Bar Review: FIG (Charleston, SC)

Lynn and I spent Memorial Day Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia for a wedding in Augusta.  We started in Charleston on Friday night. We got in late and decided to head to FIG and see if we could get seats at the bar. Lucky for us, we put our name on the list and got seated in about 15 minutes.


FIG is an acronym for “Food Is Good” and as a bourbon blogger I have to say the drink is good too! They have a nice bourbon and whiskey selection with a creative cocktail menu. Lynn had “I’ll be Bach” which is made from Rittenhouse Rye, Dry Curaçao, dueling bitters, and Prosecco.


I had the “Brooklyn” which is made from 12-year-old Elijah Craig, Dolin Dry, Maraschino cherries, Ramazzoti. Both were very good and very different.


After enjoying our cocktails we ate some really good food. I had the special pork entree for the evening. It was so tender and so tasty. It was served with Carolina Gold Rice. The rice was good as well. Lynn had 2 appetizers. One was the rock fish which was served raw on Carolina Gold Rice with some wasabi on it. The other the Razor Clams served in a summer tomato sauce. The food was amazing and we topped it off with the Toasted Coconut Panna Cotta with blueberry, lime, & granola.

We love to sit at the bar, we always meet nice people, talk whiskey and food, and learn from the bartenders and staffs. We had a great time and will go back next time we are in Charleston. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my review of Fifth & Fitch in Augusta.

Bar Review: Yard House – a “mile” of enjoyment

Lynn and I love to go to Yard House in Brea, CA for their happy hour cocktails, appetizers, or dinner. After we walk across the street to see a movie. Yard House is a wonderful place to enjoy your normal spirit, a craft cocktail or one of their over 125 beers on tap! They have  a great assortment of everything from beer and wine, to spirits and cocktails. They also serve fun and tasty appetizers and main courses. We have never had a bad meal there and I should own stock in the Brea location we go so often. To top it all that off there are big screen TV’s everywhere to watch sports, and they have a great enclosed patio when you want to sit outside.

Back to Happy Hour. Their happy hour is Monday to Friday from 3:00-6:00 PM and they have a “Late Night Happy Hour” from 10:00 PM – Close. Their happy hour has domestic pints and well drinks for $1.00 off. Import pints, wine, craft cocktails, and call spirits are $2.00 off. Martini’s $3.00 off and half yards $4.00 off. There are 26 different appetizers that are discounted and if I tried to list the ones we like most, I would list most of them. You can’t miss with the chicken lettuce wraps, pizza’s, Poke Stack, Moo Shu egg rolls, and the onion ring tower to name a few. They have some huge booths that hold 8-10 so take some friends and make it a party.

If happy hour is too early for your schedule, make a night of it with dinner and some of their terrific cocktails, wine, or beer. Their entrees are as good as their appetizers. They have a wide variety of options including salads, pizzas, seafood, steaks, burgers, street tacos, and the list goes on and on. My favorites are the chicken enchilada stack, Southern fried chicken breast, mac+cheese2. We always start with cocktails. My favorite is an solid “Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned,” and Lynn usually gets an “Old 43” which is made with Woodford Reserve, Licor 43, Citrus Agave, and Orange Bitters.

I like to drink a Kronenbourg 1664 with my dinner. We drank Kronenbourg 1664 in St. Martin on an anniversary trip 30 years ago and I haven’t seen it anywhere else on tap in Southern California.

Yes, this was an unpaid advertisement but when you like a place this much you have to share it with friends, family and blog followers!

My bourbon bottle is empty!

Or an alternative title is how to decorate with bourbon bottles! My wife, Lynn, got the idea a few months ago to use empty bourbon bottles to decorate at our Derby Party last weekend. As you can see by the pictures below, they make the perfect centerpiece for a party that revolves around Mint Juleps and the Kentucky Derby.

Our backyard set up for last weekend’s Derby Party

Lynn did some research online looking for ideas on how to use them. She spent a morning at the LA Flower Mart to find the tablecloths and wood rounds that served as the bases. She coupled those with red roses in our silver julep cups. Taylor added the bougainvillea and we had the perfect centerpiece for the Kentucky Derby!

