Category Archives: New Products

Sparkle & Dine

Sparkle & Dine is a local company created to help those of us who don’t have all week to prepare for get-togethers … and do for a decent price at that! Started by Stacia Marlow, a former L.A. costume designer, she calls it “instant style in a box” inspired by current trends and staple designers.

The kits are meant for parties of four, and you can order extra settings if you’re expecting more guests.  Most kits arrive with a runner, centerpiece, napkins, chargers, and place card holders.

The kits range from holiday themed to all occasion, so take a break this holiday and let Sparkle and Dine take care of the table!  I was sent the Kate Spade Inspired Glam Table Style kit.  The kit actually inspired me to have a little dinner party of my own and my guests were raving about the setup.

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The only snafu I ran into was that we put flowers in the place card holders that covered the names.  We figured out that putting the cards in vertically would have been the perfect fix.

Other options for the holidays are elegant yet modern.  (I’m kind of dying for the Ralph Lauren-inspired tartan set.)

If you want a little inspiration, make sure to check out their Pinterest account!

SPARKLE & DINE
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Ké Spirits’ wKé

College taught me a number of things, but one of its most important lessons was my love for whiskey. It’s an acquired taste that began as a means to drink with the boys and developed into my own guilty pleasure. I like it over ice or with a splash of ginger ale.

Typically, whiskey offers a slight bite with some smoky, woody qualities. Particularly, Ké Spirits’ Whiskey (wKé) delivers a rich, smooth flavor of grain and wild flower that brings a lasting bite. It’s a strong, but pleasing aroma of elements.

Ké describes its grain components as an uncommon combination that is processed by slicing, rolling, and in some cases, crushing them to capture and retain the unique flavors. Then comes the two-phase fermentation process in which the temperature and environment are closely controlled. Lastly, the liquids are distilled through small handmade copper pot stills in a two-phase copper distillation column. This lends hand to its opulent caramel color.

The legend of Ké Spirits originates in the late 1400s when the art of distillation made its way to Ireland. Irish Catholic monks used it to craft a beverage, whiskey, (“water of life” in English). It was made quickly and crudely to offer a barely drinkable solution. Then, in 1498 Padraig Barry discovered a grain process that turned young, hardly drinkable whiskey into a surprisingly rich and smooth beverage.

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Fast forward 470 years, Joe Barry learns of secret family stories detailing the mysterious “Ké” distillation that generations before him worked to protect from kings, invaders, thieves, and raiders. After retiring in 2007, Joe Barry journeyed to Ireland to unveil the truth of “Ké.” For the next five years he worked with distillers to recreate the original process himself and now offers three varieties: Ké (vodka), tKé (tequila), and wKé (whiskey).

Keep warm by the fire with a glass straight. If that doesn’t do the trick, here is a recipe provided by Ké spirits for a wKé Irish Coffee:

unnamed-18wKé IRISH COFFEE
1 ½ oz wKé
4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
Fresh Whipped Cream
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, or Chocolate

Combine wKé, coffee, and brown sugar in a warm Irish coffee glass and stir until sugar is dissolved. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate.

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**Disclaimer: This bottle of joy was provided to me by Ké spirits**

DIY Bloody Mary Bar, starring Zodiac Vodka and Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary Mix

I enjoy brunch. Good thing for me, because I’m pretty sure if you live in DFW and the “powers that be” find out that you are ANTI-BRUNCH, stealthy ninjas will break into your house while you sleep, extract you from your bedroom, and deposit you somewhere else. Maybe here; I’m not sure, though.  In my humble opinion, the best part about the brunch ritual has nothing to do with fancy eggs or $17 french toast. Brunch drinks, my friends. Brunch drinks. More specifically, the ever-versatile Bloody Mary. When I am really honest with myself, without something tasty to sip on, eggs are just breakfast. And sometimes, especially following a particularly “spirited” Saturday night, public appearances before mid-afternoon on Sunday can be … challenging.

That being said, WHAT IF … hear me out here … WHAT IF, I were to forego said outing, and enjoy my own, fancy-pants, custom, (BOTTOMLESS!) Blood Mary bar, in the comfort of my own home? PJs + couch + dog + football +Bloody Mary bar … think about it. It’s perfect. So perfect, it had to happen. Allow me to share with you the beauty of my own, personal DIY Bloody Mary bar – and read on for some ideas on how you can construct one of your own.

bloody 7I think it goes without saying, a high quality vodka is a must when concocting the perfect Bloody Mary. Let me tell y’all about Zodiac Vodkaa handcrafted, gluten-free American potato vodka, new to the market and hailing from Idaho. I can honestly say that I have not been this excited about a new spirit discovery in a long time. Zodiac is silky smooth with such a clean finish, you can literally sip it. Apparently this is attributed to the fact that Zodiac uses 100% pure water from the Snake River Aquifer, which is then filtered using hand cut Canadian Birch Charcoal. According to Zodiac, this process results in a naturally sweet, pure, gluten free, and distinct tasting vodka. I tend to agree. I used Zodiac Vodka for my Bloody Mary bar, and I suggest you do, too. You will not be disappointed.

