Category Archives: Spirits

The Botanist Gin

The Botanist is a new way to gin.

THE GIN

The only gin made on the island of Islay, this artisanal expression by the Bruichladdich Distillery presents 31 botanicals—nine classicly found in gin, and 22 of which are hand-foraged locally (and responsibly) on Islay. Since 2011, this “progressive exploration of the botanical heritage of … Islay” prides itself on a forager’s spirit.

The distillation process is equally as unique as the botanicals. They slow simmer in a pot-still at low pressure for 17 hours to release the most flavor from the ingredients. The “slow burn” results in a unique and complex flavor.


One of my contributors, Aaron, and I were lucky enough to be invited to a celebration of this expression. First, we were walked through a quick bartending demonstration where they showed us how to make the Red Lady (this an all recipes are below) by the brand ambassador.

Then we were invited to join the Botanist Gin team for a four course meal—all made with as-local-as-possible ingredients  that complimented the flavors in the accompanying Botanist cocktails. Each cocktail was extremely unique and brought out the complexity of the botanicals.

THE COCKTAILS

Fruit of Thyme
1.5 oz The Botanist Gin
4 oz Tonic Water
1 slim Ruby Red Grapefruit wedge

Squeeze grapefruit wedge in glass and leave in glass. Add The Botanist Gin, then ice and top with tonic water. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Red Lady
2 oz The Botanist Gin
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 strips julienned red bell peppers
3 drops orange bitters

In a shaker tin, muddle red bell pepper. Add all remaining ingredients, then shake without ice vigorously. Add ice and shake briskly. Double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a julienned red bell pepper.

Smoke Show
2 oz The Botanist Gin
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz ginger syrup
0.25 oz Mezcal
4 drops orange bitters

Add all ingredients to shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain to a coupe glass and garnish with pickled ginger.

Gin for All Seasons
1.5 oz The Botanist Gin
0.25 oz Suze
0.25 oz fresh squeezed red grapefruit juice
0.75 oz simple syrup
3 oz soda water
1 pinch sea salt

Add The Botanist Gin, Suze, Fresh Squeezed Red Grapefruit Juice and Simply Syrup to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an iced highball. Top with soda water.

Regroni
1.5 oz The Botanist Gin
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Cocchi Dry Vermouth

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 20 seconds until chilled. Strain and pour over large ice cube in rocks glass. Garnish with a sweet pepper circle.

  



THE BOTANIST GIN
TheBotanistGin.com
ABV: 46%
Price: ~$30/750mL

***All images by Aaron Hendrickson***
Thanks again to The Botanist for inviting us to join in on such an amazing evening with such unique spirit(s).

Casamigos Cool Weather Cocktails

Generally speaking, you know you’re in for a good time whenever tequila is involved. If said tequila is Casamigos, just do yourself a favor and schedule an Uber and enjoy the ride … and the cocktails.

That the tequila brand itself was the brainchild of Randy Gerber and George Clooney, who simply sought to create a tequila that “they could drink all day and not be hungover in the morning” should be incentive enough to try it out. But at a time when every reality TV star has their own line of something, I was skeptical. Turns out I should have saved my skepticism for the D-list celebs peddling lip gloss, because these guys know their tequila. (Randy & George, if by some bizarre twist of fate you read this, I humbly and sincerely apologize). If all that isn’t enough, the recent sale to Diageo for $1B should lend the company some extra cred.


Casamigos mixes well, is smooth enough to sip on the rocks, and every recipe we made during the event at Jaliso Norte I attended recently was surprisingly tasty. (I say “surprisingly” because until then, I lived in a world where tequila’s only time to shine was with salt, lime or grapefruit juice. How sad my life was.) Consider me educated.

We were treated to a class where we learned to make tequila cocktails with thyme, whipped cream, apples and cloves … all were all delicious and unexpected. 

CASA BLOOD ORANGE
2 oz. Casamigos Blanco
1 oz. blood orange juice
1 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
2 serrano slices
½ thick rim of sugar, salt, tajin mixture (equal parts)

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Muddle fruit. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Fine strain into rocks glass. Add fresh ice. Garnish with blood orange wheel.

CASA PUMPKIN SPICE
2.5 oz. Casamigos Reposado Tequila
1 oz. Agave Nectar or simple syrup
1 oz. creme
.25 oz. almond liqueur
2 heaping bar spoons organic canned pumpkin (or fresh)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 10-12 seconds. Strain into Irish glass mug. Add dollop of whipped cream and lightly sprinkle nutmeg over top.

