Category Archives: The Wandering Boozehound

Tequila Patrón—the Spirits

I always feel bad for characters that are misunderstood.  I mean, the Bumble in “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” wasn’t a bad dude … he just had a toothache.  That said, I thought I knew all about Tequila Patrón … a big company that makes a great product.  I drank it, I mixed cocktails with it, I enjoyed it … I left it at that.  After being invited to see Hacienda Patrón at the end of 2016, I have a much deeper appreciation not only for the tequila, but the craft behind it and the company that makes it.

I was invited by Patrón to take a few days to explore Jalisco and tour the distillery, and I’d be an idiot not to go, right?  Right.  I went (with some shiny, noisy AF) bells on—I was fucking stoked.  After my immersive experience, I learned some remarkable things that took me from a consumer to a loyalist.

First I’ll say this, Patrón not only produces their own spirits, but they do it expertly.  For those of you claiming that Patrón is “fake” … go suck a piña.  Yes, when the company was founded 1989, they produced their spirits in a facility they didn’t own, but they did so while adhering to their strict standards and following their exacting recipe.  In 2002 they opened The Hacienda and have been producing their own product since.  And yes, the company was started by a beauty product mogul, but he knows enough to have hired people that know the industry.

**UPDATE: Patrón Spirits was sold to Bacardi in January 2018.**

QUALITY.  To ensure perfection in every bottle, everything is done on-site with one exception.  Every one of their products is distilled with great oversight by the best in the business.  Many distilleries in Jalisco will produce multiple brands under one roof (there are 1700+ brands of “tequila”, but only 140 distilleries), but NOM 1492 only produces Patrón.

CONTROL.  The distiller behind the spirit, Francisco Alcaraz, has been the artisan who has helped the brand maintain the integrity of the product while meeting the ever-growing demand.  He has a really difficult job (I’m only kind of kidding) … he tastes every single batch of product before it’s bottled to ensure consistency and quality.  If he’s out?  It takes four expert tasters to take his place.

They don’t stop there.  Patrón claims that at least 60 hands will touch the product before it leaves The Hacienda.  That’s 60 hands checking every step of the process and ensuring that every step of their painstaking process is followed to the letter–from distillation to packaging.

INGREDIENTS.  The only part of the aforementioned process that doesn’t happen on The Hacienda’s property is the growing of the agave itself. Since it takes more than seven years to hit the sweet spot (pun intended) for the maturity of the agave piñas used in distillation, they decided that, instead of trying to own every step, they’d simply ensure they had the very best ingredients possible.  That meant reserving (and paying for) “first dips” on the best Blue Weber Agave from carefully selected fields in the Highlands of Jalisco.  Only the best.  Since Patrón only produces 100% blue weber agave tequilas, they obviously need quite a bit.  (Other brands that don’t call it “mixto”, which only had to be 51% agave)

No flavors, dyes, etc added to any tequilas

PROCESS. After harvesting, the agave is taken to the Hacienda where jimadores remove the leaves the old fashioned way (with a coa) to get to the heart of the agave, the piña.  The piña is then baked in their ovens for 79 hours for the perfect sweetness.  From there, the agave is either taken to a tahona or the roller mill–the tahona is a two-ton volcanic rock that painstakingly crushes the agave to remove the juices.  Patrón’s core line utilizes tahona and roller mill (more modern and efficient) distillates and blends them (55%/45%, respectively) to create the flavor we all know so well.

Why the mix?  Agave macerated using the tahona tends to be slightly sweeter since it allows more of the agave’s fibers themselves to lend flavor, giving the spirit more complexity.  (There are only four other tequila distilleries making tequila with a tahona, none of which operate the wheel daily.)  After tasting distillates from each production method, I love the flavors of the tahona-produced tequila. Lucky for me, Patrón’s newer line, Roca Patrón, is 100% tahona-produced.

INNOVATION. You may have seen a few new Patrón bottles popping up at your local bars–Roca, Piedra, Bordeos, Sherry Cask, XO, Citrónage, Platinum, Patrón en Lalique, etc.  The beauty of that is that they’re never done exploring new ways to make an incredible product even better.

Stay tuned for more about Patrón in upcoming posts!

Where to Enjoy the Finest Cocktails in Las Vegas

Written by Maria Taylor
Above photo by Ash EdmondsCC0

Las Vegas is the perfect place to enjoy the most innovative and luxurious cocktails in the state of Nevada. Despite its location within the Mojave Desert, this is no dry island, but instead, is overflowing with fantastic places to sample expertly crafted drinks with unusual ingredients to leave your taste buds tingling. Here we’ll look at the best places to visit while you’re in Sin City, including a few of the most inventive cocktail menus and bars around.

