Tag Archives: products

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.



ABV 40% / 80 Proof
Retails for around $35 per 750ml bottle



TX Whiskey

Fort Worth is now even cooler in my book … like, really a LOT cooler.  Not only do they have stockyards (complete with cows), custom bootmakers, and a brewery that’s cookin’ up some really delicious frosty beverages, Rahr Brewing Company, but now they have a whiskey distillery.  Yes, you read that right … a whiskey distillery right here in DFW.  Be still, my heart, it’s true.  

Two regular dudes (errr … maybe not so regular*) decided that Fort Worth needed some locally-made whiskey, so they got the money together and made it happen.  TX Whiskey was what came out of their dream.

This whiskey comes in one of the cooler bottles that I’ve seen, complete with a cork unlike any other (literally).  Each cork is made with a small circle of repurposed leather from boots donated by bookmakers and distillery visitors.  I’ve been keeping mine because … well, they just look neat.

Now for what’s inside the bottle: talk about a deliciously blended melange of heavenly flavors.  TX Whiskey is a golden amber-colored whiskey with powerful notes of vanilla and honey that make it incredibly smooth; so smooth that you can drink it straight (and you should**).  It’s not only delicious, but also boasts an 82 proof potency (which isn’t kick-you-in-the-ass strong, but it does the trick).

If you MUST mix this nectar with something, here are some of their suggestions:

The Lady Heather
1 oz TX Whiskey
1/2 oz Cointreau
2 oz Champagne
3 dashes Peychaud’s
3 dashes Angostura
1 dash Pecan Bitters

The TX Milk Punch
1 3/4 oz TX Whiskey
1/4 oz Half and Half
1 1/2 oz Bluebell Vanilla Ice Cream
3 dashes Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Grated nutmeg for garnish

Texas Peach Jam Sour
2 oz TX Whiskey
2 tbsp Peach/Pecan Jam
2 dashes Old Fashioned Bitters
3/4 oz Lemon Juice/Sour
1 Egg White

If you’re a whiskey drinker, TX Whiskey is a must-try.  You’ll be hooked after one sip and can thank me later.


**Here is how I’d recommend drinking Firestone and Robertston’s TX Whiskey (pay attention … it’s really complicated).

 enjoyed a 20-year career in the local television and communications business. After the successful launch of a network affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida, he was bit by the entrepreneurial bug. Firestone teamed up with his brothers to create a cable television network, and moved to Fort Worth, Texas to operate their new venture. 

Meanwhile, Robertson was making name a name for himself, too. After growing up in Midland earning a business degree from Texas Tech, Robertson forged a path in the energy business. He spent 10 years on the financial side, primarily in private equity and corporate finance. Like Firestone, Robertson felt a strong entrepreneurial spirit. But they both craved something a little less corporate, and a little more personal. “I always felt more at home in jeans and boots than in a suit and cap-toed shoes,” Robertson says. 

Please note that Firestone and Robertson Distillery provided me with a bottle of TX Whiskey free of charge.  Also note that I liked it so much that I went out and bought another bottle with my very own money.

… an offer I couldn’t refuse.


Francis Ford Coppola wears a lot of hats. Most know him thanks to his epic movies (ahem, “The Godfather” series). Those of us who enjoy a glass of wine now and then see him through a different lens (pun completely intended). In the 1975, Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased the Inglenook winery and pursued a venture as vintners. Luckily … the Coppolas do it well. Refreshingly, Coppola isn’t just the name on the bottles, but has a hand in everything that happens at the winery, and even designs the labels himself.

Being one who appreciates almost all things Coppola, I was so delighted to be invited to a Coppola wine dinner at Ruth’s Chris. Two of my favorite things at once? I’ll just say that they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. (Yeah, I did it)

Upon arriving, I was handed a glass of Sofia Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. It was perfectly effervescent, slightly fruity, very dry, and the perfect way to start the evening. I’ve had it before in the individual serving size (which comes in a can, accompanied by a straw), but never from the bottle … and I liked it. Apparently Francis promised Sofia that he’d name a wine after her, and a year before her wedding, told Corey Beck (Coppola’s winemaker) that it was his charge to make it happen in time for her wedding. He made it happen, and the Sofia line followed.

