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Fancy AF Cocktails

Do you ever wish you had the perfect cocktail to match your mood?
Do you sometimes feel classy but sometimes feel trashy?
Are you in search of some fancy AF cocktails?
… well buckle up, because Ariana Madix and Time Sandoval have a treat for you.

The “Vanderpump Rules” stars and couple have been creating cocktails for years at reality TV hit places such as SUR, TomTom, Villa Blanca, and PUMP, and they’ve finally collected their favorite ones to include in their new recipe book: Fancy AF Cocktails. The 80+ cocktails in the book run the gamut from “classy” to “trashy” and feature ingredients like caramel liqueur and wasabi-infused white rum on the class end, and BBQ sauce packets and Taco Bell FIRE sauce on the trashy end.

I took the liberty of selecting two that would be the absolute hit of any holiday party: the Naughty Holiday and the Nice Holiday. (I’ll leave it up to you to decide which category you fall under.) These cocktails are competing cocktails that Ariana and Tom made to help people enjoy the holidays whether throwing an extravagant Christmas party or just “boozing solo”.

NAUGHTY HOLIDAY
1.5oz chocolate liqueur
1.5oz Chili Chocolate Kahlúa
1.5oz vanilla vodka
Chili powder
Garnished with mini candy cane


NICE HOLIDAY
2oz white chocolate liqueur
.5oz crème de menthe
1oz vanilla vodka
Garnished with peppermint chocolate

Whether you’re feeling naughty or nice is really no concern of mine … I’m just here to make sure you get the drinks you need to survive this holiday season. Luckily, Ariana and Tom were kind enough to include some “Recovery Drinks” in their book to help keep you ready for the next night out.

… I would suggest trying the Leggo My Ego.

FANCY AF COCKTAILS: Drink Recipes from a Couple of Professional Drinkers
Written by Ariana Madix & Tom Sandoval with Danny Pellegrino
NOW ON SALE: FancyAFCocktails.com | Amazon.com
#fancyafcocktails

Restaurant Review: CraftWay Kitchen

CraftWay Kitchen is unique in many ways, but most due to the fact that the chef highlights the food by letting it speak for itself. I feel like we now often find long flavor profiles that are well-developed and unique, but sometimes simplicity is just as important, which is the case here.

We tried the crab stuffed mushrooms, flash fried asparagus, candied bacon, French onion soup, filet, ahi tuna, and grilled Verlasso salmon. Delightfully, it was all delicious.

I’m always impressed when a restaurant’s vegetables get the same attention as entrees. The crab stuffed mushrooms had the perfect amount of filling and umami and the asparagus was crisp and fresh even after its visit to the flash frier. Meat is difficult, yes, but when you can make a veggie sing, I’m here for it.

Unsurprisingly, the candied bacon was delicious—gooey, crunchy and packed a little bit of heat. The onion soup was classically prepared, and should be on your list if you want something comforting.

As for the proteins, the chef once again displayed his perfect preparation with exactly the right balance of salt, fat, acid and heat that was given to let the food speak for itself without having to add sauces and such. The filet, again, cooked perfectly, was accompanied by whipped garlic mashed potatoes. The ahi tuna was beautifully simple—and when you get an ingredient like, that you have to focus on quality and thoughtful preparation, which the chef executed amazingly. The grilled Verlasso salmon was my favorite thanks to its decadent flakiness, and the the sauce and broccolini it was served with were perfect compliments.

Their cocktail list was very inspired and creative. If more than one thing catches your eye (which it will), get your waiter’s opinion because they have something for everyone and the staff is very knowledgable. I heard great things about the Spring Gimlet and Cucumber Fizz, but I went with the Bonfire. It left me wanting a little more smoke and a little more sweetness as it has the potential to be fantastic.

One really unique feature of Craftway is that they offer Michael David’s Freakshow Cabernet and Chardonnay on tap! Yup, you heard right. I am a big wine (and environment) lover, so this hits both marks for my hippie wino self.

The atmosphere is a fun, date night feel, but you could also visit and enjoy a casual dinner. The bar area is quaint with a electric energy … of course, depending on the game that’s happening or what young professional company may be hosting a happy hour. I’d recommend going for happy hour, dinner, and maybe even brunch.

While we enjoyed sampling their dinner menu, I bet you their brunch is just as good! And again, a great location for the north Dallas crowd. If you’re in the neighborhood I would definitely give it a try!

CraftWay Kitchen
CraftWayKitchen.com
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5809 Preston Rd., Suite 578, Plano, TX 75093
972-403-0555

Ebb & Flow: more than just a pretty patio …

What do you get when you combine an expert restaurateur and a sought after music director? An absolutely adorable, bad-ass restaurant that I can’t wait to visit again. Ebb & Flow is a new restaurant in Deep Ellum founded by two experienced restaurant and nightlife veteran who just happen to be brothers, Dallas Hale and Eric Bradford.

When I went to go check it out, I hadn’t done much research (bad, I know) and just walking up to the restaurant I was immediately impressed with how cute and impressive it was. I did know that their design director described it as “your tattooed girlfriend going home to meet your parents” in a press release … and that’s pretty accurate.

The patio is adorable and the inside is even more-so. It’s a somewhat small space, but they’ve really made it work. The attention to detail is ON-POINT. There’s trendy tile work, chandeliers above the bar and the outside patio is covered with gorgeous ivy and flowers. (Bonus: the patio will be heated for winter.)


We started out the evening tentatively with their Garden Margarita because I don’t do well with spice … and it was garnished with a jalapeño slice. But I was delighted to find that it was incredible. It was light, refreshing and flavorful without the strong flavor of jalapeño and it was cooled down by the cucumber. The second cocktail was super cool. The Velvet Butterfly features butterfly pea flower that makes the drink its beautiful shade of purple.

Honestly, everything on the cocktail menu was super unique and meticulously crafted. If you’re a big fan of Palomas, you must try the Cocoloma made with coconut tequila, cream of coconut, sparkling grapefruit and garnished with tajín. I kid you not; it tastes like the beach but without the sugary syrup.

Now, the grub! As far as starters go, they had stuffed jalapeños that stole my heart. (Yes, this is coming from a spice-hater.) Stuffed with brisket and pimento cheese and wrapped in bacon … you really can’t go wrong with that. The other two apps we tried were the toasted ravioli and Cubano egg rolls. Yet another show stopper? The tater kegs!! While they aren’t the most photogenic item you’d order, just imagine a twice baked potato, deep fried and made bite-size.

My favorite entree was the stuffed chicken breast but the salmon piccata was a close second, largely because of the light lemon vinaigrette that the pasta was tossed in. To round out your meal, be sure to close it out with their good ol’ fashioned homemade carrot cake, and pair it with the seasonal old fashioned. You won’t regret it!

Ebb & Flow is now serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch!

Ebb & Flow
ebbandflowtx.com
2651 Commerce St Suite 100, Dallas, TX 75226
(972) 913-2322  
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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
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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
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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