Category Archives: The Wandering Boozehound

Seaworthy at the Ace Hotel (New Orleans)

I am always saddened by peoples’ dismissal of New Orleans as a party town … I mean, it totally is, but there’s a lot more to it than the partiers who are laissez les bons temps rouler-ing.  I was delighted to get out of the French Quarter bubble on my last trip to visit the new Ace Hotel in the CBD (Central Business District) and dine at Seaworthy, the slightly “hidden” seafood restaurant marked by the eerie glow of a green neon sign.

The space is old school New Orleans, a little hipster and a little southern with elegant touches of brass here and … well, everywhere.  You can choose to sit at the bar by the entrance that is both for booze and oysters–both of which were fresher than expected in many ways–at a table in the dimly lit dining room, or on the patio.   Their patio is just about the closest thing as I’ve found to heaven in New Orleans (without being a tiki bar) thanks to the preservation of the building itself, the minimal (yet unmistakable) nautical decor, and the globe lights adorning every inch of the place.

The drink program here is very well done with bar director Lauren Schell at the helm.  (See what I did there?)  The cocktail list was a mix of classics (think Fishhouse Punch and Sidecars) and more “au courant” options like the Holywater (spiced rum, cognac, Green Chartreuse, almond syrup, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and angostura bitters) and the Good Ships/Wood Ships (the Tales of the Cocktail Daiquiri Seasonal Feature with El Dorado 5yr rum, Genepy des Alpes, pamplemousse liqueur, and lime).  The wine and beer list are respectable with very limited but well selected options in both categories.  (Really … there are only 11 by the glass options for wine making it a snap to choose which to order.)

As the name implies, the food menu is decidedly seafood-slanted.  The oysters on the bar beg to be slurped as much as the drinks, so who were we to deny them the joy of being dinner?  (Just ask for extra crackers if you’re into carb-loading your oysters.)  Also not to be missed is their ceviche (Gulf fish, lime, brunoise of habañero chilies, sweet peppers, herbs) served with unexpectedly delicious grit crisps.  The Gulf fish was surprisingly delicious and tender … and we may have ordered a second bowl of it.

Overall, the restaurant is worth a visit, if not for dinner for at least a happy hour with a couple (five) cocktails and a found of their fresh-as-they-get oysters.


SEAWORTHY at the Ace Hotel

seaworthynola.com
630 Carondelet Street (Central Business District), New Orleans
(504) 930-3071

(Rum) Running Around Louisiana: Part 1, Lake Charles

I can tell you now that the moral of this story is that there’s more to Louisiana than New Orleans … like way more.  So the next time you want to “laissez les bons temps rouler”, think outside (but don’t forget about) The Big Easy.  

I recently enjoyed a visit to Lake Charles, the home of “The Spirit of Louisiana”, Bayou Rum, and then continued on to New Orleans.  Throughout the week, we were treated to some really incredible, unique experiences courtesy of Bayou Rum and the Lake Charles and New Orleans CVBs.


LAKE CHARLES

After flying in, I settled into my digs at The Golden Nugget, a two-year old resort hotel and casino (read: still new and shiny) that is currently expanding, and gave the room a thrice-over.  The rooms were surprisingly lovely … and huge … and all had balconies.  Mine overlooked the giant Vegas-style pool complete with lazy river and cabanas, and the whole scene made me really angry for forgetting my swimsuit.  (Luckily, there’s a shop that sold suits in the lobby.  Worth it.)  Rooms in the other tower overlook the river, complete with a private beach and dock for visitors’ boats.  (Swanky.)

The resort offered quite a few restaurants–Vic & Anthony’s, Grotto, Landry’s Seafood House, and more–including one at the country club that features an 18-hole course designed by Todd Eckenrode.  The restaurant at the club offered steaks, seafood, etc. with a slight Cajun influence.

The Golden Nugget Lake Charles, 2550 Golden Nugget Boulevard (Lake Charles), goldennugget.com/lakecharles

Lake Charles’s Downtown area has quite a bit to offer–horse-drawn carriage tours complete with ghost stories, baby alligators, and some serious dining.  The abridged “ghost tour” we went on was led by a jovial man who told a good tale–mostly about a woman who still haunts their courthouse.

