The Jam Stand

tumbleweed

WEAR YOUR COCKTAIL ON YOUR SLEEVE
A local t-shirt company started by two Frisco teachers is making a splash with their soft, wearable tees.  Tumbleweed TexStyles lets you show your Texas pride … and your drink order!

BONUS: I’m giving away one WINE t-shirt (pictured right) this holiday season! To enter to win the shirt, you can either post this gift guide on Twitter and tag #FestiveFinds and @drinkdallas  -OR-  post your favorite gift on this guide to Instagram and tag #FestiveFinds and @susiedrinksdallas

Price: starting at $9.50 (and get 20% off any apparel, gear, and glassware with the code SUSIE)
Purchase
: Tumbleweed TexStyles

LOBALL A HIGHBALL
While cold balls can be a problem, these are a solution.  The LoBall Whiskey Sphere is a stainless steel ball is filled with a cooling liquid that has a lower freezing point than water, so it stays cooler for longer.

Bonus: you can have it engraved with any text you’d like or even a custom image for just $10.

Price: $24.99 – $34.99
Purchase: sipdark.com

IN-FLIGHT BUZZ
Complete with a spoon/muddler hybrid, bitters, cane sugar packets, a coaster, and recipes, this Carry-On Cocktail Kit is a tin that helps make the crying baby and the dry, recirculated air a little less awful.  Plus, getting drunk at 10,000 feet is easier.

Price: $24
Purchase: Food52.com

BuzzBar

AN ICE CREAM DREAM
This is all you need to know: alcohol + ice cream.  Brilliant, right?  BuzzBars offers sorbet and ice cream bars in flavors like Blitzed Berry (strawberry ice cream & rum), The Drunken Cookie (Cookies ’n Cream ice cream & whiskey), and the Larry King Heart Bar (berry sorbet & merlot wine).  You can order their BuzzPacks now (12-bar cases)!  Order ASAP because they’ll go out December 15-24.

Price: $100/BuzzPack (includes gift wrap & overnight shipping)
Purchase: At Spec’s or at buzzbaricecream.com.


PAST HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES:

2013
2012
2011

For more gift ideas, you can click here.

Thanksgiving Dinners

PREORDERS

CHICKEN SCRATCH | A La Carte: 12 lb. Smoked Turkey ($85), 12-15 lb. Smoked Ham ($100), 1 qt. Mushroom & Marjoram Gravy ($20), 1 qt. Fresh Cranberry & Orange Relish ($15), ½ pan Stewed Collard Green w/ Honey & Guajillo Chile (Feeds 12+, $20), ½ pan Sage Cornbread & Andouille Sausage Stuffing (Feeds 12+, $20), 1 Dozen Buttermilk Biscuits. | The Entire Feast (Includes Everything Above, $250)
Cost: a la carte or $250 for the whole shebang
Orders due by: November 22
Pickup: November 27, 8am-noon
Order: 214-749-1112 or fill out an order form while dining at Chicken Scratch or SMOKE

CLAY PIGEON
Cost
: ?
Orders due by: November 14, noon
Pickup: November 26 by 8pm

ELLERBE FINE FOODS
Cost
: ?
Orders due by: November 21
Pickup: November 26 and until noon on November 27

FM SMOKEHOUSE | preorder  giant Franconia beer can turkeys ($59) and fixin’s
Cost: $15-59
Orders due by: November 21
Pickup: November 26, 11am – 6pm (can also request pickup up at Holy Grail Pub in Plano)
Order: 972-752-6633

THE GRAPE | turkey dinner offers choice of sides. Glazed hams also available ($85)
Cost: full meals: $180-330, sides: $12-14, ham: $85, pies: $25
Orders due by: November 22
Pickup: November 26, 2-5pm
Order: 214-828-1981