Las Vegas, the Live Entertainment Capital of the World | Las Vegas Sunrise by Daniil VnoutchkovCC0

Entertainment in Las Vegas goes much further than the casinos; the city is often called the Live Entertainment Capital and with good reason. Here you can enjoy a world-famous show like the Cirque du Soleil, see an international superstar like Celine Dion or marvel at top-quality magicians as they perform logic-defying acts. While it’s worth checking out what’s on before you arrive to make sure you snag tickets for the big shows, it’s also a good idea to see what tickles your fancy once you’re here. After all, with this guide, you’ll be sorted with where to enjoy a cocktail or two, so why not investigate the entertainment on offer for the evening?

Velveteen Rabbit
The Velveteen Rabbit in the Arts District of the city is the invention of sisters Pamela and Christina Dylag. Raised in the Mojave, the two sisters chose to travel the world as adults before returning to their hometown armed with the knowledge and experience to open a unique craft cocktail and beer bar. Their creation boasts a seasonal menu, incorporating both fresh produce and homemade ingredients, with contemporary flavors and taste combinations. I would recommend trying the delicate Spa Day, which fuses vanilla vodka with lavender gin, chareau and lemon curd — delicious! Or if you fancy something a little more out there, try the Bong & a Schlitz cocktail, which incorporates bizarre ingredients like butter and cream cheese-washed bourbon, blueberry-hemp syrup and American lager. What a treat!

Atomic Liquors
Atomic Liquors has the distinguished title of the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas, with a dedicated clientele and an enticing menu to keep bringing in curious new customers. Originally named Virginia’s Café in 1945, Atomic Liquors has since grown into an established bar serving lip-smacking sour beers along with a selection of exclusive cocktails. Although people used to drink here while watching nuclear bombs at the nearby Nevada Test Site, now they come for the expertly crafted cocktails. My personal favorites are the aptly-named F-Bomb, made with Fireball cinnamon whiskey, Fernet and Atomic energy drink — guaranteed to blow your socks off!

Commonwealth
With a mighty 6,000 square feet of space decorated with a pre-Prohibition theme and a secret speakeasy bar hidden within, Commonwealth is an experience! Thankfully, their drinks more than live up to the showmanship of the décor with originals from mixologist Juyoung Kang on the menu alongside classics like the Sazerac and the Negroni. A stand-out choice for me is the Tam-Tam, which combines cacao, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur as well as the classic combination of salt, tequila and lime to create a jaw-dropping sensation.

I think that we can all agree, Vegas is a city that can show you a good time. However, it sometimes has a reputation for being loud and tacky without much space for class and craftsmanship. Hopefully, with this short guide, I’ve convinced you that top-quality cocktails abound in this desert city and that it is well worth checking out!


Click for Susie’s Las Vegas Travel Guide

A Four Seasons Las Colinas Staycation

Sometimes a girl just needs to get away. But with all the (shudder) responsibilities, it’s nice that you don’t have to go  TOO far. For me, the perfect answer to scratch the staycation itch last week was a one-night villa stay at the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas. The drive from my Oak Cliff apartment to the resort was less than twenty minutes, but it felt like a world away. A world where I could just sit back in my plush terry robe and let the relaxation wash over me while I starfish the coziest, most comfortable king size bed.

 

Now, I had more reason to want a luxe getaway than just my own Calgon Take Me Away moment. It was also my boyfriend’s birthday weekend, so I wanted to make it special for him. Jackie, Samantha, and the room reservations team were so amazing and helpful with making sure our villa room was decorated and even had a birthday dessert surprise for him when we arrived.

The villa room we stayed in is separate from the main building, so once we unpacked and got situated, I used the Four Seasons app (more on this marvel later) to request golf-cart service to transport us back to the lobby so we could go to OUTLAW Taproom for a late lunch. Our driver was ready for us by the time we walked to the front courtyard. The drive was short and gave us a nice tour of the golf course and the main pool.

Lunch at OUTLAW was quick with friendly service. We were famished so we both ordered burgers to satisfy our hunger and then moved outside to enjoy drinks on the covered patio overlooking the resort pool.

