Category Archives: Spirits

#BuffettBash2019

This year I was ecstatic to find out that my new friend’s birthday is a week after mine AND that Jimmy Buffett would be in town the same week. So, what does a Parrothead do? Host a huge tiki tailgate before the concert … obviously.

We rented an RV, made some food and some tiki bevvies, and made a day of it. We loaded up the RV with decor and furniture and a hearty group of partygoers and busted our butts to get our little spot of parking lot ready for the party.

THE SETUP

Since I don’t have my own RV (yet…), we looked for an RV rental company, and Cruise America was the winner! We got the RV that sleeps five for three nights with 300 free miles for a song! Everyone had a place to use the restroom and cool off from the heat, and we all got to ride there together! (And there’s a super cute sticker of a dog on the window!)

The setup was as it should be: over the top and kitsch as hell. While we were short on fans, we weren’t short on shade!

Our friend Ariel was kind enough to step behind the bar for us and serve up our awesome drinks, and that was CLUTCH. She made us look gooooood!

THE BOOZE

Every great tailgate needs great booze. So, to stick with the tiki theme, we worked with some of our favorite brands to make tiki-friendly cocktails that we batched out to make them easy to enjoy.

Elyx Copper Cup #1946
1.5oz Absolut Elyx Handcrafted Vodka
.75oz GH Mumm Champagne
1.5oz coconut water
.5oz lemon juice
.5oz honey simple syrup

Combine all ingredients except champagne and shake to combine and chill. Pour over new ice and top with champagne. Garnish with coconut shavings and a pineapple wedge. Makes two cocktails.

Patrón Tiki ‘Rita
2oz Patrón Reposado Tequila
.5oz Patrón Citrónge Orange Liqueur
.25oz Allspice Dram
.5oz lime juice
.25oz vanilla simple syrup
.5oz grapefruit juice

Rim a glass with Himalayan sea salt. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin and shake to chill and combine. Pour over fresh ice in the prepared glass and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg and a slice of lime with cloves.

Plantation Mai Tai
1oz Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum
1oz Plantation Original Dark Rum
.75oz lime juice
.5oz orgeat

Combine ingredients in a shaker tin and shake to chill and combine. Pour over fresh ice and garnish with a pineapple wedge.

Maker’s Colada
1.5oz strawberry-infused Maker’s Mark Whiskey
.5oz Giffard Creme de Fraise du Bois Liqueur
bar spoon of strawberry purée
.5oz lemon juice
.25oz simple syrup
.25oz coconut milk

Combine ingredients in a shaker tin and shake to chill and combine. Pour over fresh ice and garnish with a strawberry.

While cocktail are great, we decided they weren’t enough. So, we got some wine and alcoholic gummies and made a couple high-proof popsicles.

Betty Cocktail, a friend, neighbor, and badass bar lady, makes some of the most delicious gummies that just HAPPEN to have booze in them. We’ll just say we were more than delighted when she showed up with her tray of goodies!

 

Our friends at Union Wine Company were kind enough to send along some cans of their Riesling Radler which, coincidentally, is costumed in the perfect jungle print, toucan and all! This summer-friendly wine in a can has hints of grapefruit and is only lightly “hopped”.

To cool us off, we thought some frozen cocktails would be the ticket. While the alcoholic popsicles were delicious, they sadly didn’t stand up in the heat. Let’s just say that they turned out to be more slushies than popsicles.

COCONUT TELEGRAPH
1.75C Malibu Coconut Rum
.5C Torani Creme de Banana Syrup
.5C coconut water
1 small container of banana yogurt

Combine all ingredients, then fill into popsicle sleeves. Allow to freeze for at LEAST 24 hours and keep very cold.

A PIRATE LOOKS AT FORTY
.75C Plantation White Rum
.75C Disaronno Originale Liqueur
.75C Torani Macadamia Nut Syrup
.5C water

Combine all ingredients, then fill into popsicle sleeves. Allow to freeze for at LEAST 24 hours and keep very cold.

