Victorious Cocktail Class

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon as I entered through the front door of Tiny Victories in Oak Cliff. I made myself comfortable in a seat at the bar of this cozy bar, flooded with daylight.

My professor for the day: Ryan Payne, veteran Dallas cocktail bartender
Today’s subject: How to make a wide selection of different cocktails
The Assignment: Make and subsequently sample said boozy creations

If my classes were more like this one, I would’ve had a perfect attendance record in college. (I mean … I was close already, but it would have been easier to get to perfect.)

For anyone not yet familiar with the cocktail bar off Davis and Tyler in Oak Cliff, the establishment opened back in February of this year and was warmly welcomed by OC locals and travelers alike. The vibe is intimate, warm, and a touch irreverent. At any given time, you may catch an episode of “Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere” or movies like “Cruel Intentions” or “Caddyshack” playing on flatscreens mounted on the backbar.

The bar boasts an awesome happy hour from 4-7PM every weekday when you can get cocktails for 50% off as well as other daily specials. In the mood for Trivia Night? That’s Tuesday.  Oak Cliff Network Night? Oh, that’s the first Wednesday of every month. Craving a complimentary hotdog on Football Sundays? They’ve got you covered.

If all of that weren’t enough, Tiny Victories also hosts cocktail classes for larger groups and special events, and I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to get a sneak peek into what a class like that entails. Turns out, it entails a lot of interacting with a charismatic and knowledgeable bartender while he makes delicious drinks for me to enjoy.

I was made for this class.

From Daiquiris to Aviations, Sbagliatos and Americanos to Old Fashioneds and Queens Park Swizzles, Whiskey Sours to Miami Vices, Ryan walked us through each step of creating each kind of cocktail. The informal nature of the class made it easy to enjoy the education along with the cocktail consumption.

For any inquiries about attending your own cocktail class, contact Ryan Payne, Managing Partner at Tiny Victories.


TINY VICTORIES
tinyvictoriesoc.com
604 N. Tyler St., Dallas (Oak Cliff)
(972)685-7055

The Easiest Host Gift for the Fall

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Big Betty. The opinions and text are all mine.

Halloween. Potlucks. Thanksgiving. Football watching parties. Sunday dinners. Holiday parties. It gets exhausting thinking about how many times you’re going to be visiting someone’s home and, if you have some manners, toting a host/hostess gift. I’ve got you covered, my friends.

This cute company, Big Betty Wine (the real OGs thanks to their first hit product, the glass that fits a whole bottle of wine) has come to the rescue. All you need to do is order a pack of their Brews for You “six pack cards” and stop by your local Trader Joe’s on the way to the party. I love stopping into Trader Joe’s as they have seasonal and favorite individual beers your can pull to create your own six pack, therefore making each six pack special to that host.

Keep a pack of these gift card boxes and Sharpie in the car to scribble a little note to the host, and you’re done. (Really … it couldn’t be much easier. And you’ll look like Superguest for not showing up empty-handed.)

The six pack “cards” ring in at $9.99 for a four pack (with Prime shipping, thank you), so stock up on these and save yourself the $3.95 you’ll usually spend on a one-time use card. (Because he can use this gift box again … and it’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle, rigth!?)

What would your perfect six pack be?


BREWS FOR YOU
ilovebigbetty.com
Instagram: @bigbettywine

#Brews4You #ad

 

Halloween. Potlucks. Thanksgiving. Football watching parties. Sunday dinners. Holiday parties. It gets exhausting thinking about how many times you’re going to be visiting someone’s home and, if you have some manners, toting a host/hostess gift. I’ve got you covered, my friends.

This cute company, Big Betty Wine (the real OGs thanks to their first hit product, the glass that fits a whole bottle of wine) has come to the rescue. All you need to do is order a pack of their Brews for You “six pack cards” and stop by your local Trader Joe’s on the way to the party. I love stopping into Trader Joe’s as they have seasonal and favorite individual beers your can pull to create your own six pack, therefore making each six pack special to that host.

