Category Archives: Spirits

Partida Tequila: Product Review

I am Florida born and raised on vodka cocktails and rum punches, but when I moved to Texas four years ago, I found my true love for tequila was just undiscovered. Whether it’s swirled with hints of fruit in a margarita or straight up on the rock, I like it smooth with salt and lime. Naturally, Texans love Cinco de Mayo because it celebrates God’s gift of Mexican food and tequila. So, as my favorite holiday quickly approaches, I wanted to share my thoughts on one of my recent discoveries, Partida Tequila.

One of the many perks of working with Susie Drinks Dallas is getting to try different lines of liquor, spirits, and wines. Recently, Partida Tequila sent me samples of their Partida Blanco line.  From the production to packaging to blend of flavors, this tequila will have you feeling classy and sophisticated compared to the partiers throwing back shots at the bar. Disclaimer: I am not against tossing back shots, but that would just be a waste of the goodness that Partida has to offer.

All “tequila” must legally contain at least 51% blue agave, but the best contain 100%. Partida’s agave comes specifically from their estate, rather than multiple growers, which allows for consistency and control in the production process. After 7-10 years of cultivation, the agave is harvested by hand. (Talk about a labor of amor!) Most agaves are cooked “the old fashion way,” in stone ovens, which gives a bitter taste from soot that builds in the oven over time, but Partida uses state-of-the-art stainless steel ovens. The agave bakes over a period of 20 hours under precise temperature control and then the juices ferment slowly for 36-40 hours before distillation.

The unaged tequila is bottled as Partida Blanco and the rest is aged in one-pass Jack Daniels American oak barrels. (WHAT?! Did all my dreams just come true?) The barrel provides a rich, copper color with notes of cherry, almond, dried fruit, and allspice in addition to the peppery notes lent by the agave. One can sense hints of honey, chocolate, pear, and vanilla upon tasting. Reposado and Anejo are aged 50% more than required, which only enhances the flavor profile. None of the tequila contains additives or coloring agents.

Particularly, Partida Blanco makes me feel like I should be relaxing on the beaches of Cancun as the blend of blue agave, citrus, fresh herbs, and tropical fruit, are subtle and balanced. It lends a smooth taste that lets even those that swore against the powers of tequila to enjoy the flavors. It’s a great choice for cocktails and those looking to branch out from mediocre drinks. If you’re ever going to become a tequila sipper … this is the one to start with.

A Day with the Coppolas

I don’t like to play the “I got to do this and you didn’t” card, but I was recently invited to a couple events that were pretty incredible that I HAD to share with my readers.

I  was invited to spend an evening (along with about 100 of my closest friends) at Lakewood Theater with the one and only Francis Ford Coppola.  Even more amazingly, FFC Winery invited me to join Francis’ wife, Eleanor, for their “Women in Wine” lunch.

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I’ll just say this … the whole day was incredible.  At lunch, I was among some of the most illustrious women in the Dallas wine scene in the Red Slippers Suite at the Hotel Zaza.  The fashionable gaggle of ladies was greeted with a glass of the Coppola Winery’s sparkling wine, Sofia Blanc de Blanc, and headed up to the suite for our three-course lunch by Dragonfly.  We were asked to go around the table and toast the woman to our left and right, but were told that Francis’ superstition was that, if you didn’t maintain eye contact during a toast, you were guaranteed eight years of bad sex.  Just to be safe … we all followed the instructions!

Each course welcomed incredible conversation to go with the great food and the perfectly-paired wines.  The first course was a Bluepoint Oyster Spring Roll with Tobiko Caviar Creme Fraiche paired with another glass of their Sofia Blanc de Blanc.  While we enjoyed this, Eleanor asked each of us to share why we love wine.  Each woman’s answer was incredibly different, but intriguing.

Eleanor then told us a bit about her life with Francis.  Did you know that she’s an accomplished film and sculpture artist who has shown throughout the world, an author, a documentary filmmaker?  She is, no doubt, the strong woman that made the man.

