Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fireside Pies

Fireside Pies is a Dallas native pizza joint with five locations in DFW … and it’s growing. (The newest location is opening very soon in Lake Highlands!) Their food is made fresh in-house daily with high quality ingredients to make some really fantastic pies that pizza fanatics crave.

As it should, my meal here started with a stiff, well-balanced cocktail. My go-to cocktail at Fireside Pies is their traditional old fashioned. They make it with Old Forrester Signature Bourbon, Maraska Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, and bitters.

After our cocktail arrived, we began to peruse the menu. We had a large meal coming, but we were advised that the perfect starter to prepare for the main event (aka … the pies) was the Caesar salad and their mouthwatering burrata mozzarella crostini. The crostini is a new must-have for me at Fireside Pies. Bread and cheese—name a better combo. Tomato, EVVO, balsamic drizzle and you have yourself a wonderful beginning to an Italian food adventure. This Caesar is next level! And the addition of chicken on the salad is optional but highly recommend as it was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

And then … it was time to enjoy what Fireside Pies does best … the pizza pies. We tried three pizzas—all different and de.lic.ious. When you have a vegetarian at the table, you kind of have to be a nice person and accommodate them. The Garlic and Sage White Pie was hands-down the winner for best pie of the night … and it won the title without a hint of meat! The flavors were deep and complex, the dough was light and crispy, and the toppings were nothing short of perfect. You can taste the pride that Fireside Pies takes in making its authentic food with each and every bite.

🍕 Premium Meat Pie: house-made spicy Italian sausage, crumbled wagyu meatballs, crispy prosciutto, mozzarella, smoke provolone, truffle oil
🍕 North Beach: salami, peperoncinis, smoked provolone, chopped tomatoes
🍕 Garlic & Sage White Pie: ricotta, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, shaved garlic

Find the Fireside Pies location closest to you to enjoy some of the best pizza in DFW made with the freshest ingredients. Make sure and check out their website for the latest news on the newest location opening very soon in Lake Highlands!


FIRESIDE PIES
firesidepies.com
Locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Plano, and Lake Highlands (coming soon)

Local Yocal (McKinney, TX)

The Local Yocal was the perfect addition to downtown McKinney. They originally started as a meat market, which still operates across the street, and recently opened as a full restaurant and bar. To be totally transparent, I’ve been to this establishment when it first opened and it was damn delicious so walking in again, it had a pretty big reputation to live up to, and man did it deliver. So now let’s get to the things we ate and drank on this visit!

Pro-tip: if you haven’t been to their class that the market hosts, Steak 101, I highly recommend it—for yourself OR as a gifts—to as many friends and family as possible … just speaking from experience.

We had the Local Yocal Cask Reserve, Kill Bees Knees, and Flypside off the regular cocktail menu and Hard Start off their secret menu. Be sure to ask for it if you want something a little more adventurous! All of the drinks were exquisite. If you’re dining or just drinking at the bar, get to know your bartender as they can help guide you to something unexpected. The flavors in the cocktails we had were sophisticated, strong, and balanced. Our bartender Matt has really honed his craft and was so knowledgeable about their liquor selection. 

For food we indulged in the BBQ sampler and mac & cheese! Every bite of the BBQ sampler kept me looking forward to the next. It’s hard to pick a favorite … but the brisket was astoundingly delicious with its smoky flavor and perfect crust. The cole slaw it came with was properly seasoned and well dressed with sauce. The mac & cheese was creamy, rich and not to be missed. The noodles were cooked just past al dente, and came smothered, but not overly so, with cheese. I did not mind one bit having these as leftovers the next day!

The dining room was filled with spirited conversation, and the space was given a chic, rustic charm thanks to a bit of mood lighting and comfortable, lush furniture. A very relaxing way to start or end an evening out!

There is always a good reason to come here—everything from special occasion to a random Tuesday night. Their menu is classic with an elevated flare. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it as we head into the holiday season. My next stop will be their brunch for sure!

LOCAL YOCAL
localyocalbbqandgrill.com
350 E Louisiana Street (McKinney)
(469) 225-0800
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Another Round of the SACC Begins This Week

Every January San Antonio gets drunk … drunk with power knowing that most of the cocktail industry flocked to the home of the Alamo to party, learn … and party some more at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference (the SACC). Bartenders, bar owners, and newbies come from the reaches of the south to mingle with brand ambassadors, media, and daywalkers civilians enthusiasts at seminars by day and parties by night (and, in actuality, by day too).

