For Fort Worth foodies, the most wonderful time of year is quickly approaching. The Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival celebrates food and drink from Fort Worth and beyond, as well as benefits the Festival’s Foundation.
April 5-8 will bring Fort Worth burgers, beer, cocktails, wine, and so much more! Expect well-executed events that give you the best Cowtown has to offer … just make sure you wear comfortable pants.
If Texas is the second largest consuming state of whiskey, why don’t we have more distilleries? Inquiring minds (and whiskey lovers) must know.
The owners of Firestone and Robertson contemplated this question and answered it. Then they built Whiskey Ranch, the largest distillery west of the Mississippi River and the second venue for the Fort Worth duo. Coming out with an incredibly popular Texas Bourbon put a fire under their butts, and they realized they needed more space and production to keep up with (and predict) demand. Ten minutes southeast of downtown Fort Worth on the space that was formerly Glen Garden Country Club, Whiskey Ranch sits on 112 acres of secluded rolling hills … and yes, they kept the 18-hole golf course.
Whiskey Ranch was designed with a Texas ranch in mind. The Austin stone and iron meet you at the entrance as you drive down the winding road that leads you to the distillery. Once you arrive, it is hard to believe that you are still in Fort Worth until you see the skyline in the distance.
The Ranch House, which houses the Ranch Store, TX Tavern, Oak Room, Back Porch, and a Barrel Breezeway, will be your first stop. The TX Tavern tasting room is currently open on Thursday and Friday during store hours for tastings. The Oak Room and Back Porch will be some of the best new event spaces in Fort Worth. With plenty of room for large parties and a great view of the golf course.
Beyond the store, bar, etc., they built a rackhouse to age their barrels. They also plan to create a track that will allow the barrels to roll from the distillery to the rackhouse. (It’s a whiskey lover’s dream track.) To keep themselves on their feet, their main building has a lab that will serve as R&D for new liquids. (We’re hoping for a rye and some other exciting expressions!) They also have a blind tasting room used daily to ensure quality from their spirits.
Now for the star of the show: the Still House. When you walk through the doors, you are met by a fifty-foot -tall copper still. This beautiful still was custom-built for Whiskey Ranch and is complete with two site-glasses where visitors can see the magic bubbling. (Or distilling if you want to get technical.)
Whiskey Ranch will allow for continuous distillation rather than the batch process that is used at Vickery. They will be able to produce about 40 barrels a day rather than 3 barrels (their current output). So, the original location in Downtown Fort Worth at 901 Vickery will remain open.
Daily tours of Whiskey Ranch will begin in the coming months. Also, they plan to offer live music and food trucks to accompany tours. Stay tuned!
Is there really anything better than too much tinsel and tacky sweaters? Holiday cocktails, of course! The Miracle Holiday Pop-up Bar made its way to Fort Worth at Proper. This festive pop-up will occupy the cocktail baruntil New Years Eve. Last year Dallas saw its own in One Arts plaza, and Proper is hosting the only one in DFW to host the pop-up this year.
The famous Miracle Pop-up launched at Mace in New York City in 2014. This year, there are more than 50 of these pop-ups all over the world. Basically, you need to drop whatever you’re doing, put on a Santa hat, and go to Proper.
All the drinks were created by the Manager of Mace, Joann Spiegel, as well as the Mace bartender, Nico de Soto. All of these drinks are sure to deck your halls and get you in the Christmas spirit(s). The cocktails are served in Cocktail Kingdom’s custom Miracle glassware which all looks super vintage with anything from Collins glasses with Santa and his whole reindeer crew, rocks glasses depicting Santa’s downfall thanks to egg nog, and even mugs with Santa’s face and his pants … and all are available for purchase. (A perfect stocking stuffer, in my opinion.) Even better, 10% of the glassware proceeds will be donated to Action Against Hunger.
The custom menu has a cocktail for everyone and even a naughty or nice shot. The Jingle Bell Nog and the Fa La La La La, La La La La were my personal favorites, and Susie loved the Bad Santa (a warm option). The nog is one of the best eggnogs that I’ve had made with cognac, sherry, peanut butter, almond milk, pandan, cream, nougat syrup, egg, and nutmeg. The Fa La La La La, La La La La (fun to sing to the bartender) is made with gin, aquavit, hazelnut liqueur, cardamom, vanilla, lemon, egg white, club soda. You really can’t go wrong with any of these cocktails … the only issue will be getting through the whole menu!
Proper will be decked out in its Christmas best from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to midnight Christmas Eve, and noon to 2 a.m. New Year’s Eve.
