Category: Happy Hour

Cocktails| How To Make a Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is the perfect summer cocktail. It is sweet, citrusy, sparkling and refreshing. Gin cocktails are not normally thought of as light, but this one is. This particular concoction is perfect for those who don’t like the taste of alcohol but want the sweet buzz that they provide. So be careful with this one. This one can be deceptive! Watch the video below for more details.

For the written recipe, Click: (more…)

Where to Eat in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil… Part 1

I recently traveled to Rio de Janeiro for what turned out to be a glorious vacation. Every day was spent walking along the beach, day drinking and taking in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Of course, I ate some amazing food. Here are just a few of the spots that I recommend for you:

Galitos Grill (Ipanema)
Galitos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  This was intentionally my first stop! We didn’t get to our apartment in Ipanema until roughly 10pm BST. After we dropped our bags, we ran down the block to a closing Galitos, they were wiping things down and putting the chairs away. We told them we just arrived from America and had been dreaming about the food. So, to our delight, they prepared us a large feast to-go. If you are a Brazilian food beginner, someone who has never had Brazilian food or has limited experience with it– this is the perfect place to begin. Solid! Legit! My recommended meal (and what I ate every time i ate there): Galito ao molho picante forte (a whole chicken with spicy sauce– its really not spicy at all), Arroz com Brocolis (rice with broccoli shreds– it looks like green rice), Feijao (black beans- get one per person) and Farofa com Bacon (toasted coarse ground tapioca flour– trust me it is delicious on your beans). There are so many great things on the menu, but this is a great start.

Restaurant e Bistro Aquelas Coisas (Madureira)
Aquelas Coisas is so far off the beaten path that they aren’t even listed on most travel sites. This minority-owned bar is an unofficial hangout for the Portelense of Madureira (the supporters of the Portela Samba School in the neighborhood of Madureira). And they are a very warm and welcoming group. Aquelas Coisas makes this list, not because of the food, but for the atmosphere and events. You’ll find mostly outdoor seating, with live music and fresh churrasco (they actually place the grill in front of the restaurant sometimes). Anyway, if you find yourself all the way in the north zone, this place is worth a visit. Recommendation: Visit their facebook to find out what events are happening. You could happen upon a samba de raiz, pagode or block party.

 

Bibi Sucos (Copacabana 2)
Bibi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bibi Sucos is a chain of juice bars in Rio de Janeiro. They serve items you can get pretty much anywhere, BUT the atmosphere is super cool. My love described the decor as “so-cal”– southern California surfer style. I recommend this location because they are one of the few locations with indoor seating. The other locations have bistro tables on the street and their menus are very limited to only juices and acai, while this Copacabana location has sandwiches and more. Recommendation: Acai (ah-sah-EE) or a Suco Verde (SUE-coh VEH-jee).

 

Bar 48 (Rua Teixeira de Melo, Ipanema)
48 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This bar was just over a block from my airbnb in Ipanema, but I only discovered it in my last week. I missed out on so many cool events. To start: this bar is woman-owned, LGBTQ friendly and multicultural. The space stands out with graffiti’d walls, oil drums for tables, loud, live music and strong drinks! In the grand scheme of upscale and exclusive Ipanema, Bar 48 is a laid back and inclusive environment with patrons of all backgrounds– from the favelas to the luxury high rises. I enjoyed getting to know the staff, the owner and dancing with its regulars. And I definitely plan to return! Recommendation: Get to the “Happy Hour” early and get your check before the happy hour time ends.

 

Lapamaki (Ipanema)
Lapamaki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato For me, the best review a restaurant can have is being packed out every night. I never saw this restaurant on any lists. I just walked by it EVERY day and saw it full of people– inside and out. So on one drunken evening, we decided to check out our local sushi joint. They did not disappoint. The food was visually appealing, fresh and delicious. I really can’t say more. If you are in Ipanema, it is worth the wait for a table. Recommendation: Get one of the “combinados”, which are varietal platters appropriate for groups.

 

Pop Sucos
My airbnb was less than a block away from this burger joint. Yes, I know its called “sucos”, which is juices, but they also served burgers! So after reading the menu a few times, we decided to check it out. My experience with hamburgers in Rio was not stellar, but in watching the food go out to other tables, I realized that these weren’t your average Rio hamburgers. They were actually delicious. Pretty much US/ American quality! While on vacation in Rio, I didn’t really have any cravings for American foods, BUT this was a nice departure from the Brazlian fare that I’d been eating every day. I probably wouldn’t return only because legit hamburger places are popping up all over the city and I’ll want to try them too. But this one is pretty dayum good!  And I dig the pop-art decor. PS– they deliver!

