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!

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