Proper on Magnolia
409 W Magnolia Ave (Fort Worth)
So we’ve all seen the facebook videos of rolled ice cream, right? Well, Chills 360 brought it to Texas. Currently, they have locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Rockwall—Houston is next on the list of upcoming stores.
This Thai-inspired ice cream is made to order right in front of you. Pro: it’s really fun to watch and they can write your name in chocolate sauce … if you ask nicely.
Con: it takes a little bit longer than traditional ice cream shops.
All of the ingredients are placed on the cold plate and are mixed together. Once it has frozen, the slab of ice cream is hand-scraped into ice cream rolls.
The Cookie Monster (shown in the header) is full of yummy Oreo deliciousness and was my favorite. The next one I want to try is the waffle taco, but it’s only available on Taco Tuesdays. [Must remember to visit on the right day.]
Hey, North Texas: there’s a new bourbon in town, and it’s goooooood. Ben Milam Whiskey—Bourbon and Rye—are now available in select bars and liquor stores around town.*
As some of you might know, I like to know the story behind what I drink—it somehow just makes it taste better. Ben Milam Whiskey has a great story for those tried and true Texans. For starters, the distillery is smack in the middle of our fare state, Blanco, Texas. Additionally, the namesake was involved in the Texas Revolution and led the attack on the Mexican Army in San Antonio on December 5, 1835. Unfortunately, Milam took a bullet to the head on December 7th during the battle for San Antonio, but, on December 9th, the Mexican forces negotiated a truce and surrendered San Antonio.
Owner, Marsha Milam, fell in love with bourbon by visiting the bourbon trail in Kentucky. She (yes, she) loved how relaxed the whole process is; you can’t rush bourbon. There’s a beauty in that.
Like the bourbon’s namesake, Ben Milam Bourbon stormed onto the spirit scene and won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its 86-proof single- barrel bourbon. For those of you who don’t know, this competition is a blind taste test. In order to win the double gold, every judge has to rate the spirit a gold—this is no easy feat.
Currently, the bourbon bottles state the bourbon is distilled in Tennessee and bottled in Blanco, Texas by Provision Spirit, LLC. When Marsha started down the bourbon road, she was very specific on the grain bill and flavor profile she was after. She she started with purchasing already distilled spirit that was aging in oak barrels. She brought the oak barrels to Texas to finish aging and to bottle the final product in Blanco. The distillery in Blanco is currently distilling the same grain bill that Marsha first purchased. Due to bourbon aging regulations it will take a few years for the first bourbon distilled and aged in Texas to be bottled, but the product is well on it’s way to being a Texas native.
The corn and the rye that are found in Ben Milam spirits are from the midwest, but the water is from Blanco. As a true bourbon, it is matured in new charred oak barrels and the recipe is 51% corn.
*Currently, Ben Milam products are available in Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. In Fort Worth, you can find Ben Milam at Fixure, Proper, King’s, and Chicotsky’s.
The tasting room at Ben Milam Whiskey opened on Texas Independence Day (March 2) this year and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 1 to 6 p.m. Whiskey flights (which include both bourbon and rye), cocktails, and bottles are available for purchase. The tasting room is fairly small, but there is an outdoor seating area as well. Head to the website for more info on distillery tours. Blanco is located in the hill country, not a far drive from Austin or San Antonio.
I recently had the privilege of attending a Grey Goose mixology class at Texas de Brazil in my fair city of Fort Worth. It was a night full of great cocktails that was enjoyed alongside other cocktail enthusiast and, lucky for us, a really elegant spirit.
Grey Goose uses fresh, French ingredients and is distilled only once using a continuous column distillation process; this single distillation process ensures the profile of the wheat remains in the vodka. Grey Goose uses wheat from three farming cooperatives in the Picardy region of France. Fun fact: the grade of wheat Grey Goose uses is called “Blé Panifiable Supérieur”, it is the same grade used in high end french bread and pastries.
This class was all about staple summer cocktails. I knew I was in for a treat when the table was set with a plate of fresh fruit and a bottle of Grey Goose. (Susie’s attitude has always been “good + good = really good”. And this qualified) The first cocktail that we mixed was the Le Grand Fizz—one of the easiest cocktails to mix, and so refreshing. I decided to keep this one on-hand for my next pool day.
Next, we made a Caipiroska, which is a twist on a traditional Brazilian cocktail, the Caipirinha. The best part about this cocktail is that you can use a lime or muddle whatever fruit you like. The name loosely translates to “Little Countryside”. Mix in whatever fruit you have on hand and you are good to go! I loved pineapple in mine, which drove home the summer feel.