An empty Basil Hayden’s bottle put to a new use

If you don’t throw parties and want to recycle your empty bottles to buy more bourbon, try eBay. Empty Pappy Van Winkle bottles have sold on eBay for over $200. In a recent auction, a set of 15-20-23 sold for $599.00. A 20-year-old Orphan Barrel Barterhouse bottle sold for $12.00. You can watch and see many of the empty higher priced bourbon bottles sell from a $1.00 to $25 over $100.00. Everybody collects something. And if you are just looking for some unique bottles to decorate with, eBay is a great place to scan for bargains.

You can also use empty bottles to decorate the back of a bar, or even as soap dispensers. With the breadth of ideas you see on Etsy  and Pinterest these days you can find a lot of ideas to use that empty bottle. At the very least, recycle it so someone can make a new use out of the bourbon bottle!

A Bourbon Adventure for Maker’s Mark

We are in final preparation mode for our Derby party tomorrow. I had to share a little story about efforts to track down a bottle of Maker’s Mark’s limited edition American Pharaoh bottle that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. I had visited both Hi-Time Wine Cellars and BevMo here in Orange County searching for a bottle. Having seen American Pharaoh win the triple crown last year and being a big horse racing fan, I really wanted a bottle – and I really wanted one to display on the bar at tomorrow’s party. Unfortunately both Hi-Time and BevMo hadn’t received any and it sounded like they didn’t think they would be.

In my search I learned that stores in California might not even be receiving any, but that they were on shelves in the East. So, naturally, I called my daughter, who lives in Richmond, Virginia. I asked her if she could check out her local ABC store (state controlled liquor stores in Virginia… boo) and see if they had any or thought they would be getting any. Taylor called two stores and both said they hadn’t received any. She then swung by the store at the ABC warehouse in Richmond. While they hadn’t received any, they offered to do an inventory search for her. The closest store that had any was in Hopewell, Virginia, about 35 minutes away. For some reason, they had received 12! And every other store in Richmond, zero. So, Taylor took off for Hopewell and snagged a bottle just in time to bring it out to California for me for the Derby party.

Below is the photo and text message I received from Taylor when she got home:

“Who’s your favorite child now? Drove all the way to Hopewell to get you that bad boy”

Last night we checked out what these bottles are going for on eBay. Most it looks like are selling for about twice the shelf price. Taylor now wishes she bought all 12 bottles!

If you’re in the hunt for one of these, good luck! I struck out in Orange County. Curious if anywhere in Southern California has received some? Happy early-Derby Day!

Bourbon Recipe: Bourbon Slush for a Bourbon Blast

Another favorite drink at our annual Kentucky Derby party, besides mint juleps, is Bourbon Slush. It’s great for a large gathering when you need to make drinks for a crowd and this recipe is a real crowd pleaser. Lynn got the recipe out of Porch Parties, a really great book full of cocktail recipes to be enjoyed outdoors by Denise Gee (she also has a Southern Cocktails book that I want to check out).


The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made a day, a week, or a month in advance. Once made you thaw it in a punch bowl and it makes slush on its own. You can add crushed ice if you wish to keep it slushy.

Lynn made it for our Derby Party a few years ago. She had some left in the freezer that we thawed later for another party in the summer and it was wonderful and refreshing. It very simple!


Bourbon Slush Recipe

6 Cups of water
2 Cups Bourbon
One 6-Ounce Container Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, Thawed
One 12-Ounce Container Frozen Lemon Juice Concentrate, Thawed
Strong Tea (Recipe below)
Garnish with Mint Sprigs or Lemon Slices (Optional)

Combine the water, tea, bourbon, sugar, orange, and lemon juice concentrate in a large container or bowl and mix until sugar dissolves. Pour into two gallon-size freezer bags. Freeze until an hour before serving, Place the frozen punch in a large bowl and let thaw breaking up every 15 minutes, When punch is melted, add more ice or water as desired. Serve in punch cups. Garnish, if desired.

Strong Tea:
2 Cups of water
1 family-size or 4 regular tea bags

Boil the water. Add the tea bag(s) and let steep until cool. Discard the tea bags and set aside.

This “Slush” will have everyone talking and enjoying their day at the races, or a summer afternoon on your porch. It’s an easy way to serve many while enjoying your party.