Secondly, you are going to need to hook yourself up with an exceptionally tasty Bloody Mary mix. With so many delicious options on the market these days, there really isn’t a need to make one from scratch. Take for instance Powell & Mahoney’s Bloody Mary MixThis classic “vintage” take on the Bloody Mary (recipe circa 1926!) is deliciously thick and robust. Mildly spicy, it serves as a perfectly delicious base- tasty enough to drink undoctored, but mild enough to be highly doctor-able. Powell & Mahoney’ s Bloody Mary mix was cast in the starring role in my Bloody Mary bar – and I highly recommend you give it a screen test in yours.

Now, let’s get started …

  • Make sure you have a respectably-sized glass.  No one likes a tiny Bloody Mary … or one that’s hard to stir.
  • First, rim your glass with something delicious. Penzey’s Prime Rib Rub is a great option; use lime juice instead of water to make it stick.
  • Fill your glass 3/4 full+ with ice.
  • Fill the glass 1/3 full+ with vodka.
  • Top with Bloody Mary mix.  (Don’t fill it too far or you won’t have room for the rest!)
  • Let’s talk goodies. This is the fun part. The sky is the delicious limit, and you can get as creative as you want. Here are some suggestions, ranging from the obvious to the outrageous:

Bloody 3

FIXIN’S

– celery (duh)
– lemon or lime (duh)
– olives (spicy, garlic-stuffed, blue cheese stuffed, etc.)
– pickles (McClure’s are delicious)
– pickled okra/beets/cauliflower/carrots/green beans
– crispy roasted Brussels sprouts
– cooked bacon
– oysters
– pearl onions
– baby shrimp (or hell … make ’em big.)
– jalapeños
– pepperocinis
– marinated artichokes
– capers
– hard boiled eggs
– cheese squares
– ginger

seasonings

Seasonings

– cracked pepper
– Old Bay seasoning
– celery salt
– Creole seasoning
– garlic powder
– Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
– Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic seasoning blend
– smoked paprika
– cayenne pepper

suces

Sauces

– Worcestershire sauce (duh)
– pickle juice
– olive brine
– hot sauce
– Sriracha
– BBQ sauce
– horseradish
– Chipotle Tabasco
– steak sauce

My personal philosophy tends to be something along the lines of: the more stuff I can cram into/on top of that glass, the better. So, don’t be afraid to go nuts. And the good news is, if you aren’t satisfied with your first Bloody Mary attempt, you can mosey on over to (*your very own*) kitchen and make another one.

Bottom line: everything tastes better in PJs. Sorry, not sorry, Uptown.

Bloody Mary 5

*I was graciously provided with complimentary products to try from Zodiac Vodka and Powell & Mahoney. Deeeee-licious!*

Candy Cocktails Recipe Book

Are you having a Halloween party? A Christmas party? Any other kind of party, in life, at any point in the future? Do you like booze? Do you like candy?  If you  have answered yes to any of these questions,  listen up: you’re going to want to hear this*. Candy Cocktails, people. That’s right … cocktails that taste like candy. Cocktails that are MADE USING CANDY. Enter: “Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist“.

(*If you did not answer, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, do not read on. Go here, instead.)

I received “Candy Cocktails” just in time for Halloween, but this cocktail recipe book by the Good sisters (curators of Fashionably Bombed) is chock full of fun and inventive cocktails for every holiday (Candy Cane Martini, anyone?). Holiday-themed libations represent only a small segment of this gorgeous little recipe book, however; in its pages, you will also find cocktail recipes highlight just about any kind of candy you can think of. Forget everything you think you know about dessert drinks … until you have sampled a Liquid Candy Bar, a Candy Fishbowl (yes, it has Swedish Fish “swimming” in it.  Shut. Up.), or a Pop Shot (yup, that would be a shooter integrating Pop Rocks), you know nothing.  Just imagine preparing a custom cocktail for your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/bestie/grandma/mailman based on his or her favorite candy. How much do I love this idea? (A lot.)

