Category Archives: Whiskey

JEM Beverage Company’s New Facility

JEM Beverage Company (makers of Western Son Vodka, Red River Whiskey, South House Moonshine, and more) has shed its Carrollton roots and moved to Pilot Point, Texas to expand its distillery!

They offer distillery  tours Fridays (4pm) and Saturdays (1pm, 3pm & 5pm).  Oh  … and you get half off your tour if you arrive on horseback.  I kid you not.

Some of the #SDDContributor team and I stopped by their grand opening party this past Saturday, May 23 to celebrate.  Check out the trouble we got into!

The Second Floor Bar

I have visited the Dallas Galleria more than few times (women be shopping’, yo), and I’m kind of mad at myself that all along, I have been missing out on the greatness that is The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich.

Aptly named, this sleek, contemporary spot is nestled away on the second floor of the Westin Galleria, and just paces away from the interior mall entrance. I had a chance to belly up to the bar to check out The Second Floor’s liquid offerings. Let me tell you, they’ve got a lot going on here, folks. This is not your average hotel bar. It may be attached to the Westin, but the sippable menu at The Second Floor easily competes with offerings you would expect to find at some of the best watering holes in Dallas. If you haven’t discovered this spot yet, it could be a game changer.  Ladies, is that shopping trip you dragged your guy on taking just a liiiitttle bit longer than originally advertised? Sit him down at the bar, and you’re solid for at least another hour. Better yet, are the odds ne’er in your favor when swim suit shopping? Screw swimsuits … they have cocktails.

When I say they do things differently here, I’m not kidding; I was impressed to learn that The Second Floor actually makes their own hand-crafted aromatic tonic, infused with orange bitters and burnt cinnamon. The Second Floor’s creative and thoughtful cocktail menu offers seasonal features in addition to old standbys; one fan favorite is the Cucumber Sip (Organic cucumber vodka, elderflower, strawberry, & soda, $12),  which I’m told is The Second Floor’s most popular drink.  I had the opportunity to sample the House Sangria ($8), which was chock-full of boozy berries that I’m told spent a good amount of time hanging out in a cognac-lemon-elderflower concoction prior to taking a dip in my glass. (Is it rude to ask for a fork to get these leftovers from the bottom of my glass?) The sangria was rich and bursting with fruity goodness, and ultimately waaayyyy too easy to drink.

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A few new inventions that are featured on The Second Floor’s spring cocktail menu include:

  • GRILLED MARGARITA – Char-grilled orange, El Jimador tequila, Combier, lime ($12)
  • CINNAMON SIDECAR – Four Roses bourbon, Combier, lemon, cinnamon, bubbly ($13)
  • CHAPALA – Hornitos Black Barrel tequila, mole bitters, grapefruit infused agave nectar, ground Mexican chocolate ($13)

 

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Perhaps the thing I was most impressed with overall about The Second Floor’s fleet of beverages is their extensive whiskey menu. With more than 70 American whiskey offerings in total, and an equally impressive Scotch list, the menu runs the gamut from old standards to Texas labels to far more exotic options. (18-year Japanese whiskey, anyone? ) Intriguingly, The Second Floor offers a very nice variety of whiskey tasting flights. Oh, yes. Flights start at just $12, but if you’re feeling saucy, go for “The Big Spender”–this flight features three whiskeys each aged 21 years or better (Hello, 25-year Macallan), and it can be yours for a mere $100.

Additionally, The Second Floor boasts a comprehensive wine list with more than 80 offerings by the bottle, 20 of them by the glass. If you are a beer drinker, they’ve got you covered, featuring 12 premiums, 12 Texas craft brews, and 5 domestic options.  Pro-tip: With any food or beverage purchase, The Second Floor will validate your Westin Galleria parking, which is kind of awesome. Must remember this come holiday shopping.

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Stay tuned for another post soon about their new menu offerings for Summer 2015!
The Second Floor offers up some mighty fine happy hour specials.

