Category Archives: Reviews

The Ritas

bud light ritaIf you’re looking for a sweet addition to your cooler, I would suggest trying any of the four flavors of Bud-Ritas from your local grocery store. I’d say that the best part about these Ritas is the alcohol content—they weigh-in at 8%, so it’s a good bang for your buck. But, unless you have a major sweet tooth, I would steer anyone who has not tried these margaritas to not buy them expecting a great tasting beverage. Instead, I recommend using these 8oz cans as a mixer. They are much more pleasant as a flavorful addition to your light beer of choice while taking in some sun at the pool or lake this summer (and they add an extra boozy punch to your drink)!

The original, Lime-a-Rita, is great considering how fast it can be prepared (pop open the can and pour over ice), yet, as previously mentioned, it’s too sweet for my taste. The other three flavors, Straw-Ber-Rita, Raz-Ber-Rita, and Mang-O-Rita, were on par with the other flavors—just a bit too sweet to drink the entire small 8 ounce can.

PRO TIP: I recommend the Raz-Ber-Rita to any TCU horned frog fan in search of a purple drink to add to your tailgate lineup. (Used as a mixer, of course … because, tailgating.)

To sum up my experience with “the Ritas”, I would say throw them in the cooler at the pool or beach as a sweet addition to your beer. Use caution if choosing to drink them straight from the can- get ready for a sugar coma.

 

Twitter: @TheRitas

www.budlight.com/our-beers/Bud-light-lime-Ritas.html

Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey

written by William Merkel

Whiskey is one of my favorite beverages. Almost 100% of the time I drink it straight with no ice so I can enjoy the flavor, smell, and subtleties of a good, stiff drink. Another one of my favorite things is Texas. So when I got a chance to try Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey I was preeettty … pretty stoked.

imageMade in Texas (more specifically, Carrollton) by JEM Beverage Co. The process is started with pure Texas water and then whiskey is aged in new charred American Oak Barrels and then bottled at 82.4 proof (yesssss). Each small batch is hand-bottled (and “hand tasted”) to ensure each and every bottle is up to snuff.

Proceeds from each bottle sold go to Texas Native Wildlife Conservation (which I am happy to support since I go to state parks regularly). The bottles are all silkscreened with the pictures of the animals that the conservation is helping to protect. (And they look pretty awesome.)

Put your nose to the glass and you will smell sweet, floral notes with a slightly strong alcohol smell. The taste is also slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla and has a nice potency in your throat as it goes down your gullet. Also noticeable is one of my favorite things about whiskey is the oak. You can literally taste the barrels that it was aged in, and I love that. The oak may be a bit overpowering for some people, but for me it hit the mark. Overall, it is not too complex a whiskey, but had enough complexity to make it interesting.  In short: I would buy this.

The price is around $30 for a 750ml, and yes, I know you can get other great whiskeys around this price point like Bulleit or Old Forester Kentucky, but give Red River a chance and you may have a new top choice of what to drink when cuddling an empty glass. And don’t forget, it’s made in Texas.  GO TEXAN.

Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey
$30 for 750mL bottle
jembevco.com/redriver.html

About JEM: JEM Beverage Co. produces Red River in Original (reviewed above), young rye, and Canadian.  They also product Western Son Vodka, Southern Son flavored vodkas, Stingray Spiced Rum, and South House Moonshine (both original and flavored), 

Mellow Out at Mellow Mushroom

 

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

RED, WHITE AND BREW

A few years ago, I made a decision to kick my caffeine habit once and for all. This required an unexpected and unwanted amount of detox, headaches, and general unpleasantness to get through, but the end result has paid off. I was freed from drinking sludge for fuel, and it eventually led to the demise of an intense diet soda habit (you’re welcome, body). Now, my point is not to indoctrinate you with the evils of caffeine –just giving a little context. I still have soda and coffee, but if I’m going to drink it, it has to be really freaking good. I only give you this brief history to set the stage for me to review CoolBrew Coffee – both as a beverage and as a mixer.