We dined at Restaurant Calla, run by Chef David Sorrells (formerly of The French Laundry), and the food and wine lists were an absolute delight.  The restaurant sources its ingredients from local farms and ranches making the food fresh and delicious.  The Blue Crab Beignets, Bone Marrow, Broken Arrow Venison, and Brussels Sprouts are not to be missed.  (I wish I’d had the chance to try some of their tiki cocktail options … a return trip is obviously necessary.)

Restaurant Calla, 1400 Market Street (Lake Charles), restaurantcalla.com

A short ride outside of Lake Charles, you can visit the Bayou Rum distillery in Jeff Davis Parish.  Our tasting was led by the Master Distiller, Jeff Murphy, and Master Blender, Reiniel Vicente, and we tasted all of their expressions–select, silver, spiced, and their citrus liqueur, Satsuma.  All are unique, and the select has found its way onto my bar cart permanently.

After tasting the rums, we were treated to a tour of the distillery, rack room, and the bottling line.  Noteably, the distillery is the largest privately-owned rum distillery in the US using distilling process that are a blend of traditional and new methods using cutting edge distilling technology.  And the rum is made with sugar cane grown right in Louisiana.

Oh, and we got to hold a baby alligator named Gumbeaux before our tasting and tour.  How badass is that?

At lunch we were treated to some traditional Louisiana fare along with all the Bayou Rum we wanted, then were herded onto a bus and handed a Gator Bite–a hurricaneish cocktail using three of their four expressions.  It was lethal, but delicious.  Find other delish cocktail recipes on their website.

Gator Bite
1oz Bayou Silver Rum
1oz Bayou Satsuma
1oz Bayou Spiced Rum
1oz orange juice
2oz pineapple juice
1oz cranberry juice
Juice of 2 lime wedges

Bayou Rum, 20909 Frontage Road (Lacassine), bayourum.com

To get a real feel for the area, we were treated to a nature tour by Grosse Savanne Waterfowl & Wildlife Lodge.  We went on an abridged tour, but were able to see an alligator (or three) and plenty of other wildlife.  The tour guides were knowledgeable about the area and … dare I say … ours was pretty damn cute.  (I’m sure that note’s not for everyone.)  The lodge apparently offers general “swamp” tours, hunting tours, birdwatching tours, and more along with lodging at their newly rebuilt lodge.

bayou

Grosse Savanne Waterfowl & Wildlife Lodge, 1730 Big Pasture Road (Lacassine), grossesavanne.com

I think the coolest little gem in Lake Charles is the Mardi Gras Museum.  Housed in an old elementary school, it has the Mardi Gras kings’ and queens’ costumes from the last 40 years or so along with neat facts about the celebration itself.  (We even got to try on a few of the lavishly ornate hats … we were fancy AF.)  Bonus: there were King Cakes waiting for us after our tour and, unbeknownst to me until that point, boudin king cake exists.  There is a God … and I think he’s Cajun.

Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, 809 Kirby St # 229 (Lake Charles), visitlakecharles.org/things-to-do/history/mardi-gras-museum

After two fantastic days in Lake Charles, we were swept away to New Orleans for more unique experiences.  Stay tuned for my recap of the shenanigans we got into in The Big Easy.  Big thanks to the Lake Charles CVB and Bayou Rum for all of the fun!

Some of my Favorites …

Dallas is a great city.  With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the US, it’d be impossible for me to put together a full list of my favorite spots to eat and drink (because I eat and drink a LOT), but I’ve pulled together SOME of my favorite restaurants and a couple other spots I enjoy for visitors to our fair city.  I’ll add to it in the future … but it’s a good place to start!

EAT & DRINK

TRINITY HALL
An Irish pub fashioned after a pub in Dublin, Trinity Hall offers a wide selection of whiskeys, food for any special diet needs, live music, and too many events to begin to list.  Go for a refreshing Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Moscow Mule on a warm evening on their patio … it doesn’t get too much better than that.   (If you want to try Crabbie’s for yourself, check it out at a tasting or event next week during Crabbie’s Week! They’re doing fun activations all over Dallas.)
5321 E Mockingbird Ln #250 (Mockingbird Station), trinityhall.tv

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E BAR TEX MEX
If you were a fan of Primo’s back in the day (like eight years ago), then this is your spot; the owners and chefs from Primo’s moved here when the new owners took over.  It’s by far my favorite Tex-Mex in Dallas–though I’m not sure if it’s the food or the nostalgia.
1901 North Haskell Ave Suite #120, ebartexmex.com