STAMPEDE 66 | Hickory Smoked Turkey and/or Barbecued Beef Brisket, Blue Corn-Chorizo Stuffing and Giblet Gravy and Barbecue Sauce. Side dishes that accompany each meal include Green Beans with Tomatillo Butter, Spicy Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Mojo and Chipotle Pull-Apart Rolls. For an additional $38 Stampede 66 will offer guests their selection of two different pies, Apple-Cream Cheese or Pumpkin-Pecan Pie with Whiskey Sauce.
Cost:
$260 (feeds 4-6 adults)
Orders due by:
November 21, 5pm
Order
214-550-6966

URBAN RIO | take out orders, including Shea’s signature tamale pie casserole
Cost: $
Orders due by: November 24 (orders must be made at least 48 hours in advance or pickup)
Pickup: November 26 (delivery available for an additional fee)
Order: 972-422-4466


 THANKSGIVING DAY MEALS
(Thursday, November 27)

EDEN | buffet
Cost: $40 (adults), $17 (children)
Time: 11:30am – 9:30pm
Location: 4416 West Lovers Lane, Dallas

FEARING’S | 3-course set menu
Cost: $100 (adults), $30 (children 12 and under)
Time: 11:15am – 3pm, 5-8pm
Location: 4416 West Lovers Lane, Dallas

HOLY GRAIL PUB | 4-courses and optional beer pairings
Cost: $35, +$15 for beer pairings
Time: noon – 7pm
Location: 8420 Preston Road, Plano
Reservations: 972-377-6633

HP CAFETERIA | choice of turkey or ham and sides
Cost: $13.99 
Time: 10:30am – 3pm
Location1200 North Buckner Boulevard, #300, Dallas

III FORKS | four-course set menu
Cost:
$45.95 (adults), $16.95 (children)
Time:
11am – 8pmReservations: 972-267-1776
Location: 17776 Dallas Parkway, Addison

LANDMARK RESTAURANT AT THE WARWICK MELROSE | buffet
Cost: $60 (adults), $24 (children 5-12), free (children 5 and under)
Time: 11am – 3pm
Reservations: 214-224-3152
Location: 3015 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas

THE ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE (Grapevine location) | turkey and ham special from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A portion of sales will be donated to support the Grapevine Relief And Community Exchange (GRACE), which provides emergency assistance, community clinic care, and transitional housing to homeless and low-income families. More info.
Cost
$14.99/adult and $12.99/children with a portion of sales donated to GRACE
Reservations
214-393-4141
Time: 7:30am – 1:30pm
Location1505 William D. Tate Ave, Grapevine, TX 76051

PYRAMID RESTAURANT AT THE FAIRMONT | brunch and Thanksgiving options
Cost$130/four people
Reservations
214-720-5249
Times: 11am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 2pm
Location1717 North Akard Street, Dallas

SMOKE | feast on your choice of Pit Roasted Prime Rib Roast with Cider Vinegar (Garlic & Mint Jus), SMOKE’s House Ham with Dublin Dr. Pepper Red Eye Gravy, or Hickory Smoked Farm Turkey with Mushroom & Marjoram Gravy, and enjoy a spread of all of your favorite fixings, family-style! Full menu.

TEXAS SPICE AT THE OMNI DOWNTOWN | brunch and Thanksgiving options
Cost: $55 (adults), $19 (children 5-12)
Time: 10am – 1:45pm (brunch), 6-10pm (dinner)
Location: 555 South Lamar, Dallas (in the Omni Hotel)

Grapevine Urban Wine Trails

With the growing number of restaurants, brewing beer scene, countless prix-fixe meals, and weekly festivals, I find myself stuck in the Dallas bubble. Once the weekend hits, I stick to the familiar streets I know and the comfort of my bed. But once I discovered the land of Grapevine and its vast wine trails, my weekend routine might be left for afternoons of adventure and discovery.

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Grapevine offers a “trail” (as some of us would call a “crawl”) of wineries and one vineyard (Delaney) that allow for daily tastings and special events throughout the year. An array of strong and bold reds to crisp and clean whites, you can sip on local grapes over a plate of charcuterie and learn the history of the city. (And did you know that Texas is actually the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S. with Grapevine serving as a leader in the Texas wine industry for more than 25 years?) At the end of summer season, thousands flock to the streets of Grapevine in celebration of music, tapas, family-friendly activities, and, most of all, grape crushing at the annual GrapeFest in September.