My plan for reviewing this coffee was simple – find 3 good friends, wait for a reason to have a dinner party and grab a ton of mixers that pair well with coffee. What I didn’t expect was how long this would take to make happen, so I was able to also try the CoolBrew flavors on their own before spiking them. If you’re not familiar, CoolBrew comes in containers of concentrate that can be mixed with hot or cold water or milk. I tried a range of flavors – Original, French Roast, Vanilla, Toasted Almond, Decaf, Hazelnut, Mocha and Chocolate Almond – and was impressed how good they were on their own. I even added a bit of the Chocolate Almond to my morning smoothie for flavor (the products are all unsweetened and about 4 calories per serving) and was quite peppy far beyond lunch (although I was also asked to stop fidgeting in a meeting, so that was a onetime experiment.) If you’re just looking for a simple way to supplement a coffee habit, this is a pretty cost effective and delicious way to do it. (My iced latte-a-day fiancée has nixed her daily Starbucks run in favor of CoolBrew with milk over ice in a travel tumbler.)

image

Breaking: People still play Cards Against Humanity

But, you’re not here for coffee bargain shopping tips with Brian; you’re here for the alcohol. For the booze portion, we gathered ‘round and made four drinks for the group to toast the end of our Memorial Day dinner:

  • Iced Hazelnut coffee with skim milk and Grand Marnier
  • Hot Toasted Almond coffee with skim milk, Jameson and whipped cream
  • Iced Chocolate Almond coffee with skim milk and Frangelico
  • Iced Vanilla coffee with skim milk and Bailey’s

After sharing and swapping all four, it was official – these were perfect after-dinner drinks with a lot of flavor. We liked using the concentrate versus regular brewing as it was really quick to make and avoid having an extra batch of unwanted coffee afterwards (and yes, I’m aware Keurigs exist, I just don’t care.)

If my recipes don’t tickle your fancy, check out the amazing things you can do with CoolBrew on their website, including BBQ sauce, Coffee Martinis, and Midnight on the Bayou™!
COOLBREW RECIPES

CoolBrew is based in New Orleans, but you can find it in a ton of stores here in DFW.

For more info, check out www.coolbrew.com.

Price(online): $5.99 per 500ML container

Don’t Be a Square, Check out Full Circle Tavern

Last night I attended Full Circle Tavern’s cleverly named “360° One-Year Anniversary” party down in the Cedars area. Owners and winners of Food Network’s “Food Court Wars”, Lara Whittington and Jennifer Bonner, celebrated with an 80s cover band, prize giveaways and 360° drink and food specials, including $3.60 Stoli drinks, $3.60 Brooklyn Lager beers and $3.60 Full Circle sliders.

I arrived right after 5pm when the festivities were scheduled to kick off. They were still setting up the band and I couldn’t really tell if the event had started yet. Nevertheless, I grabbed a seat outside on their patio, which was very pleasant on a beautiful spring day.

I had a great server, Tamara, who was friendly and attentive. Even though I don’t normally drink vodka before sundown, I ordered one of my favorite vodka cocktails—Stoli Blueberry with soda and a splash of cranberry. I also ordered the Cheese Curds, a first for me. While I waited, Tamara brought me a bowl of their homemade chips, which was a nice touch. My cocktail was nice and strong and was delivered quickly, which was appreciated as I was parched. The cheese curds were, as promised, very tasty but I’m not a huge fried foodie, so I only had few. I was intrigued by their menu, which is pretty extensive and includes several gluten-free substitutions/options, (which I greatly appreciate since my husband has a gluten allergy).

In my opinion, Full Circle Tavern just makes sense. It’s located in South Side/the Cedars in the same complex as Bill’s Records and is next door to the NYLO hotel and down the street from Gilley’s.

Full Circle Tavern is comfortable, friendly neighborhood spot with what I found to be great people watching. It seems like a perfect spot for NYLO guests and South Side on Lamar or The Beat residents to kick back and enjoy happy hour or a lazy Sunday. Since it’s not close to my neighborhood, I might not necessarily go out of my way to return unless I have something going on down in that area, but when I do, what better place to grab a cocktail and fill up on some carbs before a concert than Full Circle Tavern?