PARLIAMENT
This craft cocktail spot is one of my favorite places in all of Dallas.  The bartenders know what they’re doing, so trust them and don’t be a dick.  Visit on a week night to get the full effect or during happy hour (which is surely one of the best values in Dallas) or while it’s raining.  (They offer their hh prices anytime it rains!)
2418 Allen St (Uptown), parliamentdallas.com

POKEY O’S COOKIES AND ICE CREAM
Guys … you’ve got delicious cookies and Blue Bell Ice Cream and they make them into a sandwich.  It doesn’t get much better than that.
3034 Mockingbird Lane, pokeyos.com
(Full disclosure … my parents own this place.  But try it out and tell me it’s not delicious enough to be on this list.)

SHOP

SOCIETY BY JACKSON VAUGHN
This little candle and knick-knack shop is impossible to leave empty-handed.  They have clever Dallas-centric cards
403 N Bishop Ave (Bishop Arts District), shopatsociety.com

Courtesy of Society
Courtesy of Society

WEST ELM
This minimalist home goods and furniture store may be a chain, but they always have the coolest haute barware and even some unique goodies like bitters and syrups to try out.  Don’t miss their section featuring goods from local makers or the wine candles.
5307 E Mockingbird Ln #100 (Mockingbird Station), westelm.com

GYPSY WAGON
Ladies can get a little hippy dippy here with a fun selection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories and fun home items.
2928 N Henderson Ave (Henderson Ave), the-gypsy-wagon.com

BULLZERK
The goods and duds from this local shop are fresh and delightfully subversive.  Because, really, “Dallas: it’s what everyone in Dallas is talking about.”
1909 Greenville Ave (Lowest Greenville), bullzerk.com

GET OUT

With all the drinking I do in dark bars, sometimes I need to spend time in the sunlight.

CEDAR RIDGE PRESERVE
This is about as good as “hiking” in Dallas gets without making a day of it.  Enjoy plenty of trails and some decent views, just make sure to take plenty of water.
7171 Mountain Creek Pkwy (Cedar Hill), audubondallas.org/cedar-ridge-preserve

KLYDE WARREN PARK
The park perched on top of a highway offers daily, free activities, and plenty of green space.  Check out the food trucks that are different every day and Savor for a cocktail.
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Suite 403 (Downtown), klydewarrenpark.org

DALLAS ARBORETUM
I love outdoor activities, and outdoor events that you can take your own goodies to are even better.  That’s why the concerts at the Arboretum are a can’t-miss for me.  Take a picnic (complete with booze) and enjoy the themed music, or simply visit to enjoy the grounds.
8525 Garland Road (Lakewood), dallasarboretum.org

arbor


***I am a paid endorser for Halewood International Limited and received compensation, including free product, for support of Halewood International Limited and its products.***

Hilton Anatole Staycation

Sometimes you need to just not be home.  (Come on … you can’t tell me you’ve never wanted to tell your friends you’re out of town, turn off your phone, and just disappear.  Ok, I’ve never actually done it, but I’ve thought about it.  Like … hard.)  I had one of those feelings recently, so it was perfect that I was invited to spend a weekend at the Hilton Anatole right here in Dallas’s Design District.

I packed up the car Friday before work and scooted over there from the office after dropping off the pup with Grandma.*  The valets were the perfect welcoming committee and helped me unload my box of birthday gifts without complaint.  (I had a really busy week after my big birthday party, so I thought taking my gifts on my staycation to enjoy opening them slowly would be a blast.)  I was welcomed with goodies, a lovely room, and a great view of Downtown.

The hotel itself is huge, consisting of at least four main buildings that sit on 45 acres in the heart of Dallas.  The complex offers 1,600+ rooms, multiple dining and drinking options, event spaces, a full fitness facility, spa, a VIP lounge offering snack and beverages for select guests, and 1,000+ art pieces thanks to the owners, the Crow family.

One of the restaurant options the Anatole offers is SĒR on the 27th floor.  This is one button I enjoyed pushing entirely too much.  But I pushed it … and I pushed it good.  My friend Tiffany joined me for dinner and we were absolutely blown away by each and every one of the courses presented by Executive Chef Kevin Spencer and the drinks by Colin Silva.