Dinner started with a shellfish salad and was accompanied by the 2011 Diamond Chardonnay. I seldom enjoy (or even drink) white wines, but I very much enjoyed this one. It had a nice fruity flavor and a sweet finish. This will definitely make an appearance beside with my summery pork dish I make … is it May yet? (Mouth waters.)


The second course was mushroom risotto (ohhhhh my gosh) and was accompanied by the 2010 Votre Santé Pinot Noir. This.wine.was.amazing. Named with his grandmother in mind who always started meals with a toast of “to your health” in French (à votre santé), the wine is deliciously complex and paired beautifully both with the risotto and the main course. The lightness of the wine was surprising for its complexity.

Third came the lobster … oh so much lobster, Rockefellered, and accompanied by an 8oz filet of buttery soft beef cooked to perfection. Paired with the 2010 Diamond Claret, I couldn’t stop eating and drinking. (My scale hated me this morning, but it was so worth it.) Every bite and sip brought out another facet of the wine’s flavor, which was incredibly rich. The Claret is a red blend that pays homage to the Inglenook vintners … it’s their signature red, and for a reason. Ringing in at just $21, this wine will be a must-have for future filet dinners, and the gold netting on the bottle makes it feel so much more expensive than it is*.

Our last course was a decadent chocolate flourless “sin cake”, and the final wine pairing was the 2010 Director’s Cut from the Alexander Valley (even I know that’s a great region). The bottle is incredibly unique (they had to purchase a special machine from Australia just to affix the label to the bottle!) and the wine it holds is, also. Complex and thick (the way any red wine lover who likes to chew their wine would love), the Director’s Cut is aged in French oak barrels and has a dark, bold color.

In conclusion, the only way the meal could have been any better was if I didn’t have to stop eating and drinking … and I had a cigar.

*Most of the Coppola wines range from $12-21.

**I attended this event free of charge.**

Shellback, Tony, and Me.

I’ve always liked rum in a “I’m beside a body of water and it’s 80°+” kind of way.  However, the event I attended last week changed my tune a little.

Shellback kicked of its US tour of its “All Hands on Deck” mixology class in Dallas*.  Attendees were welcomed by a rum punch with a sprinkle of freshly-grated nutmeg and mingled while noshing on little bites.  After we were decently primed (and our bellies had a base for the deliciousness to come), we made our way into an immaculately laid-out room complete with bar tools, fresh fruit, and (of course) Shellback Rum … a lot of Shellback Rum.


The author of The Modern Mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim, walked us through three drinks, the aforementioned rum punch, and a couple other extra tidbits.  We learned the proper way to muddle mint to make the Milestone Mojito, just the right mix of citrus and ginger beer for the First Mate, and the real way a daiquiri is made while creating the Deck Hand Daiquiri (recipes below).  Tony was a blast to learn from, and you didn’t always know which meaning he was going for — the innocent or the risqué (it made it a bit more interesting).

I tried played with Vine, so my drinks took (way) longer to make, but I hope you enjoy the videos! (Linked above.)


Milestone Mojito

  • 1.5 oz Shellback Spiced Rum
  • 1 oz ginger syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 12-14 mint leaves
  • 10-12 slices of kumquats or 4 slices of mandarin oranges or nectarines
  • soda water

Muddle lime juice, ginger syrup, kumquats, and mint in highball glass.  Add crushed ice and rum.  Stir with bar spoon until glass begins to frost.  Top with soda water.

First Mate
  • 1.5 oz Shellback Spiced Rum
  • 1 oz cinnamon simple syrup
  • 2 oz apple juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ginger beer

Shake rum, cinnamon syrup, apple juice, and lemon juice together with ice until blended.  Strain into chilled Collins glass and top with chilled ginger beer.