Full Circle Tavern
1319 South Lamar Street
Dallas, Texas 75215

Happy Hours (as of 5/20/14)

  • Tuesday – Thursday (11:00 am – 10:00 pm)
  • Friday – Saturday (11:00 am – 12:00 am)
  • Sundays (11:00 am – 4:00 pm)

Kitchen closes 1 hour prior to closing times

The Rum Also Rises

Written by Brian Bianco

Like any good (yet slightly irresponsible) 16-21 year old, the apparent virtues of rum were well known to me. Girls love that shit, so it was common practice to make sure someone got a bottle of Malibu for the party or social gathering, and then maybe something better to be mixed with soda for everyone else. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with rum, but as an adult, I’ve mostly narrowed my sights on the brassiest IPAs, whiskeys and bourbons I can find, which means everything is straight, filling and/or easily mixable with soda. This is a narrow and terrible view – especially as there are now dozens of bartenders around Dallas who can easily show you the wonderful possibilities of vodka, gin and all the other “non-bro” spirits being poured today.

Still, when Susie asked me to taste a sample batch from Papa’s Pilar, my first instinct was to outsource this to the first friend I could find from Florida, but after my calls were not returned, I realized it was time to teach myself how to really taste this stuff and see what I could find out. The rum is named for Ernest Hemingway (bet you love that clever title up there now), so I figured if anyone could teach me to give rum a chance, it’s a man who survived multiple plane crashes and was an all around badass who just happened to be pretty damn eloquent.

After doing some quick research, I learned rum tasting works a lot like wine tasting. You check the legs, you use your sense of smell, you swirl and you let it breathe.  I decided I would do both straight tastings and quickly mix a Dark and Stormy to evaluate the two samples and I’ve recorded my notes below. To reset my rum pallet, I tasted a few sips of a third brand of rum to make sure I had a baseline for comparison, and then I dove in.

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate the really interesting packaging. From the wooden box to the ship style bottles, the presentation of even a simple sample was actually exciting to tear into. They provided background literature from their website that focused on their history, the distillery and the solera aging process they use for both types of rum. Even if you’re just a history nerd who plans to never drink a sip, it’s an interesting read. For more on how the rum is made, here’s one of the most direct summaries I found if you don’t feel like poking around the website.

Papa’s Pilar Three Year-Old Blonde Rum

Straight

This was very easy to drink, with a wash of fruit tastes on first sip (especially grapefruit), followed by a deeper vanilla flavor. White rum is usually not my thing, but this had just enough going on to make the sipping experience enjoyable – in fact, I ended up drinking double my planned amount after I made it through the tasting process.

Mixed

I didn’t do anything elaborate – just some Reed’s ginger beer to see how a simple recipe turned out. While I had only made a Dark and Stormy with darker rums in the past, this actually made a nice and refreshing summer drink I would happily revisit as soon as Texas decides to stop having random freezes in April.


Papa’s Pilar Twenty Four Year-Old Dark Rum

Straight

First, this rum took a double gold medal at the World Spirits competition in San Francisco (and the blonde also was recognized at the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami), so my expectation to be blown away was high. As much as I tried to fight it, once I had the glass poured, my mind kept telling my mouth to get ready for bourbon. However, the first sip was excellent and I actually had that same rush I get from a good sip of the usual stuff, with complex flavors and a smooth finish. It was spicy, but not in an off-putting way and you could tell the impact of the solera-aging process (thanks, bourbon barrels) and the influence of the different casks.

Mixed

As good as this rum is neat, mixing it in a cocktail almost felt wasteful. I tried to only give it a few splashes of ginger beer, but even that was a waste. If you’re going to drink this one, neat or on the rocks is the way to go.

So, in summary, I enjoyed both of these rums immensely and recommend you start exploring cocktails with the blonde and keep the dark one on hand to be enjoyed by the secret rumelier hidden deep inside you.

To find a bottle in Dallas, just check out http://www.papaspilar.com/#/wheretobuy/store.