IMGP7922

SĒR offers reimagined versions of some basic options like their Steak Tar Tar that closely resembles a deviled egg, but brings so much more to the table.  The Caesar Salad was such a stand-out that made me visit SĒR again Saturday night for another plate of it.  The culinary and bar teams on the 27th at the Anatole are all top notch and you can expect innovative food and drink options to keep your taste buds disoriented yet delighted.   Check out my whole review of SĒR.

The weekend was incredibly relaxing, yet somehow I kept myself busy the entire time.  I kept my evening plans with friends, but spent the days relaxing in the fitness center, sauna, the VIP Lounge, and walking the grounds.

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As they always do, the Sunday scaries crept in while I was packing to leaves, so to spoil myself a bit more I ordered some room service.  (Because who doesn’t love waffles that you don’t have to make?)  The bacon was perfectly crispy and the coffee was exquisitely brewed.  (If you want snacks or specialty coffee options, they have a coffee bar in the lobby offering little goodies.)

The coolest part of this staycation is that I got a little preview of Jadewater, the $22M pool complex that opened this past Friday, July 22.  This isn’t your run of the mill pool complex.  Expect two water slides, a large children’s play area, a 23 seat swim-up bar (YESSS), new art pieces, private cabanas and daybeds, and, the kicker, a 630ft lazy river.  The pool will be for hotel guests only, but the cool thing is that you can get a couple rooms for the night and have full access for less than a night at Great Wolf Lodge.  That’ll get you howling.

HILTON ANATOLE
www.hilton.com/Dallas
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2201 North Stemmons Freeway (Design District)
(214) 748-1200

*Unfortunately, they aren’t dog friendly … yet.  They do, of course, allow service animals.

Haute Doggery (Las Vegas)

Las Vegas usually means overindulgence, high price tags, and glut.  Sometimes you just need a relaxing meal out of the hustle of The Strip–enter: The Haute Dogger.  This simple and clean quick-serve restaurant on the LINQ Promenade offers a respite from the action and some seriously delicious hot dogs and goodies … and air conditioning, which can come in handy in this 112º desert heat.

While it’s a chance to have something basic in the midst of the overdone, they don’t shy away from the more haute options.  They offer dogs ranging from the basic Undressed Dog all the way to their Billionaire Dog, complete with foie gras serve atop a Kobe beef frank and topped with truffle mayo.  Yeah … that happened in my mouth on my last visit.  Other standouts (though you can’t go wrong here) are The Rising Sun (Kobe beef frank, crispy yam strings, nori furikakte, and tempura avocado) and The Fug-Ghi (char grilled Frank, mushrooms, caramelized onion, gruyere cheese, and truffle mayo).  I’ll just say of what I tried that I was upset that I ate dinner the night before and wasn’t able to eat more than one.  Not kidding.

Perhaps my inability to eat more than one hot dog was also attributed to their classic “Old Vegas Special”, shrimp cocktail that they pedal for just $1 (not kidding), or their delicious crinkle cut fries (with the option to add chili … omg) and poutine side options.  The poutine was surprisingly delicious thanks to the fresh cheese curds and savory brown gravy.

poutine_haute doggery

Lest you think they are all dogs and fries … no, no, no … they also offer burger.  And, my friends, these burgers aren’t your run-of-the-mill bun and patty situation.  Imagine the basic alongside options like the Southern Smokehouse, or “The Perfect Burger” (their quote, not mine) with gruyere cheese, bacon, lettuce, roast tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup, and just a dab of marmalade.

burger_haute doggery

I know about a few things … a bit about cocktails, just a tinge about social media things (ahem … my day job), and enough about Vegas to be able to do it well.  That said, trust me on this one.  Spend some time off The Strip on the LINQ Promenade and grab a hot dog, a Sprinkles Cupcake from their ATM, grab a boozy, fresh pressed juice from Squeeze, hitch a ride on the High Roller, and do a bit of shopping.


HAUTE DOGGERY

hautedoggerylv.com
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3545 Las Vegas Blvd L-30, Las Vegas (on the LINQ Promenade)

 

Our team was invited in to experience the Haute Doggery free of charge.  All pictures courtesy of the Haute Doggery.