Last month, the city added Sloan & Williams Winery to its lengthy list of wine makers. Owners, Alan Kunst and Ralph Mattison, are both military veterans that found they could put their “Code of Conduct” to the test when it came to the wine industry. One bottle to note at this stop is the 2013 Serenity white wine (65% Chenin Blanc, 14% Gewürztraminer, 11% French Colombard, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier) is  crisp, fruity, medium-dry blend that isn’t too dry or bitter. On another note, the 2012 Serendipity red blend (30% Carignan, 30% Cinsault, 20% Tempranillo, 15% Mourvedre, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) gives a rich spice of red fruit aromas that balance well with the boldness of the Carignan.

In addition to their wine menu, the winery offers an array of tapas from dips to breads. My one rule: You must have a flight of wine ice cream before you go. My favorite is the merlot.

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However, the best way to discover the city is with a full glass and designated driver to steer you in the right direction. Grapevine Wine Tours shuttle guests from one tasting room to the next, while guides enlighten guzzlers on the history of wine-making through the North Texas region. Lunch and dinner tours are offered on most days, but itineraries rotate daily. More about Grapevine Wine Tours.

In Grapevine news: by the end of 2014, two more wineries are set to open.

Taking the holidays to the next level, the Christmas Wine Trains run each year from December 1 to 18 at 7 pm. Each guest receives a complimentary beverage in a special Christmas wine glass. Envision live holiday music, a festive train ride, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and even a special appearance by Saint Nick. Then come spring, enjoy the marriage of cool jazz and smooth wine aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. March 21 and 22 ride along the Jazz Wine Trains in 1920s classic railroad cars. The trip includes a box dinner and wines from Grapevine’s wineries and tasting rooms. Tickets are $55 per person.

Besides the wine (said no one ever), Grapevine boasts more than 80 locally owned shops, boutiques, and art galleries with 200+ restaurants to choose from. Word on the street is that an Uber from Dallas to the downtown square runs for about $30. Split that between your group of friends and you’ll rejoice in one hell of a deal. I suggest making a day of it and getting to know the faces of some local artisans such as Dr. Sue’s Chocolates and Tolbert’s Restaurant, along your journey through the grapes of Grapevine.

GRAPEVINE WINE TRAILS
www.grapevinewinerytrail.com
Instagram: @VisitGrapevine
Twitter: @VisitGrapevine

DFW Beer & Brewers Index

Some of my buddies over at iliveindallas.com put together a 2014 Beer & Brewers Index.  Here’s some info about it and a link to download it directly:

…the most comprehensive, most complete, and most up-to-date repository of beers and brewers in Dallas-Fort Worth (at this point in time). Sorry, for the superlatives, but I can promise you, every word is true. Today we are announcing DFW Beer & Brewers Index . This local buzz almanac will give you a run down of every beer and brewer (including 19 up-and-coming) in the DFW area. It doesn’t stop at the year-round beers – it covers seasonal as well, so you know what to warm yourself with in the winter, and keep you cool in the summer. This directory of beer and brewers may be hard to digest in one sitting, but will act as a a reference guide to get your local fix when you need it. Every true local beer buff or supporter must have a copy to be able to call him/herself that. Download it here.

In this 26 page archive of awesome you’ll find:

  • 8 Dallas-area brewers with 87 beers from neighborhoods like Trinity Groves.
  • 4 Fort Worth-area brewers with 38 beers from neighborhoods like West 7th.
  • Specific addresses of all 18 already established breweries
  • 6 brewers with 46 beers outside the city, but still close enough to make the hike
  • Tour times of all the major breweries
  • A list of the 20 breweries soon to open
  • A list of 81 of the Best Places to Find Local Beer by City
  • Background info on 18 established breweries

Download the guide here