A few weeks back I trudged through the ice and snow to the sixth annual Barleywine and Swine event at Flying Saucer Fort Worth. Not only did they offer over twenty different barley wine selections, but a huge plate of all things swine. (Because that just makes everything better.) It was the perfect way to warm up on a cold, icy day.
I am a novice when it comes to barleywine, so for those of you like me–here’s the condensed version: it’s a strong English ale that range from 8%- 12% ABV. The only reason it has any connection to wine is because of its high alcohol content and that its matured in wooden barrels. Barleywine can be cellared for years and usually age like wine. Other than that, it’s all beer. Its subtle caramel notes comes from a prolonged boil and hops are used throughout the brewing process. Barley wine can be sweet or bittersweet with the smell of fruits to super hoppy.
Out of the few American barley wines that I tasted, my favorite by far, was from the Breckenridge Brewery. It’s a 10.1% ABV beer with molasses and black cherry accents. This beer is cold conditioned for three months and barrel-aged in fresh, American Oak barrels for 6 months. For those of you who like your beer extra hoppy (not me) go for the Epic Barley Wine Ale. This 10.1% ABV is brewed in Salt Lake City. I could only have a few sips due to the hoppiness of this beer. The Firestone Walker Sucaba is a 13.5% ABV that is brewed in California with subtle chocolate and vanilla flavors. This one was pretty sweet, which make for a great after dinner treat. Each barleywine was served in a brandy sniffer for $6/6oz pour.
If you haven’t had a chance to stop by Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth, it’s worth the trip. It is in walking distance to the newly renovated Sundance Square (which is amazing) and they have loads of craft beers on tap and a huge patio … what else could you possibly ask for? Keep up to date with their fun events, like Barleywine and Swine, on their website.
I made the trek to Fort Worth, y’all. I don’t do it often, so you must know it was because I knew something special (read: delicious) was waiting for me. In this case, it was worth the drive. #SDDContributor Amanda (covering Fort Worth) and I stopped into Vivo 53 in Downtown Fort Worth accompanied by a delightful representative from their PR company. I threw my hands up and let the experts decide what to feed me, and that was a great decision.
We started with Chicken Meatballs (free range, served with tomato sauce, rucola, and red onion) and they were hard to find in all of the greenery, but worth the search. To go with our appetizers, the bartender brought us a round of their best selling drink, the Vesuvius (serrano pepper, 360 organic vodka, blood orange juice, strawberries, ginger beer, and organic agave). It really had a kick to it, enough so that I was regretting that I’d forgotten my heartburn medication! The flavor was strong and delicious, so I’d order this one again … but I’d try to be more prepared next time. Their version of Bruschetta featured three crostini–corona fagioli (beans) with herbs, chilies, and sea salt, a smoked albacore tuna with peppers and chives, and a chicken liver pate with capers, prosciutto and lemon. I really loved all three (and especially the pate), but the table seemed to like the tuna one best. (Babies.) You can order them by flavor or a trio of the three.
Drinks kept flowing and the table ordered the North Texas Breeze, Italian Mule, and Aquila Artiglio. The North Texas Breeze (Deep Eddy Vodka, St. Germain , Thai basil, lime, pineapple juice, honey, and prosecco) is their second best seller behind the Vesuvius, and for a good reason. It was perfectly light and sweet, but with good body. The Italian Mule (raspberries, 360 organic vodka, lime, balsamic vinegar, and ginger beer) was an interesting take on the traditional Moscow Mule and the balsamic vinegar gave it a bit of extra complexity. (Oh, and they’d run out of raspberries, and when my friend ordered this drink, they had someone run out to get more. That’s service.)
I’m not even sure how to start my description of the dinner we had. Suffice it to say that everything was delicious and the pasta dish haunts my dreams. We enjoyed the Brussels Sprouts that were roasted just so with a nice bit of oil … and it’s too bad that I ate them all and didn’t leave any for my fellow diners. Do yourself a favor and order their Vivo Truffle Fettuccine cause OMG. I mean … I like truffles, but this stuff was beyond. The flavor was just strong enough to be intriguing, but definitely wasn’t overpowering.
The 53 in their name refers to the number of recipes they attempted to get to the perfect pizza crust. I’ll just say … it was definitely lucky number 53! The crust on their “pizze” is perfectly crispy and has a nice mix of delicate herbs that give it a kick of flavor. We tried the Bianca Pizza (mozzarella, sottocenere*, fontina cheese, parmesan, and sage) and the Burrata Pizza (bur rata, prosciutto, tomato, rucola, and grana padano). I’d order the Bianca again in a second, but the Burrata pizza, while good, wasn’t what I’d expected. The burrata is simple plopped on top of a cheeseless pizza with a pile of rucola on top. (I’m just preparing you because I was surprised. Friends look out for friends, ya know.)