After our lunch and cocktails, we returned to our room, and no shame, we got in bed and started watching “Fixer Upper” on TV. Before we knew it, it was four hours later and we hadn’t moved an inch, but it felt so good to relax in the room! So instead of heading back out to LAW, the steakhouse on property, we opted for room service. Using the Four Seasons app again, we ordered our hearts out like it was UberEATS, and within an hour, two attendants rolled in our feast on a mobile table.

I didn’t remember to take a photo of the room service table because we attacked it so quickly, but rest assured, it was delicious and very fulfilling! We ordered a tequila-poached shrimp cocktail appetizer, salmon, chicken, AND steak entrees (good grief!), as well as a New York cheesecake dessert that had a sweet happy birthday message scrawled around the plate.

That meal effectively put me to bed, and the next morning I enjoyed a nice cup of Nespresso coffee on the balcony … still in my robe of course.

Also, I mentioned the Four Seasons smartphone app earlier and said I’d say more about it: The app’s interface was so convenient to use, I have to make a point to sing its praises. I used it to check in a day early, and because of that, my room was prioritized on my day of check-in, and I was alerted that it was ready for me before noon, when standard check-in time is 3PM! I also used the app’s chat feature to request the birthday welcome amenity and every time I needed transportation from room to lobby (and vice versa). When it was time to check out, I used the app as well, and my folio was promptly ready for me to review. Everything was so easy to use, and I always received a prompt response. The app gets fives stars from me!

We didn’t rush to leave since we had a late check-out time and had the room until 3PM. So after a shower in the roomy marble bathroom, we made our way to LAW for its decadent mimosa brunch. One word: SEAFOOD. I’m talking shrimp, oysters, crab claws, mussels, ahi poke, smoked salmon, THE WORKS. For $59/person (which includes two mimosas), the price is so worth it on the seafood alone! But for those who aren’t as crazy about seafood as I am, there’s bountiful other options which include omelet and carving stations, pastas, salads, breakfast staples, pastries, sushi, and an entire room dedicated solely to sweets (which includes a station making fresh donuts).

Somehow, we didn’t eat ourselves into food comas at brunch and actually made it back home. It was a perfectly relaxing and quick getaway. I really felt like I was out of town for the weekend and came back rejuvenated. Thanks to the Four Seasons for providing a wonderful weekend experience! I’ll find another excuse to stay there again one day.


Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
4150 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75038
(972)717-0700
Four Seasons Dallas

OUTLAW Taproom
Off the Main Lobby
Mon-Fri: 3PM-1AM
Sat-Sun: 12PM-1AM
OUTLAW Taproom

LAW Restaurant
Sunday Brunch: 11AM-2PM, $59/adult, $24/child
Check website for complete service hours information.
LAW Restaurant

Driving, Not Drinking: Toyota Prius Prime Plus

I’ve gotten three speeding tickets in my life—one on the way to get my braces off (I mean, can you blame me?), one in a company car, and my most recently in a Prius. That’s right … I got a freaking speeding ticket in a Prius. Whoever thinks these babies don’t have any get up and go, is wrong.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to drive a Toyota Prius Prime Plus for 10 days, and it’s the second time I haven’t wanted to give the car back after a media loan. It was much more exciting than expected. (Yes, I had a little bias against the Prius before experiencing one myself.) The car had a luxe feel without sacrificing the looks. I mean … the non-hatchback version is so much nicer.

 

The plug-in hybrid vehicle had the usual trappings of the 90s hipster-before-we-knew-what-they-were favorite, especially the incredible fuel efficiency. Not only did I not have to fuel up the entire time it was in my possession, but I had a bit of fuel left when they collected it!

The interior was delightfully roomy, and the seats were comfortable (enough so to enjoy the short road trip I took it on) and cradled my body nicely. The standard 11.6″ media and navigation display was so big that I felt, at times, like I was driving a spaceship. However, it was incredibly nice to have such a large map to keep me on track and the display was very intuitive and user-friendly.

Beyond being a lovely car, it handled like a dream … if your dream is a seriously responsive, nimble car with some nice pickup. I felt in control every second driving it. As previously mentioned, the TPP wasn’t slow, though it took a bit of time to accelerate.

For the price tag, it seems a bit of steal for this luxe hybrid. So, if anyone wants to gift me one of these babies, I’m all in.