THE FOOD

We knew that a six-hour tailgate party with free flowing booze needed a pretty stacked food table, so we went full-tilt tiki and had pulled pork, Hawaiian meatballs, Hawaiian Roll ham sandwiches, and more. We had an ambitious pit-master in the group, and he hit it out of the park with his pulled pork with HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCES. (Yes, sauces … two of them.) Dessert we knew would be a slam dunk, so we got some of the amazing White Chocolate Macadamia Nut & Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies from Pokey O’s and tequila-infused margarita cupcakes from Sprinkles.

ALL IN ALL …

All in all, it was a really fun day and a wonderful way to celebrate a couple birthdays. We’ll be back next year, and we have some serious plans … #tikitrouble


Special Thanks to:

Jon Bon Jovi’s Rosé Can and Should Be Enjoyed Everywhere

There’s a new rosé in town and you’re going to want to grab yourself a bottle before it heats up in Texas! Like, really … we’ll wait while you run down the street for a bottle.

 

You back? Cool … I’ll continue. [Open the bottle and drink along with me.]

This isn’t just any ol’ rosé—it’s Jon Bon Jovi’s rosé that he created with his son, Jesse Bongiovi and former Notre Dame hockey player, Ali Thomas. It’s called Hampton Water, and it dove into the Dallas scene last month with an epic party at the Joule hotel in a kickoff event for KAABOO Texas (the killer music festival featuring The Killers coming in May).

The intimate event called “The First Sip” featured plenty of Hampton Water Rosé and an acoustic set by Jon Bon Jovi himself—no big deal, right?? The event was at the heated rooftop pool deck at the hotel and the second that I stepped out of the elevator, it was clear what a big deal this rosé was at least trying to be. … and it was.

 

All of Dallas’s elite came out to enjoy a glass of rosé from Dallas athletes like Jason Witten and Dirk himself (bless that man)and alumni from The Bachelor to bloggers, media reps and businessmen. It was a huge turnout and the room was buzzing with excitement for both the performance and the launch of KAABOO and Hampton Water. (Just so much to celebrate.)

Have you already poured yourself a glass?

Now let’s talk about why the Wine Spectator featured it as one of the top 100 wines of 2018: The blend comes from wine makers in the South of France and is made from the perfect blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes. It has a nice clean taste with hints of fruity flavors like cherry and watermelon. It has a really balanced, crisp finish which makes it perfect for pretty much any occasion where wine is involved (which should be all the time, right?). Once patio season hits, I have a feeling we will be seeing it all over Dallas. (Hence our aforementioned note to HURRY.)

Also coming to Dallas is the three-day music festival called KAABOO on May 10-12 which will be headlined by Sting, The Killers, Kid Rock, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. KAABOO describes itself as “People against dirty” and “The perfect weekend escape, described in a word that comes from whatever the hell we feel like yelling when we’re high on life and having fun.” It’s taking place at the AT&T Stadium, and you can be sure here will be lots of cocktails available (including Hampton Water Rosé, obviously) along with craft beers, cabanas, six stages and even a Vegas-y pool club!

As I was sipping my glass of rosé and googling how much KABOO tickets are—which are very affordable as far as music-festivals go btw—the crowd starts hustling towards the stage for Jon Bon Jovi’s private set when he played through his well known hits like “American Pie,” “It’s My Life” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.” I now officially have about 179 Jon Bon Jovi recordings on my phone … and I’m only exaggerating a tiny bit there.

Tasting Notes
Grape Varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre
Color: light peach
Aroma: bright fruits
Palate: hints of fruity flavors like cherry, strawberry, and watermelon with just a slight minerality
Finish: long, dry
Region: France — Languedoc-Roussillon
ABV: 13%


Hampton Water
hamptonwaterwine.com
In Dallas, you can find the rosé at Central Market, Pogo’s Wine & Spirits, Nick & Sam’s, Hotel ZaZa, Imoto, Tei-An and Uchi
Retail: ~$18

KAABOO Texas
kaabootexas.com

#RaiseItForward and Give Water to Those in Need with Absolut Elyx

March 22 is World Water Day. Water is an incredibly precious resource, and there are billions around the world that don’t have access to a clean, reliable source for it. Not for profit Water for People works to supply water to those people.