CASA CIDER
2 oz. Casamigos Reposado
1 oz. apple cider
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. ginger syrup
.5 oz. agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 pinch cinnamon

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain into rocks glass. Add fresh ice. Garnish with thin apple slice, thyme sprig, star anise and cinnamon sprinkle.
If served hot: add 1 oz. water and heat up contents. No ice needed.

CASA AMAGO
1.5 oz mole-infused Casamigos Reposado
.75 oz cocoa nib-infused Campari
.75 oz Carpano Formula Antica Vermouth
orange peel garnish

Combine above ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir for 50-60 revolutions or until well chilled and properly diluted. Garnish.

 

The venue matched the spirit of Casamigos perfectly—Jalisco Norte is stylish but down to earth, like that friend who dresses like an off-duty model but doesn’t just eat fries for likes. If you assumed that the last thing Dallas needed was another Mexican restaurant, set your assumptions aside and pay them a visit, you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure to pair your esquites and tuna tartare tostada with a Casamigos cocktail … even if it is a classic margarita.


***ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF N BARRETT PHOTOGRAPHY***

Highland Park Hygge + Magnus Glogg

Since it’s a bit north, Scotland has shorter days in the winter; and the Winter Solstice, which we saw on December 21, is the shortest day of the year. With so much darkness, I’m sure it makes one want to cozy up next to a fire with a drink that will warm you from the inside. Scandinavians call this feeling “hygge”, which is their concept of coziness.

I’ve been a little of a Scandinavian fanatic this winter because, for some reason, I decided to reimagine my holiday decor. I went from over-the-top “Christmas threw up in here” to minimal with hints of gold and plenty of live garland. (And don’t get me started on live garland. My poor Roomba is exhausted from picking up after it.) What I loved about their holiday decor is that it’s simple and SHOULD feel cold, but it all felt cozy. I wanted to harness that feeling, but it’s hard to do when it’s 70º in the afternoon in December. So, when it finally dipped below 35º this week, I jumped on the chance to cozy up with a traditional Scandinavian warm cocktail to go with my decor.

I was excited to try my first glögg, which is a kind of mulled wine—warmed wine with spices—and curl up on a 33º night … because that’s what we in Texas call “cold”. Instead of the traditional base alcohol, wine, I opted for whisky and used a recipe from Highland Park Whisky that features its newest expression, Magnus.

The drink did its job. It warmed me up and gave me a just the right amount of alcohol to lull me into a bit of a daze. I’ll just say that I ended up taking an unexpected nap, but it was the best hour I’ve seen (or not seen, as it were) in months.

MARTIN’S GLÖGG (recipe by Highland Park Brand Ambassador, Martin Markvardsen)
1 bottle of Highland Park Magnus
1/4 cup simple syrup
2 lemons, juiced
Fresh ginger
Almonds
Raisins
Cinnamon sticks
Nutmeg
Star anise
Orange slices

Warm up the whiskey, then add the simple syrup, lemon, and ginger. Right before boiling, turn down to simmer and add the rest of the spices and ingredients. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes on low. Strain and serve warm with an apple slice garnish and a cinnamon stick.

Eatzi’s is NOW OPEN at Preston Royal

Eatzi’s has landed at Preston Royal Shopping Center! Just like their five other DFW locations, this new spot offers the same delicious, ready-to-eat food in classic European-style eatery form. In true Susie Drinks fashion, we’ll be talking about the drinks and what pairs well with them.

Get your Wine-down Wednesday (or really, any day) started with a quick stop at Eatzi’s: Mini wine bottles are available starting at just $2.99 and can be found all around the center food station. Half bottles of wine range from $13.99 to $16.99 and can be found throughout the store. Full bottles of wine get a special discount of 10% off when you purchase 4 or more. And for all you beer drinkers, a whopping 30% off when you purchase 6 or more. If you can’t decide which wine to go with, there’s usually an Eatzi’s wine specialist who can help you pick the perfect bottle for your evening.

Eatzi’s has the best selection of grab-and-go items if you’re in a hurry, need to grab something to take along to a get together, or just want a quick bite. Items range from Mediterranean sampler plates and sushi to perfectly portioned pasta dishes and salads. Their meat and cheese section is perfect for last minute get togethers or impromptu picnics with prepackaged meats, cheeses, fruit, and more.