Happy Hour- 4-6 PM, Monday- Friday

  • Specialty cocktail of the day (changes daily) $5
  • Domestic beer $4
  • “The Best $5 Wine in the City”- Honoro Vera, Garnacha OR Les Costières de Pomerols, Picpoul de Pinet

Various snacks and small bites, $2-5

The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich
The Westin Galleria Dallas, Level 2
13340 Dallas Parkway Dallas, TX 75240
(972) 450-2978

Maker’s Mark #JulepOff 2015

I was honored to have been recruited by Maker’s Mark to participate in their first-ever #JulepOff!  The challenge: remix the Kentucky Derby classic, the Mint Julep.

Maker's Mark Mint Julep
Maker’s Mark Mint Julep

Their traditional julep is as follows:

1.5 parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Fresh mint
2 tablespoons simple syrup
Distilled water
Powdered sugar

Muddle mint and simple syrup. Mix with Maker’s Mark and distilled water. Fill a julep cup with crushed ice and pour the mixture over the top of the ice.  Sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar over the ice and garnish the drink with a mint sprig.

While delicious, I think we can do better here at Susie Drinks Dallas!  Presenting the Run for the Roses Julep!  We decided that rosewater would give the traditional julep unique flavor … and it looks sexy as hell.

Run for the Roses Julep

~12 fresh mint leaves (stemmed)
5 drops rosewater
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Crushed or shaved ice
Rose petals
Mint sprig
Powdered Sugar
Julep cup

Muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup. (Don’t overmuddle or you’ll be sad.) Add the bourbon and rosewater, stir lightly.  Fill a julep cup with shaved or crushed ice then pour the mixture over the ice.  Garnish with a rose petal and mint sprig.  Lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over the drink.

SDD-RoseDrank

Want to up the ante?  How about some Mint Julep Jelly Shots!?

2 packets unflavored gelatin
2 C chilled water
1/2 C mint leaves (fresh is best)
1/2 C granulated sugar
3/4 C Maker’s Mark bourbon
Mint sprigs

Put gelatin into cold water in a saucepan then let sit for about 5 minutes.  Add the mint leaves and sugar, then heat over medium heat for about 4 minutes, then turn the heat off and let sit for 15 minutes.  Strain and then stir in the Maker’s Mark.  Pour into shot glasses then refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

I’d greatly appreciate your support in the #JulepOff!  Please visit the Maker’s Mark Pinterest starting 4/23 and REPIN my recipe!  I have until May 1 to get as many REPINS as possible.

(Please only repin it once per account.)


Roses not your thing? Some other recipes I came up with are below!

Lavender Mint Julep
~12 fresh mint leaves (stemmed)
1 oz lavender syrup
2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Crushed or shaved ice
Lavender
Mint sprig
Powdered Sugar
Julep cup

Muddle the mint leaves and lavender simple syrup. (Don’t overmuddle or you’ll be sad.) Add the bourbon, stir lightly. Fill a julep cup with shaved or crushed ice then pour the mixture over the ice. Garnish with a lavender stem and mint sprig.

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Mile High Julep
6-8 min leaves

1 3/4 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1/2 oz Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
1/2 oz ginger syrup
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Mint sprig

Combine ingredients in a julep cup and lightly muddle.  Add crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

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A huge thanks to my favorite guys over at The People’s Last Stand for their help getting the recipe perfect!

Women in Whiskey

Jim Beam. Booker Noe. Evan Williams. Henry McKenna. John Jameson. Hiram Walker. The list goes on. The whisk(e)y industry is seemingly dominated by men, and I was given another chance to appreciate that at the “Women in Whisk(e)y” event at Sissy’s. We heard from the following:

  • Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Vice President of Operations at Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • Vicky Stevens, Global Brand Ambassador for Laphroaig Scotch Whisky
  • Tish Harcus, Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club Whisky
  • Stella Lacken, Brand Ambassador for Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

With the smell of Sissy’s delicious fried chicken hanging in the air, the women shared their paths to their current positions with their respective brands along with how their love of whiskey was forged. I was happy to share with Victoria after that my mother was actually the person who turned me on to whiskey (she’s a huge Maker’s fan) … she even gave me Whiskey Women for Christmas, which they all recommended we read.

WIN FOR DALLAS: Tish from Canadian Club even let us know the women in Dallas are ahead of the WORLD when it comes to their love of whiskey.  (Way to go, ladies.)

To get us through the late lunch, Sissy’s served us some goodies. Along with some of Sissy’s delicious bites, we were treated to tastings of Maker’s 46, Laphroaig, Canadian Club Sherry Cask, and Kilbeggan and cocktails made with each.