Camp Our Way

I sit on my couch  covered in aloe vera on my sunburnt bits and hydrocortisone cream on my mosquito bitten bits, the faint whir of my dryer working on the second of three loads of bonfire-scented laundry waiting for Uber Eats to arrive with a juicy bacon cheeseburger reflecting on the incredible weekend I just experienced with Camp Our Way.  The idea of returning to summer camp as an adult made me equally excited and trepidatious–outdoor activities, s’mores, new friends, bonfires, and other fun, but with booze and a touch of freedom.  Yes, it’d be a blast … but would 15 years of aging since my last camp experience prove to be a damper on the camp highs that I previously experienced?  I was a great camper back in the day–I had the towels with my name embroidered, wrote the ‘rents postcards, played the part of “Susie Camper”, and always seemed to find a camp romance.  Well … it turns out that not much has changed.

Camp Our Way held its first public adult summer camp this past weekend just outside of Austin.  Tiffany, one of my contributors, and I headed down south (in a tricked out, lifted Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro … a beauty of a tank if I’ve ever seen one), taking our time and making an experiencing of the 35 road trip–Czech Stop, Pokey O’s Waco, Coffee Bean, the whole nine.

CAMP OUR WAY_13233071_10101183532658049_6024616615100713001_n

Campers are invited to drive on their own (and surrender their keys upon arrival) or hop on the camp bus from their originating city.  Since we were traveling from Dallas and not San Antonio or Austin, we got to camp a bit late; and let’s just say that the party bus must have been an actual party.  We arrived and were already behind, but we did our best to catch up.

COW is working finding just the right camp to host–enough freedom to let the adults do their thing, but enough structure to make the camp experience fully immersive.  You could say that they’re doing a damn good impression of Goldilocks right now.

The venue for this past session was Camp Young Judea, a Jewish (children’s) camp complete with a kosher cafeteria and brightly colored Semitic murals adorning the cabins and set on a quiet river.  (Oh, and the cafeteria is kosher so we had to observe certain rules; only kosher items were allowed in the cafeteria, so we quickly learned that Lone Star Beer is kosher.  Boom.  And hence the bacon cheeseburger upon my return to Dallas.)  We found the lodging itself to be perfect–the cabins were clean, bug-free, and allowed for enough privacy for everyone to be comfortable.  We unpacked, made our beds, and then headed to the party.  The awkward “hey, where are you from, why are you here?” conversation started slowly and was egged on with drinks poured by the badass head counselor, Justin.

Each day campers were invited to take advantage of various activities–a high ropes course, zip lines, a giant swing, archery, etc.  The beauty of this concept, though, is the freedom to do them only if you want to.  Don’t want to break a sweat playing dodgeball?  Sweat it out at the pool while working on your tan.  Too lazy to do yoga?  Do corpse pose in a hammock for a couple hours.  Just don’t feel like being an adult?  Head to the river and slide down the giant water chute.  Just want to hang out?  Stop by the treehouse with a beer or three. (Each camp will offer different activities, and the Dallas camp promises a lake, complete with a blob!)

So yeah … activities are fun, but doing them with a beer in-hand kind of makes them more fun.  The entire weekend we had access to adult beverages.  One of the “activities” was the chance to do a wine tasting with Flat Creek Estate, learn how to make Justin’s killer margaritas, and enjoy some hand-dipped root beer floats with Not Your Father’s (boozy) Root Beer.

Like I said … I’m knackered from all the fun (my memory foam bed was truly worth every penny I paid for it when I starfished on it last night), but it was a pretty fantastic weekend and I’m already missing the fun, people, and activities … and having a bit of trouble adulting.

That said … COW will be hosting other camps throughout the summer, including one for Dallas residents on Lake Trinity.  I’ll be there–either as a counselor (if they’ll have me) or a camper–so come party with me at camp!

SAVE 10% ON THE DALLAS CAMP WITH CODE SUSIEDRINKS


CAMP OUR WAY

campourway.com
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San Antonio Cocktail Conference 2016

One should ever stop improving his craft … or drinking.  For that reason, a very special group of people come together each January to talk booze, learn about industry trends, raise money for a worthy cause, and celebrate all-things cocktail at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.  Oh … and go to plenty of parties.  (So many parties.)

