Category Archives: Uncategorized

Product Review: Starfire Cigs Ehookahs

Written by Enrico DeLeon III

For years and years, smoking has a been depicted as the cool thing to do in the media. From movies to bars to commercials to house parties amongst friends and everything in between, smoking is everywhere. After turning 18, while still not being able to go to bars, my friends and I got into going to hookah bars for our leisure. It was a great way to hang out, converse, and, of course, smoke hookah. I don’t know if it was because it was the cool thing to do or what, but it certainly was a great option for us to do on our nights out without trying to sneak into bars.

In the recent years since they have banned actual cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants in Dallas, I have seen electronic cigarettes and portable vaporizers make an appearance more often as they are the only way for people to get away with smoking indoors in Dallas. I honestly thought they were kind of silly and, quite honestly, weird. The idea of smoking something that you unplugged from a plug or USB port was just a bit off-putting. That being said, one of my friends uses a vaping pen and I’m always fascinated by the different flavoured e-liquids like Killer Kustard that she buys, so I was definitely intrigued to discover more about how these devices work.

So, when Susie asked me to review Starfire Cigs, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to try and change my perspective about the whole industry. Just to give you a little background on the actual products I tried, the good people sent me all 6 flavors of their Ehookah line. Unlike some electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, Starfire Cigs use vegetable glycine to create the smooth flavored smoke with very minimal, almost no nicotine. (Just to clarify, these all were more along the lines of hookah-type smoking and not cigarettes.)

Each Ehookah lasted up to 1,200 puffs and were disposable. Although they were disposable, the craftsmanship wasn’t sacrificed. They are made with a silver mouthpiece and a diamond tip that light up different colors to reflect their flavor. The flavors included Berry Blast, Blueberry Mint, Red Energy, Melon Mist, Juicy Peach and Tropical Smooth.

When first trying Starfire Cigs Ehookahs, I was immediately transported back to my late teens. The vivid flavors and great smoke quality was on-point with that of which I had at actual hookah bars back in the day. The biggest difference between these Ehookahs and actual hookahs are how much more consistent they were. Every flavor was 10 times more vivid than any actual hookah flavor I have ever had. They were very distinct and never changed. It was awesome to be able to smoke them puff after puff without having to worry about lighting up a new coal and/or potentially burning yourself with hot fire.

I definitely recommend the Starfire Cig Ehookahs to anyone looking to experience great flavored smoke better than hookah and without the trouble of using an actual hookah.

CHINO CHINATOWN

New Trinity Groves Spots a Perfect Reminder of Why Some Nights, You Just Have to Leave Suburbia

Written by Brian Bianco

When Susie first approached me with a sack full of cash and a bottle of whiskey asking me to write for her, her terms were clear–stay far north and leave Dallas to her. Luckily, her busy holiday schedule opened the door for me to not only venture into Dallas proper, but also check out Trinity Groves for the first time for a media preview dinner at Chino Chinatown. It not only gave me a chance to try some highly anticipated Latin-Asian fusion cuisine, but also sample a drink menu that look good on paper.

The hip-casual ambience is set by great tunes and decor that reflects the cuisine (e.g., rockabilly geisha art – so cool).  A friendly and knowledgeable bar staff is also a welcomed change … though “friendly” could mean they where on their best behavior for the press … who knows.

I’ll save you my detailed thoughts on the food since there is plenty of buzz already out there from our food counterparts, but I will say the edamame and shishito pepper dish and the chicken lollipops were both outstanding small plates to well enjoy with a few cocktails.

My biggest regret was not having a few friends with me (or my former college tolerance) to try everything on the drink menu, but I was able to sample a good amount.  CC’s bar program, like a growing number of others in Dallas, was designed by Jason Kosmos, and was reminiscent of nights spent with my lady friend at the no-longer-with-us Marquee Grill (may it rest in peace). 

Chino Chinatown’s introductory press release led with the Mezerac (rye, mescal, cola, cacao bitters) and Tijuana Sling (Remy Martin V, maraca, lime, seltzer), which were both good, but the 47 Ronin* delivered on the fusion promise to give me something the likes of which I hadn’t ever tasted and was, without question, the star of the show.  (The bartender who served it, Adrian Verdin, wanted to make clear is a tribute to the incredibly awesome samurai legend and not the recent Keanu Reeves motion picture. This is an important distinction, because the drink is awesome, and the movie … maybe not so much.)