Keep a pack of these gift card boxes and Sharpie in the car to scribble a little note to the host, and you’re done. (Really … it couldn’t be much easier. And you’ll look like Superguest for not showing up empty-handed.)

The six pack “cards” ring in at $9.99 for a four pack (with Prime shipping, thank you), so stock up on these and save yourself the $3.95 you’ll usually spend on a one-time use card. (Because he can use this gift box again … and it’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle, right!?)

What would your perfect six pack be? Visit my Instagram and comment on the post about Brews for You before October 6 for the chance to win your own pack of gift boxes!


BREWS FOR YOU
ilovebigbetty.com
Instagram/Twitter: @bigbettywine

#Brews4You #ad

Get Ready to Rumble with Balcones

Balcones, Texas’s original whisky*, and Dude, Sweet Chocolate, Dallas’s signature chocolates, are teaming up. Starting in September, you can now find whisky-infused chocolates at DSC. Our team was invited to be some of the first to check out the partnership … and this was what Tiffany found …

I knew it would be a good time when I was greeted at the door of Dude, Sweet Chocolate with a cocktail. Considering that the late summer Texas humidity was particularly heavy and thick that evening, the refreshing Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky concoction was more than welcome.

Toné Castillo, Balcones brand ambassador extraordinaire, was present to tell us more about the Original Texas Whisky from Waco, Texas. Balcones takes great pride in being the first whisky to be legally produced and legally sold in Texas since Prohibition. The distillery has become quite the destination, and tours are constantly at capacity during tasting room hours. I’ve personally never visited the distillery, but after sampling the welcome cocktail and eyeing the whisky pairings that I had yet to try, I felt compelled to plan a trip.
*Note from Susie: I’ve visited. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. Go. Taste all the things.*

As far as events go, anything that involves pairing Katherine Clapner’s chocolates with the Balcones portfolio you KNOW it’s going to be good. This is especially true when Katherine refers to one of Balcones’ spirits as “the magical unicorn”—not surprisingly, the eponymous Rumble, which is intriguingly made out of fermented Texas wildflower honey, Mission figs, and turbinado sugar. I had never heard of such a creation! And true to the name of the event, the Rumble didn’t just get one pairing this evening; it got TWO: DSC’s Flower Child truffle featuring Earl Grey tea flavors, and the FDA Salami, a playful chocolate comprised of California marizpan, dried figs, dates, cocoa nibs, and chocolate rolled to resemble a savory salami.

Katherine paired the Texas Rye 100 Proof whisky with her Vietnamese coffee house-style Hanoi fudge. I am a sucker for Vietnamese coffee, so this was an easy favorite. The TX Single Malt paired exceptionally well with Dude, Sweet’s Rooibus Chai chocolates with its toasted malt and honey notes and hints of cinnamon and cloves.

However, the showstopper was the last tasting pair: Balcones Brimstone, which tastes of campfire, brûléed sugar, and pepper, paired with BACON. FAT. CARAMEL. SKULLS.


Take a moment to let that sink in.


Brimstone’s intensity was tempered beautifully by the bacon fat and caramel, which coated the tongue like velvet.

The crowd got to walk around from station to station and taste the pairings at their leisure while Katherine and Toné walked around to answer any questions we had. The vibe was super casual and fun, with music, conversation, and laughter punctuating the subsequent hours.

I left with a warm belly, a happy spirit, and of course, a Dude, Sweet bag of goodies that I just couldn’t leave without purchasing. Sweet, indeed.


DUDE SWEET CHOCOLATE
dudesweetchocolate.com
multiple locations

BALCONES DISTILLING
balconesdistilling.com
225 South 11th Street (Waco)
(254)755-6003

Axe and the Oak

You guys… I may have found my new favorite old fashioned! Okay okay, it’s at least in my top three. But let’s back up.

