Tag Archives: lauryn

Product Review: Don Chelada

If there’s one thing I don’t undervalue it’s the art of convenience. Particularly, when it comes to tailgates, beach-side sipping, or floating the river, I want a drink that travels easy and carries the party with it. Enter: Don Chelada. Between this company’s bottled michelada mix and rimmed Styrofoam cups with pre-packaged spices, all you really need is your favorite beer to achieve optimal day-drinking status.

I have to say Don Chelada’s Styrofoam cups are a fascinating thing. It’s one of those million dollar ideas I wish I would have thought of. Offering three flavors of Lemon Lime, Spicy, or Original, the rather large cups come with a “Mega Moist Rim” of natural ingredients, including chili powder, lemon powder, sea salt, chili powder, sugar, pepper, citric acid, and silicone dioxide (for, you know … “anti-clumping”). Inside you’ll find the corresponding spice mix, depending on awaiting an introduction to your beer of choice, which may depend on your cup flavor. Bonus points: the rich formula allows the addition of another beer, which you will obviously want to add. The key here (and make sure you read this carefully) is to pour slowly and let the drink sit for a minute afterwards. This allows for the suds and spice mix to settle into the beer.

The cups serve as a great product for the right kind of consumer. Personally, I had a bit of trouble blending the package of spices into my beer, but I could envision this as a staple for enhancing your average beer at tailgates, fraternity parties, trips to the lake, or even as a hangover remedy. Out of the two products, I enjoyed the liquid mix better as I found it was easier to incorporate with my beer – but, maybe I just need to work on my pouring technique.

You can go a step further personalizing this with even more spice, garnishes, or maybe an additional splash of alcohol. It’s your michelada and you can drink it how you want to.

Check out Don Chelada’s website for more recipes, such as the below, Tequila Tropical. Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching and this might just be your best move.

Don Chelada Tequila Tropical
1.5oz tequila
Mineral Water
Lemon Lime Soda

Add to your Don Chelada Michelada Cup: ice and 1.5oz tequila. Fill with equal parts mineral water and lemon lime soda. Stir lightly, let sit for a minute and enjoy.

Don Chelada Michelada Cups
6 Piece Party Pack, $13.74
Party Pack Case – 36 Pieces, $64.44

Don Chelada Michelada Mix
25 oz. Bottle, $10.99


DON CHELADA

donchelada.com
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Going Green with 360 Vodka

I’m not sure where 2015 went, but the past couple months have been a blur. With the onslaught of holiday parties and football gatherings, drinks are something that seem to be ever-present. A generous box of spirit(s) arrived on my doorstep at a pivotal moment in this season’s madness to provide me the essentials of holiday cheer.

I’ve noted in the past that I tend to be wary of vodka, but when distilled just right and mixed with the right ingredients, it becomes my drink of choice. In particular, 360 Vodka (produced by Earth Friendly Distilling Company, a division of McCormick Distilling Company, Inc. … don’t cringe) comes distilled four times from American grain using column distillation process and filtered five times featuring proprietary charcoal coconut filter system. The smooth, earthy finish  of this grain vodka along with a mild bite and subtle lavender notes, makes it an easy choice to mix in any cocktail. 

This vodka’s clean taste is echoed in the company’s eco-friendly attitude from development, production, to distribution. The bottle (commonly reused by consumers for water and olive oil) is made from 85% recycled glass, giving each bottle a unique green hue.  The label on the bottle is made with 100% post-consumer paper with special water based inks that won’t harm the environment; and the swing‐top closure comes with a pre‐paid envelope empowering Americans to return it for reuse and have $1.00 donated to a local environmental organization. Additionally, McCormick, with the assistance of the Missouri Department of Conservation, launched FOREST 360, an effort to plant indigenous trees on 40 acres of the land around the distillery.