The bevy of drinks I tried were the Beg, Steal or Borrow (bourbon-based), The Good, The Bad, The Weird (best described as a tequila drink for the non-tequila drinker, in the most positive possible way), Between the Sikhs (Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky), and the Snake Charmer (vodka and prickly pear that is easy to drink and available by the pitcher). 

In short, if you want a night of good food and a chance to explore some complex drink options, there aren’t many better destinations right now in Dallas.  (Just make sure you order the 47 Ronin and chicken lollipops.)

*A few disclaimers as I review their sake – I’ve never had Japanese whisky and my sake pallet is, uh, being seasoned. Verdin was very proud of the cocktail and was happy to walk me through it as I drank (which is only slightly embarrassing in retrospect, but felt right at the time). The drink is made from Yamakazi 12 Japanese whisky, goji berry groseille, yuzu, and sake, and is a nice mixture of tart and slightly sweet flavors before the whisky takes over and brings it home. If the night had been laid out differently, that would have been my choice drink for the night, and I would have had no regrets.

Drink Strength: 4
Overall: 4.6

Holiday Cocktail Recipes

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Hot Tully
1 part Tullamore D.E.W.
½ part simple syrup
½ part lemon juice
3 parts hot water
 
Directions:
First warm a mug with hot water, then discard and combine ingredients above. Stir before serving.
Options ~ Add some fresh ginger for a bit of a bite. Or infuse the simple syrup with some fun flavors like cinnamon and orange, or apple and ginger.
 
 
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The Ruby Bean
2 parts Glenfiddich 12 Year Old
2 parts Lillet Rouge
1 part Licor 43 
2 parts orange juice
 
Combine ingredients and shake well. Strain over fresh ice in an Old fashioned glass. Garnish with a blood orange half moon and rose bud.
 

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Hellfire
1 ½ oz Sailor Jerry
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
¼ oz ginger syrup
¼ oz lime juice
 
In equal proportions fill glass with Regatta Ginger Beer and Fire Island Sea Salt Ale, Garnish with Lime wedge & straw. Warm up those chilly nights with the spice of Sailor Jerry Hellfire.

Ole Smoky MoonMosa
Mix equal parts Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine and the champagne of your choice.  Serve chilled.

 

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Orange Colored Sky
1 ½ oz Reyka
½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup
½ oz Campari
For Syrup: Mix equal parts Perfect Puree of Napa Valley Passion Fruit Puree with superfine sugar.  Shake into solution.  Bottle and refrigerate.
Dry shake and dump into rocks glass.  Fill with crushed ice.  Garnish with an orange wedge.
 

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Monkey Jam Sour

1 part Monkey Shoulder
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsbp of Jam
1 dash of sugar
2 dashes Orange bitters
 
Add all ingredients to shaker. Shake well with ice. Strain into a glass, garnish with an orange twist, and stay cheeky.
 

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Derecho
If you wish to enjoy Montelobos Mezcal according to Oaxaca tradition, drink it neat – long and slow in a votive glass. Accompany with an orange wedge sprinkled with chili pepper. Let the smoky complexity of Montelobos heat up a cold fall evening. This year, you’ll be roasting pinas instead of chestnuts over the open fire.

The Naughty List (courtesy of Battuto Italian Kitchen)

2oz Fireball
1oz Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1oz White creme de menthe

Combine all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into a cinnamon-and-sugar lined martini glass.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Peppermint Chocolate Martini (courtesy of Battuto Italian Kitchen)

3/4oz spiced rum
3/4oz White creme de cocao
3/4oz green creme de menthe
3/4oz whipping cream

Combine all ingredients into an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with chocolate shavings and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

I’d like to introduce my new “staff writer” (can I say that?), Brian Bianco.  Brian will be covering some events, places, and things up north (a.k.a. Oklahoma).  Here’s a little bit about the “new guy”:
Brian has lived in DFW the majority of his life and has been drinking his way through the metroplex for a good chunk of it. He recently relocated to the Great North (Plano) and is determined to find the best options for those who have embraced the suburbs without giving up the dream of finding cool paces to drink. He prefers whiskey, bourbon, and beer, but will randomly go Dr. John Doran on you when you least expect it.