To continue the day of awesomeness, I was lucky enough to stop by the Maker’s Mark happy hour at Bolsa that they put on for their local ambassadors. (P.S. If you’re not an ambassador, sign up now.)  While there, I had another chance to chat with Victoria from Maker’s Mark and she deemed to snap a picture for me to send to my mom. (HI, MOM!)

The day of awesomeness ended with dinner at Smoke, where we were treated a traditional Scottish song to start the night.  (Don’t you love his kilt?)  Each delicious and well seasoned course of BBQ was accompanied by tastings of the four whiskeys and cocktails that showed off how they lend themselves to mixing, and we were treated to another round of addresses from the whiskey women.

A Night with Ballast Point Brewing & Distilling Co.

A bit ago I attended a happy hour with Ballast Point Brewing and Distilling at Bird Cafe. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Ballast Point before going to the happy hour, and I learned that Ballast Point began as a small group of home brewers in San Diego, California. Most of the beers are named after fishing terms. The labels have illustrations of fish to pay homage to the brewery’s origin’s. After they made a name for themselves through their beer, Ballast Point began distilling. The company now has seven spirits they call their own.

Ballast Point happy hour beer menu
Ballast Point happy hour beer menu

I began the night tasting some of Ballast Point’s beer on tap. For those of you who like hoppy beers, go for the Grunion Pale Ale (5.5%). It has a nutty flavor as well as a summer fruit aroma. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer silver award. Next, I went for the Scotch ale. Piper Down (5.8%) is now in the running as one of my favorite craft beers … it’s not super heavy and it has a smooth taste. I tasted a chocolate, sweet after taste with this brew. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer gold award. The name came from Scottish bag pipers that drank too much … the piper became top heavy and people would yell, “piper down” when they began to fall. (I have to admit, I went back two days later for more.) My last tasting was the Victory at Sea Coffee/Vanilla Porter (10%). As expected, it was a dark, smooth brew. I am not a coffee drinker, but that didn’t not stop me drinking this beer. It had more of a vanilla taste than coffee.

San Diego Street Car
San Diego Street Car

Moving on to the spirits, I was curious about the first cocktail on the list–the San Diego Street Car (Devil’s Share Moonshine, Ancho Chili liqueur, corn water, lime, Burlesque bitters, egg white). I was puzzled by this concoction, so I had to ask the bartender how he came up with this interesting drink. He said it was his version of elotes in cocktail form. He wanted to bring out the corn flavor of the moonshine rather than mask it. After understanding the background of the drink, it made me enjoy it all the more.

I would urge you to go to your local liquor store and try out some of Ballast Point’s spirits. Here’s your shopping list:

3 Sheet’s Rum: made from pure cane sugar rather than molasses (80 proof)
Fugu Vodka: Filtered 15 times (80 proof)
Devil’s Share Moonshine (whiskey): hints of tropical fruit (98.6 proof)
Devil’s Share Burbon: American oak barrels, hints of caramel and vanilla cream (92 proof)
Old Grove Gin: made from juniper berries, rose, and coriander (88 proof)

Ballast Point Brewery
www.Ballastpoint.com
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Bird Cafe's amazing bar
Bird Cafe’s amazing bar

Bird Cafe
155 East Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
www.birdinthe.net

Woodford Reserve Launch Event

At the beginning of the month, Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon invited me to an exclusive, salon dinner to see firsthand what the brand is stirring up next. Master Distiller Chris Morris hosted the event. He led through a guided introduction and tasting of the brand’s latest addition, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. With the help of Henry’s Majestic in the kitchen, the event was quite the success.

Look for Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey to release this March at your favorite spirits store. Even if you’re not a rye whiskey fan, Morris promises that this is one you won’t want to miss.

Try out one of my favorite cocktails from the evening, the Vieux Carre:

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
Bénédictine
Cognac
Sesame Vermouth
Bitters

Ké Spirits’ wKé

College taught me a number of things, but one of its most important lessons was my love for whiskey. It’s an acquired taste that began as a means to drink with the boys and developed into my own guilty pleasure. I like it over ice or with a splash of ginger ale.