Essentially, consumers can grab a super-premium bottle of vodka at a reasonable price and give back to the environment – as if you needed an excuse. And, with the recent trend in all things organic and green, 360 Vodka makes for the perfect holiday bar staple or hostess gift. The range of flavors can seem somewhat overwhelming with options like Georgia Peach, Sorrento Lemon, Buttered Popcorn, and even Glazed Donut.

Personally, I took advantage of the crisp fall season to mix up a vodka-forward version of Susie’s Cool Weather Punch* with the original 360 Vodka.


360 VODKA

www.vodka360.com
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ABV 40% / 80 Proof
Retails for around $35 per 750ml bottle

 

 

Ké Spirits’ wKé

College taught me a number of things, but one of its most important lessons was my love for whiskey. It’s an acquired taste that began as a means to drink with the boys and developed into my own guilty pleasure. I like it over ice or with a splash of ginger ale.

Typically, whiskey offers a slight bite with some smoky, woody qualities. Particularly, Ké Spirits’ Whiskey (wKé) delivers a rich, smooth flavor of grain and wild flower that brings a lasting bite. It’s a strong, but pleasing aroma of elements.

Ké describes its grain components as an uncommon combination that is processed by slicing, rolling, and in some cases, crushing them to capture and retain the unique flavors. Then comes the two-phase fermentation process in which the temperature and environment are closely controlled. Lastly, the liquids are distilled through small handmade copper pot stills in a two-phase copper distillation column. This lends hand to its opulent caramel color.

The legend of Ké Spirits originates in the late 1400s when the art of distillation made its way to Ireland. Irish Catholic monks used it to craft a beverage, whiskey, (“water of life” in English). It was made quickly and crudely to offer a barely drinkable solution. Then, in 1498 Padraig Barry discovered a grain process that turned young, hardly drinkable whiskey into a surprisingly rich and smooth beverage.

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Fast forward 470 years, Joe Barry learns of secret family stories detailing the mysterious “Ké” distillation that generations before him worked to protect from kings, invaders, thieves, and raiders. After retiring in 2007, Joe Barry journeyed to Ireland to unveil the truth of “Ké.” For the next five years he worked with distillers to recreate the original process himself and now offers three varieties: Ké (vodka), tKé (tequila), and wKé (whiskey).

Keep warm by the fire with a glass straight. If that doesn’t do the trick, here is a recipe provided by Ké spirits for a wKé Irish Coffee:

unnamed-18wKé IRISH COFFEE
1 ½ oz wKé
4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
Fresh Whipped Cream
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, or Chocolate

Combine wKé, coffee, and brown sugar in a warm Irish coffee glass and stir until sugar is dissolved. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate.

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**Disclaimer: This bottle of joy was provided to me by Ké spirits**

Dixie Vodka: Stand With the General

I honestly would buy this vodka just for the bottle. (You know those people that select liquor based on how pretty the bottle is? I may have been (slash am) a perpetrator of this act. Don’t judge.) But listen: this is one of those times where your creative selection process has worked out for the greater good of alcohol consumption.

There are so many great attributes to Dixie Vodka:

  • the price point for alcohol content
  • it’s 6 times distilled from American corn
  • it’s handcrafted in Charleston, SC and produced by a company named Chicken Cock Whiskey
  • it has a totes a badass mascot with an even more badass catchphrase:“Feared on the battlefield, admired in the ballroom & loved in the bedroom, General Beauregard Dixie.  Man amongst boys.  Stand with the General.”

Now, vodka isn’t my typical drink of choice, especially for shots, but this one made it tolerable (and dare I say … enjoyable?). That oh-so-familiar burn down the throat wasn’t as harsh as regular brands and its smoother finish makes it an easy choice cocktails or on the rocks. Supposedly, the brand is designed for Southern males, but ladies, I say grab your glasses and let’s sip on some Dixie Vodka at the gun range to give these men a run for their money.

General Dixie is available as straight vodka and also in two flavors: Black Pepper and Mint. It will feature signature drink recipes such as the Mint Julep Martini and Bloody Dixie (version of Bloody Mary), created by leading Charleston mixologists.