Of Drinking and Conscientious Living: The Vegan Conundrum

For anybody who’s made the switch to living a vegan lifestyle, or for anybody who knows someone who’s done it, knows that it can be really hard trying to find the right balance between conscientious living and enjoying a good drink. It also definitely makes it a little more difficult trying to plan the perfect night out with friends if there’s an extra piece of gastronomic accounting that needs to be done.  (But good friends try their best to make everything fun for everyone there, right?)

Overcoming the First Hurdle
The biggest problem when it comes to making a drink for a vegan friend is that there’s no way you can fake it without facing some damage to your moral consciousness. So while it might be acceptable to switch out the Cointreau for a more affordable triple sec in a Cosmopolitan for those on a budget, randomly exchanging ingredients can be dangerous for a vegan drinker. 

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Becoming vegan isn’t just a state one declares. It means inspecting each and everything that goes into food and drink to make sure that no ingredients come from animals, and there’s no danger of cross contamination.

Generally, one of the smarter options is to go for German or Belgian beers because breweries are required by law to adhere to beer purity laws. When working with liquors, the folks over at Barnivore.com have put together a very well-researched list of what’s okay to serve and what isn’t. Luckily, since Tanqueray happens to be vegan-friendly, SDD’s Gin O’Clock recipes are all in the clear!

Wait, but Isn’t Wine Vegan?
The funny thing is, while wine is made from nothing but grapes, people would think that it would be, by default, vegan. But when wine isn’t served immediately after it’s pressed and this is where animal byproducts come into the equation. Many wineries will make use of finers that are meant to absorb the suspended solids present in the liquid. Some examples of finers include egg whites, gelatin, and isinglass—all of these being ingredients that vegans avoid. So what’s a good host to do?

You can work with a distributor that has options that are vegan friendly and removes the guesswork for the buyer. Dedicated vegan websites like Veggie Wines and Vegan Society list, Marks & Spencer as an option for their vegan-friendly wine selections.

Everyone deserves to have fun and being vegan doesn’t have to mean abandoning alcohol altogether. Cheers to that!

***This article was written by Katrina Wilsons.  (Susie doesn’t do enough research to write this thoroughly.)***

So I like Bloody Marys (thick ones that you have to chew on).  You know those nasty aerosol perfumes in the grocery store that say “If you like ____, you’ll love this?”  This takes that and blows it up x100.  If you LIKE Bloody Marys, then you’ll LOVE Anvil Pub with they’re hosting F**K BRUNCH, their answer to Dallas’ frou-frou brunch scene.

Anvil Pub in Deep Ellum is quite a bar (I don’t know if I’d dub it a true pub because they don’t serve real snakebites).  Bikes hanging from the ceiling, bartenders with five different colors of hair (that’s just one bartender), and a food menu vegans can even enjoy.  I’ll make the trek down to Deep Ellum with my boyfriend on Tuesdays for half price food, or with friends on a busy Friday for a late-night pizza*.  It’s good for all occasions (except brunch with the future in-laws).

Back to the food … it’s good—no, great—and it’s not typical greasy bar food.  You won’t want to die when you roll back to your car after an appetizer (get the triple dip) and an entree (get anything).  It’s a bit slow, so don’t get food if you’re in a hurry.  (I’m serious.  Good things come in time.)

OK … now … let’s talk about brunch, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be (at Anvil)
Let’s talk about brunch.

Anvil has one of the most unique brunch offerings in Dallas.  Just scroll up … that’s their brunch.  Order from their three-option menu (Bloody Mary, mimosa, or screwdriver), and you’ll be delivered (albeit after 20-30min) a GIANT** mason jar filled with delightful intoxicants with a skewer of delicious and unexpected things to soak it up for $20. Mimosas have actual cinnamon rolls on them, and Bloody Marys have sliders … among many other things.  Oh, did I mention that your brunch comes with a beer kicker?  Yeah … does.

Anyway, do this.  Don’t order too much food if you’re partaking in F**K BRUNCH, as you really don’t need much more.  (Oh Hey Dallas and I ordered a pizza and chicken fingers and hardly touched any of it.)

Enjoy … and say hi to the Holmans while you’re there … because they’re awesome.

ANVIL PUB
2638 Elm St, (Deep Ellum)
(214) 741-1271

*Try getting a Russian Roulette Bullet … one piece is sprinkled with pepper for $0.50.  What a deal? 
**Mustard bottle included in picture for comparison.