With the classic cocktail resurgence that has been seen over the last couple decades, I realized recently that I didn’t know how to make many of them. That said, we’re all going to learn together with my new series, #SusieDrinksClassics.
Our first less is the Boulevardier. This cocktails is the whiskey version of an Italian favorite, the Negroni. Since the whiskey warms the cocktail, it makes it a perfect transitional cocktail for the fall.
Last year I put a little (read: very little) spin on the Mint Julep for a Maker’s Mark Trifecta Challenge. This year, they asked the #TrifectaChallenge participants to put our twist on the Belmont Stakes’ signature drink, The Belmont Jewel. The traditional Belmont Jewel is quite simple–bourbon, lemonade, and pomegranate juice. A bit of a yawn, no? Needless to say, I was eager to spice this cocktail up a bit; and I went for the daily double.
THE JELLIED BELMONT JEWEL
1.5 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey
2 oz lavender lemonade
1 egg white
Jellied pomegranate wine*
Combine the Maker’s Mark, lemonade, and egg white in a sturdy shaker. Shake vigorously for one minute, then add ice and shake for another minute. Strain into a chilled julep cup, drizzle jellied pomegranate wine on top, then garnish with dried lavender and a lemon curl.
*Jellied Pomegranate Wine
1.5 cups pomegranate wine
0.75 cup fresh lemon juice
1 oz gelatin
0.5 cup white sugar
Combine wine, lemon juice, and gelatin in a pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a hearty boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
While we can’t drink this from the August Belmont Memorial Cup (which happens to be cast in silver and made by Tiffany & Co.), you can still shake one up at home. If it sounds like too much effort, go for the traditional Belmont Jewel.
THE BELMONT JEWEL
1.5 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey
2 oz lemonade
1 oz pomegranate juice
June 1, through midnight on June 3, stop by Maker’s Mark’s Instagram account and LIKE AND COMMENT on my recipe to help me win a trip to the distillery. Pretty please?
I received these a bottle of Maker’s Mark to try out some recipes without payment.
I lived in the heart of Uptown for 2-1/2 years … a mere 5 minute walk from Nickel and Rye and only went a couple times. Like a rookie, I allowed those times to be weekends in the wee hours, a time which happens to be the great equalizer of all Uptown establishments (read: drunk people acting ridiculously). I was recently asked to stop in for dinner and did so begrudgingly. Holy shit … was I wrong to have thought like that. Nickel & Rye shattered my previous misconceptions of this gem.
First things first: they have a large and diverse selection of traditional and rare whiskies. (Yessssss.) In fact, they’re so proud of their whiskey options that they even offer their “V. Rye P. Club” that rewards you for trying whiskey. Just try a certain number of whiskeys and you’ll be treated to parties–not kidding. Look for Pappy van Winkle, local options, and some with a little Nickel & Rye twist, all for pretty decent prices.
Beyond that, they don’t settle for the run of the mill cocktails. They infuse liquors, make bitters, and generally do things pretty damn well. And their cocktail list has a little something for everyone.
Nickel & Rye’s Maple Bacon Manhattan is one of their signature cocktails and has been for quite a while, no double because of their delicious bacon-Infused bourbon with maple syrup and the slightest hint of Averna Amaro. Their second most popular cocktail, the Sparkling Cucumber (New Am Vodka, elderflower, cucumber, lemon, and champagne) is light, flavorful, and is a perfect cocktail to enjoy on their fan-fucking-tastic patio.
Beyond their two best sellers, they have a couple lot of other winners. The Summertime Sadness (Exotico Blanco, mint, roasted jalapeño, cilantro, and lime) was a surprise with a lot of complexity thanks to the oddly, but well-paired flavors. The basic Old Fashioned is even a winner–gotta love the old standards. If you’re bold, let the talented barmen behind the large, concrete bar go crazy. Tell them what you like and what you don’t and watch them work. One of their newest creations from one of these adventures in bartending even uses Blue Curacao (that apparently is making a resurgence … yikes) and a smoked wood plan to give it an oddly smoky sweet flavor.
