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 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
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!
I have strong, gag-inducing memories of me and my brother dabbling in the ’90s versions of flavored vodkas, which weren’t as much about using real ingredients as just shoving artificial flavoring at you until you were convinced it did the trick. These were usually mixed with Sprite or Surge (shut up) and the whole process was just a bad hangover kit waiting to ruin your Friday-Monday mornings.
With this memory deeply rooted in my psyche, I agreed to revisit some of the flavors offered by the folks at Deep Eddy and try them in a few recipes.
If you’re not familiar with Deep Eddy Vodka and are reading a blog about drinking in Dallas, I both admire your ability to live under a rock and encourage you to visit their website. Their vodka is made here in Texas and is distilled in small batches that incorporate natural ingredients into their flavors. For this review, we were provided their Original, Cranberry, Lemon and Peach. (They also offer Ruby Red and Sweet Tea.)
To start, I asked a few friends to join me in trying each spirit neat. Each flavor stood up pretty well on its own, but the peach and lemon were the easiest to drink straight. Then we mixed each with soda water and added lime or lemon. The group’s favorites basically came down to personal flavor preferences. If you’re wondering at home, my favorite was the peach, but the plain vodka and a twist worked as well.
The next recipe was a shandy. I made mine a little stronger and, while it wasn’t my thing, the shandy drinkers in the group were happy. We also tried it with a Mexican lager and lime, which was also a great combination.
12 oz wheat beer
1 oz Deep Eddy Lemon
Next up was a red-hued take on a Moscow Mule. The ginger beer and the vodka mix a little sweet together, but pulling back on the ginger beer and adding a bit more lime helped.
Moscow Mule 1½ oz Deep Eddy Cranberry
½ oz fresh lime juice
Top with ginger beer
Garnish with cranberries and lime
Finally, speaking of more complex drinks, we made the Southern Belle. This was a tad sweet, which was expected as the peach flavor has about twice the sugar as the other vodka flavors according to the website.
1 oz Deep Eddy Peach Vodka
1 oz bourbon
½ oz fresh lemon juice
Top with club soda
One thing I noticed in general is that these spirits, while not sweet, tip that direction really fast when mixed with other sugary ingredients. Again, the spirit stands on its own without much else, but if you’re going to make complex drinks, the plain flavor might be your best bet. When I asked for final thoughts, the biggest skeptic in the group commented how nice it was to be able to drink flavored vodka that didn’t make her feel like a sugary mess after each drink.
No matter where you are or what you’re looking for, Deep Eddy has a vodka flavor to fit your taste and is now available in all 50 states. Use their locator to find a bar or retail store near you … and then just remember to day drink responsibly.
Planning to attend Dîner en Blanc? If you didn’t attend last year, I can imagine the whole concept is incredibly exciting and romantic … with that nagging feeling of terror. “Did they really say we have to bring in a TABLE and CHAIRS?” Yes, you bring your entire party in our your back … and leave with it, for that matter.
You MUST take yourself and a guest, a square table (28-32″ wide), chairs, and a white tablecloth. (Keep in mind that not showing or breaking the rules could get you banned the following year. Tough.)
You MAY take food, drink, tableware, table decor, flowers, a garbage bag, etc.
You CANNOT take anything that’s not white (woof) or alcohol (major womp).
Apothic Wine is this and last year’s wine sponsor, so if you were preemptive and ordered your wine beforehand for pickup at check-in … bravo you. If not, sucks to suck because it’s not a BYO event bc of the grumpy old TABC. But fear not, DEB attendees, I have some options for you.
Option #1: Don’t forget your opaque “water” bottles. (It’s important to stay hydrated, right?) 🍷👉🏼🍼
Option #2: Get your friends together before for a few drinks. Last year we noshed on charcuterie and some snacks while throwing back a few before heading to the bus pickup. Establish a solid booze situation and food base so you’ll have less to carry. (And make sure to avoid anything that would be a problem for people wearing white. Duh.)
Here are the drinks that I’ll be making at my DEB Présoireé this year:
1.5 oz Patrón Silver
1 oz Elderflower liqueur
0.5 oz Local lemon juice
0.5 oz Simple syrup
2 oz Sparkling wine (I’ll be using Moët, the official champagne of DEB!)
Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker except the sparkling wine. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute. Top off the cocktail with some sparkling wine and finish with a lemon twist while making sure to twist the lemon over the cocktail to release the oils.
Recipe and image courtesy of Patrón International
AGAINST THE GRAIN MARTINI (gluten-free martini)
3 parts Stoli® Gluten Free
Splash of Dry Vermouth
Garnish with an olive or cocktail onion
Shake or stir ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish.
LAST YEAR’S WINNING RECIPE:
THE INDIAN SUMMER
3 parts Hendricks Gin
1 part lemon juice
1 part St. Germain
Muddle grapes with other ingredients, then shake with ice until well chilled. Double strain into a chilled coupe.
Hi, my name is Tiffany, and I’m a cocktail onion addict.
Whew! There, I said it. It was love at first sight – I remember that night so clearly: My friends and I were sitting in a dimly-lit corner of a New Orleans restaurant during Tales of the Cocktail and were primed to order our first round of drinks. Our local Absolut Elyx brand ambassador, Kyle Paris, was with us and suggested that I try the Gibson martini, and I’M SO GLAD I LISTENED TO HIM. (He knows things sometimes.) I love me a well-made dry martini, but when you garnish it with a crunchy, briny, house made cocktail onion? Game over. Take me away.
What I couldn’t believe was how long it took me to eat my first ever cocktail onion. In all honesty, I vaguely remember seeing the little pearls on various bar tops, but it never occurred to me that they were briny. I always thought they were raw, and I’m definitely not a fan of eating raw onions. Yuck. However, now that Kyle had set me straight, I had so many questions. Why have my bartender buddies been withholding this pickled treasure from me? Do all of my favorite bars back home have cocktail onions? If so, do they make the cocktail onions in-house? Am I the only one with whom Kyle shared this brilliance?
I needed answers.
My Dallas Gibson cocktail discovery mission had a rough start. I had the unfortunate incident of receiving a Gibson that was garnished with cocktail onions from the bottom of a very large, very old-looking jar. (The bar name will be withheld to protect the not at all innocent.) To say the least, it was an unpleasant experience – the onions lacked the freshness and crunch that I enjoyed so much with my first Gibson. I learned a paramount lesson that night: Store-bought jarred cocktail onions be gone. Say it with me: House made garnishes only!
That’s when I partnered up with Kyle to organize the first ever (as far as I know anyway) Absolut Elyx Gibson Tour. We reached out to some of our favorite bartenders around the city to see if any would be interested in coming up with their own cocktail onion recipes. As it turns out, many of them were.
Six friends on average at each boozy stop.
Who knows how many Gibsons to consume.
The Absolut Elyx Tour was officially on.
STOP #1: VICINI
Our first stop was in the ‘burbs at Vicini Frisco. Barman Brian McCullough served up some delightful Elyx cocktails with his variation of the cocktail onion – pickled spring onion bow ties. I really enjoyed Brian’s version; it had welcome, grassy notes, the familiar brininess, and a touch of whimsy. What’ s not to love?
STOP #2: BOULEVARDIER
From Frisco, the Tour braved Friday rush hour traffic all the way down to Bishop Arts District to pay Boulevardier a visit. This popular restaurant/bar is one of the few spots that already make their own cocktail onions. Ashley Williams made an excellent classic onion garnish; so excellent, in fact, that I enjoyed six of them. (Two onions per cocktail, carry the three … you do the math.)
STOP #3: THE MITCHELL
After two delightful stops, the Tour was starting to hit its stride. From Boulevardier, we Uber’d our way downtown to The Mitchellwhere they offered not one but two cocktail onions to sample that night, one in a “garden brine” and one made with hatch chilis. I’m a bit of a spice wimp so I steered clear of anything marinating in a hatch chili situation, so I opted for the garden variety. Without hesitation, I popped the onion in my mouth, anticipating a deliciously briny vegetable medley. What I got instead was a mouthful of sharp, raw onion. Oh boy, that was surprising. No kissing for me that night for sure. I downed the rest of my Gibson to alleviate the biting flavor.