TOYOTA PRIUS PRIME PLUS
Starting at $27,100
Seating capacity: 4
Range: 25 mi battery-only
Horsepower: 121 hp

***All pictures taken by Aaron Hendrickson***

Susie Drinks Other Places

Where I go … and what I drink while I’m there …
#wanderingboozehound

More #WanderingBoozehound posts …


HAWAII
Kauai
Maui

CHICAGO, Illinois

LOUISIANA
Lake Charles
New Orleans

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico

LAS VEGAS, Nevada

NAPA VALLEY, California

NEW YORK, New York

CHARLESTON, South Carolina

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania

TEXAS
Austin
Fredericksburg
Granbury
Houston
San Antonio

COMING SOON

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Denver, Colorado
Savannah, Georgia
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Scala’s Bistro at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake

San Francisco is a land of plenty—and especially plenty of dining choices. While staying at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake during my last visit, I ventured down to their lobby restaurant, Scala’s Bistro. I’ve found that Kimpton Hotels have excellent restaurants, and this was no exception.

The rustic Italian eatery masquerading as a French cafe-style bar gives diners the chance to take a trip away from the streets of San Francisco and off to the Mediterranean, if just for an hour. (Our meal lasted a good deal longer thanks to the many rounds of cocktails and one three rounds of pasta. We couldn’t have been more excited for each and every course to hit the table.

The food was all as fresh as it could be from the seafood pasta to the burrata. They offer traditional and inventive pasta options along with wood-fired pizzas and a ribeye that looked so good I nearly nicked it from the next table when it was delivered.

While I usually have an extra sidecar as dessert, we were convinced to order from their post menu. And we were damn glad we did.  Their desserts are all handmade in-house by Chef Kimberly and her team. They offer a truffle assortment that’s not only decadent and delicious, but they’re also hand painted and are interesting flavors to represent the different neighborhoods of SF. Think the Castro (white chocolate Negroni), the Mission (pasilla and arbol chiles) or the Haight-Ashbury (““Honest‎ officer, its smoked oregano!”). The chocolates were really a unique end to the meal.

I was also floored by the staff; every person was as helpful as they could have been. Service was prompt and everything hit the table quickly. And, seeing as the restaurant was at capacity, we were doubly impressed by the expedience of the dishes.

Big thanks to my buddies, @thesamgraves, @craftandcocktails, and Ashley’s lovely husband out in San Francisco for joining me for this meal! What a delight!


SCALA’S BISTRO
scalasbistro.com
432 Powell St, San Francisco
(415) 395-8555

Thanks to the Kimpton for showing me a lovely time at this meal!
Header image courtesy of Scala’s Bistro

Kimpton Sir Francis Drake (San Francisco)

In San Francisco, you have no shortage of offerings—from ridiculously amazing seafood restaurants (thank you, California) to hiking spots and historic monuments … all of which will astound you—or at least the price tag will. That’s why it’s important to get as much from every aspect of your visit as you can. I chose, on my last trip, to stay at a historic hotel, the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake, so that my entire visit was meaningful … and had some nice perks.

The building, originally opened in 1928, is gorgeous with opulent high ceilings and gilded touches, and thanks to renovations that kept the original charm of the 1928 hotel, it integrity of the historic building was kept intact. During WWII, some rooms were even used to house military on the way to the front. The building also houses a historic venue. The venue offers a beautiful space for large events with a grand staircase as an accent.

The Union Square hotel offers more than history and a great location; since it’s a Kimpton hotel, you know it’ll be a luxe experience. (And I absolutely love Kimpton Hotels … like too much.) They kept the hotel’s original opulence and added to it with modern touches and furniture. They also kept the unique touch of their greeters dressed as beefeaters; they couldn’t be more courteous and make your arrival less stressful.

Image courtesy of Lonely Planet

All Kimpton Hotels come with great amenities and perks—free local wine in the lobby at 5-6pm daily, a great restaurant attached, and IGH Rewards (formerly Karma Rewards) offer free WiFi and dining credits. (Sign up … it’s free!) Kimpton Hotels also ensure their rooms are comfortable, and they have some of the most comfortable beds you’ll find during your travels.

There’s plenty of to while you’re at the SFD; visit Scala for a delicious rustic Italian meal, grab a drink at Bar Drake, or venture up to the Starlight Room for live music, cocktails, and a great 21st-floor view. Bar Drake is their over-the-top lobby bar with plenty of seating and a well thought-out cocktail menu. You’ll find plenty of fellow guests and locals at the bar after hours.

Looking for some slightly off-beat entertainment while you’re there? Join the SFD in the Starlight Room on Sundays for their famed Drag Brunch.  At $77 a seat (includes tax + tip), you get great entertainment and a wonderful meal.