Le Grand Fizz 1 1/2 parts Grey Goose vodka
1 part St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 part fresh squeezed lime
2 parts chilled soda water
3 wedges of fresh lime
Build in an over-sized cabernet wine glass with ice. Add Grey Goose and St. Germain. Squeeze fresh lime and discard. Top with chilled soda water. Stir and garnish with fresh lime wedges.
Caipiroska 2 parts Grey Goose vodka
2 tsp. Demerara Brown Sugar
Fruit of your choice
Quarter the lime and muddle with sugar in the base of a Boston shaker glass. Add Grey Goose vodka, then cubed ice and shake. Empty all contents into a rocks glass without straining.
Who wants to spend a long time mixing a cocktail and delay pool time? (My hand is not up … is yours?) Try out one of these simple, yet delicious, Grey Goose cocktails, and even batch them out if you’re feeling bold … you won’t be disappointed!
Who loves Mediterranean food? If your hand is up, head to Terra for dinner and drinks. Their food menu is extensive and covers all the basics.
Terra Mediterranean Grill has two great options—a lunch buffet for those of you who aren’t ready to commit to a single dish (or just want to stuff your face) and a traditional dinner menu for those who don’t have a fear of commitment or a binge eating disorder. I personally was not well-versed in Mediterranean food, so I first went to Terra for lunch to try all the things. Once I found my go-to lunch order, I knew I needed to head back for dinner.
I fell in love with on the of the most basic items on the menu—the gyro. I’m telling you, this meat is out of this world good. (Don’t judge me, but I have thought about it more than one time this week. Whatever.) The roasted lamb is cooked to perfection; tender, juicy, and full of flavor. If the meat isn’t enough, the gyro comes with saffron rice and perfectly grilled vegetables.
My favorite appetizer was the Haloumi Cheese. The cheese is grilled and has a salty flavor that compliments the pita bread nicely. It is so buttery-delicious. You can’t go to Terra (or any Mediterranean restaurant, really) and not order the hummus, it’s a must. Their hummus is delicious, light, and creamy, and it goes great with their baked-fresh-daily pita bread. The bread is fluffy and perfectly cooked … and they won’t judge if you ask for more. (I know, because I asked.)
Ok, ok, ok … food food food … now let’s talk drinks. Terra has a full bar and a damn decent wine selection. I tried a few of the cocktails and was not disappointed by any of them. My favorite has to be the house red sangria. Even though it seems simple enough, there are good sangrias and not so good sangrias. I also enjoyed the pineapple mojito. Even better news, both of these drinks are on the happy hour menu (see below). Because drinking and spending less makes them taste that much better. The bartenders are super friendly and know how to make great cocktails.
Back in January, Amanda gave us the good news that Fort Worth’s own whiskey distillery, Firestone & Robertson, debuted a bourbon to accompany its sweet blended whiskey. More recently, we were delighted to be invited to taste the new expression with the distillers and proprietors, Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, at the distillery. The partnership was unexpected–both were separately making plans to open a whiskey distillery in Cowtown when they got wind of the others’ plans. F&R was born and has flourished–much to the surprise of the owners, but no surprise to the consumers who love their original blended whiskey.
Firestone, Robertson and head distiller, Rob Arnold, set out to create a new, unique expression with a providence that can be appreciated using local ingredients (corn and wheat from Hillsboro and a yeast derived from a Pecan tree on a friend’s ranch in Glen Rose), and of course, they decided it had to be a bourbon because it’s “America’s spirit”. And the product … is good.
The spirit is surprisingly smooth with notes of dried fruit and a warm, long finish. The approachable yet deep flavors make this a unique intoxicant. It’s no surprise that it has been in such high demand.
Nose: oak, honey
Flavor: vanilla, honey
Finish: smooth, short
Aged: 4+ years
Proof: 82 (41% ABV)
While bottles of the TX Straight Bourbon have been a beast to get your hands on, they’ve recently released additional inventory to liquor stores. If you aren’t a fan or hunting for bottles, stop into the distillery where you can buy one bottle each month. (And yes, they keep track.)
The distillery itself is quaint, yet puts out a hell of a lot of product. (And they have to in order to keep up with demand.) One of my favorite things, beside the liquid itself, is the corks. Each one has a piece of cloth, leather, fur, etc., making each bottle unique. F&R works with local bootmakers to source the leather, and they’ll even work with you to create completely custom bottles using materials you bring them … but you have to ask nicely.
Keep an ear out for news on their new distillery, set to open late summer 2017. Expect a shiny, new distillery, aging warehouse, offices, an event space … and maybe even a driving range. My team is stoked to take a trip to the 109-acre facility once it’s complete.