STOP #4: MIDNIGHT RAMBLER
Without hesitation, the Elyx Gibson Tour soldiered on to a tried and true spot down the street, Midnight Rambler. They garnish their Gibson, The Silvertone, with a mighty fine and smoky chipotle onion, to which I was no stranger. The Elyx was flowing and skewers of golden brown onions perched on about half of the cocktails on the bar top for a solid hour. This was the 4th stop on the tour and the group was feeling gooooooood — and Susie had finally joined us. (A little tardy to the party.)
By the time we made it to the fifth and last stop of the night, most of our friends had already bid us farewell. So then there were the final four.
STOP #5: HIGH & TIGHT
We approached the bar at High & Tight, excited to see what our favorite bar-behind-a-barbershop’s man behind the stick, Austin Gurley, had in store for us, and I am so happy that we made it to the last stop. The cocktail onion was so surprisingly flavorful, with citrusy notes of grapefruit and a spicy, peppery kick. It was by far our favorite of the night!
The Elyx Gibson Tour proved a success, and what kind of cocktail onion addict would I be if I didn’t try to cover more ground? A few days after the tour, I visited Hugo Osorio at The Theodore to sample the onion batch he prepared. The onions were wonderfully balanced with crunchiness, brininess, and jalapeño spiciness … so yeah, pretty much cocktail onion heaven.
This last Gibson falls outside of the Dallas area … like, really far outside. But, due to its Absolut awesomeness, it had to be included. A few weekends ago, I went to Chicago and had the pleasure of ordering the Elyx Gibson off of Vol. 39‘s brand spanking new cocktail menu at The Kimpton Gray Hotel. As far as I was concerned, it was kismet. The cocktail onion had bursts of Chinese five-spice and red wine vinegar. It sparkled atop my glass like a garnet jewel. If you ever find yourself in downtown Chicago, don’t think twice before visiting this bar. Thank me later.
I write this in hopes of drawing out existing Gibson lovers and converting the Gibson-ly ignorant into cocktail onion enthusiasts. And then, maybe one day, this particular tipple will experience a comeback of Old Fashioned’s proportions. A girl like me can dream, right? In the meantime, if you’re curious about trying out the Gibson for yourself, give me a call. I’m always down.
SPECIAL THANKS TO ABSOLUT ELYX FOR HELPING US MAKE THIS NIGHT HAPPEN!
Vicini: 7777 Warren Parkway #104 (Frisco) Boulevardier: 408 N Bishop Avenue #108 (Bishop Arts District) The Mitchell: 1404 Main Street (Downtown) Midnight Rambler: 1530 Main Street, inside The Joule Hotel (Downtown) High & Tight: 2701 Main Street #180 (Deep Ellum) The Theodore: 8687 North Central Expressway #1804, inside NorthPark Center (North Dallas) Vol. 39: 39 S. La Salle Street, inside the Kimpton The Gray Hotel (Chicago, Illinois)
With summer winding down and the impending arrival of cooler months (that can’t seem to come soon enough), pants are a very real thing in my future. Since I want to fit into them when the time comes, I’ve started going to spin class, eating one less cookie, and walking Tully an extra time each day … but I thought I’d call in the big guns. Meet Melissa Rountree, a friend that, when we met, I was immediately jealous of her because she was incredibly fit. Well, turns out, when you sweat your butt off in your workouts and eat right, you can be fit. (Who knew?)
I asked Melissa to take some time out of her busy day as a mom, realtor, fitness instructor, and business owner to show me some of her go-to moves to help me kickstart my workouts. In return, I introduced her to a healthy (and delicious) cocktail.
KOMBUCHA MOSCOW MULE
6oz Salty Dog Kosmic Kombucha (or whichever you choose)
Combine all ingredients over ice, squeeze in a wedge of citrus, and stir. (Yeah … this one is that easy.)
So why kombucha instead of ginger beer? Kombucha* has beneficial elements like probiotics, antioxidants, and amino acids that are meant to be good for your digestion and liver function (WOOOHOOO). We chose Kosmic Kombucha’s Salty Dog with citrus (Vitamin C), ginger (inflammation), sea salt, and agave (deliciousness).