You can find the basics on my recap of last year’s SACC, but this year was a completely different experience.  First, I was over my fan-girl stage after meeting some of my favorite distillers/authors/bar(wo)men I’ve admired.  Second, I knew a bit more than to attempt to go the whole weekend without Gatorade or heartburn meds and only eating at events.  (You live, you learn.)  I also learned that, if you want to experience this the right way, you jump in head first … and take a running start.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

I got whisk(ey)ed away.  If you read my stuff, you know I’m a fan of Tullamore D.E.W. (a.k.a. Tully*), so I was delighted to be invited to the seminar “Five Cocktails that Changed Irish Whiskey Forever” led by Tully’s U.S. brand ambassador, Tim Herlihy, and badass barman Stephen Halpin.  They waxed poetic about the origins of the drinks, mixed each up so we could try them out, and provided color commentary about whiskey and Irish drinking traditions … and, of course, led us in a few toasts.  The five cocktails here: Irish coffee (invented in an airport in 1942 … really?), the hot toddy, the high ball, the Pickleback, and the Irish Car Bomb.  (Needless to say, I was useless waste of space for the four hours following this seminar.)

I ate all the tacos.  (Not kidding, actually.)  My cohorts and I somehow ended up as stowaways on the annual Tito’s Vodka Taco Bus Tour alongside my spirit animal, David Alan, a.k.a. the Tipsy Texan.  We made a few taco stops, our bus got pulled over (as one does), and we drank vodka … lots of vodka.

I learned some things.  I had the opportunity to see my friend, Kevin of the Cocktail Enthusiast, talk about his time touring Cuba and experiencing their classic cocktails (you know, purely for journalistic reasons).  CZCT7F8UsAAKH-YNew 30th birthday trip plan: create my Cuba travel guide!  Other nuggets of knowledge picked up: how to make an authentic hurricane, bright yellow, super fast Camaros are super fun to drive (see my ride to SA on the right … thanks to Chevy!), and don’t wait to book your hotel.

If you’re at all interested in spirits, the history of cocktails, the bar industry and what makes it tick, etc., check out the SACC and attend a seminar or two.  This year they even had a yoga class and a seminar entitled “The Cocktails of Ian Fleming & James Bond”.  Awesome, no?  Since I got in later than I’d hoped, I wasn’t able to attend as many educational seminars as I’d hoped.  (Missed: “The Physiology of the Shake“, “Discovering Sotol“, and a seminar on politics and booze.)

BONUS: most of the seminars provide “hands-on” experiences.  Read: booze.

I drank tequila.  If you know me, this is unique.  I can appreciate a good agave spirit, but when it’s paired with chocolate … I appreciate it more.  Milagro Tequila’s JP De Loera teamed up with local restaurant Lüke to create incredible pairings of anejos and chocolates and talked participants through each–the flavors of each tequila and chocolate and why they work together.

I partied for a good cause.  The SACC is actually put on by Houston Street Charities.  A portion of the proceeds are divided amongst various children’s charities in the San Antonio region and they even host a service day during the SACC!

I explored Alamo City.  I did my best to walk everywhere.  (I believe that’s the best way to get to know a city.)  The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great resource for fun things to do, attractions, maps, hotel discounts, etc..

Stay up on all the SACC news on their website or social channels.  I hope to see you there next year!


SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE

sanantoniococktailconference.com
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2017 dates: January 11-15

*If you follow me on Snapchat … you also know this is my dog‘s name.  🐶

Honorable mention to the brunch setup for the hangover brunch I wasn’t able to eat at on Sunday!

Fredericksburg Weekend Getaway

Looking for a weekend getaway without the hassle of long distance travel? Hop in the car, head down 35, and make a visit to Fredericksburg, Texas for wine tasting rooms, vineyards, breweries, sightseeing, and even a distillery. I’ve rounded up my favorite things from my last visit for anyone planning a getaway to the area affectionately known as Fritztown.

A few quick tips:

  • Fredericksburg is the only city in Texas with an open carry policy … BOOM. Carry around your beer or wine (no liquor) on the street!
  • You can find many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and even ranches in the area for housing.  Some vineyards may even have their own lodging available.
  • Take sunscreen … you’re going to be outside.
  • It’s just more than 4 hours down to the Hill Country from the Dallas area.  (Just head to Austin and take a right!) And you’ll want to have a car to get out to some of the further out vineyards and locations.
  • There’s more to do than eat and drink (though we won’t judge you if that’s all you do). They have plenty of shopping, outdoor activities like hiking and Enchanted Rock State Park, peach picking, and plenty of festivals and events.
  • Do your research before heading that way.  There’s a lot to do and you don’t want to spend your whole trip deciding what to do next!  (VisitFredericksburg.com is a great resource.)

Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten is located on Main Street in downtown Fredericksburg. They have a small tasting room, but even better is there patio with several tables to enjoy the great hill country weather. Six of us stopped by after a late breakfast and enjoyed a few bottles of wine. I personally did a tasting here before switching over to one of the bottles we bought for the table. If you’re looking for a drink to cool you down on a hot summer day, I highly recommend the sangria. (I bought a bottle to bring home with me.)

Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten
pontotocvineyard.com, 512.658.0023

320 West Main Street

Grape Creek has two options in town–a tasting room on Main Street in downtown and they have a vineyard just outside of town on Highway 290. (They have a third location in Georgetown as well.) We stopped by the tasting room one evening in town before heading to dinner and tried a few wines. I liked everything I tried, but settled on a white wine to sip on while we relaxed. Out of all the places I visited, Grape Creek was my favorite; I truly liked every wine I tasted.

Grape Creek Vineyards
grapecreek.com, 830.644.2710

Highway 290, Main Street, Georgetown

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Compass Rose Cellars, located in Hye, is a must-visit. Stop by Compass Rose to enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing on a patio with a picturesque view of the surrounding hills, enjoy a tasting of some great wines with some great food, or grab light lunch from a truly great chef. Compass Rose has it all. We went through a full wine tasting led by the owner, and the chef has some incredible food pairings that really transform the taste of the wines.

Make sure you make an appointment if you plan to do a tasting as they really value customer service and don’t want to do what they call a “drive by tasting”. Compass Rose prefers to spend time with you during the tasting to really elaborate on the wines you’re enjoying. If you want to continue enjoying their hospitality, this little gem also has “casitas” if you want to stay the night.

Compass Rose Cellars
compassrosecellars.com, 830.868.7799

1197 Hye-Albert Road (Hye)

William Chris Vineyard (also in Hye) is another great stop. To use the phrase coined by Compass Rose, this was more of a “drive by tasting”, but the wines were enjoyable and the vineyard had a great outdoor area. The tasting room was a little busy, but if you have an appointment they have a space dedicated for you at the tasting bar. We ordered a cheese plate here and had a glass of wine on the patio while listening to live music they provided outside. They have events and concerts on location regularly, so check out their events calendar to see what’s coming up before visiting.

William Chris Vineyard
williamchriswines.com, 830.998.7654
10352 U.S. Highway 290 (Hye)

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If you are a bourbon drinker, plan a stop to Garrison Brothers. If you have no interest in bourbon or the distillation process, skip this stop. (But then … why would you be reading a blog about drinking?) Their distillery tour is very informative and you get to see the entire process from grains to bottling. The tour does take a nice bit of time. During the tour they hand out a taste of the “white dog”, the product straight out of the still before it is aged in oak barrels. They also let you taste the bourbon at the very end of the tour … the final product, that is!  (Reservations are required for Saturday tours.)

Garrison Brothers Distillery
garrisonbros.com, 830.392.0246
1827 Hye Albert Road (Hye)

For the beer-inclined of you, carve out some time to carve your initials into one of the community-style picnic tables in the Fredericksburg Brewing Company tasting room. (Bonus points if you find Susie’s #SusieDrinksFredericksburg tag!) They brew their beers on-site and offer a range of brews, so try them all while enjoying food from their restaurant and see which is your favorite. They have a “Bed & Brew” for you to crash in … in case you’ve had one too many.

Fredericksburg Brewing Company
yourbrewery.com, 830.997.1646
245 E. Main St.

I’m going to give a shout out to the two companies that were involved on booking/driving my fiancé and I around on our tour. We reached out to Fredericksburg Uncorked based on a recommendation from a friend and asked for something relaxed where we weren’t rushed from stop to stop with no real time to sit and relax. We had some great conversation with our driver, Brandon, and it came out that he actually owned a different tour company, Moons Vineyard Voyages. (These companies all have a few they like to work with, and since Fredericksburg Uncorked was booked for the day, we were sent with Brandon.) He was a great driver and resource for us and we enjoyed getting to know him. He was an awesome host and was first class all the way. If you are looking for a tour/driver for your Fredericksburg outing, I highly recommend either of the above companies/contacts. They provided us with the perfect day.