 

General Beauregard Dixie Vodka
islandclubbrands.com
Facebook: General Beauregard Dixie
Twitter: @GeneralDixie

**Disclaimer: I received this bottle for free from Dixie

Citadelle Gin

 

Written by Lauryn Bodden

You should know by now I am an avid gin drinker and I will praise its herbal notes to my grave. A spirit that is meant to be mixed and bring depth to drinks, gin is the most used alcohol in classic cocktails. A friend once told me, “Saying you don’t like gin is like saying you don’t like sauce.”  Gin uses juniper as its main ingredient, but ranges with flavor profiles from cucumber and rose to lavender to lemongrass and black pepper.

Citadelle Gin from Cognac Ferrand proprietor, Alexandre Gabriel, combines the delicacy of fresh flowers, jasmine, honeysuckle, and cinnamon—a flavor profile reminiscent of springtime picnics and summer patio sipping. Citadelle is the only gin in the world distilled in small, Charentais copper pot stills over a naked flame.  (That sounds pretty sexy.)

Intrigued by flavor possibilities imparted from aging gin in different types of casks, Gabriel began to experiment in the mid-200s and introduced the Citadelle Gin Reserve in 2008. Going back to the style of “yellow gin”, Citadelle Reserve matures for several months in old oak casks to produce the freshness of Citadelle gin with older, cask-aged spirits. Each year since 2008, Gabriel releases a limited edition aged gin each year to give customers new, exciting flavor profiles.

In 2013, Gabriel hit the holy grail of gin production. He came to the conclusion that a cell master should not age gin in just one cask, but several casks and then marry the liquid. This process is called solera, which means you have a “mother solera vat” that maintains the blend profile.

The process appears grueling, but basically involves putting new-made Citadelle into three types of casks from two to five months. Here’s the breakdown of casks used:

1.)  ex-Cognac that are rinsed with gin, so the Cognac doesn’t overpower the gin

2.)  ex-Pineau des Charente that imparts a full-bodied mouth feel, a little spice and a flowery roundness

3.)  American oak casks, which is the mother solera vat that contains a special taste profile created by Gabriel. The gin marries in the mother solera vat and then bottled.

As you prepare to embrace this Texas summer heat with a cool, refreshing cocktail, check out Citadelle Reserve Solera to make the perfect drink by the pool (or, ya know, anywhere).

Here is a recipe for a more exotic Gin & Tonic using Citadelle:

Created by Citadelle’s Spanish team.

  • 35ml Citadelle gin
  • 140ml Tonic
  • Orange
  • Licorice root

In a wide glass, place two slices of orange. Pour gin then tonic.  Add the licorice. Garnish with orange peel.

Saint Arnold Brewery Beer Dinner at Cook Hall

Written by: Lauryn Bodden

Each month, Cook Hall teams up with a regional brewery to create a menu pairing of intense flavors that highlight the buzz-worthy notes of select beers. The dinner encourages community members to come together like an intimate gathering of friends and learn about the craft behind some of the best brews in town. For the month of April, Cook Hall joined forces with Saint Arnold Brewery to create a menu pairing of five courses that appealed to individuals of all palates and cravings.

Upon arrival, guests were greeted with the Weedwacker, a Bavarian Hefeweizen. This light beer has notes of spicy clove and banana esters that come from different yeasts. Saint Arnold’s only unfiltered year-round yeast, Weedwacker embodies a pale malt barley with a dash of malted wheat. Accompanied by a frisee salad with pickled peaches, this course was a light start to our indulgent meal.

Next, came the Elissa IPA, an authentic version of traditional Indian Pale Ale. The huge hop additions in the kettle give the beer a bitterness that is then dry-hopped in the fermenter to create a floral, hoppy nose. The maltiness comes from British Maris Otter malt. The citrusy flavor of the brew goes perfectly with any seafood, which made its pairing of Grilled Swordfish and Orange Vinaigrette an obvious choice.