And why Bellion Vodka? It’s the world’s “first functional vodka” thanks to some magical element called “NTX Technology”. While it’s super mysterious because the FDA hasn’t approved their claims, they say that the technology protects your liver. I’ll take it.
Now for the less delicious, but very important part … the workout. Melissa walked me through a few exercises that she uses in her fitness classes–maximum results for minimal effort.
Side Lunges are a great way to stretch your inner thighs while gaining strength in your glutes and quad muscles. Start in a standing position and take a wide step out to the left and then back to standing. Do 10 times on each leg.
Kneeling Seat is a way to stretch and open up your hips while defining your seat muscles. Start on your hands and knees. Raise your right knee up to hip height and back down to kneeling. Use your arms to support your balance. Do 10 times on each side.
Push-ups: Lead with your chest and keep breathing. Do them slowly to increase the challenge in your upper back and arms.
Crunches: Keep them small. Large range crunches can be hard on your back. Raise your upper body high enough to feel your abs and then make small movements from there.
How long have you been a fitness instructor? Off and On since college so most of my life.
Is there anything you do daily that changes your whole day? I have to break a sweat everyday to relax my mind. I also love stretching because of the flexibility it gives me.
Tell us about your line of activewear, and where can we find it? It’s a limited edition brand. Currently it’s available at The Bar Method as well as online at level3active.com.
What makes your activewear stand out? All of our prints are in small quantities so you’re always going to stand out in the gym instead of wearing the same thing everyone else is wearing. Plus they’re all designed to work out or wear in your daily life.
What’s your favorite healthy meal? I am a huge fan of quinoa salads with tomatoes and cucumbers.
*Kombucha is a fermented tea made with yeast and bacteria that grows on top of the tea throughout the fermentation process. “After a short period, fermentation yields raw kombucha, a lightly effervescent tea with unmistakable notes of vinegar.” – Kosmic Kombucha
I want to start out by confessing: I’m still not sure how to pronounce the name of this vodka. VDKA6100 even devotes a section on their website to explaining how they got their name–it’s the distance between the territorial waters of New Zealand, from which the product is sourced, to those of the United States, where the brand was born, is 6,100 miles. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give any clues as to how one might pronounce it. Ultimately, I concluded it doesn’t really matter; you can call it whatever you want, and it’s not going to change the fact that this is a damn fine vodka.
VDKA6100 is made in Reproof, near Lake Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand. Their vodka is produced using fresh, seasonal whey sourced from the Bay of Plenty Region. That whey is fermented using a rare strain of yeast, imported from Ireland over 30 years ago.
Given the purity of the ingredients, VDKA6100 requires limited distilling in order to ensure the character of the vodka is retained. VDKA6100 is filtered through carbon “rockets” (I hope these are half as cool as I’m imagining) and blended with locally sourced New Zealand spring water. The result is a vodka that is sugar-free, gluten-free, lactose-free (because …. vodka), and free from chemical additives.
Before experimenting with any cocktails, I decided to try VDKA6100 straight up in order to form a real opinion on the quality of the vodka. Right away, I noticed the lack of that all-too-familiar burn that accompanies so many lesser vodkas. VDKA6100, on the other hand, was silky smooth with a very soft mouth feel. I initially noted a crisp citrus flavor and a faint but pleasant hint of vanilla with a kick of peppery spice on the finish.
VDKA6100 is perfect for crafting the classic martini. (I think James Bond would agree.)
VDKA 6100 Martini 2.5oz of VDKA 6100
0.5oz dry vermouth
Glassware: Martini glass
Garnish: Lemon twist
Combine VDKA 6100, dry vermouth and ice in a cocktail shaker, Sitr until cold, Strain into a martini glass. Top with a lemon twist.
It’s hard to look at the packaging and marketing materials for Ball’s Vodka and not go through an internal rant. For me it was a combo of, first, a solid chuckle … but then the follow-up thought, “Ugh … is this all we’re doing here?” as the puns continue. I’m definitely not one to eschew a terrible joke or ten (Susie very clearly told me I was the person destined to write this review as soon as the email came in), but the line between a good and a lazy ball joke is quite fine.