Leading up to the main event, brands offer dinners for the locals or the early arrivals with thoughtful and usually quite opulent pairings. Seminars are offered Thursday-Saturday alongside an absolutely overwhelming tasting room experience. And, every night of the main SACC time, there are incredibly well executed parties and celebrations featuring brands offerings tastes, cocktails, and expertly-paired food … and, if done well, a fun hook to keep people hanging at their bar.

Seminars each year offer anything from light tastings with a side of education to a full-out exploration of terroir in a specific spirit aimed at attendees ranging from industry professionals to novices and aficionados. Expect anything from the history of women in mezcal led by the brilliant Emma Janzen and Graciela Angeles Cerreño, functional bar flair instruction from our friend Phillip Smith, a history of Japanese whiskey, and a history of tiki cocktails to a class about cooking with rum. A fun twist I’m excited about this year is an offering of a daily hour of health courtesy of Ketel One and The Healthtender. If you can rouse yourself to make it to one, your body will, no doubt, thank you.
Side note: I’m delighted to see such a female presence this year in the programming; it’s beautiful to see!

There is truly something for everyone here … so long as he can enjoy a cocktail or sip some whiskey. Seminars are all sold separately … so come for one or a ton!

This year’s signature cocktail is the Call Me, Honey, created by Jordan Corney of the local Bohanans Steakhouse. (He also created Patrón’s Margarita of the Year in 2016.)

Image courtesy of the SACC

Call Me, Honey
2 oz Deep Eddy Original Vodka
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz honey syrup (2:1 honey to boiling water)
1 oz orange juice
Green cardamom pod
Lemon wheel and cinnamon for garnish

Muddle cardamom pod in a shaker tin and add remaining ingredients. Add two cubes of ice and shake. Strain with fine mesh strainer into chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon wheel and dust with cinnamon.

I’ll be attending Friday and Saturday’s festivities, so if you make it to Alamo City, send me a DM! If a trip south isn’t in the cards, you can follow along with this year’s SACC experience on my Instagram stories, or follow the conference hashtag #SACC2019.

SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE
sanantoniococktailconference.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

SACC 2016 Recap
A First-Timer’s Guide to SACC (by Tiffany Tran)
SACC 2015 Recap & 2016 Teaser

Kane Brown serenades Uptown Dallas Thanks to Hilton Honors

Amazing views of the Dallas skyline, a private concert by CMT winning artist, Kane Brown, a potato bar (yeah you read that right), and delicious hand-crafted cocktails. A dream come true, am I right?? Those were just some of highlights of the killer party that Hilton Honors threw at the new Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown.

Let me paint the scene: We walked in and were greeted with a fun photo-opp and trays of specialty cocktails that were so absolutely amazing that you don’t want to put them down. You turn the corner and see even more cocktail bars, a bacon bar, AND a mac and cheese bar! There was a crew creating Hilton Honors merchandise in real-time. There were also photographers snapping Polaroid pictures of guests that will later be turned into magnets at the afterparty. (Mine is below, so cute, right!?)

As we continued through the venue, there were trays of locally-sourced bites being passed in addition to Texan craft brews and cocktails. I was lucky enough to try a chicken wing (or three) wrapped in a waffle and drizzled in maple syrupso so good! In the opposite corner, there is a massive DIY taco bar where you could choose from brisket, chicken or pork and then add any topping you could imagine. 

Our group was invited back to gather around a small stage for a private, intimate concert. Kane Brown came out and treated the audience to an acoustic set of his songs and some other popular country songs by some of his friends.

After Kane Brown serenaded us, we headed up to the after-party at Upside, the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant. There were more cocktails, a wide assortment of desserts, and the coveted view of the Dallas skyline. The weather was being a little tricky so the skyline was playing peek-a-boo in the mist, but it gave the whole atmosphere a somewhat mysterious, exciting vibe! 

A big hats-off to Hilton for being gracious enough to invite our team to this experience that they put on for their Hilton Honors members. The platform allows members to cash-in points for VIP access to sporting events, bucket list-worthy adventures, private concerts (like this one), and even singing lessons with chart-topping artists. I don’t know about you, but after looking at all the things you can cash in your points for—Belgium getaways, Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert Tickets?!—I’m totally ready to become a member!

Sound good to be true? Check out all the things Hilton Honors members are experiencing on Instagram.

And if you haven’t been to the Upside at the Canopy in West Village – it’s an excellent choice for date night, girls’ night or just casual after-work drinks! 