The cocktails aren’t the only thing that Nickel & Rye is doing right. Their food, all made in-house, is damn delicious. (And their parent company, Kirby’s Steakhouse, would see to that.) They took basic food items and made them either VERY well or just a tinge haute. Site: their Lobster Quesadilla. Eat this now. Also not to be missed is their charcuterie board and their Brussels sprouts. (If you’re a reader, you know that it really doesn’t take much from Brussels sprouts to impress me … but these were so good I almost ordered a second dish. What!? They’re vegetables.)
Of the McKinney Avenue spots, this is one place that you should hit for a happy hour that is sure to surprise. Make sure to log some time on their patio before it gets too hot. Because it will … and all the chilly cocktails in the world won’t be able to make being outside bearable.
Hey, y’all … I’m Susie’s new friend! My new mom adopted me a couple weeks ago from TLC Rescue where my name was CeeLo (because I have really short arms … I get those from my corgi mom) and Susie changed my name to Tullamore D.O.G., but you can call me Tully. (She said that she wanted to name me after one of her very favorite things … Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey!)
The last two and a half weeks have been a big change for me … I went from running around in the country alone stealing pies from windowsills to hanging out in a condo in Dallas with food set right in front of me when I want it. Oh, and my human takes care of my doodoo. (One less thing to worry about, you know?) Life is good. Now … I’m not saying that everyone should go out and get one of my buddies I was at camp with, but they sure would appreciate it.
Tonight we tried on our St. Patrick’s Day parade outfits … do you like my green paws!? (The tip of my tail is green, too … you can see it on my mom’s Snapchat–@susieoz–along with a bunch of other cute videos of me being adorable.) Susie got me some super cool hair spray made just for pets and a bowtie so I could look cool on Greenville!
To make things even MORE fun my first couple weeks at my new home, my birthday is tomorrow, Saint Patrick’s Day!!! I have a Pup-pie to look forward to, but I wanted to tell y’all about a few of my mom’s favorite Irish whiskey cocktails so you can celebrate along with me! I even put them in order of easiest to more difficult to help you out. You’re welcome, human.
I hope you have a great time celebrating … I’ll see you all on Greenville!
1 shot Jameson
1 shot pickle juice
You know what to do …
MIDORI GREEN EYED GINGER 1 part Midori® Melon Liqueur
2 parts 2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey
2 parts Ginger Ale
Build in order over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a lemon & lime half moon wheel on the rim.
TRADITIONAL IRISH COFFEE
1 jigger Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey (or 1.5oz)
1 cup of fresh, high quality hot coffee
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Real whipped cream
Combine Tully and coffee, add sugar, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Top with whipped cream.
CRABBIE’S MOSCOW MULE
3–4 mint leaves
¾ oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
1½ oz vodka
Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer
Muddle the mint gently in the bottom of your glass. Add the lime juice, simple syrup and vodka, fill with ice, then top with Crabbie’s.
Vet – verb \vet\ the careful and critical examination of quality
Vetted Well, the new bar above the recently-opened Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, may be one of my new favorite places. Damn good food, a great beer selection (complete with 10 perfectly-paired boilermakers), one of the best rooftop patios in Dallas, themed private karaoke rooms, and a location directly above a quirky movie theater make for a great experience.
While Vetted Well does a lot … well … they have done well in not specializing in anything at the expense of others. Perfect example: they have a damn good (local) beer selection (cans, bottles, and a bunch of drafts), but also have awesome cocktails and a small (but thoughtful) wine list. They have some healthy food, but also some food that makes you want to break your Lenten commitment not to eat fried food (oops …).