 

Zaza Bistro
Zazá Bistrô Tropical Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato At the time of my visit, Zaza Bistro had the best reviews of any restaurant in my neighborhood. As I learned that night, it was for good reason. Zaza is located on a corner in what looks like an old house. It reminded me of restaurants in the Poncey-Highland area of Atlanta with bright color paint, wrought iron fence/art and fresh vegetation. The low lighting and middle eastern music actually made the vibe extremely sexy. The drinks, featuring niche ingredients, were delicious. The entrees were small but extremely flavorful and surprisingly filling. Recommendation: Order anything with octopus. You will NOT be disappointed. Its tender, juicy and well seasoned.

 

Casa de Feijoada
Casa da Feijoada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This had to be the most decadent and indulgent meal of my life to date. For some reason my love and I had the entire restaurant to ourselves– so the service seemed almost over the top. Here, there is no need for a menu. You came for the feijoada (fay-jo-AH-dah) completa: black beans, meat, rice, couve (collards), aipim (fried yuca), torresmo fritas (cracklin or chicharrones) and laranjas (oranges). This is basically an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The server replenishes everything as you go. Ours also kept our glasses full of my favorite brazilian drink: batida de maracuja (ba-CHEE-dah jee mah-dah-coo-JAH). This is a mixture of sweet passion fruit nectar and cachaca. I nearly had to be ROLLED out of this restaurant. And I fell asleep as soon as I got back to the apartment. Recommendation: Go early. Pace yourself. Walk home if you can– you’ll need the workout. LOL.

 

Look out for a second post with more recommendations. Let me know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook what you think. Much love. Remember, life is good. Eat it up!

Champagne… How to Choose Your Next Bottle of Bubbly

I love champagne! I don’t indulge nearly as much as I would like. I’d wake up to champagne if I could, but real life. And also, maybe you can relate, I’m overwhelmed by options. The info graphic below (from the Aria Resort and Casino in Vegas) might be helpful.

Champagne Guide Infographic

Below, click MORE for more details about champagne pairings.
“Pleasure without Champagne is purely artificial.” – Oscar Wilde

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The Bitter Truth about Bitters

The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set
The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set

I have to admit that for years I had no idea what “bitters” were. I would see the word in cocktail ingredients list and shrug it off. 

I also didn’t know that there were so many different types of bitters. I only ever saw angostura bitters and orange bitters on the shelf at the grocery store. So you can imagine my surprise when I started talking to mixologists about why they used bitters in drinks. 

So for those of you who don’t know:

What are bitters? Bitters are literally liquid extracts of herbs, seeds, barks, roots, rinds, flowers and leaves. .

What do bitters do? Bitters were historically used by apothecaries to aid in digestion among other things. Today they are used to add very specific flavors and to add amazing smells that bringing out mild, unique flavors in your cocktails.

Can I use bitters at home? If you want to upgrade your home bar, you should absolutely include at least two different types of bitters. You’ll seriously really impress your friends with your extensive home bar if you include these key ingredients.

Where do I start? Purchase The Bitter Truth Traveler. This set includes five different flavor bitters in a cool box. As an added bonus, this set is TSA regulation for in-flight carry-on bags! And from my personal experience, since you only need a few dashes per drink, this kit will last you a long time! 

For more information about the kit click here. And click below for cocktail recipes for the bitters!

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My First Time at The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

I was credentialed for the 2015 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the first time ever! This was huge for me because I’d never even attended as a civilian, and now DineWithDani is part of the press to cover the event. My how things change!

Anyway, it was a very rainy day in midtown. After checking in at the Loew’s Hotel and walking the few blocks to the festival grounds, patrons were scuttled into nearby parking garage until the storm [sorta] passed. Those of us waiting in the covered garage were allowed first entry when we the gates finally reopened– after all we were the first there.

I’ll admit a little bit of unwarranted disappointment when I first entered. I saw an area of booths to my left in the mud (um, no) and then I saw a tent full of liquor and sweets. I couldn’t fathom people paying hundreds of dollars for this, but once i got thru the liquor tent, I found two others behind it with all the good stuff!

*sigh* ahhh. This was what the hype was all about. My first bite of real food was an oyster with pot-liquor shaved ice on top. What? Wait, you froze pot liquor and now you’re gonna shave it on top of an oyster? How did you know this is what my heart desired when I didn’t even know? It was everything!

