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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 NorteI 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.
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!
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
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 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
We all know about rosé … summer water.
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.