Course three included the Icon Brown Porter with Kalbi Beef Short Rib Tacos.  The Brown Porter is a dark, medium bodied ale with rich chocolate malt notes and an aroma mix of chocolate, nuttiness, and coffee. The tacos were a hit across the restaurant, as many platters were wiped clean before the course presentation was even done. Add a dash of Cook Hall’s special hot sauce and this meaty treat washed down easy with the Brown Porter.

At this point, individuals began unbuttoning their top buttons, shifting in their seats, and doing whatever possible to make room for the two remaining courses…amateurs.

My stomach waited the entire night and was fully prepared for the moment the Rack of Lamb and Divine Reserve #13 graced our table. This Belgium brew has a relatively simple malt bill with caramel and chocolate malts. A large amount of Belgian Extra Dark Candi Syrup is added during fermentation, which gives it a dark fruit-like flavor and boosted alcohol level (WIN!).  All tableside manners were tossed at this point as I traded off between going at the lamb like a chicken wing and guzzling down the rich Divine Reserve.

Lamb is hard to beat in my book, but the grand finale was no letdown. Each guest received a plate of Warm Sticky Date Toffee Pudding with Coconut Sorbet and the Bishop Barrel #5, Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale. The Bishop Barrel begins as the Divine Reserve No. 4, gold medal winner at the 2008 World Beer Cup in Strong Scotch Ale category, which include tasting notes of caramel, toffee, dried figs and cocoa. Aged in a bourbon barrel, the base mixes with flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of pipe tobacco to create a rich creaminess. Directions for this course are as follow: take a heaping scoop of sorbet with equal parts of toffee pudding, shovel in your mouth, and immediately guzzle gulps of the Bishop Barrel. The result is perfection.

Bennette Frugé of the Saint Arnold’s brew crew led us through the tale of each selected beer and menu pairing. Known to many as Flappy for his ever-flapping lips and ability to talk for hours about his love of beer, Bennette lived up to his nickname. Between jokes and jeers with the crowd, Bennette highlighted many interesting facts for beer connoisseurs and newbies alike. My favorite fact may just be that if he could be an animal, he would be a pterodactyl.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company, located in Houston, is Texas’ oldest craft brewery (and is reportedly haunted). Founded by Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, the first keg was shipped on June 9, 1994. Brock, a longtime home brewer, always considered opening a brewery as far back as college, but didn’t go through with the idea until seven years after graduating. Enlisting Kevin, the two chose Houston because it was the largest city in the country without a microbrewery. The small crew brews, filters, kegs, bottles, sells, and drinks each beer to ensure the best quality. Brews are distributed and enjoyed throughout Texas, Louisiana and Colorado.

Cook Hall’s next beer dinner features Harpoon Brewery on May 23 for $55 a seat (and a certain drink blogger whose name rhymes with boozy will be in attendance). Grab your friends or go alone; either way you will take part in good food, good brews, and good company.

To make a reservation for the Harpoon Brewery dinner, call (214)397-4111.

To view the Harpoon Dinner Menu, please click here.

Life’s Better Under the Palm at Pollo Tropical

 

I may have pasty white skin and an absurd fear of sharks, but Florida runs in my blood and the beach will always be my home. That being said, the expansion of Pollo Tropical, a Florida chicken chain, to Addison sends a rush of pure bliss from my heart to my stomach.

This Floridian concept prides itself in fresh, bold island flavor using savory Caribbean spices, mixed herbs and citrus. They combine these for rubs and marinades that are the secret behind the tangy kick of Pollo Tropical’s vegetables and meats. Don’t mistake this place for another casual Mexican or Tex-Mex pit stop and miss out on items such as Refresca juices, Rum Punch, and Calypso Beef. If the bright, distinct colors and beach house facade don’t slap Caribbean across your face then go back to that bowl of melted Velveeta and put on your cone of shame.