My review was actually my second visit … my first visit was with a couple girlfriends after a movie to catch up a bit. We enjoyed a shit ton of popcorn (which, if you order in the bottomless popcorn in the theater, you can continue working on finding the bottom upstairs), a Darker & Stormier (a seriously delicious take on the Dark & Stormy–apply brandy, Black Seal rum, ginger, lime, and crushed ice) and The Traveling Man (Eagle Rare 10 Yr. & Karback Weekend Warrior whiskey). I was so excited to come back, that I nearly died when I saw the email inviting me in for a review.
I was spoiled with a couple boilermakers, a couple cocktails, and alllllllll the food (more on that later because, cocktails). Their Moscow Mule was the traditional recipe (vodka, lime, ginger beer) and was well mixed, but the copper vessel was badass–because I’m kind of over copper mugs. Next out was the Kentucky Buck (bourbon, strawberry, lemon, bitters, ginger beer), which was completely refreshing and I cannot wait to sit on their patio and sip one three of these on a warm, spring afternoon.
Let’s get back to those boilermakers. Ten options, all decidedly Dallas with names like The Grassy Knoll and The Big Tex, make for a good challenge. I’m four down so far, (… not as accomplished as Kevin, but I’m working on it) and I’m enjoying the progress. Paired thoughtfully, my favorite so far is The Sears & Roebuck (Gran Classico & 512 Pecan Porter), but I look forward to trying the remaining six to see if it stays on top. (There was talk about the technique behind drinking a boilermaker. Do you take the shot of whiskey then sip the beer, sip both at once, or dunk the shot?)
Now … the food. Everything they make is as homemade as possible from the mustard to the … other delicious stuff, and they also source from local vendors like Empire Bakery. They’re currently serving lunch from their kitchen with brunch and then dinner to follow, but if you’re up there for dinner now, you can get items from the Alamo Drafthouse kitchen. They bring it up with a dumbwaiter, which they claim can hold 200 pounds … and I’m still upset they wouldn’t let me ride in it. (Read: stay tuned for a staged dumbwaiter incident complete with live Twitter feed.)
We started with the Biscuit Beignets. They hit the table and I knew my Lenten “no fried food” pledge was in trouble. I figured that, as my mom says, Sundays are cheat days … and I’d been to church earlier. So, I dug in. I’m damn glad I did. These fluffy, fried nuggets are perfectly light and come with dippable cinnamon sugar, raspberry syrup, vanilla bean crème, and spiced rum caramel. Hot damn. Next up was more fried goodness (because why just be a little bad?), Croquettes with smoked gouda, potato, bacon, and green onion, and served with a dill-lish dill ranch. (Terrible joke … sorry.) To round out the first “course”, they brought out the Panzanella Salad which, aside from the Brussels sprout I snuck off the plate while taking a picture, was snapped up before I could take a bite.
The heavy hitters of the meal were still to come–the 24-Hour Brined Pork Chop, Chicken Fried Chicken with Local Honey, Carved Turkey on Hippie Bread, and the Cubano sandwich. All delicious and all recommended. They mix it up by serving the pork chop with a waffle–take that chicken and waffles! I’ll be having this one again thanks to the incredibly flavorful chop. My other favorite was the Cubano (roasted pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, house pickles, and beer mustard served with traditional tostones).
I’m actually upset with myself for not requesting the Vetted Well Burger … this thing is a work of art–a burger with pork beans and pork belly? That’s some genius shit right there.
Overall, Vetted Well is quite the delight. The patio is unreal–both the front and back one. The front patio has a great view of Downtown Dallas and the back patio is complete with locally made furniture and a giant outdoor screen where they’ll show classic movies a couple times a week. If that’s not enough entertainment, check out one of their four themed private karaoke rooms for rent by the hour to accommodate 6-20 people. You know I’ll be hitting those rooms hard with some hardcore Hall & Oates. The karaoke rooms will be open to the public starting Thursday.
I can’t wait for the next rainy weekend when I can commit to spending an entire day bouncing between the theater and Vetted Well to get my hands on their burger. Who’s with me?
