Category Archives: Happy Hour

“APERITIVO HOUR” WITH CAMPARI

Written by Andrea McCall

If your Super Bowl weekend was anything like mine, it was full of highs (endless guacamole, Gaga performing at halftime) and lows (Tom Brady winning … again, Beyoncé not performing with Gaga at halftime). So when I was invited to a Campari happy hour at Americano, I knew my week was on the up and up. The restaurant’s already successful happy hour just got happier with the re-introduction of “Aperitivo Hour”,  an event hosted by Campari.

“Aperitivo” in Italian means a low-alcoholic drink consumed prior to a meal, intended to stimulate your appetite … but what I heard in that definition was for me to become as classy and smart as an Italian, I’ve gotta pre-game with my pals before dinner. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

This Italian idea of sharing a drink and some snacks with friends before dinner sounds like a win-win, and low ABV drinks from Campari make it an even better sell. Small bites like fried calamari and fried olives (Susie’s favorite) paired with an Aperol Spritz (Campari, grapefruit bitters, prosecco) or the restaurant’s namesake Americano (Rosso Vermouth, Campari, soda) get you prepped for what will certainly be an excellent dinner.

Stop by the downtown hot spot weekdays from 4-7 to cultivate your new favorite Italian tradition.

Bon Aperitivo!

 

Americano
americanodallas.com
@americano_Dallas
1530 Main St. (Downtown)
214.261.4600

 

Salsa Limon – Fort Worth Centro

I’m pretty sure most Fort Worthians (I think that’s what we are called) will agree that Salsa Limon turns out some of the best tacos this side of Arlington. That said, I was really excited to hear that they opened a new location in downtown Fort Worth in the Tower building. This isn’t just a typical Salsa Limon … oh no … because this one serves liquor. Now you can get a margarita or a spiked agua fresca while enjoying the yummy tacos. Blessed be the taco gods.

Salsa Limon is trying to honor and preserve true Mexican taquerias–they use only the freshest ingredients. Their best selling taco is the El Capitan, which just happens to be my personal favorite. A buttery, toasted flour tortilla, Oaxaca-Jack cheese, pickled cabbage, onion, cilantro, and whatever filling you want. BRB I have to go wipe my drool real quick. I’ve always gone with my “safe” order of a Chicken El Capitan, but I got to experience some different meats that might have changed my order. I tried the Tripa for the first time last week, and to my surprise, I enjoyed this Mexican delicacy. If you want to just trust me that it’s really good, but not know what part of the animal it comes from … stop reading now. For those of you who are curious: cow intestine.

Now for the salsa. I may or may not be known to ordering large quantities of their amazing salsa and to keep it in my fridge … but let’s not spread that around. So the tomatillo (my favorite) and piquin are traditional taqueria salas, and the jalapeño and habanero are family recipes. Basically, if you haven’t tried all of their salsas, especially the jalapeño, you must. I personally believe that the range from mild to crazy hot goes a little like this: tomatillo > piquin > jalapeño > habanero. Salsa Limon says that piquin is spicer than the jalapeño, but try it at your own risk.

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The difference between this location and the others, as previously mentioned, is that they have booooooze to calm your fired-up taste buds. I would recommend the sour margarita as it’s as pure a margarita as you can get here. All the limes are squeezed by their fun orange juice machine regularly, so it’s fresh fresh fresh. Not into margraitas? You can also add rum, vodka, or gin to their agua frescas. I personally enjoy the hibiscus tea with gin.

 

Bonus- This location is perfect for late night. I have always felt that downtown Fort Worth was lacking in late night eats- problem solved. They are open till 3 am Friday and Saturday nights. Double bonus- they have a pretty great patio that looks onto the streets of downtown.

Salsa Limon- Centro
Website
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550 Throckmorton Street (Fort Worth)
817-615-9760

Hours:
Monday- Thursday: 7am-10pm
Friday- Saturday: 7am-3am
Sunday: 7am-9pm

 

Americano’s Aperitivo Hour

Americano is a restaurant and bar in the Joule Hotel Downtown.  Let’s just say that it’s decidedly Italian, but with an incredibly modern vibe and clean aesthetic … but sadly, a severe lack of Vespas and Italian accents.

Recently Americano launched their “Aperitivo Hour”, the Italian’s take on happy hour, but with a point. Cocktails served as apéritifs are meant to prep your stomach for a meal, and most contain bitter spirits such as Campari along with vermouths and gins.  (The post-meal version–digestifs–help with digestion and can be anything from fortified wines to liqueurs like Fernet Branca and Chartreuse.)  Look for options like the classic Negroni (gin, Campari, and rosso vermouth) and the Lone Star Sbagliato (rosso vermouth, Campari, and Lone Star Lager).