Pollo Tropical’s menu represents the islands’ melting pot of culinary culture far different than the Mexican flavors Texans are used to. Naturally, all Texans love their meat and this joint does not disappoint. The grilled bone-in chicken is marinated in a blend of tropical fruit juices and spices and flame grilled with much TLC.  Clearly, the chicken is the star of this show (as POLLO means chicken in Spanish), but it’s so hard to choose a favorite—that’s why I order them all. One of my personal favorite is the Mojo Pork, a dish slow-roasted for four hours in a Mojo marinade of citrus juices, crushed garlic, onion, wine, and island spices that combine to create tender, juicy meat unlike anything you commonly find around town.

But one does not simply transcend to the island of Caribbean flavors without ordering sweet plantains and yuca fries. Sweet plantains are a cousin to the banana, most often baked or fried Pollo Tropical style to caramelized perfection. Yuca or cassava is the potato of the tropics that comes boiled or fried. I like mine fried and generously lathered in the cilantro garlic sauce.

Speaking of sauce…you thought Cane’s Chicken had the recipe to liquid gold? Pollo Tropical packs a punch of spice and zest with 10 unique signature sauces, including Curry Mustard, Guava BBQ, Pineapple Rum and Cilantro Garlic. Prepare yourself to make several trips, piling your table high with at least five cups of each, and smuggling out bags full of samples (it may feel dangerous, but everyone else does the same thing every visit).

Pollo Tropical provides all the island necessities to create your own TropiChop, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and even drinks. (This is Susie Drink Dallas, so clearly we speak of alcohol here.)  Choose a Caribbean beer or add Bacardi rum to one of the popular Refresca beverages, such as tropical breeze, mango peach or superfruit punch.

Dallas may be a landlocked city, but Pollo Tropical makes your beach fantasy come to life. This is their first Texas location, but expect about 20 more to pop up around Texas as diners quickly realize “Life’s better under the palm.”

Event Recap: Central Market’s Passport to Italy

Written by: Lauryn Bodden

There are normal grocery stores with your essential food items (ice cream and wine), and then there’s Central Market, which is every foodie’s heaven. On April 30, Central Market will debut this year’s two-week themed Passport celebration that spotlights the culinary delicacies of Italy.

With more than 40 winemakers and cooking classes led by renowned Italian chefs, Passport Italy delivers eclectic, authentic Italian cuisine straight to the Lone Star State. Everyone knows wine is the classy way to end a long day and get drunk with friends, but Passport Italy will make you the wine connoisseur you have always dreamed of becoming. (And what better way to enjoy a chilled glass of Prosecco than with some of the world’s finest meats and cheeses?) Showcasing traditional foods and ingredients, Central Market will also provide hundreds of new items such as gelatos, breads, pastas, cured meats, wines, cheeses, oils, vinegars, and chef-prepared foods. Winemakers, chefs, and producers alike will be on-hand to walk customers through the ultimate Italian food and wine experience.

The featured winemakers include:

  • Luca Bosio of Luca Bosio Vineyards brought in a wave of freshness and novelty to both the technical and commercial areas of his family’s vineyards, reinventing the way they do business. With a mix of technology and rural tradition, he blends his family’s grapes with grapes from hundreds of farmer organizations from different parts of Piemonte, giving them greater diversity in their winemaking.
  • Stefano Chiarlo oversees the cultivation of 110 hectares of vineyards, all while taking care to adhere to the most exact ecological requirements needed by winemaking. By focusing their vineyards on hilly zones and rigorously thinning out grape bunches, Michele Chiarlo Vineyards has ensured the production of highly elegant wines with excellent longevity.
  • Umberto Cosmo directs the Bellenda estate, located in the Vento wine region. Especially known for producing fantastic Prosecco, Bellenda is fresh and clean with delicate bubbles that enhance its subtle citrus flavor.
  • Franceso Daddi runs the Ormanni farm, which is ancient and deep-rooted in Italian history. Owned since the 1200s by the Ormanni family, mentioned in Dante Alighieri’s famous Divine Comedy, and at one point owned by the legendary Medici family, the Tenuta Ormanni Vineyards focus on tradition and detail. Tenuta Ormani wines have an artisan feel and clean taste.
  • Antonio M. Zaccheo Jr., the son of Carpineto co-founder Antonio Mario Zaccheo Sr., is the latest in a long line of family winemakers blending old world heritage with modern expertise. With an extensive bottle-aging program, Carpineto has ensured the production of elegant wines of approachable intensity, with the majority of their focus being on red wines aged three or more years.