After that I saw barbeque joint after barbeque joint, from one end of the tent to the other. Places from right here in Atlanta to South Carolina to Texas. It was amazing. And they were all decent too. The stand out for me was One Hot Mama from South Carolina. Yes, please! Next time I’m there– that’ll be a stop on the road.

There were chocolatiers, bakeries, new american cuisine, new southern cuisine, indian, italian, and more, serving combinations I couldn’t even imagine. I was blown away by One Flew South. I’d heard good things and they were happily confirmed with some type of fava bean, chicken cracklin-something that made me dance. I ate at that booth twice!

There were bourbon companies, tequilas, beers, vodkas, wines. And I. Was. Lit. About halfway through. If you’re not into the food, no worries, there is plenty of booze to keep you occupied. But then, why wouldn’t you be into the food? The tasting tents are the best part of the festival right? WRONG!

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival offers VIP experiences like cooking demonstrations, dinners, book signings, parties, trainings, etc. I heard so many wonderful things about those that I can not wait to attend next year! Hopefully as credentialed media so I can actually interview the amazing chefs who come from all over the country. And maybe even as a presenter! I met a group of ladies, The Cocktail Bandits, who presented this year. I’m already in love with what they offer. So I now know that the standard is pretty high! Much like the ticket prices.

I won’t pretend that this festival is in everyone’s reach. A day pass is more than $100 for the tents alone. The VIP experiences come at a VIP premium. But if you want to make it happen, you won’t be disappointed. For some food festivals you have to pay to enter and then pay for tickets to get the food. At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival all of the samples/small plates are included in your ticket price. No surprises, no tickets, no long lines to re-up when you run low on tickets. I actually think I prefer this model because I know what it will cost up front to have the full experience.

I’ve made a slideshow of photos provided to me because my camera got wet. Womp womp. But I posted a few iphone videos on the official Dine With Dani facebook page from the festival grounds. I got all made up that morning, but you’ll can see how frizzy my hair got in the rain, how runny my makeup was from the steam and how glossy my eyes were from all the bourbon.

Anyway, when you see tickets go on sale for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival– be sure to grab them. It’s totally worth it. Wear comfortable shoes, check the weather report before leaving the house and if you have a wine glass lanyard– bring it! Trust me, I’m an expert now!

AFWF 2015.

Beer Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Orlando

I had the pleasure of dining at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. The chef’s special menu was paired perfectly with five different brews by New Belgium. Chef Will Walters did amazing job, the hotel staff treated us like royalty and after a great meal, it was nice to go up to a tidy, comfortable room. Enjoy this recap. 

 

 

 

National Margarita Day… Feb 22

Mango Scotch Bonnet Margarita
Mango Scotch Bonnet Margarita (recipe below)

Cinco de Mayo is not the only day you should celebrate with Margaritas. There is actually a NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY! I’m in!!

Some people struggle with making good margaritas. Here are some tips from the good people at Herradura Tequila so you can ditch the poorly made margaritas. And remember to say goodbye to artificial lemon juice.

1.       Avoid cheap tequila – If you are going to get serious about margaritas, you’ll need to invest in high-quality tequila. The key is being 100% agave, which means no additional sugars were added during fermentation process. Casa Herradura has been crafting 100% agave tequila since 1870 using traditional production methods. Use Herradura Silver for a taste of sweet, mild cooked agave notes with a touch of oak.

2.       Use real lime –using real lime juice is just as important. Avoid the artificial lime plastic ball, or any prepackaged sour mix and buy real limes. Limes are not expensive and they last a long time.  This will make a big difference!

3.       Get the orange stuff –Triple sec is key! This orange flavored liquor is sweet and it’s made from dried orange peels. You can substitute with blue curacao to make a blue margarita if you are feeling adventurous.

4.       It’s all about the measurements – The basic ratio measurement of a margarita is 2:1:1 which means two part tequila, one part of triple sec and one part lime juice. This will always depend on how strong you like your tequila so feel free to experiment with it.

I’ve shared below a recipe below! Cheers!

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Try This… Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail

I like to remind myself that somewhere its Happy Hour! So get your shaker ready!

You all may know by now that I LOVE Alie & Georgia. Their cocktails have as much personality as they do. PLUS they know how to turn my favorite desserts into drinks! I hope you’ll try this. And even if you don’t– just enjoy the video. They remind me of me with the BFF.

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