Overall, I think their name is deserved. I was told that “vetted” is used often in the military as a quality check. While I’m not military, I feel as though I can still give this place my seal of approval–it has been vetted … and it’s gooooood.
I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen but one of the 2016 Oscars Best Picture nominees … and I just watched it last night. Needless to say, I’m going to need something to keep me entertained since I haven’t a clue what is going to be going on. Enter: alcohol.
So, to prepare for the 88th Academy Awards watching situation, I got a little crazy and ordered some edible gold to make a fancy cocktail instead of taking the time to actually watch the movies. I’ve included the recipe for the cocktail I will be sipping on tonight below along with some other drink options.
THE GOLD MAN
2oz Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1/2oz honey syrup
1oz lemon juice
3 orange slices, quartered
garnish: edible gold flakes or an orange slice
Muddle the oranges and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, lemon juice, and shake until chilled thoroughly. Strain into a martini glass.
Too lazy to slice and shake? Pop into the grocery store for a bottle of PIPER-HEIDSIECK champagne (the only champagne served AT the Oscars ceremony) or one of the Coppola Winery’s Director’s Cutcollection wines (seems fitting for FILM awards). Just make sure you plan your booze pick-up for after noon … because Sundays in Texas are ruled by TABC. The Man sucks.)
Too lazy to cook, too? (Seriously? Do something with your life. jk) Plano residents can call LASH Delivery and order one of their two Oscar-themed food packages–the Foreign Film Package (Bruschetta from Campisi’s and Caramel Flan from El Norte Mexican Grill) or the Red Carpet Package (a Hummus Trio from Zoe’s Kitchen and Summer Rolls from Mango Thai Cuisine).Each package is $20 (+$7 delivery fee) and can be ordered through 9pm on 2/28.
Basil Hayden’s Golden Spice 1 part Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
Sparkling Apple Juice
Add Basil Hayden’s Bourbon to a champagne flute. Fill the remainder of the glass with sparkling apple juice. Garnish with a sliced apple.
CELEBRITY COLADA ½ crushed pineapple
1 cup crushed ice
1 cup vodka
2 cups cold Coco Joy Water
Combine pineapple, ice, vodka and Coco Joy Water in a blender and pulse until smooth. Garnish with limes.
GREY GOOSE LE FIZZ
35ml GREY GOOSE vodka
25ml ST-GERMAIN® elderflower liqueur
20ml fresh lime juice
70ml chilled soda
Pour all ingredients except soda water into a cocktail shaker. Shake briefly over ice and double strain into a chilled flute. Top with soda water. Garnish with a stirrer.
GOLD BAR PUNCH
1 bottle VSOP Cognac
1 bottle Powell & Mahoney Lemon Sour mixer
½ bottle Powell & Mahoney Ginger mixer
1 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 cup cold water
Mix together VSOP Cognac, P&M Lemon Sour mixer, P&M Ginger mixer, pineapple juice, and water. Chill for several hours before serving. When ready to serve, pour into a large punch bowl over the gold bar ice block. Top with 1 bottle chilled Champagne and stir. Add orange slice. To make the gold bar ice, fill a loaf baking pan with boiling water (this will ensure clear ice). Add edible gold flakes to the pan and stir. Place in freezer overnight. Prior to serving, run the outside of the pan under hot water to release the ice block. Serves 10.
In other news, there are some ridiculous facts about the Oscars from WalletHub:
25 Years Old: Jennifer Lawrence is the youngest person ever to earn four acting nominations
$3,500: Average cost of preparing a Hollywood actress for the red carpet
$220K: Value of the 2016 Oscar Swag Bag
39 Years: Between Sylvester Stallone’s two Oscar nominations for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa
45 Sec: The amount to which acceptance speeches will be cut down this year, thanks to individual shout outs scrolling on the bottom of the screen.
Champagne. Roquefort cheese. Charente butter. Bourbon. Some of the best things in the world … and all things that have strict standards in order to bear the name. In order to be called “bourbon”, a whiskey must have the following characteristics:
It must be made with at least 51% corn.