Candy Corn InfusionCandy Cocktails is going to have you “mixing outside the box,” if you will. I can attest to this because I found myself preparing candy corn infused vodka early this week. One of the really awesome things about this book is the fact that it gives you directions on how to create variety of sweet liquor infusions using at little as 1/2 cup of booze. Gone are the days of having to spend $17 a pop on multiple, giant bottles of random flavored vodkas that you know are probably only going to use once or twice to make that one cocktail you just had to have, on a whim (I mean, I don’t know many people whose “go-to” drink features marshmallow vodka, do you?). This section of the book is really quite practical and useful (as candy infused alcohol goes).

I prepared two Halloween inspired “Candy Cocktails” in the Plano branch of the Susie Drinks Dallas test kitchen.

Candy Corn CocktailFirst, the Candy Corn Cocktail,- hence the candy corn infused vodka. This drink was so pretty and festive, and just BEGGING you to serve it at your Halloween bash. It was not sickeningly sweet, and really, it was incredibly reminiscent of a lemon drop, with a subtle hint of something different. (You guessed it, genius … CANDY CORN!!!)

Peanut Butter Cup CocktailNext, the Peanut Butter Cup Cocktail, which was every bit as rich and decadent as it sounds. Interestingly (and only mildly disappointingly), this cocktail does not contain actual peanut butter cups (aside from the garnish). As the sisters point out in their book, sometimes the point is for the drink to taste LIKE the candy, as opposed to actually containing the candy. This blended concoction was comprised of vodka, crunchy peanut butter,  crème de cacao, and whole milk  (omg). This was 100% dessert, and they really nailed the peanut butter cup flavor. Nom.

If you are looking for a collection of really fun, unique cocktail recipes, getchoself a copy of Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist, today!

Available at Barnes and Noble (check out their nifty in-store pickup feature!), or on Amazon, for just $13.68.

Cascade Ice

One of the best parts of product reviews is finding my next new drink obsession. I have to say, I have tried many flavored waters to try to kick my Diet Coke habit, but haven’t been successful until now. Cascade Ice Water was generous enough to send me a few bottles of their coconut mango water and coconut pineapple water. I originally was just going to use these as a mixer (which I did), but also drank them straight up. I will definitely purchase more from this line of naturally flavored water. All of the flavors are zero-calorie, sugar-free, caffeine-free, sodium-free, gluten-free, and zero carbs. They have a great, natural flavor with light carbonation.

I used these as mixers for an easy vodka drink. There are some very yummy looking recipes on Cascade’s website that you should check out.

*Cascade Ice Coconut Pineapple with Tito's over ice
*Cascade Ice Coconut Pineapple with Tito’s over ice

I will be on the lookout for other flavors to try. There are twenty-one flavors in the zero-calorie line as well as a Sparking Organic, Sparkling Essence, and Sparkling Mixer line. In our local area, Kroger and Sprouts carry the organic line and Albertson’s carries the zero calorie line. Check this link out to find Cascade Ice in your local area.

 

CASCADE ICE WATER
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*Cascade Ice generously sent me these samples for free.

Limited Edition Cowboys Maker’s 46 Released

Dallas Cowboys fans, rejoice! Maker’s Mark has released a limited edition Cowboys Maker’s 46! These bottles will be dipped in silver and blue wax instead of the traditional red and will be available at liquor stores in the D/FW area later this month for ~$34.99.

From Maker’s Mark:

A contemporary interpretation of original Maker’s Mark, 46 delivers a mouth-watering oaky finish unlike any other. A bold and complex bourbon that’s soft enough to hold on the tongue, even at 94 proof, it’s aged just a few months longer than Maker’s Mark inside barrels that contain seared French oak staves – a process that eliminates the bitterness that usually comes with older whiskies.

Down By the Bay, Where the Watermelons Grow …

National Watermelon Day was on August 3rd, but in my world, it’s always watermelon day! (I love watermelon, especially in the summer. I’ve even started eating it like a Texan; by adding salt to it!)

What else pairs well with salt and watermelon? Tequila! I was sent a bottle of Sauza Blue Silver Tequila, made from 100% blue agave, to try it out and create a few cocktail recipes using it. Sauza Blue Silver Tequila is really great tequila, and I love tequila to begin with, so doing a product review was obviously a pleasure.

On its own it has a smooth, clean, citrus finish. Also Sauza mixes wonderfully in cocktails. For those of you who aren’t huge tequila fans, you might like this one, because it is very smooth and easy to drink.  

Sauza Tequila and Watermelon Cocktail Recipes

Do yourself a favor and get a watermelon and some Sauza tequila and try out some cocktail recipes like the ones below! I guarantee they will cool ya down!