Dessert, while difficult to find space in my completely full and satisfied stomach, was worth it. The Torta Fritta (fresh donuts rolled in sugar) were ah-mazing. The chocolate dipping sauce it’s served with was rich and warm. I had to stop myself from eating them all … stupid half marathon training. (Blame my sister.) We also tried out their Dolce Crema Bruciata (vanilla custard with brûlées sugar crust and fresh berries) was good … but I’d suggest ordering a second Torta Fritta if you have the room! Oh, and their bartender was nice enough to make me an off-menu espresso martini. It was just the nightcap I needed and kept me alert enough not to call it a night and head home to put on my comfy pants.
Vivo 53’s feel welcoming, yet clean and modern. The high ceilings make it feel much larger than it is. The seating area is actually somewhat limited, which keeps it intimate. A set of tables toward the back are separated by large walls, making each feel private. There are TVs in the bar to catch a game or two, and seats around the oven so you can watch the magic happen.
They JUST released that they’ll be offering happy hour … both regular and REVERSE! Stop in for the items below from 3-6pm and after 9pm EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK … that means Fridays and Saturdays. Eccellente, miei amici.
A bit ago I attended a happy hour with Ballast Point Brewing and Distilling at Bird Cafe. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Ballast Point before going to the happy hour, and I learned that Ballast Point began as a small group of home brewers in San Diego, California. Most of the beers are named after fishing terms. The labels have illustrations of fish to pay homage to the brewery’s origin’s. After they made a name for themselves through their beer, Ballast Point began distilling. The company now has seven spirits they call their own.
I began the night tasting some of Ballast Point’s beer on tap. For those of you who like hoppy beers, go for the Grunion Pale Ale (5.5%). It has a nutty flavor as well as a summer fruit aroma. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer silver award. Next, I went for the Scotch ale. Piper Down (5.8%) is now in the running as one of my favorite craft beers … it’s not super heavy and it has a smooth taste. I tasted a chocolate, sweet after taste with this brew. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer gold award. The name came from Scottish bag pipers that drank too much … the piper became top heavy and people would yell, “piper down” when they began to fall. (I have to admit, I went back two days later for more.) My last tasting was the Victory at Sea Coffee/Vanilla Porter (10%). As expected, it was a dark, smooth brew. I am not a coffee drinker, but that didn’t not stop me drinking this beer. It had more of a vanilla taste than coffee.
Moving on to the spirits, I was curious about the first cocktail on the list–the San Diego Street Car (Devil’s Share Moonshine, Ancho Chili liqueur, corn water, lime, Burlesque bitters, egg white). I was puzzled by this concoction, so I had to ask the bartender how he came up with this interesting drink. He said it was his version of elotes in cocktail form. He wanted to bring out the corn flavor of the moonshine rather than mask it. After understanding the background of the drink, it made me enjoy it all the more.
I would urge you to go to your local liquor store and try out some of Ballast Point’s spirits. Here’s your shopping list:
–3 Sheet’s Rum: made from pure cane sugar rather than molasses (80 proof)
–Fugu Vodka: Filtered 15 times (80 proof)
–Devil’s Share Moonshine (whiskey): hints of tropical fruit (98.6 proof)
–Devil’s Share Burbon: American oak barrels, hints of caramel and vanilla cream (92 proof)
–Old Grove Gin: made from juniper berries, rose, and coriander (88 proof)
For those of you who know Fort Worth, you know that there is a solid strip of amazing food and bars on Magnolia Avenue. I want to convince you to head out of your comfort zone and head past Hemphill to Proper. You will find easier parking and an amazing hole-in-the-wall bar. Proper put a smile on my face just by walking in the front door thanks to the comfortable, clean environment and seriously extensive drink menu. Not only do they have a lot of craft beers on tap, but they make some mean cocktails.
All cocktails are expertly measured to make sure you get consistent drinks each time you order it. The menu has ten signature cocktails along with thirteen classic cocktails.
My visit happened to be on Valentine’s day, so they had a few Valentine’s inspired drinks as well as beer flights. There was also another list of speciality drinks next to the bar, this week happened to be three drinks all including moonshine. I tried the Tennessee Farmer (sweet tea, moonshine, lime, honey, blackberries, bitters, and bubbles). This drink had a great taste and I would definitely order it again. I would bet that if you tried to stump this bartender … he’d welcome the challenge and rise to it.
If you are looking for a new place with a good vibe and great patio, Proper is your place.
Last week I was invited out to happy hour at Grace and Little Red Wasp in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. Both of these amazing restaurants are owned and operated by Adam Jones–Grace is the “fancier” of the two restaurants as well as a higher price point. Grace provided a lovely experience, but Little Red Wasp was my favorite out of the two. Both of these restaurants are a stones throw from some of the best downtown Fort Worth has to offer–Capital Grille, Del Friscos, Ruth’s Chris, and the like.