Papa’s Pilar Three Year-Old Blonde Rum – ~$30
Papa’s Pilar Twenty Four Year-Old Dark Rum – ~$40

2 Gingers Whiskey

 

My favorite people are those that are passionate about something and go after it.  I was pleased to sit down for a few drinks (ahem, a liquid lunch) at Barter with Kieran Folliard, creator of 2 Gingers Whiskey, on his way through Dallas on his US tour in a branded Airstream trailer.  His mother and aunt inspired the name, and the rest came naturally.

Growing up in West Ireland, Kieran worked in a bar where “there were only ever two ingredients in a drink, and one of them was a glass.”  He’s in Minnesota now and decided to get back to his roots by “flogging whiskey to the Yanks” at his own bar.  He then realized that the thing that would differentiate his bar from the others would be creating whiskey cocktails that were as quick as pouring a beer and not too much steeper in price.  (Challenge.)  He created a list of whiskey cocktails, trademarked them, and then decided that he wanted more consistency … and he’d ultimately get it by creating his own whiskey blend.

tumblr_inline_n409aoz2fC1qzfwapLest you think that Kieran is some rogue Minnesotan who tried his hand at some moonshine, note that 2 Gingers was acquired by Beam, Inc. in December 2012 and is currently the fastest growing whiskey brand on the market.  So there.

2 Gingers Whiskey is smooth and had a sweeter finishing note when enjoyed on its own (almost caramel-y).  In the drinks that Rocco (Barter’s bar manager) served, the 2 Gingers stood out without slapping you in the face (even though it’s a usually hefty 80 proof).  (I had to force myself to stop drinking the Skinny Ginger, Big Ginger, and others for fear I’d be unable to function for the remainder of the day if I didn’t.)  My go-to summer drink will be the Big Ginger (recipe below), no question. 2Gs is distilled only twice (instead of the usual three) so the flavor would really stand up in the cocktails, and is aged four years instead of the typical 2-3.  The finish has less burn to it thanks to this process.

The bottle itself is quite nice, and features the likenesses of Kieran’s mother and aunt.  The best part of the bottle, though, is the serving instructions: “drink with friends or with ice.”  Amen.

I plied the recipe for “the perfect Irish Coffee” out of him (which is really a thing in Ireland and not like French fries to the French), and he suggested the steps below:

  • Start with a warm glass (rinse it with warm water, then dry)
  • Pour in some 2 Gingers Whiskey (obvi) as its taste will stand out more since it’s distilled TWICE
  • brown sugar or a bit of simple syrup
  • a TINGE of Guinness
  • QUALITY strong coffee
  • homemade, thick hand-whipped cream made with quality cream

BIG GINGER
– Fill a Collins glass with ice
– Pour 2 parts 2 Gingers over ice
– Top up with ginger ale
– Serve with lemon and lime wedge
– Drink up.

2 Gingers is available in most local liquor stores, and ask for it at your local bar!  Other excellent cocktail recipes courtesy of 2 Gingers can be found on their website, 2gingerswhiskey.com.

Sláinte!

Quick facts:
2 Gingers Whiskey
WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
80 proof
Suggested price: $19.99 for 750ml

This Place Doesn’t Bite

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.

tumblr_n4edtkjMeo1qzk8qro1_500

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.

Bite City Grill
2600 West 7th Street | Fort Worth, Texas 76107
(817) 877-3888
www.bitecitygrill.com
facebook.com/bitecitygrillFW | @bitecitygrill (Insta & Twitter)
Happy hour: Monday – Friday, 4-6pm

Current happy hour specials:  

$1 Off All Draft Beers…

$6 Zodiac Sign Of The Month…


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 

Small Bites…
5   Baba Ganoush / Caramelized Onion / Sour Cream / Fine Herbs / Naan Bread
5   Beef Jerky / Seasoned Beef Jerky
8   Lamb Meatball / Foie Gras Cream Sherry Reduction Sauce / Manchego Cheese
8   Charred Octopus / Peppadew Peppers / Ginger Aioli
6   Shishito Peppers / Sea Salt / Romesco Sauce
10   Braised Short Rib / Caramelized Onion / Horseradish Cream
9   Margherita / Roasted Tomato / Basil / Fresh Mozzarella Cheese / Tomato Sauce