Last week I went to 3Eleven Kitchen and Cocktails for the launch of Axe and the Oak Distillery to try out some cocktails featuring their Colorado Mountain Bourbon and Incline Rye Whiskey. If you haven’t heard of Axe and the Oak Distillery, that could be because they operate out of Colorado Springs, CO and just started distributing to Texas—and they made Dallas their first stop!

I had the chance to chat with some of the Axe and the Oak team that came into town for the launch. Everyone was so excited about the expansion into Texas and they couldn’t stop gushing about their experience with the distillery. They said the best thing about their brand was that “they’re surrounded by the best people in the world.” The vibes were almost contagious as everyone enjoyed snacks, cigars and most importantly, the whiskey.

Now, about that old fashioned. For the launch, they had ingredient driven provisions being served. The one I sampled was a delicious variation of a Kentucky Mule. But, I’ll be honest; their signature cocktail was the real show-stopper—the Tobacco Old Fashioned. It was almost as fun to watch them make it as it was to drink it. They got the deep smoky flavor by torching a plank of wood and then trapping smoke inside the glass before they added the bourbon … and other good stuff. The smoky flavor wasn’t overbearing and the other flavors were perfectly mixed by beverage manager, Jay Khan.

Axe and the Oak was awarded the New York International Spirit Competition “Colorado Whiskey Distillery of the Year.” You can now find their Bourbon and Rye Whiskey at Specs, Goody Goody and Siegels (with even more retailers coming soon) starting around $42 a bottle.

For more information, visit them at www.axeandtheoak.com.

Throw It Back with the Harwood District

It feels like the ultra-hip Uptown/Downtown Dallas neighborhood, the Harwood District, is constantly introducing tasty, new restaurants, bars, and hangout spots, so it’s hard to believe that Harwood International is actually celebrating their 30th anniversary this month. To celebrate this milestone, each of the beloved Harwood District concepts are throwing it back to the 80s by adding old-school “Throwback 30” favorites to their menus—think Sloppy Joes and Monte Cristos. Obviously, this is my kind of party, so I had to check it out.

I went to The Grove at Harwood to enjoy the last days of summer and taste the limited-edition Frozen Bleu Hawaiian cocktail—their Throwback 30 item. Sitting in the sun, sipping this drink, and listening to the mellow remixes of top hits that were playing, I could have sworn that I was at the beach and not in the heart of Dallas. It was that relaxing! … and then a semi drove by and honked. 😂

Their take on the Frozen Bleu Hawaiian is sweet, but (luckily) lacks that super syrupy taste that you sometimes get with frozen cocktails. (Yaaaaa no thanks.) Their FBHs is served in custom Throwback 30 cups complete with branded stir sticks with a flag featuring a mix tape—a symbol everyone from the 80s knows and begrudgingly loves.

The Grove is always a good time and they have so many activities to keep you occupied while you sip on cold beverages, make your way through a bottle, or chow down at their very own food truck. Grab your pup and your friends and head over before the summer is over. And don’t forget to try this throwback cocktail while playing a friendly game of sand volleyball or giant Jenga.

In honor of this milestone anniversary, all seven of the restaurants in the Harwood District will be throwing it back to the 1980s with the addition of popular throwback favorites to menus, including: 

Magnolias: Sous Le Pont: Don’t Stop Brew-Lievin’ Cold Brew – a fun play off of the popular 80’s rock band song by Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Marie Gabrielle: On Wednesdays Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens, an urban escape featuring a 1.5 acre garden, river birch trees, an 8,265 square-foot pond, as well as interior and exterior accommodations, will serve Sloppy Joes.

Mercat Bistro: Inspired by a French steak dish named after 19th century composer Gioachino Rossini, Mercat Bistro will add Tournedos Rossini to their menu. 

The Grove at Harwood: The Grove will be featuring their take on the refreshing tropical cocktail Blue Hawaiian – the Frozen Bleu Hawaiian.

Dolce Riviera: Introducing Fettuccine Mare e Monti, a traditional dish inspired by the sea and the mountains.