2.1 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water and 4.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Women and children spend more than four hours walking for water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases.

So, to lessen the number of people in need, Absolut Elyx teamed up with Water For People to supply water and water sources to them. They’ve upped the game each year for the last four, and this year’s a doozy. For every bottle of Elyx or copper pineapple sold, Absolut Elyx will supply one week of safe drinking water (~140 liters) to someone in need. They’ll also donate a week of water for every Instagram post bearing the hashtag #RaiseItForward March 22 to April 22. Even more: This year, if they reach our goal of 10,000 posts, they’ll increase the donation to one month of safe water for every post.

I’m delighted to be working with Absolut Elyx to spread the word about this great cause. So they allowed me to sweeten the deal by giving anyone who uses the hashtag #RaiseItForwardTX the chance to win a copper swan ($399 value) or one of three copper coupes ($39.50 value each).

Please raise a glass with me to this great cause!

 

Details: http://bit.ly/2T5ZsIv
Details on the Water for People + Absolut Elyx partnership

Pictures by BECKLEY

Fried Chicken + Bubbles = the Dream Team

I love sparkling wine.
I love fried chicken.

(I’d like to meet someone who doesn’t agree with the above. … actually, I don’t think we’d get along, so NM.)

Street’s Fine Chicken sent out a press release, and they have the right idea: fried chicken + sparkling wine. The pairing is classic, and one of my favorite things in the world is to pair haute elements with food that comes in a cardboard container of some sort.

So, of course, I HAD to do some “research” to verify that their fried chicken did, in fact pair nicely with sparkling wine. And, research I did. (Not like I didn’t know what the research would return, but it’s best to do your due diligence.)

Luckily, my results were correct. Using bubbles to mitigate the richness of the chicken is just about perfect. Acid can act as a palate cleanser, which is why you’ll often see pickled items served alongside fried items. Since sparkling wines usually ring in 2.5 to about 4.5 pH, their acidity helps to cut the richness and greasiness of the chicken. Choosing a dry sparkling wine helps to push through the fat, and makes for a delightful experience.

Street’s Fine Chicken’s signature fried chicken is “brined for 24 hours and fried in herbs from various French Provinces.” They take their time to do it right, and they get it right. They also offer sparkling starting at just $5 a glass and $18 a bottle, so you can try out the pairing for yourself. (Enjoy.)

 


STREET’S FINE CHICKEN
streetsfinechicken.com
3857 Cedar Springs Rd. | 469-917-7140
5211 Forest Lane, #108 | 972-803-5181

Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling

I don’t know about you, but I like to know the history behind what I drink. Call me a booze dork, but knowing the story behind each drink makes it seem to taste that much better.

Chateau Tanunda is located in South Australia—about an hour outside of the town of Adelaide. It was built in the late 1880s and is home to some the oldest vines in the Barossa Valley. The Chateau is the largest and oldest wine Chateaus in Australia. The Gerber family purchased the Chateau in 1998 and continues to revitalize and restore the buildings to keep its history alive. If I ever make it Australia, this for sure will be on my bucket list of wineries to visit.

Chateau Tanunda recently sent me a bottle of their Grand Barossa Dry Riesling, and I was eager to sip, smell, and enjoy it. This fresh, crisp wine has aromas of citrus fruits such as lemon and lime. When most people (myself included) think Riseling, they think sweet, because the higher the acidity of the wine, the more sugar can be in the wine without leaving the sweet taste. If you haven’t had a riesling in a while, or have always been turned off due to the sweetness, you should try a dry riesling. You will be pleasantly surprised.

P.S., I loved reading that most of the grapes in this variety are from old vines that were planted on the estate in the 1920s!

Tasting Notes
Grape Varietal: Riesling
Color: White/clear
Aroma: Lemon and lime
Palate: Bright citrus flavors with a slight acidity
ABV: 11.5%

CHATEAU TANUNDA
chateautanunda.com
Grand Barosssa Dry Riesling: ~$10
can be found in a liquor store near you
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Disclaimer: I was given complimentary product from Banfi.

Howdy, Smithworks Vodka!

