Bar Review: Bottled In Bond (Dallas)

While in Dallas last week for work I was driving north on the Dallas North Tollway and happened to be figuring out my plan for dinner when I saw Bottled in Bond and pulled off the road. What a great name for a bar! Their website says it perfectly:

No one likes rules and regulations but we are allowed to enjoy great whiskey today thanks to the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897….

To be labeled as Bottled-in-Bond or Bonded, the liquor must be the product of one distillation season (January to December) and one distiller at one distillery. It must have been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). The bottled product’s label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled. Only spirits produced in the United States may be designated as bonded.

This very Act is the foundation behind the concept for our Cocktail Parlour & Kitchen allowing people to experience the thriving era of craft cocktails and American Whiskey in a unique atmosphere.

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Bottled in Bond has a classic design with a great long bar that can seat 20. There is a lot of wood and glass in the cases used to display their spirits.I did not count the bottles behind the bar and on the cocktail list but I am guessing it was north of 150. The music mix gives it a good vibe.

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Jasin Burt, the owner, has done it all right. Lucky for me he was tending bar that night. As I always do, I started with an Old Fashioned and Jasin makes a great cocktail. He uses Evan Williams Bottled as his house bourbon, one of my favorites. We started talking whiskey and bourbon. Our conversation could have gone on all night.

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Their happy hour is from 4-7 PM and the list of items in it will satisfy anyone. The “Bonded Happy Hour” menu includes six items at only $7 each. I started with the deviled eggs. They have bacon and relish on top of them, and they were delicious. You get six, which is easily shared by 2 or 3 people.

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While waiting on the eggs Jasin poured me a little Slaughter House Bourbon. I had never seen or tried it before. It was very good with a strong hint of cocoa. It was a nice compliment to the deviled eggs.

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I then got a pour of Forged Oak to sip with the Italian Caprese flatbread I had ordered. I was curious to try it as I have seen its price hold steady, or drop versus the other Orphan Barrel releases. It was good, and I wanted to compare it to something.

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Jasin suggested Old Forester Statesman. What a nice comparison and the Statesman really held up and shined. Both were excellent with the very flavorful flatbread.

I can’t say enough good things about Bottled in Bond. Jasin and the entire staff were very knowledgeable, friendly, and made me feel at home. I love talking bourbon when I am drinking bourbon, and I learned a lot from Jasin. The conversation was lively, and the food fantastic. If you happen to be in the North Dallas/Frisco area, it’s definitely worth a stop. They are only a stone’s throw from the new Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. You will be delighted you made the trip.

Untitled Super Club (Chicago)

While sitting at the bar at the Berkshire Room, I had a nice conversation with a few locals who told told me I had to go to the Untitled Super Club before I left town – a self-described “Contemporary revival of a Prohibition-era Chicago Supper Club” combining fine dining with a classic social club-feel complete with live music and Cabaret-style entertainment.

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The club has a very nondescript entrance, as you might guess. Once inside the door are stairs down to the basement. Behind the stairs is a big glass case filled with whiskey bottles.

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Once downstairs I was bombarded with the ambiance of the surroundings –  comfortable lounging areas and fun art. On each side of the stairway are two large bars with a spectacular display of whiskies. They claim to have one of the largest collections available. I cannot dispute that fact.

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What made the experience even greater was the hospitality of the bartenders. Mick, who asked what I would like, greeted me. I judge a bar by their cocktails and I usually start with an Old Fashioned. Mick was a terrific bartender. He was attentive, knowledgeable and knew his whiskey.

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We started talking about what kind of bourbons I liked and I had tried. He suggested I try the Garrison Brothers Single Barrel. It was quite good. I still have not figured out the nose but I said burlap, Mick said top of the rick house.

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We then we moved on to a discussion of Japanese Whiskey. I said the ones I had tried did not impress but I knew they were not the best. He suggested the Yamazaki 12 year-old Single Malt. Once again, he hit it right on. I would try this again and I am not a single malt person.

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The last one I tried was Widow Jane from New York. Another great selection and bourbon. I will add a bottle to my bar.

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We ended the night when Mick brought out the Cynar for those left at the bar. Cynar is an artichoke based bittersweet liqueur known for its distinctive flavor. Its taste is enriched by an infusion of 13 herbs and plants. The name of the drink derives from Cynar scolymus, the botanical name for artichoke. Try it sometime; it’s very appealing.

The Untitled Supper Club is definitely worth a stop when visiting Chicago. I’m looking forward to visiting again when I’m in town next.

Bar Review: King Street Oyster Bar (Leesburg, Virginia)

Serendipity is sometimes the best part of a trip.  We have gone on vacations without hotel reservations or knowing where our travels might lead us.  On our recent  trip to Virginia we landed at Dulles and before heading to our hotel wanted to explore the area a little bit. We landed in Leesburg.