Do I smile, make a cavalcade of crotch riffs and call it day? Does the world need more stiff drink puns? (Duh.) Am I overthinking this? And if I am, why don’t I ask you to look at the freaking bottle and tell me anything about this is meant to be serious?
[Takes deep breath.]
Alright, let’s go ahead and put some Balls in my mouth and see where this goes. (Yeah … I just wrote that.)
I first experimented with just the Balls to get a straight taste and then I went for a vodka soda – just to set a baseline. My vodka palette is by no means refined, but I’m confident enough that I avoided burning my necessary taste buds when I was a teenager that I can make good decisions. I know what I hate and can tell what isn’t quality … and I didn’t hate this. The taste was clean with notes of vanilla that only briefly lingered, and it only took a few sips to realize this was actually pretty damn decent stuff. I was actively looking for reasons to choke* on every sip, but it never happened.
* I just can’t keep doing this – if you have a good pun/joke/idea, just say it aloud to yourself right here or leave it as a comment.
The third and final test was to invite vodka (and some ball)-loving friends over and see how they reacted. After a few puns, they dove in along with me and had the same feedback. This is a solid vodka for simple drinks (we never felt the need to do anything besides sip the classic soda and/or tonic with some lemons and limes). The suggested price point is around $10 below Grey Goose, so this could be not only a solid pun-based conversation piece, but a good versatile bottle for your home bar.
The TL:DR version: These Balls go down smooth and even your mom will love them. (Please try to understand how much I hate myself right now.)
To learn more, score some sweet merch or find a bottle near you, visit ballsvodka.com.
I have some really fun friends. I thought the other day that it’s a damn shame that I don’t get to show them off more. Enter: #DrinkingwithSusie! I’ll be hanging out with some of my foodie/fashion/fit friends to bring you fun recipes and introducing you to some Dallas movers and shakers. Stay tuned for more next month!
My first #DrinkingwithSusie victim is Natalie Keinan. I was lucky enough to meet Natalie about a year ago and knew we would be great friends right off the bat because, well … we both love happy hour. Natalie runs the popular fashion and happy hour blog, The Fashion Hour–a lot of fashion and a little booze!
When we got together to make our cocktail, she had requested the following: no tequila, nothing bitter, and something light and refreshing. Oh, and it had to have champagne in it … and she wanted to use the copper pineapple I’d given her for Christmas. (The pineapple just happens to be a part of a gift set offered by Absolut Elyx, and for every one sold they donate a week of clean water to people in need!)
So, what did I come up with? A lotta bit of Elyx, a little coconut water, and plenty of champagne. (And that’s how life should be.)
Either shake or stir the Elyx, coconut water, lemon, and syrup with ice until chilled. Fill pineapple with fresh ice and strain contents over ice. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with coconut shavings. (Bonus: mound shaved ice on top of cubed ice.)
Protip: when pouring the champagne into the pineapple, since it’s opaque, it’s hard to see when the level rises and the sparkling wine can bubble over. To avoid spilling, pour slowly.
How and when did you decide to start The Fashion Hour? I created The Fashion Hour in October of 2013 after kicking the idea around for several months and doing a lot of googling. I started it as a creative outlet from my job in corporate America where I would share good deals on clothes I found along with my favorite happy hour spots. It has grown quite a bit since then but both of those topics are still the core of what I write about!
What are you must-have items for Spring? My must-have items for spring are: a pair of retro sunglasses (I love these clear and tortoise shell Illesteva ones), a straw hat, and turquoise jewelry like this spike bib necklace!
What clothing trends do you see being hot this spring? Anything off-the-shoulder, frayed denim, necktie scarf/bandana, overalls, fringe, pom poms … is that too much?
What’s your go-to spring outfit this year? I always gravitate towards simple and casual so my go-to spring outfit is a pair of skinny or ripped jeans, basic tee, and this suede moto jacket (I seriously wear it over everything).
Where is your favorite happy hour in Dallas? That is HARD. There’s just so many so it’s impossible to choose a favorite, but I am pretty excited about the new House of Blues patio. Who doesn’t love food and drink specials before a show?!
Follow Natalie around Dallas (and some other fabulous destinations) for her style tips, sale scoops, and, from time to time, boozy recipes!