Happiest Hour: Join Dallas’ largest patio-bar for a celebration that includes a go-to classic, the Monte Cristo sandwich. This savory toasted ham sandwich will have you transporting back in time. 

Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar: Begin your meal at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar by digging into their special Seven Layer Dip, which became overwhelming popular in the 1980s.


The Grove at Harwood
harwoodgrove.com
3019 McKinnon Street (Uptown/Harwood District)
(214) 663-1001

The Sake Social Hour at Uchiba

When Uchi announced that it would be opening a more bar-focused concept earlier this year, I could barely contain my excitement. (Though, I know many of us Top Knot-lovers were a bit wary.) You can breathe easy, because the new concept is yoi (gooooood).

The name makes sense—the word Uchiba combines “Uchi,” which means house in Japanese, and “Ba,” bar. Since its opening on January 31, this concept brought to us by Chef Tyson Cole under the Hai Hospitality umbrella, is Uchi’s sleek and stylish little sister has been a hit for those seeking shareable bites, fabulous décor and incredible cocktails.

 

If you’re anything like me (and our friend Susie), you love a good happy hour, but really love when the good happy hour also has incredible food. That’s why I was so excited to go check out Uchiba’s Sake Social Hour, which is offered daily from 5-6:30pm and the entire menu is $10 or less! Yes, you read that right! It features delicious creations like their hot fried chicken buns, spicy crunchy tuna temaki and hama chili. Oh, and not to mention, half priced specialty cocktails.

All of the food I sampled was incredible, but you can’t miss the nigiri (which is only $2 during the social hour)! I also tried both types of temaki that is offered during the Social Sake Hour, and while it’s hard to choose a favorite, the spicy crunch tuna has a little bit of spice with which the avocado perfectly complimented. And do yourself a favor and order the hot fried chicken bun. It’s similar to Nashville hot chicken but with Asian-style flare. They definitely have a kick but nothing too overbearing.

And the cocktails … yassss. All of the specialty cocktails are half-priced during the social hour. I started out with the Too Much Heaven, which was very similar to an old fashioned but with a nice hint of lemongrass. My second choice was the Sanmittai, a refreshing blend of gin, lemongrass, black warrior shochu, cilantro, mint and basil. It’s like an herb garden in a cup—in the most delicious way possible. If specialty cocktails aren’t your thing, Uchiba also offers a variety of wine and beer for a steal.

Something to note: if after you’ve had a taste of the social hour and you need to really fulfill your Uchiba fix, you can order from the full menu at the same time! I’ve heard that the fried milk dessert is to die for.

You can either walk-in or make reservations based on availability for the Sake Social Hour. If you’re planning to check it out on a Friday or Saturday, I would definitely recommend calling at least a few days in advance since those are some of the most popular days.

Sake Social Hour: DAILY, 5-6:30pm
1/2 price all specialty cocktails
$4-5 select wine & beer
$2 nigiri (sake, avocado, or hamachi)
$2-3 yakitori (shishito yaki, pork belly, or ribeye)
$6 temaki (sake karei or spicy crunchy tuna)
$6-8 tastings (hama chili, foie gras mousse, yuca fries, or hot fried chicken buns)
$6 selected seasonal dessert


UCHIBA
uchiba.com
Instagram | Facebook Twitter
214-855-5454
2817 Maple Avenue, 2nd floor (Uptown)
complimentary valet

Cover image courtesy of Uchiba.
**Thanks to Uchiba for treating Lauren to happy hour.**

Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ

Growing up Texan, I basically came out of the womb eating brisket and ribs. I mean, what Texan didn’t? Eating brisket burnt ends are like biting into a piece of heaven… with bbq sauce… okay anyway. If you love good BBQ and great atmosphere you are sure going to love this place. I know I did.

Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ is definitely the spot to hang out at. This fun spot serves up smoked meats, unique cocktails and oh, a 50-foot working Ferris wheel. The place is dog friendly, hosts occasional concerts and events, and has games like cornhole and jenga if you’re the competitive type.