Deck Hand Daiquiri
  • 2 oz Shellback Silver Rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • seasonal fruits and berries
Muddle fresh fruits with simple syrup.  Add lime juice and rum.  Shake with ice and double strain into  chilled glass.

**DISCLAIMER: I was invited to this event and attended free of charge.**

*Other dates include: San Francisco (April 10), Miami (May 2), Chicago (June 25), NY (July 9), and Los Angeles (August 16).  Tell your friends … bc this was fun!


Step 1: Order The New Old Bar.
Step 2: Wait to receive the book with great anticipation.
Step 3: After you get the book, stock your bar according to the book’s instruction.
Step 4: Make every drink, app, syrup, and infusion they have a recipe for STAT.

Product Review: POPTAILS

We live in Dallas … and let’s face it, it’s hot.  With the rule and not the exception being 100+° days, we’re all in need of some relief, and this handy dandy handbook delivers just that in the form of alcoholic popsicle recipes.

POPTAILS by Erin Nichols is a guide to 60 boozy treats-on-a-stick that will help make this warm effing hot summer a bit more bearable.  Erin created recipes for everything from a margarita or root beer float to the “Triple Berry Threat” and “The Highbrow Pear”.

After trying some of the recipes myself, the “Moscow Mule” (surprised?) and “Mom’s Apple Pie” are definite recommendations.  So you don’t make some of the mistakes I did, I’ve come up with some tips:

  • Follow directions!  Don’t try to be a hero —- Erin has slaved over these recipes to hone the perfect proportions
  • Let them freeze completely.  Cutting corners and trying to consume these delicious nuggets of icy alcohol is not recommended because the alcoholic elements may take longer to freeze than the rest, making it a sloppy mess if you get too anxious.
  • Distribute napkins with your poptails
  • Use popsicle forms that allow you to use real popsicle sticks instead of plastic ones (the wood grabs the pop better making it easier to remove)
  • Make sure you prepare the alcohol as directed
  • Be patient when removing the poptails from the forms

My lovely (not) pictures are to illustrate how lovely they turned out. (I didn’t even make any of the pretty ones with fruit inside.)  Popsicle forms are easy to find (Wal-Mart has some or you can go with a disposable tube option like Zipzicles), but you can also rig some of your own.  Note: they were not only pretty (IRL), but also stinkin’ delicious.

The book is available on Amazon, so get to ordering and get some in the freezer STAT!

Product Review: Pisco Portón

WAAAAAY back in February, Pisco Porton sent me a bottle to try out.  I have been an uber bum and am just now writing my thoughts on it (Susie loses three points).  Don’t take my lack of enthusiasm for writing this review as an indication of how it is — I just have been busy for the last 5 months (no kidding).

So, onto my thoughts.  I was really confused when I received it in the mail as I’d never heard of it.  So, I did some light reading and found that PP is a Peruvian white liquor made from grapes.  It has a fruity smell to it and the bottle was incredibly heavy (I just thought I’d add that).  Apparently, it’s kind of like Champagne in that only pisco made from certain grapes and in a certain way can be legally called “pisco”.

We tried four of their suggested recipes, and we enjoyed a couple enough to keep them in our cocktail repertoire.  I’ve listed the recipes for these cocktails below.

Let me know if you try this slightly unconventional liquor. I really enjoyed my foray into Peruvian spirits!


  • 2 oz. Pisco Portón®
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. simple syrup
  • 1 slice of fresh ginger
  • 1 dash of Angostura™ bitters
  • Top off with ginger ale
  • Fresh lime wedge

Pour Pisco Portón®, lime juice, simple syrup, ginger and bitters into a tall glass with ice. Top off with ginger ale. Stir ingredients and garnish with a lime wedge.

Pisco Sour

  • 1 ½ oz. Pisco Portón®
  • ½ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ¼ oz. egg white
  • 1 dash Angostura™ bitters

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain contents into a chilled glass. Add a dash of bitters.