Along with the traditional Italian cocktails, they’ll be serving up some tap wines by the glass and carafe along with draft beers–both Italian and local.  You know … for the less Italian inclined of us.

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Along with the cocktails offered, Americano has a menu of small food items available from 2-5pm with options like their fried olives (my personal favorite), arancini, and fried calamari.

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Aperitivo Hour is available daily from 4-7pm, so pop in before dinner and have a cocktail to start off a molto bene evening.  Your stomach will thank you.

AMERICANO
americanodallas.com
Instagram
214.261.4600

Prost! At Gordon Biersch

The beginning of fall marks the start of many exciting events–the long-awaited return of college football (and tailgating) season, the State Fair, baseball playoffs–and for the German beer fan in all of us, we have Oktoberfest. While I wasn’t lucky enough to make it to the original celebration in Munich, I was able to pop over to Gordon Biersch for their house brewed beers.

Despite a vaguely German-sounding name, Gordon Biersch has a modern and diverse gastropub-inspired menu that spans from flatbreads and fresh fish to revamped pub standards.  Their brewing philosophy is based off of the Reinheitsgebot (a purity law that was created in Germany all the way back in 1516). Gordon Biersch’s beers are brewed according to these ancient rules-using only malted barley, hops, yeast and water.

A fan of darker beers, I decided on the Schwarzbier, a brown ale with a smooth, rich caramel flavor. My wife had the Hefeweizen which is a traditional style of unfiltered, wheat beer. The hints of fruit and spice make it a great beer to sip with or without food. The crew was nice enough to bring over samples of their other three beers: MarzenCzech Pilsner and Golden Export. The Golden was an easy drinking beer with crisp, subtle hops while the Marzen had a sweet, malty taste.

Hefeweizen (left) Schwarzbier (right)
Hefeweizen (left) Schwarzbier (right)

What’s really nice is that the menu gives suggested food pairings to make the most of your experience.  The Ahi Tuna Wonton Nachos are fresh tuna tossed in a savory teriyaki and topped a mountain of crunchy wonton chips.  Add grilled pineapple, pickled ginger, green onions, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and drizzled with a cucumber wasabi sauce and Sriracha cream. And the Blue Crab Spinach Artichoke Dip is served bubbling hot with grilled crostini and herb flatbread.  Rich and decadent, it may require putting in some extra cardio time, but it was a great pair to our beers.

The Woodford Reserve Bourbon Salmon is served with quinoa and kale salad and asparagus–it’s one of a number of a “lighter” dishes available that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for calories.  We couldn’t skip dessert, so we shared a warm apple crostata with ice cream.

While the real Oktoberfest is over, but Gordon Biersch is keeping the spirit alive with well-crafted beers and food offerings. Consider swinging by for happy hour (Monday-Sunday 3-7pm & 9-11pm or all day Wednesday) for $4-21 ounce GB beers.

Other happy hour specials:

  • $4 21 ounce GB beers
  • $5 hand crafted cocktails
  • $6 select house wines
  • $5, $7 and $9 appetizer and small plate specials

Gorden Biersch – Park Lane
Facebook | Instagram | OpenTable
8060 Park Lane, Suite 125, Dallas, TX 75231
(214) 369-2739

Prost and thank you to the Dallas Park Lane location for having us in!

Del Frisco’s Grille Kicks Off New Happy Hour Menu

By Wednesday, after a long few days at work, I was ready for an adult beverage. (I had just started a new job and getting the lay of the land in a new place is always stressful.) Fortunately for me, Del Frisco’s Grille is celebrating summer by introducing a new happy hour–Monday to Friday, 4-6:30pm. So I headed over to the Dallas location on McKinney Avenue to check it out.

You guys … they have a Sip and Share menu with $6 cocktails, wine, craft beer ($5) and food. The menu includes some of their top signature drinks like the VIP and Tennessee Peach and new and old favorites in the food department.

First thing’s first: food. One of the classics and my favorite is their classic Cheesesteak Eggrolls. These things are amazing.  Other items include Deviled Eggs, Pulled Pork Nachos, French Onion and Parmesan Spinach Dips, flatbreads, and the best corndogs you’ll ever have, the Wagyu Corndogs.

Now let’s get to the real reason I was there. First, if you have never had one of Del Frisco’s signature cocktails, head over ASAP. I am a whiskey drinker, so, my personal favorite is the Tennessee Peach (Jack Daniel’s, Fresh Peaches, Local Honey, Fresh Lime Juice, and Peach Bitters). This whiskey cocktail is perfect for summer; it’s refreshing and light, but it’s definitely on the sweet side.