Watermelon Sangria (makes 2)
3 ounces of Sauza Blue Silver Tequila
1-2 cups of watermelon, diced small
1 orange, squeezed
1 lemon, squeezed
1 lime, squeezed
White wine
Soda water
Ice
Lemon and lime garnish
Muddle the watermelon in a shaker, then add the tequila, orange, lemon and lime and add ice. Shake like there is no tomorrow. Strain into glasses over ice, top off with white wine and a splash soda water and garnish. photo copy

Watermelon Spritz
1½ ounces of Sauza Blue Silver Tequila
3 ounces of watermelon juice (to make your own … cube watermelon, quickly blend, and then strain)
1 lime, squeezed
1 lime, cut into wedges
Soda water
Ice
Fill glass with ice, add tequila, add watermelon juice, lime juice, and add cubed limes, top off with soda water.

If you don’t want to whip up your own cocktail, you should try Sauza’s sparkling margaritas.

According to their website: “Our ready-to-serve sparkling margarita is made with real tequila, and comes in Original Lime, Mango Peach, Wild Berry flavors and now Watermelon!” 

DISTILLED IN MEXICO Sauza® Tequila, 40% alc./vol. DRINK RESPONSIBLY

BLUE CHAIR BAY BANANA RUM GIVEAWAY & RECIPES

Another SDD Blue Chair Bay giveaway! (LUCKY!) This time we’re giving away a bottle of Blue Chair Bay’s latest flavor, Banana Rum! Enter to win ye a bottle o’ rum, me matey, and check out some recipes Laura whipped up using the delicious banana rum (and only a few banana-related puns and catchphrases).

My take on Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum:
In my experience, flavored liquors are very hard to do right… but Blue Chair Bay did it right with their Banana Rum. Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum has a rich flavor and a real banana taste. First, I tried it straight up, and it tasted exactly like Bananas Foster, evident by its buttery, caramel finish. It doesn’t taste artificially sweet either. I even tried it as a twist on the old standard rum and coke, and it was actually pretty darn good.

My Recipes:
I’m not typically a dessert or sweet drink person, save for the occasional espresso martini, so I knew I’d be my own toughest critic. But not to toot my own horn (toot toot), but these turned out pretty darn delicious. All of them are best served ice cold, which should be pretty appealing since we are smack in the middle of a Dallas summer.

photo 2Not Your Nana’s Banana Crème Pie Martini
3 oz Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
2 oz clear crème de cacao liqueur (I used Hiram Walker brand)
3 oz half-and-half
Garnish: Graham cracker rim (to make: first rim martini glass in honey and then in graham cracker crumbs)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, and pour into graham cracker rimmed martini glass.

 

photo 1Frozen Chocolate Banana Martini
1½ oz Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
1½ oz white or dark crème de cacao liqueur (I used Hiram Walker brand)
1½ teaspoons of chocolate syrup
1 cup of ice, add more if necessary
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except for cherry) in a blender with ice, blend until slushy. Pour into martini glass, garnish with a cherry, add chocolate syrup for garnish or to make even more chocolate-ly. (Because … chocolate.)

photo 3Banana Rum-ssian
1½ oz Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
¾ oz coffee liqueur (I used Kamora brand)
¾ oz half-and-half
¼ oz of Icebox ice coffee concentrate (you can find this at Central Market or online) or CoolBrew Coffee

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, and pour over ice.

For a refresher on the rum recipes Susie came up with before with the Blue Chair Bay White Rum, click here.

Enter to win a bottle of Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum!!!

Win a bottle of your very own by doing any (and all) of the following BEFORE NOON on Sunday, August 10 and tell us which one of the recipe above that you’d like to try using Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum (or make up one of your own!!).  

(One entry per platform per person will be accepted.)

Yo ho and a bottle of (banana) rum! Enjoy and good luck!

About Blue Chair Bay Rum:
Blue Chair Bay Rum is born on the beach for the times you just want to let go and live in the moment.Blue Chair Bay Rum is a collection of premium-blended rums created on the shores of the Caribbean and inspired by multi-platinum singer-songwriter’s Kenny Chesney’s love of the island lifestyle. Each of Blue Chair Bay Rum’s four varieties, White, Coconut, Coconut Spiced and Banana is 100% beach-made and mellowed in casks at one of the oldest, most respected distilleries in the Caribbean. Imported from Barbados and bottled by Fishbowl Spirits, Rochester, NY. Blue Chair Bay White Rum 40% ABV, Blue Chair Bay Coconut, Coconut Spiced Rum and Banana 26.5% ABV. Available in 750ml and 1.75L bottles

Please enjoy Blue Chair Bay Rum responsibly.