Our second delicacy was a Baby Kale Salad with house-cured duck ham paired with the 2012 Gia Pinot Noir, named for and created by Francis’ grand-daughter and director/screenwriter of the soon-to-be-released “Palo Alto”.  This wine is not yet available to the public, but when it is, get your hands on it as it’ll be perfect for a summer dinner on the patio.

The third course was Roasted Prime NY Strip Steak with Shitake Mushrooms paired with Eleanor’s own wine, Eleanor.  Eleanor had a large part in creating the wine whose label bears her name and her very own art, and the wine was as complex as the woman herself.

Dessert … oh dessert … was a buffet of some of Dragonfly’s favorites with more Sophia.  Dessert was actually sad as it meant that the experience was coming to an end.

Before adjourning, we were all given permission to call our gracious and dynamic hostess “Ellie”.  I’ll probably stick with Eleanor, but knowing there’s the option is kind of … awesome.

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The evening held as many delights, including light bites and various Coppola wines poured generously throughout the event venue, the historic Lakewood Theater.  Francis spoke about his lifelong passion of filmmaking, his accidental yet fortuitous foray into the wine business, and most importantly, his family.  Hearing such an inimitable man speak about the small things in life that he enjoys, like writing songs for his grandchildren, was a real treat.

Overall, it was a really memorable day.  As much as I loved the Coppola wines, knowing the story behind some makes me love them even more!

Photo Credit: Lisa Stewart

Event Recap: La Marca Happy Hour at Times Ten Cellar

I am lucky to have some friends who can pinch hit when my day job heats up.  Thanks to Rachael Kohler for stepping in! (She’s also a legit sommelier, so her notes are going to be better than mine ever could be anyway!)  


written by Rachael Evans Kohler

Times Ten Cellar hosted the event, and was as rustic yet elegant as ever.

I was lucky enough to grab a minute with Carmen J. Castorina, Director of Communications for E&J Gallo Winery, and wine maker of La Marca, Fabrizio Gatto.  Both gentlemen were extremely charming and very enthusiastic on America’s perception of prosecco, and particularly the big interest from Texans!
I had the good luck to sit next to Meredith Steele, a food blogger/freelance food writer.  Her perception of the wine was interesting because she instantly commented on how friendly the wine was to the charcuterie we were enjoying. Not all wines are pleasant around cured meats, aged cheeses, and spiced sauces!
  • La Marca is now a DOC* and produces 35% of all prosecco in it’s designated region- biggest producer
  • They only produce this sparkling wine using the Charmat method, basically fermenting the juice in large tanks rather than inside the bottles as they do in Champagne.  This keeps it very light, fruity, and fresh.
  • They are not  trying to make a serious, intense, yeasty champagne-style wine, but rather a fan-pleasing style that goes with anyone, any food, and any time.
  • They’ve come a long way in the last 8 years, from two guys driving across the US trying to sell this unknown wine, to flying around the country to meet the demands of interested buyers.
  • The blue label and packaging are extremely close to “Tiffany Blue”- a point they swear is just coincidence … but one that works in their favor!
For the hour that I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  La Marca accomplished its intensions by opening up conversations, turning strangers into friends, and the demise of a delicious appetizer by everyone at the table.
*DOC means ”controlled designation of origin”.  Basically it is a classification of where a product came from. Read more.

Post Up Here (Wine Poste)

I have a confession: I’m lazy.  Like … really lazy —- don’t even like to make decisions lazy.  My boyfriend mistakes it for indifference or even for the inability to make decisions … but it’s really just laziness.  That said, my laziness often gets in the way of me trying new places or things.  (In my best Most Interesting Man in the World impression) I don’t always make an effort to visit “faraway*” places, but when I do, it’s to the Design District to visit Wine Poste.

