Category Archives: Spirits

Grey Goose Ducasse

Grey Goose is a classic spirit. The classic Grey Goose expression is made with soft winter wheat and spring water which make for a simple, clean taste. The liquid is bright and its sweetness isn’t overpowering, making it a quality option for sipping and mixing.

While the well-known Grey Goose bottle has been seen on bars for many years, the brand ventured into flavored vodkas. While these expressions are different for the classic, French brand, the newest of their expressions, Grey Goose Ducasse, doesn’t need to rely on flavors, it simply changes the ingredients to create a new flavor that’s just as easy to drink

Grey Goose Ducasse is the product of a partnership between the Grey Goose’s Cellar Master, François Thibault, and French Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse. Using “single-origin French wheat from Picardy and natural spring water from Gensac-la-Pallue”, the simplicity of the expression remains with a bit heavier, full-bodied flavor.

The liquid is clean with slight hints of brioche and toasted bread thanks to the toasted wheat used in distilling. You can find notes like almonds, light florals, and even espresso in the clear-as-it-could-be expression . It’s clean enough to sip on its own or stands up nicely in a cocktail. The finish is long and can virtually take you though layers of flavor.

This is a vodka for food. It’s perfect home? A gastronomy bar.

Being a well-known name, Grey Goose could rest on its laurels and keep creating expressions like pear and cherry, but they challenged themselves and created a beautiful, simple liquid. It’s truly a beautiful partnership.


GREY GOOSE DUCASSE
greygoose.com
Proof/%: 80, 40%
Price: ~$99/750mL

Jackson Family Wines + Harwood District Wine Dinner

The Harwood District has given Dallas some of (my) favorite new restaurants and spaces in the last few years—Mercat Bistro, Marie Gabrielle, Magnolias: Sous Le Pont, etc.—so it was surprise to me when I realized I hadn’t yet visited Dolce Riviera when I was invited to a wine pairing dinner there. I couldn’t say no. If it was anything compared to the other restaurants in the district, I was in for a treat. Bottom line: the food, the wine, and the “show” were all incredible.

The wine dinner featured Jackson Family Wines and was led by none other than Julia Jackson herself, daughter of the famed winemaker, Jess Jackson who began the brand in 1974. Each course got an introduction from someone from the restaurant, an overview of the paired wine and a colorful anecdote from Julia, and a step-by-step demonstration by Executive Chef Michele Scarpa.

Jackson Family Wines is a family-owned and operated wine company that owns vineyards, wineries, and brands throughout the world with brands spanning price ranges and various winemaking techniques. They continue to product incredibly wines and push teh envelope when it comes to innovation—both in winemaking and in eco-friendly practices. Well-known US brands include Freemark Abbey,  Kendall-Jackson, and La Crema.

The.meal.was.amazing. Each course was beautifully prepared and the paired Jackson Family Wines were exquisite and paired flawlessly. The risotto and Valodorna Supertuscan pairing was, by far, my absolute favorite. I’ve never been much of a risotto fan, but Chef Scarpa’s was life changing. Not kidding. The Supertuscan pairing was perfect as its bold notes of black cherry and spices cut the creaminess and richness of the risotto.

The food at Dolce Riviera is inspired by Chef Scarpa’s roots in southern Italy and dishes are authentic, but with a slight French slant. Everything is made with fresh ingredients from scratch to finish and is beautifully and intricately crafted to not only taste authentic, but to be presented beautifully as well. Dolce Riviera aims for simple, yet elegant.

ANTIPASTO: Half Crispy Quail over Green Asparagus with Quail Eggs and Sauce Mornaise
Paired with Cambria Clone 4 Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley, USA)

CRUDO: Venison Carpaccio with Wild Herbs, Late Radicchio Salad with Dried Apricot and Fresh Red Currant in White Balsamic Dressing
Paired with Yangarra Grenache (McLaren Vale, Australia)

PRIMO: Risotto Carnaroli with Pomegranate
Paired with Valodorna Supertuscan (Tuscany, Italy)

SECONDO: Veal Tenderloin Rollatino with Truffle Heart, Mix Wild Mushroom Sauce
Paired with Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, USA)

Harwood District gives diners incredible opportunities to dine delightfully with various events like these wine dinners, DJ Brunches, and more. Make sure to watch the Harwood District events page and their social channels to be up on all of the offerings coming from the district.


JACKSON FAMILY WINES
jacksonfamilywines.com

DOLCE RIVIERA
dolceriviera.com

HARWOOD DISTRICT
harwooddistrict.com

The Bloody Buddy

Do you love Bloody Marys but hate the hassle of having to find the perfect mix to alcohol ratio? Fear no more, because The Bloody Buddy has arrived.

TBB is Texas’ first and only ready-to-drink Bloody Mary. (Yes, alcohol included!) Straight from Dripping Springs, TBB is a corn-based (gluten free, hollaaa!) vodka infused with real chili peppers for about a week. Their house Bloody Mary recipe contains organic tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, lime juice, and other secret spices.

Not only does this mix taste good, it does actual good, too. There are no artificial flavors, additives, or preservatives, and they use recycled plastic bottles which make TBB perfect for golf courses, lakes, beaches, hikes, pools, hotel mini-bars, the symphony … ya know … anywhere. And at 10% ABV, there’s just enough booze to hit the spot.

The Bloody Buddy is the easiest and tastiest way to get your Bloody Mary fix in a flash. Just open, poor over ice, and serve.


THE BLOODY BUDDY
TheBloodyBuddy.com
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

TBB is available at most Spec’s locations.