Upside at the Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown
upsidewestvillage.com
canopy3.hilton.com
2950 Cityplace West
Dallas, Texas 75204

Repeal Day 2016

Bowen House | 4-7pm | Special menu from Papas Pilar Rum

The Cedars Social | 9pm-2am | $3.33 prohibition cocktails and $5 beer, wine, and craft cocktails

Fat Daddy’s | 6pm | $5 select classic cocktails

Eastwood’s Bar | 6-10pm | 1/2 priced Old Fashioneds

The Standard Pour | 8pm-2am

Victor Tangos | 5-7pm | $0.83 cocktails

Whiskey Cake Plano | 11am-midnight | $5 classic cocktails, 20s music, photo booth, costume contest where you can win a trip to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail


NYLO Las Colinas | cocktail feature: Blueberry Moonshine Lemonade

So about six years ago, I published a list of happy hours around Dallas for my friends to use … and I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts on local watering holes and general cocktail lifestyle ephemera since.  It has been a (really) fun hobby that occupies some nights and gives me something constructive to do with my free time.  Recently, I was invited to be a Brand Ambassador for TGI Fridays and happily accepted the new challenge.  Last week, the ambassadors were brought to DFW from across the US for our brand immersion.  Other bloggers in attendance write about everything from general “mommy” lifestyle to DIY projects.  Also, I was surprised to learn that, of the eight bloggers, I am the only one who doesn’t blog full-time. (Must be nice!)

We arrived at the NYLO Plano for our overnight and were immediately taken to the Park & Preston Fridays to try some current menu items. (Have you tried the Potato Skins lately? Uhhh yum.)  TGIF is updating its recipes and doing away with preservatives and nasty stuff, so look forward to some cleaner eating when you visit.  The drinks ranged from cotton candy martinis to bourbon cocktails, and there was really something for everyone.  (But mostly everything for me.)

TGI Fridays actually holds a special place in my heart.  When I was very young, my dad worked in NOLA during the weeks and flew home for the weekends.  On Fridays, my mom would take me and my sister to have a cup of Broccoli Cheese Soup, and when we got home, our dad would be waiting.  I had a cup of soup, and while the recipe has been updated a bit (for the better), it took me back.

After our all-too-large meal, we went to see Emerald City at Cool Thursdays at the Arboretum.  (Cool Thursdays just happens to be one of my favorite events in Dallas!)  Everyone else went to bed when we returned from the concert, but, being who I am, decided to haunt the hotel bar for just one drink. (Really, it was just one.)

Day Two of our brand immersion started entirely too early, but I I did my best to be upbeat since I’m not much of a morning person.  We were taken to TGI Fridays corporate headquarters in Carrollton, which, just like the brand, is going through a slight refresh.  We heard all about the new brand inspiration and got a tour of the facility, ended with a visit to Little Fridays, the small test-restaurant in their offices.  (Did you know that Fridays hosted the first official “happy hour” at one of their restaurants in NYC?  Even more reason to love them.)

Our visit to Little Fridays was a blast.  We met the company’s head chefs (and bartenders) who are leading their menu refresh, and they seemed so proud of what they’ve done to update their offerings.  We were given the chance to try many (many) new items that will launch May 14, from their new and improved chicken fingers to steak, and of course, a whole bunch of delicious new drinks.  As previously mentioned, Fridays is ensuring higher quality in all of its products, with less preservatives and more … well deliciousness.  (When the Double Berry Mojito debuts … make sure you try it.  It’s just good.)

Perhaps the highlight of the Little Fridays experience was learning some bottle tricks from Katie Livezey, one of the finalists in Fridays’ World Bartending Championship, held every year since 1987 to find the best Fridays bartender throughout the world.  Katie not only mixed our drinks that day, but was patient and taught me a few beginner tricks.  (I was alright, but do need some serious practice.)

So, stay tuned for updates on new offerings from Fridays over the next year, and feel free to ask any questions about my new association!

Have FUN with Mom on Mother’s Day

Ditch the boring brunch and shake it up with Mom this Mother’s Day!  Here are some ideas for ways to show Mom some fun.

Bowl & Barrel – Grab your bowling shoes and buy Mom a barrel cocktail and a giant soft pretzel.

Mutt’s Canine Cantina – Bring all the bitches (err … dogs) along to enjoy the weather while sipping on a rocks Margarita made with 100% agave tequila and orange liqueur.

LOOK Cinema – Drop in for a movie and a cocktail, followed by dinner at the adjacent Coal Vines (which has a full bar). 

Anvil Pub – Get Mom shitty with Anvil Pub’s monstrous anti-brunch, F**k Brunch.  Choose from a huge mason jar of bloody mary, mimosa, screwdriver, and sangria, paired with a beer and garnishes big enough to count as a meal.