Typically, whiskey offers a slight bite with some smoky, woody qualities. Particularly, Ké Spirits’ Whiskey (wKé) delivers a rich, smooth flavor of grain and wild flower that brings a lasting bite. It’s a strong, but pleasing aroma of elements.

Ké describes its grain components as an uncommon combination that is processed by slicing, rolling, and in some cases, crushing them to capture and retain the unique flavors. Then comes the two-phase fermentation process in which the temperature and environment are closely controlled. Lastly, the liquids are distilled through small handmade copper pot stills in a two-phase copper distillation column. This lends hand to its opulent caramel color.

The legend of Ké Spirits originates in the late 1400s when the art of distillation made its way to Ireland. Irish Catholic monks used it to craft a beverage, whiskey, (“water of life” in English). It was made quickly and crudely to offer a barely drinkable solution. Then, in 1498 Padraig Barry discovered a grain process that turned young, hardly drinkable whiskey into a surprisingly rich and smooth beverage.

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Fast forward 470 years, Joe Barry learns of secret family stories detailing the mysterious “Ké” distillation that generations before him worked to protect from kings, invaders, thieves, and raiders. After retiring in 2007, Joe Barry journeyed to Ireland to unveil the truth of “Ké.” For the next five years he worked with distillers to recreate the original process himself and now offers three varieties: Ké (vodka), tKé (tequila), and wKé (whiskey).

Keep warm by the fire with a glass straight. If that doesn’t do the trick, here is a recipe provided by Ké spirits for a wKé Irish Coffee:

unnamed-18wKé IRISH COFFEE
1 ½ oz wKé
4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
Fresh Whipped Cream
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, or Chocolate

Combine wKé, coffee, and brown sugar in a warm Irish coffee glass and stir until sugar is dissolved. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate.

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**Disclaimer: This bottle of joy was provided to me by Ké spirits**

Troy & Sons, Now Available in Dallas

A couple weeks back, I had the opportunity to meet a true dynamo, Troy Ball.  She’s a horse riding, blonde haired, mother of three who makes moonshine in Asheville, NC and a spark plug to boot.  (Like, the kind of person I’d really like to be friends with.  Like … actual friends that go to brunch and watch “Scandal” together.)


Her distillery is at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Asheville and they have family members that actually work there.  They even use white corn sourced from a local farm to make their spirits.  Troy & Sons’ moonshines were created when Troy learned that most back woods moonshiners (can I say that?) keep the best of each batch of moonshine for themselves and sell of the harsh leftovers.  So, she decided to make good moonshine and give the people the best of it.  (Nice.)  The smoothness of all the T&S moonshines is incredibly surprising.  We sipped each before trying them in cocktails, and both ways were enjoyable.

Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine |  The mildly sweet flavor of Platinum isn’t too powerful but still stands up nicely in cocktails.  Unlike the name “moonshine” suggests, it doesn’t burn at all.  The Platinum is also in a beautiful bottle (that I’m stoked to add to my new bar (cart) when I get it!)
80 proof, $29.99 for 750ml

Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Moonshine | While it’s bottled similarly to the Platinum, the flavors couldn’t be more different thanks to its six months of aging in bourbon barrels*.  The short aging gives it a light amber color and slight flavor notes of caramel with a touch of pepper.  It is smooooooth (oh baby) and was delicious in the cocktails that we were given during the tasting dinner.
80 proof, $39.99 for 750ml

Blonde Whiskey | The first of their “Blonde” line options, it is made from “the best grains of the old world to the latest in distilling technology.”  The flavor is sweet with notes of vanilla, caramel, and honey earned during its 1.5 year aging in custom honeycomb barrels.  This deliciousness SHOULD be sipped on its own, tainted only by the two cubes of ice (tops) if you MUST.
80 proof, $42.99 for 750ml

TROY & SONS – NOW AVAILABLE IN DALLAS
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Buy Online, available (at least) at Lark on the Park

*Troy told us the story about how she visited a well-know whiskey distillery and convinced them to give her their used bourbon barrels to age their Oak Reserve.  She ended up saving their butts by connecting them with a barrel supplier when they needed new barrels during the barrel shortage (yes, there’s apparently a barrel shortage in the US).  (Disclaimer: I think that’s the story.  I heard it from the opposite side of the table after three tastings and four cocktails.)