I recently had the privilege of welcoming Smithworks Vodka into the Lone Star State with an amazing Blake Shelton concert at the famous Billy Bob’s Texas!

Smithworks Vodka was launched in early 2016 and I’m happy to say that Smithworks has recently expanded its distribution to Texas. Over the next few months, Smithworks will be available in twenty- four states.

Smithworks is an American-made vodka that is made with corn from Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and water from Lake Fort Smith. Smithworks is distilled three times and charcoal filtered for a smooth taste and clean finish. It’s finished and bottled with pride in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and named after the dedicated team there and their hardworking values are symbolized through the tractor icon. They say, “Born and bred in the traditions and values of America’s Heartland, Smithworks embodies the values of the place in which it comes from – local pride, simplicity and hard work.”

Blake Shelton is part of the Smithworks family. He said that he had been waiting to partner with the right brand and he found his home with Smithworks; Shelton said he shares the same values and mission as Smithworks (Vodka. His favorite way to drink Smithworks is with diet lemon-lime soda garnished with a lime. Simple enough.)

Shelton is quoted as saying, “I grew up in Ada, Oklahoma and was raised on the values of hard work, humility and an appreciation for the simple things that make up a good life. As part of the Smithworks family, I’ve been involved in the development of the brand and I’m excited for everyone to finally taste what we’ve been crafting. At its core, Smithworks celebrates that moments in life are better spent with good people and great drinks.”

For the rich mouthfeel and smooth (lack of) flavor, we were surprised by the low price tag—just under $20. A great price for this smooth, clean vodka.

SMITHWORKS VODKA
smithworksvodka.com
~$19.99 / 750mL

We’re eagerly awaiting distribution in the great state of Texas … a note from Smithworks: For now, you can find Smithworks Vodka in AR, CO, IA, KS, LA, MI, MO, NE, OH, OK, TN, IL, NC, and PA. If it’s in your neck of the woods, ask your favorite local spot about us—it’s usually the personal touch that gets it done.

Banner image courtesy of Smithworks.

Gold Bar Whiskey: It’s What Outside That Counts

I firmly believe there is a time and place for everything in the world of spirits. Yes, it’s nice to find a really great sipping whiskey or a gin with a few different notes that make a unique G&T, but I’m also intrigued by novelties. Visiting a new place? Hit me with your crazy, local novelty liquor. (Even you, Chicago … malört me.) Got a crazy bottle or random flavor idea to throw at me? Well you should know I’m the guy who went on like a full two year moonshine bender, just because I could. And I’m the guy who agreed to review Captain Morgan’s Jack-O Blast for Susie.

If you want to know exactly how Gold Bar Whiskey tastes, the easy review is that it’s fine. It’s a tad sweet with notes of honey and vanilla plus a bit of heat at the end. I would recommend it in a cocktail over it being a sipping whiskey. (And some cocktail recipes are included for you below.) There’s a bit of information on the bottle about being finished in French oak wine casks from Napa Valley (swanky), with a cursory line about the contents being a mash bill of rye, corn and barley. But the bulk of the information is about the gold packaging and the art on it. So, again, this is all fine. You will sip this, nod and go “alright, cool,” like me and our three other tasters, then you’ll start talking about the packaging if it hasn’t already been a large part of the conversation.

So, about the packaging … drumroll … it’s a giant faux gold bar.

Lay it flat and pretend you stole it from the world’s drunkest mint while cackling like a super villain.
… Use it for balance and display it, letting all your friends know that you have achieved the level of success required to drink from a golden container.
… Allow it to be a conversation starter about how the United States made a mistake abandoning the gold standard in the 1930s.
… Do a few “Austin Powers: Goldmember” lines until no one wants to talk to you. “I love goooold … the taste of it, the smell of it, the texture.”
… Use is as a photo prop. (Because, you will.) Make sure to search Instagram for those aspirational shots that will make you feel like you are part of something. By drinking gold, you truly become gold … right?