L’Acqua Nail Spa – Make a reservation for a mom/daughter* mani/pedi, which always includes complimentary booze. (Oh … and it’s BYOB and BYO food.)                       *Men are welcome, too … obvi.

Klyde Warren Park – Take a (literal) walk in the park and enjoy the April weather.  Grab a bite at Meso Maya (Downtown has a killer patio) and then finish the meal off with a (read 10) minis from Trailercakes.

Barcadia – Give your mom the chance to beat you at Skiball or Giant Jenga.  Sometimes competition is the best way to bond.

IFLY Indoor Skydiving** – This is a fun (and safe) way to bond with Mom.  See how she handles the 1400 hp vertical wind tunnel!  Grab some BBQ in Frisco at 3 Stacks Smokehouse after … because this …

**Book a flight at dallas.iflyworld.com

To top off the day, stop into TGI Fridays for one of their “mom-friendly” drinks, or go ahead and make them yourself!

Peach Sangria

  • ¾ oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • ¼ oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 2 oz. Seven Daughters Moscato
  • ¼ oz. Honey Simple Syrup
  • ½ oz. Peach Purée
  • 2 oz. Fresh Sour Rocks Mix
  • 2 Peach Slices, thawed
  • 3 Strawberry Slices


Cosmo Noir

  • 2 ½ parts Raspberry Vodka
  • 1 part Lemon Juice
  • 1 part Vanilla Syrup
  • 1 ½ parts Pinot Noir (floated)

TGI Fridays World Bartender Championship

image

Written by Lauryn Bodden

What’s better than tasty drinks, fried cheese, and good music? Watching someone juggle my liquor before I down it.

Taking the flair of bartending to a whole new level, TGI Fridays hosted the World Bartender Championship and it was nothing less than a party. They’ve been hosting this international event since 1987, and each year the competition only gets better. But it’s not just about how high or how many bottles of liquor one can juggle … it takes personality, memorization, and time management, as each finalist must put on a show, while preparing all 5 judges’ drinks within 8 minutes.

Upon arrival, we were ushered to our front-and-center table (NBD), glistening with giant posters of each contestant’s head. Trying to stay unbiased, we gladly raised our glasses to each finalist as they came on. Each one had their own style, which made the event even harder to judge.  My personal favorites included Plano local Katie Livezey, Russel Ward of the U.K, Genrev Paul Bacasno of the Phillipines, and Andy Hool from Canton, Michigan. I’m all about American pride, but who can resist a man who not only gives you alcohol, but does it while speaking with an accent? (I’m only human, after all.)

Katie showed pure personality as she got to know each guest on a personal level. Russel was all about the jokes. Genrey actually Skyped his manager back in the Phillipines while tossing drinks. But Andy Hool had it all from precision, flawless mixology, speed, engaging service, and style, which secured him the crowning title of World’s Greatest Bartender. (And let’s just say, his bartending skills weren’t the only thing that was strong. Read: he makes a serious drink.)

What’s even better is that the House of Blues hosted this shindig. This venue provided the perfect space for staging the mock bar scenes, spectators screaming for their favorite contestant, and everyone fist-pumping with fellow imbibers for the entirety of the 4-hour event. You better believe heads were bobbin’ to the music at an accelerated pace after throwing back a couple of TGI Fridays’ signature cocktails, the BFM (Best Fridays Margarita) and The Blackberry Long Island Tea.

The BFM was smooth combination of Patron Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, lime and lemon juice, agave nectar, and fresh-squeezed lime. Nothing too fancy here, but as a self-proclaimed connoisseur of margaritas, I would say this was a great classic version. The tartness of the BFM was a perfect partner in crime to the Blackberry Long Island Tea, a mixture of Smirnoff Vodka, Bacardi Rum, Bombay Gun, Chambord, Triple Sec, blackberries, lime juice, cane sugar, Sprite, and fresh lemon. You know those annoying people that have to slurp down every last drop of their drinks? Well yeah … that was EVERYONE holding this dangerous cocktail and I was the worst offender. #sorrynotsorry. The fresh-muddled blackberries were a delightful treat and reflected the quality of TGI Friday’s drinks, which could have easily just been subpar when it came to the open bar event. 

As if I didn’t have reason enough to mark next year’s event on my calendar, TGI Fridays donated all proceeds from local, regional, and division bartender competitions to Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity.

If you wanted an excuse to get rowdy, tipsy, and wowed by great talent, then that should pretty much do it. TGI Fridays you did me good. I’ll be back next year and everyone else should be, too!