Bar Review: Vino Nostra (Fullerton, California)

Wine Bar Review, WINE BAR REVIEW?

I know exactly what you are thinking, this is a BOURBON blog. Well, one has to diversify at times and this is that time. We have friends and relatives who own wineries, wine bars, restaurants, and craft breweries. I have to give some quality time to my friends of the grape and hops.


On Saturday we stopped by Vino Nostra, a wonderful “Retail, Beer, and Wine Bar” in Fullerton, California. We were there to pick up our June Wine Club bottles. Vino Nostra is the creation of Dena and Kevin David. Dena has been involved in the wine and restaurant business for years and she has put that knowledge and experience to good use.


On their website they have the following quote:

“Grapes. One of the crops that helped found northern Orange County. Grapes and wine, in part, founded Fullerton, and in that tradition, Vino Nostra was created.”

The Wine Club (which is filling up quickly), is unique in that Dena selects 3 unique wines for you quarterly and as part of the club there is a private reception to pick up your wines where you can taste them while enjoying small bites, cheese, fruit, and this month we enjoyed some delicious tri-tip sliders!


More importantly it’s a great spot to try a huge selection of unique wines and craft beer. They have small bites available daily. With very friendly owners and staff its always warm and welcoming. Dena has been creative in having Tastings and Tacos on the 1st Tuesday of the month, regular Thirsty Thursdays, and the 2nd Sunday of the month an “Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social” with some cider for the ice cream.  They are also one of the hosts the Fullerton Art Walk.


Vino Nostra is open Tuesday through Sunday until 10:00 PM, opening times vary by day. It’s a short walk for us, but worth the drive from your home or office. Give it a try and you will discover one of the best spots in Downtown Fullerton!

A Very Bourbon Father’s Day

Every bourbon lover dreams of Bourbon gifts. There really is an unlimited list of things you can get a bourbon lover for Father’s Day, or any occasion. Whether it’s bourbon, glasses, barware, clothes, and decorating accessories just to name a few.

I hit the jackpot this year as our kids and my wife all got me bourbon related gifts! I got a set of Glencairn tasting glasses from the Army Navy Country Club where our son is a member. (I also got a tie from Army Navy, and being a tie guy I just loved that as well.) Glencairn tasting glasses have been on my wish list for a while and it’s fun to have a personal set!

Our daughter gave me letterpress coasters that have a Mint Julep recipe on them. They are both fun and practical. Now I can stop stealing coasters when I am in bourbon bars! Seriously, they will be fun to use when guest are over for a cocktail or tasting. The coasters are from Haute Papier. They sell some fun sets with all different drink recipes on them, but given my love for the Kentucky Derby our daughter had a custom set made with just the Mint Julep recipe.

My new coasters with my new tasting glasses!

I also got a Nike Dri-Fit Golf shirt with “The Bourbon Review” embroidered on it. There are a lot of shirts out there with Bourbon themes. The shirt is from Bourbon Outfitters. They have most anything you would want related to Bourbon gifts.

A lot of distilleries offer a great selection of gifts. If you know your bourbon lover’s favorite brand, go to their website for ideas.

Lastly, I splurged and bought myself a bottle of Jefferson’s Reserve Groth Reserve Cask Finish Bourbon at High-Time Wine Cellars a few weeks ago. Bourbon is always a great gift for any bourbon lover. Picking a bourbon is a little like picking a horse to bet on at the races. Some go for the confirmation or silks (The Package), some use the racing form and past performances (Reputation), and some people go for the odds (Price and Value).


Whatever method you use your gift will be appreciated. No matter the occasion or reason for the gift, any bourbon lover will love a bourbon gift. A belated Happy Father’s Day to all those Bourbon Dads out there!

Bar Review: Thoroughbred Club (Charleston, SC)

I always do my bourbon research before traveling – whether it’s asking friends for recommendations or turning to the internet. Thoroughbred Club in the Belmond Place Hotel was suggested as a top place to visit in Charleston by the Charleston City Paper.

After walking all over Charleston while we were there for Memorial Day Weekend and dodging rain drops with weary feet we stopped for a drink at the Thoroughbred Club.


Its dark interior with horse racing memorabilia on the walls was just the ticket for me. The atmosphere was warm and inviting.


Their bourbon list is not as deep as some but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. They have a nice selection of bourbons, whiskey, spirits, beer, and wine. Head bartender Mouzon Taylor has developed a reputation for pairing bourbons with food, and he mixes up some splendid bourbon cocktails.

I had an Old Fashioned. This trip was kind of like our Florida Keys trip a few years ago where every stop included Key Lime Pie. We tried a lot of Old Fashions in Charleston and the one I had at the Thoroughbred Club was very good.