This 4500sf space has retail, art installations, event spaces (three of them in varying sizes, in fact), and even offers wine tasting events along with wine & cheese pairing classes and celebrity chef private dinners.

Now for the completely unique thing about WP: they ship wine.  Anywhere in Texas, you can order wine and have it delivered to your door for a mere $5.  NOTE: This is extremely rare.

Stop in soon and they’ll help you pick out a great bottle of wine, or shop their retail site, where you can shop for wines by varietal, rating, price, or region, and even see staff picks.

*Anything outside of Uptown is far away to me.  I know … I’m terrible**.
**I’m really not terrible … again … I’m just lazy.

Sushi Zushi

Sushi Zushi, the home of the crazy scion delivery cars you see around, is a modern sushi joint over on Oak Lawn.  It has been around for a while but I’ve only ever been there for lunch (and not liqud ones).  I made it in for dinner and just missed happy hour, but our waiter still let my drinks slide as happy hour ones.

The drinks came snappily and gave us something to sip on while we poured over the menu … which is a novel.  S.Z. offers almost 200 different rolls along with other non-fishy options … both for vegetarians and meatatarians.

We got through a whole drink before we decided what we wanted —- but had maaaaany questions.  I am allergic to those silly, little orange fish eggs that are on some sushi rolls, so we made sure to ask which were OK for me.  The waiter gave us suggestions and somehow we got a roll that was COVERED in the eggs.  Not so well done, sir.  They handled it well and got us another without the orange mosters and didn’t charge us for the replacement.

The sushi was good – nothing mind-blowing, but good.  Make sure you pass on the fried skewer things … they weren’t worth the calories.

Now, back to the drinks.  They were strong enough if we weren’t eating, but since we ate and drank, they didn’t have any effect.  They offer a full bar, beer, wine, and sake.  Their specialty cocktail list includes a cucumber sakitini, yuzu basil sakitini, southern heat, and stawberry ginger martini.

S.Z.’s atmosphere is modern with “unst unst” music playing in the restaurant and bird noises in the bathrooms.  They have a large bar that looks prime for after-work drinks to rehash a rough meeting; but they don’t have TVs so don’t try to catch a game here.  The coolest part of S.Z. is the large, shaded patio with bamboo walls; even though it faces the sun when it sets, it’s not too bright.

I won’t push my friends to head back here; I’d rather go somewhere with a cheaper menu.

Drink strength: 3
Overall: 3.2

Sushi Zushi
www.sushizushi.com
3858 Oak Lawn | (214)522-7253

Specials:
Happy hour | Monday-Friday, 3-7 p.m.
$3 wells, drafts, and hot sake
$5 specialty cocktails and house wines
$7 other sakes

Wild Salsa

I’m always stoked to try new places and the new taco joint (if you can call it a joint) on Main was a pleasure.  Upon walking up to the front door, I was worried that the entire place would take the lead of the awkward sign in front, but it certainly didn’t.

The decor was complete with backlit Patron bottle columns (top right), authentic Día de los Muertos art from Mexico City, and a curtain separating the walkway from the bar seating area with rose designs on them.  It was quite a festive atmosphere and I look forward to heading back to explore the concrete bar further – it spanned half the restaurant!

The patio was lit by large string lights and was complete with tables and one in particular with a fire pit smack dab in the middle.  I look forward to heading back to enjoy the patio when it dips below triple-digit temperatures to watch the beautiful people frequenting the adjacent Mercantile pool.

Once at our table, our waitress recommended the Wild Rita … the Wild Rita was no slouch.   It was spicy, fragrant, rimmed with chili-lime salt, and it was BIG.  I’d give the drink a AAA rating – and I don’t even like tequila!  They also have Negra Modelo, Dos Equis, and Bud light on tap, a drink list with five interesting margaritas and six cocktails to choose from.