The bartender reported that the two most popular drinks at Grace are the Bosc Pear Martini and the Seven. The Bosc Pear Martini (Grey Goose Le Poire Vodka, Amaretto, Lemon, Vovetti Prosecco) has a slightly slimy in texture thanks to the grit of the Grey Goose Le Poire, but the taste was incredibly silky and subtle. The Seven (Ultimat Vodka, mint, cucumber, lemon, lime, simple syrup) was almost a mojito with a kick. The outside of the glass was rimmed with salt and cayenne pepper, which certainly stayed with you after the drink was gone. Even though these were the most popular drinks ordered at the bar, I would like to go back and try some of the other mixed drinks on the menu.
So now on to the highlight of the night (for me)–Little Red Wasp. I can’t say enough good things about the atmosphere and the drinks here. I was lucky enough to get a taste of almost every cocktail on the menu, and I honestly can say that there was one drink that I wouldn’t order again (good odds), but my top two must try drinks are: the signature Little Red Wasp (Dulce Vida Reposado tequila, red pepper puree, mint, lemon juice, jalapeño honey) and the Perfect Storm (Zaya Rum, vanilla bean syrup, apple cider, ginger beer). The Little Red Wasp had a fruity taste with a nice “sting” from the jalapeno. I can now say that my all time favorite cocktail is the perfect storm. It is definitely on the sweeter side, but it is a must try. Not only does it taste amazing, I loved the presentation in the copper mug.
I am excited to go back for one of Little Red Wasp’s beer pairing dinners. On the first Wednesday of every month, they hold a five course pairing that highlights a particular brewery. In February it was Oscar Blues and March will be Panther Island Brewing.
All in all, it was a great night in two amazing places. Go for happy hour and you won’t be sorry. (Tip: try the homemade ranch and chips at LRW)
777 Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Dining Room Hours: 7 Days a Week- 5:30-9:30
Bar Hours: 7 Days a Week- 4:00-10:00 (Full Menu available.)
Happy Hour: Half Price Bubbles (by the bottle, half-bottle, or glass) 4:00-6:00 daily Women and Wine: Wednesday nights 4:00-7:00 ($10 gets you three glasses paired with light bites)
LITTLE RED WASP
808 Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Last week I was privileged to attend a media dinner at a new Tex-Mex restaurant in Bluebonnet Circle, Pegaso Mexican Diner. The circle has made a huge turn around since the days of the Qui and Tiff and Andi’s. Now the circle is full of great restaurants and retail, and Pegaso is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.
Pegaso is set up like Freebirds or Chipotle where you go through a line to build your plate. They also offer a few platters were everything is already chosen for you want a quick decision. The basics of the menu are: enchilada plates, burritos, burrito bowls, salad bowls, and street tacos. With almost everything, you pick your filling, sauce, and sides. My first experience was awesome because I was able to try a lot of the menu in small portions. I kept thinking about how good the food during the rest of my week that I went back a few days later for my weekend Mexican food fix. Going through the line for the first time was somewhat overwhelming with all of the choices. It was safe to say that I’m pretty sure I would not have been disappointed with anything I would have chosen. The simple things like the rice and refried beans are amazing. The food is such high quality (this is nothing like Taco Bell fast food).
Eventually they will be offering late night on weekends as well as breakfast.
I’ll admit it … I’m a queso fanatic. For that reason, I deem myself qualified to say that their queso blanco was amazing. My other top recommendations are the enchilada platter with chicken tinga, chipotle crema, vegan cilantro rice, and pinto refried beans. One of the best sides I have tried is the Spicy Mexican Elote (a corn dish with chipotle crema, mayonnaise, and queso fresco). This dish has a great mix of sweet and spicy flavors.
So awesome food, now what about the drinks? Yes, this is considered “fast casual”, but the margaritas are hand shaken using 100% agave Tequila (your choice of Silver, Reposado, or Anejo). I was a big fan of the skinny margarita on the rocks ($8.50). The cucumber margarita on the rocks ($10.00) was a refreshing twist on a traditional margarita and the cucumber mellowed out the sweetness.
Pegaso also offers a selection of domestic ($2.95), imported ($3.75), and local ($4.25) bottles. (I feel that I shouldn’t have to say that you can’t get the drinks to go … but I’ll err on the side of safety.)
All of the items at Pegaso are made with high quality ingredients and sustainable harvested produce when possible. They use healthy fats such as Canola oil in their fryer as well as accommodate any vegan request that is possible. This is a family-friendly restaurant with a very reasonably priced kids menu ($3.75).