Lynn had a “Mouzon’s Mash.” It’s a silky blend of bourbon, fresh peaches, mint, lemon, and simple syrup created by Mouzon’s peach-farmer grandfather.

The staff was very friendly and helpful. You also get an amazing complimentary trio of a nut and snack mix. One cup had spicy, one regular, and one sweet. They have a very nice menu to compliment the bar selection. We did not try any food as we still had more ground to cover that afternoon. The reviews I have read are very positive and everything we saw looked good.

The bar was very full and lively, we look forward to returning to eat and try a few more of their cocktails.

By the way, I’ve found some of the best places for bourbon restaurant advice and other travel tips are Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and the New York Times travel section (they have some great 36 hour itineraries). Check them out before your next trip to bourbon country!

Bar Review: Husk (Charleston, SC)

No trip to Charleston is complete with out a meal at Husk. It’s a great restaurant and next door to it they have a cool bar. Both are in historic late 1800’s buildings. Husk is known for their food and bourbon and it’s tough to get a table. Husk has almost any bourbon you would ever want to try, and knowledgeable bartenders to help you make your choice.

Make sure to make reservations WAY in advance of your trip. Our daughter was in Charleston a couple months ago and as she and her husband pulled into town they tried to swing by Husk for a late lunch. The restaurant is so popular, rightfully so, that they were fully booked for lunch. When she mentioned this, Lynn immediately made reservations for our trip to Charleston over Memorial Day Weekend.

Husk describes their restaurant as:

“Centrally located in historic downtown Charleston, Husk, from James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s and the Neighborhood Dining Group, transforms the essence of Southern food. Led by Brock and Chef de Cuisine Travis Grimes, a Lowcountry native, the kitchen reinterprets the bounty of the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that begins in the rediscovery of heirloom products and redefines what it means to cook and eat in Charleston.”

Our meal was delicious! I had the fried chicken and it lived up to the billing. The menu changes daily and I had a tough decision to make between chicken fried steak and the fried chicken. The waiter suggested the fried chicken and that was all I needed to know. Lynn had the shrimp and grits. Both were winners. We finished lunch with the delicious Chocolate Chess Pie. The dessert menu even has recommended bourbon pairing for the dessert.

My Barrel Aged Manhattan at lunch
The delicious dessert menu!

After lunch we strolled, did some shopping, toured the historic Joseph Manigault house built in 1803, and the Charleston Museum. The Charleston Museum is recognized as the first museum in America. It was founded in 1773.

When the museum closed at 5:00pm, we found our way back to the Husk Bar which opens at 4:00pm daily.


It is very cozy with a long bar on the first floor and a nice room on the second floor for groups to sit and enjoy the food and beverage.


I tried the Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration. It is one of the creative offerings from Jefferson’s and was developed with the collaboration between Chef Edward Lee and Trey Zoeller Master Distiller. It has a hint of vanilla, cherry, and a little apple. It was a great pick and went well with the appetizer we had – pimento cheese on toast. I don’t remember all the ingredients but I do remember if was really good and went well with the Jefferson’s which was blended to be enjoyed with spicy foods.


Lynn had an old fashioned and they used an orange and cherry bitters which gave it a wonderful flavor.


Yes, we enjoyed Charleston, Husk, and, despite dodging a lot of rain over the weekend, look forward to our next trip there!

Bar Review: Who Goes to Augusta for the Bourbon?

Last weekend, we were in Augusta for the wedding of a good friend’s son. But we couldn’t pass up a great bourbon bar for lunch on the way to the wedding. So, I guess I went to Augusta for the bourbon.

The bar is Finch & Fifth and it’s only minutes from Augusta National. It’s in Surry Center, a nice shopping center with antique stores, clothing, and outdoor shops. Finch & Fifth has been there about 3 years.


The bourbon selection is superb. They have most anything you want Pappy, Orphan Barrels, older and new bourbons. They have almost anything you might want. On their website they say, “With craft cocktails, artisanal cheeses, and a creative twist on southern classics, Finch & Fifth is your new local hang out.”


I looked at the list of bourbons and decided on the Hillrock Solterra Aged Bourbon. I had not tried this one previously and they had it on their menu.


I was very impressed with the bourbon, the setting, and a top-notch BLT sandwich.


Lynn had an Old Fashioned and the Artisan Grilled Cheese (cablanca goat gouda, tomato, & smoky mayo on ciabatta).

Check out their menu on line – they have very creative drinks and food. We had a fun lunch and enjoyed a lot of attention from the bartender. The crowd was light but I am guessing most of the year it’s tough to get a seat in here with such good food and drinks.


Next time you go to Augusta stop in or if you need a good diversion stop over, you won’t be disappointed.