The only thing better than the margarita was the food.  The chips were just about average, but the avocado salsa was to die for; it’s no wonder that this place is called Wild Salsa (I went through two bowls myself before our food came).  They offer other salsas for a cost and sadly my dinner guest didn’t feel the need to try them … bummer.  I partook in the three-taco platter with rice and beans and tried three different ones … including a “lengua”, or beef tongue, and it was delicious!  They use local ingredients and they are listed on a chalkboard at the front of the shop.

Bottom line: I like a swanky place that can still keep its focus on the food and drink, and Wild Salsa does just that.  Definitely put a night aside to jump in here and enjoy the unique fare and strong drinks.

Extra info: they have a great wait staff, everyone is very friendly.  Food is served late on Fridays and Saturdays (but I don’t know how late).  ALSO, they may be opening for some serious late-night drunk taco action because they have what looks like a to-go window on Main.

Drink strength: 4.5
Overall: 4

Wild Salsa 
www.wildsalsarestaurant.com
1800 Main St (Downtown) | 214-741-WILD

Specials:
Monay-Friday | 4-7 p.m. | $3.50 beers, $4 house margaritas, $4 wells

24

Beefeater recently began distributing its newest bottle of heaven in the United States – Dallas being only the 10th U.S. city in which it debuted.  Previously, only the lucky travelers that ventured to Canada could snag bottles and bring them back to wave them under the jealous noses of those who didn’t make it up to the Great White North to get their own bottle.  Sadly, I missed the launch party, but since I’m such a lucky little lady and people at Beefeater have heard of my little site, a bottle of the ambrosia arrived on my doorstep.

I couldn’t wait to unscrew the cap … but I did.  But I only waited for my friendsand the proper mixers to come together so I wouldn’t be tempted to empty the bottle all by my lonesome.  Soon enough, friends arrived and drinks were mixed.  We made at least one of each of their signature 24 cocktails and I can’t think of a single one of which I wouldn’t want a few more.

The gin itself is quite tasty.  They say it’s made with botanicals and teas, and by some of the brightest minds (read: biggest lushes) in the industry … but what I know it that is doesn’t make me shudder when I take a swig of a strongly-mixed G&T.  It delivers hints of grapefruit with each sip and it’s de-lightful.  Not a single complaint could be heard in Chez O the night we so diligently explored the intricacies of 24.

Since a bottle of 24 is only $28.99 for a 750 mL, it’s not a budget-breaker and will occupy the top shelf of my bar from now on.  So grab a bottle for yourself and try out a recipe or two below for yourself.  Guarantee … you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

St. Henderson’s 24 | Signature Cocktail Created by Scott Melton of Bar Celine, Dallas, TX
1 Part Beefeater 24™
½ Part Aperol
½ Part St. Germain
½ Part Lemon Juice
Shaken, topped with soda and served over ice with a lemon peel to garnish

Shifting Sands | Adapted from a recipe by Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey, New York
1 & ½ Parts Beefeater 24™
1 & ½ Parts fresh grapefruit juice
¼ Part fresh lemon juice
2 Bar Spoons of Maraschino Liqueur
Club soda
1 grapefruit wedge, as garnish

24 Martini | Created by Dan Warner
5 Parts Beefeater 24™
1 Part Lillet Blanc
2 Dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters
Stirred and served up with a grapefruit twist.

Triple Citrus 24&T
2 Parts Beefeater 24™
1 Part Fever-Tree Tonic

Cru Wine Bar

Thursday nights were always a big to-do.  My friends and I would get dressed up and roll over to West Village for Cru’s Thursday night special of half price bottles of champagne and sparkling wines.

The atmosphere in Cru is relaxed but quite formal and the people sipping their glasses of wine are movers and shakers.  The bartenders are always up for a quick chat as are the people perched at the bar.

Saunter over, sip a bottle of bubbly, and try some of their amazing cheeses … don’t forget to take your crew.

Cru Wine Bar
www.cruawinebar.com
3699 Mckinney Ave | (214) 526-9463

Specials:
Thursday | 1/2 price champagne