Wine & Magic

Didn’t think wine night could get any more fun? Think again.

Checkered Past Winery, located in the Southside on Lamar building, is making sure your wine night is never boring. Their $20/person Wine & Magic nights happen once a month, and let me tell you, this isn’t your ordinary magic show.

I’m glad Susie sent me (because magic makes her uncomfortable), and I’m glad she did.  The magic host, Trigg Watson, puts on a modern and entertaining (dare I say frustrating?) magic show. His tricks kept us on the edge of our seats and scratching our heads in awe.

While our team has been longtime fans of Checkered Past, we were excited to visit in a new capacity.

With over 60 wines and 20 local craft beers, the last thing you’ll be worried about is running out of options. To compliment the wine, Checkered Past offers an array of spreads (all made in house), charcuterie, and pizzas. Don’t forget to end your evening with one of their delicious desserts!

Upcoming Wine & Magic nights are March 10 and April 14. Stay tuned to Checkered Past’s website or wineandmagicdallas.com for other events and future Wine & Magic nights.


CHECKERED PAST WINERY
Checkered Past Winery
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Firestone & Robertson Distilling’s Whiskey Ranch

If Texas is the second largest consuming state of whiskey, why don’t we have more distilleries? Inquiring minds (and whiskey lovers) must know.

The owners of Firestone and Robertson contemplated this question and answered it. Then they built Whiskey Ranch, the largest distillery west of the Mississippi River and the second venue for the Fort Worth duo. Coming out with an incredibly popular Texas Bourbon put a fire under their butts, and they realized they needed more space and production to keep up with (and predict) demand. Ten minutes southeast of downtown Fort Worth on the space that was formerly Glen Garden Country Club, Whiskey Ranch sits on 112 acres of secluded rolling hills … and yes, they kept the 18-hole golf course.

Whiskey Ranch was designed with a Texas ranch in mind. The Austin stone and iron meet you at the entrance as you drive down the winding road that leads you to the distillery. Once you arrive, it is hard to believe that you are still in Fort Worth until you see the skyline in the distance.

The Ranch House, which houses the Ranch Store, TX Tavern, Oak Room, Back Porch, and a Barrel Breezeway, will be your first stop. The TX Tavern tasting room is currently open on Thursday and Friday during store hours for tastings. The Oak Room and Back Porch will be some of the best new event spaces in Fort Worth. With plenty of room for large parties and a great view of the golf course.

Beyond the store, bar, etc., they built a rackhouse to age their barrels. They also plan to create a track that will allow the barrels to roll from the distillery to the rackhouse. (It’s a whiskey lover’s dream track.) To keep themselves on their feet, their main building has a lab that will serve as R&D for new liquids. (We’re hoping for a rye and some other exciting expressions!) They also have a blind tasting room used daily to ensure quality from their spirits.

Now for the star of the show: the Still House. When you walk through the doors, you are met by a fifty-foot -tall copper still. This beautiful still was custom-built for Whiskey Ranch and is complete with two site-glasses where visitors can see the magic bubbling. (Or distilling if you want to get technical.)

Whiskey Ranch will allow for continuous distillation rather than the batch process that is used at Vickery. They will be able to produce about 40 barrels a day rather than 3 barrels (their current output). So, the original location in Downtown Fort Worth at 901 Vickery will remain open.

Daily tours of Whiskey Ranch will begin in the coming months. Also, they plan to offer live music and food trucks to accompany tours. Stay tuned! 


Firestone and Robertson Distilling
www.frdistilling.com/whiskey-ranch
@frdistilling
Whiskey Ranch: 4250 Mitchell Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76119

The Ranch Store is open Tuesday-Thursday 12-5pm and Friday 12-6pm.
The TX Tavern is open on Thursday and Friday during store hours.

 

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***

Blue Sushi & Sake Bar

Full disclosure: My husband and I have been fans of Blue Sushi in Fort Worth for several years, so when I found out they were (finally!) opening Dallas locations, I was thrilled, albeit a little reserved. I couldn’t help but wonder whether it would be as good as we love all the way across DFW.

Short answer: Yes. The newest location nestled on the corner of McKinney Avenue and Bowen on the bottom floor of the M-Line Tower, Blue Sushi Sake Grill is a welcome addition to this strip of McKinney. (We’ve discovered that we love the roomy location on 75 at Walnut Hill, too!)

The hostesses were welcoming, the bartenders efficient, and true to memory, the menu included well-executed staples such as tuna tatake as well as more inventive small bites like the lightly fried, creamy-spicy Dragon Shrimp appetizer.

 

The space is cozy without feeling cramped and the high-top tables in the bar area are large enough to accommodate a group waiting for their reservation. Although it was too chilly to sit outside when we visited, the daily happy hour specials and prime people-watching real estate are sure to pack the small patio come springtime.

While I’m typically more of a wine drinker, the specialty cocktails were light and fruity, if a little summer-y, and we especially liked the Samuri Saketini, a refreshing blend of cucumber lime vodka and unfiltered sake garnished with cucumber. If you’re a fan of sake but maybe don’t know where to start, the two sake flights are a fun way to try a several options.

We had as great an experience at the new Uptown location as we’d come to expect from it’s Fort Worth sibling, and have recommended this spot multiple times to friends looking for good sushi and a fun atmosphere. Be sure to check out their lunch, vegan, and gluten-free menus as well!


BLUE SUSHI SAKE GRILL
bluesushisakegrill.com
Instagram: @BlueSushiSakeGrill
Twitter: @WeServeFunSushi
various locations

pictures courtesy of Blue Sushi Sake