I also tried the Grille Margarita. I asked the difference between the Grille Margarita and its Hand Crafted Cocktail counterparts; I was told it’s the Margarita 160 (skinny margarita: Sauza Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, Agave Nectar, Fresh Lime Juice) without the “skinny.” It was not too sweet, and just an excellent, classic margarita.

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In addition to these, they also include their Red and White Sangrias on the Sip & Share.
Red: Malbec, Stoli Razberi, Cointreau, Sweet & Sour, White Peach Purée, Fresh Lime Juice.
White: Pinot Grigio, White Peach Purée, Peach Schnapps, Strawberry-Peach Popsicle.

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If you’re in the mood for the classics, they included premium spirits on the happy hour menu, including Tito’s Vodka, Bulleit Bourbon, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Bacardi Rum and Milagro Silver Tequila.

Needless to say, the summer happy hour Sip & Share at Del Frisco’s Grille will be one of my new go-to happy hours. The best part? The new HH is available at all locations! Head on over and take advantage of this $6 Sip & Share (with $5 craft beer) happy hour menu while it lasts!

Del Frisco’s Grille
delfriscosgrille.com
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SĒR at the Hotel Anatole

During a recent staycation at the Hilton Anatole, I was delighted to try their steakhouse, SĒR Steak + Spirits, on the 27th floor.  This is one button I enjoyed pushing entirely too much.  But I pushed it … and I pushed it good.  My girl Tiffany joined me for dinner and we were absolutely blown away by each and every one of the courses presented by Executive Chef Kevin Spencer and every drink by Colin Silva.

The drinks kept us on our toes (and put us on our asses) thanks to the unique flavor profiles and the unexpected extras.  This is one of the places I’d suggest handing the reigns to the bar team; they’ll make you something intriguing and unique.  The scotch cocktail we were treated to (below) was delightfully smoky thanks to the peatiness of the spirit, but was still surprisingly light.  The preparation for the cocktails was involved and completely worth the short wait.

 

SĒR’s kitchen offers reimagined versions of some basic options and quite a few all-new dishes.  The perfect example is their Steak Tar Tar that closely resembles a deviled egg but brings so much more to the table.  Be ready for a rich mouthful here.

Steak Tar Tar
Steak Tar Tar

The Caesar Salad was such a stand-out that I ended up visiting a second time in just one weekend to have it again.  It’s perhaps the coolest salad … ever.  This thing is a slab of leafy greens with “deconstructed croutons”, flowers, and even Pop Rock-like crystals that keep your mouth more than entertained.  The best part of this salad was the dressing.  Through some sciencey process, Chef Kevin creates egg yolk-like pods of dressing so you control your dressing to lettuce ratio.  I like being in control.

Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad

The entrees were just as enticing.  The seafood was fresh (the fish was light and flaky) and the steak was as tender as it could be.  The Texas Caviar accompanying the steak we were served gave it a delightful, spicy snap.

Dessert was just as unique as the preceding dishes.  One dessert (not yet on the menu) boasted grapes prepared three different ways accompanying ice cream and a buttery crumble.  The Millionaire Pie was also a delight with the perfect balance between the tartness of the raspberry sorbet and the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream.

SĒR Steak + Spirits
sersteak.com
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2201 North Stemmons Freeway (Design District)
(214)761-7479

 

Bowen House

I went through a vintage phase in college.  So where did I shop?  My first stop on a shopping trip was always Ahab Bowen, a little vintage shop tucked inside a historical house smack dab in the middle of Uptown with a smattering of clothes with that have already lived a full life, but still had more to give.  While I was sad when I heard the news that it closed years later, I was also excited about the potential of the establishment taking over the quaint, little house–a serious craft cocktail bar, Bowen House.

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The space was completely reinvented with a bar spanning the facade and a handful of intimate white marble tables.  The chandelier above the bar gives the space a decidedly haute feeling, but the atmosphere is anything but stuffy.  Oh … and this is a perfect date spot.  (They even joke that they host Tinder Tuesdays because so many blind dates show up.)

Thanks to owner, Pasha Heidari, Bowen House put together a killer lineup of some of the best in Dallas’s food and drink talent.  The food menu was created by Chef Graham Dodds and he has a team of incredible mixmasters behind the bar.  Some of said talent (ahem, the badass Reid Lewis … she’s a lady) was just recognized as one of the seven best mixologists in the city by “Modern Luxury Dallas”.