As much as I wanted to eat everything on the menu, I stuck with a two-meat plate. I ordered turkey, and of course, I HAD to get burnt ends. Let me just say, that this is the best BBQ I have had in a long time. As a self-proclaimed BBQ eating professional, that is saying a lot. The brisket had amazing flavor and just melted in my mouth. The turkey was moist and soft, and left me in a coma afterwards. Served alongside are your choice of two sides, so I asked the bartender for his recommendation, and without hesitation told me to get okra. The okra was seasoned perfectly and was just the right amount of crispy. I had to stop myself from eating the entire basket.

This place is so Texas. Their cocktail menu proves it—they even have Lemon Chills. That’s right … their version of the old school lemon treats that we shouldn’t have been allowed to touch because they are gazillion grams of sugar. Turns out, they’re better when there’s booze in ’em. This refreshing drink will take you back to your childhood and give you a buzz, how great is that? I’ll take 3.

Their cocktail options aren’t limited to over-the-top sweet options. Look for a little more heavy-handed options like the Old Timer (an Elijah Craig bourbon old fashioned) and the Gentleman’s Handshake (a Lone Star tall boy & a shot of Evan Williams whiskey). Take it easier with one of their local beers—canned or on tap. And as wines go, they have glasses and bottles of a variety of options. You can even get a little chi-chi at the BBQ joint with a bottle of Veuve for $110.

Courtesy of Ferris Wheelers

You should know, thought, that this BBQ spot is more than just a restaurant. Keep an eye on their event schedule for upcoming concerts and special events!

Ferris Wheelers left such a good impression on me, through food, atmosphere and service. Come check out this smokin’ hot place, make some friends and ride the Ferris Wheel! You won’t regret it.


FERRIS WHEELERS
ferriswheelers.com
1950 Market Center Boulevard (Design District)
(214) 741-4141

Casa M. Spice Company Gives Bland Chicken Hope

I’ll be honest, I’m not a great cook. It seems like everything I try to cook just ends up bad, blah, or (unintentionally) bruléed. I tend to have a problem of going to the store, standing in the spice aisle, and buying all of the spices on the shelf in hopes that my chicken will turn out not … bland.

After trying Casa M. Spice Company‘s spices, I now see a glimmer of hope for my kitchen. These spices can make anything delicious; your brisket, pork, watermelon, or even cocktails! This awesome company has flavor covered.

Why this company is different: because it is all about family. When I met the owners Mike and Manny, I was taken aback by how much they truly care for their spices and the people that support them. They are committed to making every meal great. As said on their (super cool) website, “Here at Casa M Spice Co™, we prioritize great flavor, because great flavor makes great food, and great food makes great memories.”

All of their spices are:
– Gluten Free
– MSG Free
– Low Sodium
– Dairy and Nut Free
– Animal Product Free
– Made in Texas

They care about their customers so much that they’re completely transparent about their mixes; their website lists exactly what goes into each blend.

Chain Reaction. The perfect spice to rim on a mango margarita! This base spice complements a margarita well and it would be perfect for a day at the beach or by the pool. You can also add this to a bloody mary or a corona for a little extra kick!
Ingredients:  salt, garlic, paprika, spices, peppers, & onion

Cattle Drive. This rub was my favorite! It was delicious on the brisket we tried and it added an extra texture to the meat. Add this rub to any beef, and you’ll be sure to be the best grill master in town. I’m drooling thinking about it … so please hold while I wipe my keyboard.
Ingredients:  spices, sugar, onion, salt, garlic, paprika, & peppers

These seasonings are sure to make everything you eat and drink amazing. Sign up to be the first to know when these spices launch! They’re sure to spice things up in the kitchen … and the bar. (We had to use the pun. Sorry, not sorry.)



CASA M SPICE COMPANY
casamspice.com

Susie knows all things boozy …