When visiting the Bay Area, remember the Sir Francis Drake for a unique lodging experience. Just don’t forget to spend your free dining credit and enjoy your free booze in the lobby!


KIMPTON SIR FRANCIS DRAKE – SAN FRANCISCO
sirfrancisdrake.com
Facebook: /SirFrancisDrake
Instagram: @sirfrancisdrakesf
450 Powell Street, San Francisco, California
Reservations: 800.795.7129 | Hotel: 415.392.7755

Amenities: pet-friendly, robes,yoga mats in every room, on-site restaurant and two bars, private dining, large event venue, meeting spaces, concierge, laundry service, daily newspapers, fitness center, free bicycle rentals,

 

A Warm Texas Welcome for Austin’s Original Craft Brewery

If there’s one thing Austinites love, it’s originality. (Ok, originality and music … and tacos … and Willie Nelson.) When famed Belgian brewer Pierre Celis opened the doors to Celis Brewery in 1992, it was Austin’s very first craft brewery, an establishment at the forefront of what’s now a thriving industry ’round these parts.

The brewery gained national and international notoriety with its Celis White, a Belgian witbier that Pierre Celis championed in his hometown of Hoegaarden, Belgium. The beer’s popularity led to the rapid growth of the brewery, which was subsequently sold to the Miller Brewing Company. In 2001, the brewery closed its doors. (Sad face.)

Line at July’s Celis Brewery Grand Opening

On Tuesday, July 11th—exactly 25 years to the day of the original brewery’s grand opening—droves of eager beer lovers gathered to welcome back one of Austin’s originals with a celebration featuring live music, brewery tours, and a special Celis-infused menu by Frank. The sweltering summer day was a perfect backdrop for the formal introduction of Celis’ first three Texas brews:

Celis White: first brewed by Pierre Celis in 1965, the signature witbier is made with the original Celis recipe including Cascade, Saaz and Willamette hops, coriander and orange peel, as well as the proprietary yeast strain from Belgium. Its slightly tart fruit flavors are balanced with light maltiness and wheat, and the citrus and spice finish delivers a refreshing taste that pairs perfectly with a summer afternoon in Texas.

Celis Pale Bock: this Belgian Pale Bock is brewed with caramel malts and Saaz, Willamette and Cascade hops, giving it a deep copper color and a creamy Belgian-white head. The Pale Bock has dry berry with caramel-malt and citrus aromas, and delicious flavors of subdued berry, malt, a touch of citrus, hints of herbs and spices, and a touch of bitterness at the finish. 

Celis Citrus Grandis IPA: Celis Brewery’s first new recipe is an East Coast style IPA made with the finest Azacca and Citra hops. This zesty Caribbean-inspired brew mixes juicy citrus and tropical fruit aromatics in its hazy golden depths. The IPA pours hazy pale orange with frothy, paper-white head. The effortlessly drinkable beer has bold flavors of grapefruit, orange rind and melons followed by light peach, passionfruit and pineapple notes. It finishes with lingering piney, hop bitterness that begs for a second sip.

You can look forward to more releases in fall 2017, including Celis Grand Cru!

Christine Celis and Daytona Camps 2017

Christine Celis, Pierre’s daughter and partner in the original brewery, has rebuilt the legendary establishment, which features some of the original equipment from Belgium and a taproom with its majestic centerpiece, the original Celis Brewery’s massive hand-beaten copper kettle from the early 1900s which has been converted into a beautiful bar. The 22,000-square-foot brewery in northwest Austin has the capacity to brew more than 50,000 barrels per year, with a technologically advanced 50 HL BrauKon brew system modified specifically to use old Belgian brewing techniques.

Celis Pale Bock 2017

Now available on tap at more than 100 bars and restaurants in central Texas, availability will expand to Dallas Fort Worth in July, and San Antonio and Hill Country in August. Celis beers will be available in bottles in retail locations in August 2017.

Swing by the brewery now for some refreshing drinks at their stunning new bar. I know I’ll be returning very soon!


CELIS BREWERY
celisbeers.com
FacebookInstagramTwitter
10001 Metric Blvd. Austin, Texas 78758

Taproom Hours
Monday: closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 3pm–10pm
Friday-Sunday: 12pm–10pm

Celis Brewery, founded by Christine Celis in Austin, Texas, brews Belgian-style ales and other beers, including the original witbier that Pierre Celis brewed in Hoegaarden, Belgium. The brewery is an extension of the Celis family legacy and builds on the award-winning craft beer heritage for which the family is known.

Cover picture courtesy of Celis Brewing Company