If you’re searching for larger quantities or something a bit more refined, their large “Chef’s Corner table” (always in the middle of the store!) offers some staple items and some items that change by the day, both of which you can get in any quantity your heart/stomach desires.

 

EATZI’S PRESTON ROYAL
NEW LOCATION: 6025 Royal Lane #208, Dallas, TX 75230
972-499-6379

eatzis.com
all six locations

Open daily 7am-10pm

Rosé all day … and in the fall.

We all know about rosé …
summer water.
frozé.
#roséallday
The ubiquitous millennial-pink chilled wine served served at brunches the world over.

Is it a mystery that rosé and cliché rhyme? I think not.

In fact, there’s a compelling argument that rosé is summer’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’ll have to save that argument for another day, because I’ve got some news:

Rosé season isn’t real.

I know, I know … it’s a revelation. Let it sink in for a few minutes.

Since temps in Texas hit the upper 80s and lower 90s well into October, there’s simply no reason to pack up your rosé along with your white jeans just because it’s autumn. (And for that matter, why should we even pack up our white jeans?) Luckily the awesome people are Barefoot feel the same way, and I was fortunate enough to attend their #FallForRosé event recently at Stirr in Deep Ellum.

The weather couldn’t have been better for an autumn cocktail event. The candlelit pink and gold decor complimented the crisp rosé perfectly and the Rosé Harvest Martini (Barefoot rosé, vanilla vodka, pomegranate juice and simple syrup) was a wonderfully light and crisp fall cocktail. Where the fruity flavor of rosé is usually associated with summertime, the subtle vanilla and pomegranate flavors nudged the drink into fall without relying on the use of typical fall flavors such as apple, pear and spices.

If you’re looking for a fall cocktail that’s a little different I would definitely recommend integrating rosé into the ingredients. And if cocktails aren’t your thing, you can never go wrong with a simple glass of rosé. … even in October.

Product Review: Ben Milam Whiskey

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.


Ben Milam
BenMilamWhiskey.com
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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.

Grey Goose Summer Cocktails

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 | Picture courtesy of Grey Goose

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
Whole lime
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!

Grey Goose Vodka
GreyGoose.com
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The Calamity of the Eclipse

So the eclipse is coming up on Monday, August 21, and people are really f**king excited about it. Since we won’t be able to see the next one until April 2024, I guess I get the appeal.

Everyone is talking about the super small town directly in the path that will get the best “view” of the eclipse that’s been inundated with entirely too many people, the best eyewear, etc … but I really only care what libation will be in my hand when I “see” it.

That said, I’ve seen a lot of other recipes for cocktails with a dark liquor float on top, but I thought I’d go for the next level of gimmick. I created ice balls with activated charcoal in them to look like the moon, and I mixed up a riff on a traditional gin cocktail, the Bees Knees, that’s gold in color … ya know, like the sun. I chose to use Calamity Gin because it has delightful citrus notes along with light hints of juniper, rose, and cardamom. I also threw in just a bit of Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur to give it some heat. To make it festive, I made ice balls colored with activated charcoal*.

***Before using charcoal in your cocktails, or before ingesting activated charcoal at all, really, you should know the risks. Yes, risks. Charcoal is showing up now in juices and capsules to act as a health aid to do anything from reduce gas, improve digestive health and lower cholesterol to acting as a killer hangover cure. But, what people aren’t telling you is that, while it does all that good s**t, it also can mess with your medications. Since it’s a natural purifier/filter, it can render your medications ineffective. Meaning: DO NOT DRINK THIS IF YOU’VE TAKEN ANY MEDICATION LESS THAN TWO HOURS BEFORE, AND DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR AFTER. That is, unless you’re ok with your birth control failing, ladies.***

CALAMITY OF THE ECLIPSE
2oz
 Calamity Gin
0.75oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
0.5oz honey syrup
0.5oz Ancho Reyes Liqueur
560mg activated charcoal (usually two capsules, do not use casing)*
5oz water

The night before, dilute the activated charcoal into 5oz of water. Stir, then funnel into a round ice mold. Freeze overnight.
Mix the remaining liquid ingredients together with ice until chilled, then strain into a rocks glass over the charcoal ice ball. Enjoy immediately.

 *If you’re not comfortable using activated charcoal, there is black food coloring! Or even purchase a pomegranate juice for a fruity take on this cocktail.

Calamity Gin was nice enough to give me a bottle of gin to play around with to find a fun recipe for the eclipse and sponsor this post.