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In Leesburg we did a little shopping before dinner and saw a cute place called King Street Oyster Bar.  It’s a small restaurant and bar set up in an old storefront right downtown, and, it turns out, had only been open a couple of months.  Lynn likes to get good shellfish when she is on the east coast and this looked like a fun place to start.  Me, well, I was looking for a bourbon drink!

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We sat right in the front window and decided to drink and graze.  They have a fun menu with a good selection for anyone.  We started with a “New York Sour.”  It was made with the bourbon of your choice,  lemon juice, simple syrup, and topped with red wine.  It was really good and very different.  They have a good bourbon and whiskey selection and a very friendly staff to help with you with your choice.  And great happy hour prices on drinks and oysters.

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Speaking of selection, the apps and food options were terrific.  We started with the “Bleu Cheese Chips” which are potato chips (looked home made?) topped with basil aioli, marinated tomatoes, and warm bleu cheese.  You can see by the picture it’s a meal itself.

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For dinner, Lynn then had 2 varieties of raw oysters followed by “King Street Oysters” – which were grilled oysters with blue crab, Tasso ham, and roasted corn.  I am so sorry I didn’t get a picture, they tasted and looked amazing.  I also had fish and chips, which were very good.


If you are looking for a little history, some fun shopping, and a taste of Virginia near Dulles Airport, try King Street Oyster House.  The patrons and staff were all very friendly.  We were so glad we stopped in and I am sure you will be pleased as well.

Bar Review: The Whiskey House (San Diego)

Last weekend, we drove down to San Diego for a Padres game with our good friends Ray and Jeannine, who own Highland Valley Vineyards (they make some incredible red wines at HVV, and well worth a Sunday afternoon to visit their vineyard). They promised that after the game we would stop in the Whiskey House in San Diego. I knew it was going to be a killer experience when I looked in the door and all the walls were covered with lighted shelves and whiskey, after whiskey, after whiskey!

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They had so many whiskeys I was in awe. They claim to have over 1,400 whiskeys, and I am not going to dispute that claim. WOW I was in “Bourbon Heaven.” Lynn, Jeannine, and Ray had ordered craft cocktails and they were all good. Lynn had an Old Fashioned, and Jeannine a Manhattan. I was just memorized by the list; I had to try bourbon that I had not experienced previously.   The list is huge! Many seemed very reasonable but $299 for a pour of Pappy seemed a little steep.

From their website:

The Whiskey House features over 1,400 whiskeys, craft cocktails, 20 international draft beers, an eclectic wine list and a delectable menu of house made fare. We specialize in house made sausages, fresh ground burgers, exotic cheeses, and charcuterie and downtown’s newest breakfast café, just next door… The Lazy Hippo, offering healthy breakfast items and savory favorites, along with fresh squeezed juices and smoothies.

By the time we got there after a long but successful Padres game the clock was about to turn to AM so we did not try any food but it looked really good. This will be a regular stop for me when in San Diego. The atmosphere is very dark, warm, and inviting. There are is kinds of seating from bar stools, tables, to sofas so you can enjoy your favorite spirit in a relaxed environment.

The next day we took in the races at Del Mar and on Saturday we saw California Chrome win the Pacific Classic. What a great weekend of baseball, whiskey, wineries, horses and good friends. When in San Diego you must put this on your to-do list!

Bar Review: Whiskey Cake (again)

If you read my blog regularly you have probably already read about Whiskey Cake in Plano, TX. They have several hundred whiskies behind the bar. I was in Dallas last week (more specifically in Plano) on business. And once again I ended up at Whiskey Cake.

Lucky for me the chalkboard Happy Hour Cocktail Special was an Elijah Craig Old Fashioned for $5.00. I couldn’t resist and I wasn’t disappointed. They do a great job with their cocktails and its fun to just sit at the bar and watch their bartenders craft a lot of drinks. I love watching someone who enjoys their craft and is good at it.

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Well now for something off the menu I had not tried. The “OMG Burger” and it was amazing….! You can tell by the picture it’s a mouthful. The menu says they start with “onions, mushrooms, and goodness on a brisket burger, beer battered onion ring, roasted criminis, muenster, grain mustard, red chili mayo, lettuce, tomato, on put it on a challah bun.”

After the Old Fashioned, OMG Burger, and watching a lot of the Home Run Contest I decided it was time to finish off dinner with a Sazerac for my night cap. I had mine with Sazerac rye whiskey, simple, peychaud’s bitters, angostura bitters, absinthe rinse. A nice drink for $9.00.

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When in the Plano-area it is worth a trying Whiskey Cake. Great menu of appetizers, a lot of good sandwiches, main dishes, and salads.   But the main reason to go if you are a bourbon or rye drinker is their selection that you won’t find in many bars. They have been listed as one of the Top 50 Bourbon Bars in the USA.

They also do special dinners and the most recent was written on the Brown paper roll on the wall. A Whistle Pig pairing dinner. I can’t wait to go back and try something else on the menu!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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.

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

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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.

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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!