Distillers can only add water to the bourbon to bring it to “proof”.
Bourbon can only be aged in NEW, charred, American White Oak barrels for at least 2 years.
It has to be distilled to less than 80% alcohol (160 proof)–higher proof makes it moonshine–and it must go into the barrels at less than 62.5% alcohol (125 proof).
It must be distilled AND aged in the US. (Fun fact: 95% of all bourbon is made in Kentucky.)
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s talk about Booker’s Bourbon. I often receive products to review (obvi), so when I purchase liquor with my own money, it’s big. One of my recent purchases was Booker’s Bourbon and I’m hooked.
Booker’s is a product of Jim Beam and is always made in small batches and is bottled uncut. This particular spirit is a serious spirit–balanced, complex, and flavorful.
Proof: 121-130 (depending on the year)
Nose: caramel, vanilla, oak, and pepper
Taste: caramel, vanilla, butterscotch with a long caramel finish
Sipping suggestions: With ice or cut with water
Price: $50 for 750mL
To my everlasting delight, I got an email from a public relations angel that offered a sample of Booker’s Bourbon 2016 Batch Collection Bluegrass, the first of six Batch Collections that Booker’s will release in 2016 in honor of Booker Noe. I jumped at the chance to try it out and … damn … it’s good.
The new releases will all be hand selected by Fred Noe, Beam’s 7th Generation Master. Each batch will feature a name and label bearing founding distiller, Booker Noe’s favorite things.
Age: 6 years, 11 months
Nose: vanilla, toasted nuts with a smooth and well-balanced finish
Sipping suggestions: With ice or cut with water
Price: $59.99 for 750mL
Pay homage to the legendary bourbon distiller by trying one of Booker’s Bourbons six small batch releases this year.
Right before Christmas, I received a small sample bottle of Collingwood Canadian Whisky to review. As one who generally defaults to Crown, if I even dip a toe into the great White North, the bar was high(though Susie chastises me regularly for my lack of imagination). Once I read that Collingwood boasts a “toasted Maplewood finish”, apprehension set in. I’m not sure if they are doing this in Texas, but Rhode Island bars are heavily pushing the flavored whiskies these days, to the point where my post-work happy hour spot proudly serves a Triple Crown (maple, apple, original) and there are way more maple-flavored options in the dark section of the liquor store than God and Booker Noe intended.
Despite the initial cringe at my sweet, syrupy trigger word, the end result is good. For Collingwood “maplewood finish” is more a process to mellow the harshness of the drink then a sweetener, and it works. I meant to just take a sip neat and then make a cocktail or two, but, since the bottle was small and the taste was smooth, I simply put the whole thing over the ice and enjoyed as we opened presents. (What?)
There’s definitely the same sweetness found in Crown and Canadian Club (think vanilla/toffee), but it wasn’t too overpowering.
The full retail size comes in an old school aftershave-looking bottle (newly revamped), reminiscent of your dad getting ready for dates with Mom 30 years ago (which will drive you to drink if you think about it too long.) I’m not ready to convert for life, but this is definitely a nice whisky to have on-hand for winter that won’t make you feel stuck in the flavored whisky/bourbon apocalypse that is slowly coming to absorb us all. (Oh, the shame.)
If you’re less of a purist and you want to create cocktails with this sweet elixir, here are some suggested recipes. They recommend using Collingwood in “classic, lighter cocktails”.
TOM COLLINGWOOD 2oz Collingwood Whisky
0.75oz simple syrup
1oz lemon juice
3oz soda water
Mix Collingwood, simple syrup and lemon juice in a highball glass with ice. Top with soda water and serve.
COLLINGWOOD CANADIAN MULE
1oz Collingwood Whisky
3oz ginger beer
splash lime juice
garnish: lime wedge
Mix all ingredients over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Collingwood is available in most stores across Texas and you can locate the bottle closest to you at collingwoodwhisky.com. The suggested price is around $27.