Highlighted below is a list of all the boozy events (basically everything) taking place during Passport Italy for you to enjoy:

Passaporto Italia Kick-off with Umberto Cosmo, founder & winemaker of Bellenda

Wednesday, April 30 from 4-7 p.m.

Join us as we kick off Passporto Italia in style! Be our guest at our Prosecco Party where Umberto Cosmo, founder and winemaker of Bellenda, joins us for a Prosecco tasting.

Italy Meets Texas

Thursday, May 1 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Join us for a Texas-sized Sip & Stroll to celebrate the beginning of Passporto Italia! We’re kicking off two weeks of celebrating everything Italian with a stroll through the store where you’ll be able to sample the likes of Truffled Pasta, Fresh-Made Sausages,

Cannolis, Italian cheese, and salumi, along with new offerings from our Chef’s Case. We’ll have hundreds of new items; many never before seen in the U.S. Don’t forget the wine! We’ll pair all our items with a wine that will have you sighing, “Amore!” A commemorative glass also will be available for purchase at the Information Desk.

Zardetto Prosecco Wine Dinner with Filipo Zardetto

Friday, May 2 from 6:30-9 p.m.

Located in the heart of Italy’s famous Prosecco territory between Conegiano and Valdobiadene, Zardetto has been a leader in making sparkling wine for more than 40 years. This vibrant and refreshing, off-dry Prosecco is produced from carefully selected grapes grown on the finest hilltop vineyards, modern technology, and traditional practices that result in an acclaimed brut. Learn more about the grape-growing and production methods, and sample these wines that display the traditional flowery, fruity characteristics of Prosecco wines paired with Asiago & Sopressa Vicentina with Bellini; Salad of Kale, Radicchio & Pancetta; Risotto with Radicchio, Ubriaco & Chestnuts; Orata al Forno con Gli Aromi (Roasted Sea Bass with Herbs); and Crema Fritta (Fried Custard Cream). $65. Reserve your seat at centralmarket.com.

Under A Tuscan Sun

Thursday, May 8 from 6:30-9 p.m.

Antonio Sanguineti, winemaker/Principal of Sanguinetti Wines; Lorenzo Gatteschi, Winemaker/Owner of Podere Ciona; Alessandro Bocci, Winemaker/Owner of Perazetta Winery; and Luca Brunelli, Owner of Brunelli Wines

Join us for a festive wine dinner served family-style, featuring the winemaker/principal of Sanguinetti Wines; the winemaker/owner of Podere Ciona; the winemaker/owner of Perazetta Winery, and the owner of Brunelli Wines. While these experts discuss their wines and the special regions in which their grapes are grown, our Cooking School staff will demonstrate the techniques you’ll need to know to recreate this Tuscan feast: Cutting board of Tuscan cheeses paired with Antonio Sanguineti Vermentino IGT; Insalata Caprese with fresh Burrata paired with Antonio Sanguineti Chianti DOCG; Tagliatelle with Wild Boar in a tomato basil cream sauce paired with Perazetta Rita Sangiovese DOC; Roasted Duck with a mushroom demi-glace paired with Podere Ciona Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG; Fried Rice Fritters with a dark chocolate dipping sauce,; and strawberries paired with Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. $65. Reserve your seat at centralmarket.com