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As drinks go, previously you were meant to simply chat with the bartender and he (slash she) would whip up a perfect cocktail crafted to your specifications.  As of late, they’ve rolled out menus to make things a bit easier on those of us who have a paralyzing fear of making decisions when put on the spot.  That’s right … leisurely peruse the menu … or you can still chat with the bartenders if you’re into that.  (Which I am.  Like, really into.)  The menu offers classics, and then classics with a twist … each drink has also been reimagined by one of the bartenders.

Another new addition to their offerings to keep up cool on these 100º days–popsicle cocktails.  The popsicle menu totes four options that’ll sweeten you up and cool you down while packing a punch.

The food here is also surprisingly good.  The Fried Brie is a ta-reat with seasonal compote accompanying the melty, cheesy, crunchy goodness.  Oh, and the chicken salad–dubbed Mom’s Chicken Salad because it’s actually his grandma’s recipe–was somewhat addicting.  (And unfortunately it’s frowned upon to ask for seconds at a media tasting … whatever.)  Also, (I’ve been told) the potato chips are even pretty epic.  They have bleu cheese which is a no-no for this girl.

If you’ve never stopped in, make it a priority.  Get all the drinks … and all the food … (That doesn’t really narrow it down for you, does it?)


BOWEN HOUSE

bowenhousetx.com
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2614 Boll Street, Uptown (valet is located on Howland Street)
214.484.1385

Header photo courtesy of Bowen House.

Craft Cocktails Go Mainstream at Houlihan’s

Houlihan’s is bringing craft cocktails to the chain restaurant scene with their new 10-drink menu. (At least as much as a chain of its caliber can.)  Houlihan’s introduced new drinks for our tasting pleasure at the Prestonwood location in Addison over a week in May. Using unusual techniques and unique spirits, Houlihan’s new drink menu looks more like something out of a hipster speakeasy than a suburban chain restaurant.

Take, for example, their Oak Aged Manhattan.  This cocktail is aged on-site, using a mix of orange peels and oak staves for a barrel-less aging process. Houlihan’s mixologists claim this technique gives a smooth, subtly nuanced spirit in less time. When I tasted it, there were undertones of maple and vanilla. It is a simple but well-balanced cocktail–just as it should be. Mine came served with a salty, fatty, perfectly candied bacon.

Oak Aged Manhattan
Oak Aged Manhattan

My second drink, the Houdini, took a decidedly sweeter, fruity direction despite the high-proof spirit used. Henry McKenna Single-Barrel Kentucky Bourbon mingles with maple syrup and homemade ginger-peach syrup. This is refreshing cocktail is a perfect patio drink.

The Houdini
The Houdini

The rest of the new drink menu really has something to suit all tastes. One of the more classic additions is a slightly remixed Dirty Martini, shaken up with the addition of huge olives stuffed with pungent gorgonzola cheese and some delicious candied bacon. They even offer a tiki drink–the Blue Taboo. It looks like a sugar rush in a glass, but it’s more than just that; the drink is undeniably sweet, but it is well-balanced by the addition of Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada, which is a handcrafted black tea brewed in coconut water with chai spices and pineapple juice. Now I didn’t sample it, but the Bleeding Rose is definitely one of the more original creations offered on the new drink list.  St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, Absolut Hibiskus and fresh sour mix create the base of this cocktail which is poured over an Aperol-tea ice cube. The melting Aperol, a blazing orange-colored bitter Italian aperitif, will change the flavor profile of the Bleeding Rose over the course of the drink. And on another positive note even the ice is made of alcohol –so it’s the drink that keeps on giving!

Let’s not forget the food, because drinking on an empty stomach rarely ends well.  I tried out the avocado toast with burrata. This summer special has a ton of fresh avocado smeared on top of toasted rustic bread and is seasoned with jalapeño, cilantro and garlic, to give it a bit of kick.  A sweet, creamy burrata cooled the heat and added to the overall decadence of the dish. The portion size was generous enough to make for a light summer dinner. And not letting an opportunity get away to try something else from the limited time menu, I went with the Mahi-Mahi salad, complete with jumbo lump crab and a sweet and tangy citrus and pineapple salad.

The 10 new cocktails are only available at the Prestonwood location, but eventually they will roll out to Houlihan’s restaurants around the country.

… I guess, for now, we are the lucky ones.  Cheers!

Houlihan’s Restaurant and Bar
www.houlihans.com
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5225 Beltline Road #220, Addison

*Thank you to Houlihan’s for picking up the tab and inviting me to check out the new menu items!*