PEGASO MEXICAN DINER
3516 Bluebonnet Circle
Fort Worth, Texas 76109 Website | Facebook
There’s a holiday for everything. Pizza lovers, mark your future calendars for May 15th, National Pizza Party Day. I went to one of my favorite pizza restaurants in Fort Worth to celebrate, Mellow Mushroom. My usual drink of choice is beer, but this time I decided to let summer come early and try a specialty mixed drink. All of the Mellow Mushroom drinks make you feel like you are relaxing on a beach (without the hassle of sand in your crack and sunscreen streaked across your face).
They told me that their most popular speciality drink is the Shroom Tea (vodka, gin, rum, Triple Sec, Razzmatazz, Blue Curacao, sweet n’ sour, and Sprite); it’s their version of a Long Island iced tea. Not only is this a great deal at $4.00, but it was deeeeelicious and it reminded me of an adult cherry limeade.
My next two drinks were very similar. The first, was named the Head Bitch in Charge and the Pearl Jam. HBIC is Myers Rum, Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay Coconut, Apricot Brandy, orange and pineapple juice. It was a very frothy, orange juice cocktail with a coconut aftertaste. My favorite drink of the night was the Pearl Jam. This is a mix of Smirnoff Orange and Vanilla Vodka, club soda, and orange juice. A dreamsicle in a glass with some oomph!
Stop by Mellow for some pizza (obvi) and choose from their bottled, draft, or canned beers ($4-6), wine list, or specialty drinks ($4-7) while enjoying their laid-back atmosphere. Great music and staff made this an awesome visit that I would highly recommend a visit.
Mellow Mushroom 3455 Bluebonnet Circle, Fort Worth, Texas 76109 | 817-207-9677 OTHER LOCATIONS
Current Happy Hour Specials:
Sunday-Friday (4-7pm) $2 Well Liquor and House Margaritas
Texas Sundays- $1 off Texas Beers all day (excludes High Gravity and Seasonal Beers)
Margarita Monday- $2 Margaritas
Trivia Tuesdays- Extended Happy Hour until 9pm
Wino Wednesdays- $2 House Wines from 4-7pm
Thrifty Thursdays- $2 off Pitchers (excluding seasonals) from 4-7pm
Being a Virgo, I don’t often step outside of my comfort zone, but one stop to Bite City Grill in Fort Worth changed that.
Bite’s signature cocktails are all named after the twelve astrological signs. The menu lists characteristics and celebrity for each sign. Additionally, each signature drink comes with a eye dropper of the bitters that they suggest you add to the drink to your liking (the bartender said to experiment and only add a little at a time). I decided to try a Scorpio, Sagittarius, and a Capricorn.
The Scorpio included tequila, mango puree, lime, jalapeño, and mint. It was described as “determined, powerful, magnetic, emotional, and passionate”. (Sounded to me like the guy in high school that had a crush on me but didn’t understand the word “no”.) The famous Scorpio listed was Bill Gates. The drink was presented with the jalapeño and lime on a toothpick as garnish, and I went ahead and squeezed the lime and dropped the jalapeño in for full effect. The first taste was great; not too sweet, the mango was non-existent, and the small slice of jalapeño provided a little bit of spice that this drink needed to kick me in the mouth. The Scorpio came with their fruit bitters, and I went all-in and squeeze the entire dropper in my drink. The bitters acted as a neutralizer and completely overpowered the sweetness of the original drink. Overall, the Scorpio was a new twist on the simple rocks margarita.
The best drink of the night was by far the Sagittarius, and if you’re a Bourbon drinker, it’s a must-try. It’s smoked bourbon, sweet tea, limoncello, and St.Germain, but will say the main attraction is the smoked bourbon. The drink was delivered in a mason jar with a lid on, which I thought was a bit odd; once I opened the mason jar, I quickly realized the logic of the lid. They use a special gun that smokes tea leaves to fill the mason jar with smoke. As soon as you unscrew the lid, a wave of smoke engulfs you. (This is some second-hand smoke I’m totally OK with!) The first taste is definitely a surprise … the drink truly does taste like it was smoked. As I mentioned earlier, this is a must for any bourbon fan.
Bite is tucked into the back corner of Montgomery Plaza, a place where several restaurants/bars have tried before, but not succeeded. The atmosphere at the bar is the perfect spot to unwind during happy hour (4-6pm) after a hard day at the office. And, to top it all off, the bar has a few televisions if you are interested in grabbing a few drinks during the big game.
White By The Glass
5 Arca Nova Vinho Verde, Portugal
5 Dr. Loosen Riesling, Mosel, Germany
5 Sterling Aromatic White, Central Coast, CA
5 Bouchard Aine & Fils Chardonnay, France
5 Zonin Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
Red By The Glass
5 Bouchard Aine & Fils, VDP Pinot Noir, France
5 Joseph Castan Cote Du Rhone, France
5 Trevinto Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
5 Pacific Sur Cabernet, Central Valley, Chile