Ok, if you made it this far, I will again stress the whiskey is fine. You can make a pretty decent cocktail from it. I’d recommend it as a novelty for parties or housewarming parties, because think how cool it’ll be to be thought of every time someone comments on the giant gold bar on your friend’s bar. Again, there’s a time and a place for everything, so if you need to set a scene or mood or just want the pics from your next gathering to pop, this is a cool way to switch things up.

The Libertine

LIBERTINE
4oz Gold Bar® Whiskey
2oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2oz Simple Syrup
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
2 Tsp. Orange Marmalade
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp. Fresh Orange Juice
1 Egg White

New York Sour

NEW YORK SOUR
2oz Gold Bar® Whiskey
1oz Lemon Juice
1oz Liber&Co Gum Syrup
.5oz Red Wine


Gold Bar Whiskey
goldbarwhiskey.com
$39.99 -$49.99 per 750ML bottle
ABV: 80 proof, 40% ABV
Mash: blended whiskey, approximately 88% corn, 9% rye, 3% barley
Finished: French Oak Cabernet wine casks from the Napa Valley
Age: no age statement

Available in 27 states and 12 countries globally. Distilled in San Francisco, CA

***Brian was given a bottle of Gold Bar Whiskey to try out for a complete review.*** Images courtesy of Gold Bar Whiskey.

Get Ready to Rumble with Balcones

Balcones, Texas’s original whisky*, and Dude, Sweet Chocolate, Dallas’s signature chocolates, are teaming up. Starting in September, you can now find whisky-infused chocolates at DSC. Our team was invited to be some of the first to check out the partnership … and this was what Tiffany found …

I knew it would be a good time when I was greeted at the door of Dude, Sweet Chocolate with a cocktail. Considering that the late summer Texas humidity was particularly heavy and thick that evening, the refreshing Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky concoction was more than welcome.

Toné Castillo, Balcones brand ambassador extraordinaire, was present to tell us more about the Original Texas Whisky from Waco, Texas. Balcones takes great pride in being the first whisky to be legally produced and legally sold in Texas since Prohibition. The distillery has become quite the destination, and tours are constantly at capacity during tasting room hours. I’ve personally never visited the distillery, but after sampling the welcome cocktail and eyeing the whisky pairings that I had yet to try, I felt compelled to plan a trip.
*Note from Susie: I’ve visited. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. Go. Taste all the things.*

As far as events go, anything that involves pairing Katherine Clapner’s chocolates with the Balcones portfolio you KNOW it’s going to be good. This is especially true when Katherine refers to one of Balcones’ spirits as “the magical unicorn”—not surprisingly, the eponymous Rumble, which is intriguingly made out of fermented Texas wildflower honey, Mission figs, and turbinado sugar. I had never heard of such a creation! And true to the name of the event, the Rumble didn’t just get one pairing this evening; it got TWO: DSC’s Flower Child truffle featuring Earl Grey tea flavors, and the FDA Salami, a playful chocolate comprised of California marizpan, dried figs, dates, cocoa nibs, and chocolate rolled to resemble a savory salami.

Katherine paired the Texas Rye 100 Proof whisky with her Vietnamese coffee house-style Hanoi fudge. I am a sucker for Vietnamese coffee, so this was an easy favorite. The TX Single Malt paired exceptionally well with Dude, Sweet’s Rooibus Chai chocolates with its toasted malt and honey notes and hints of cinnamon and cloves.

However, the showstopper was the last tasting pair: Balcones Brimstone, which tastes of campfire, brûléed sugar, and pepper, paired with BACON. FAT. CARAMEL. SKULLS.


Take a moment to let that sink in.


Brimstone’s intensity was tempered beautifully by the bacon fat and caramel, which coated the tongue like velvet.

The crowd got to walk around from station to station and taste the pairings at their leisure while Katherine and Toné walked around to answer any questions we had. The vibe was super casual and fun, with music, conversation, and laughter punctuating the subsequent hours.

I left with a warm belly, a happy spirit, and of course, a Dude, Sweet bag of goodies that I just couldn’t leave without purchasing. Sweet, indeed.


DUDE SWEET CHOCOLATE
dudesweetchocolate.com
multiple locations

BALCONES DISTILLING
balconesdistilling.com
225 South 11th Street (Waco)
(254)755-6003