Don’t Make A Sad Mistake! Check Out These Friday Happy Hour Reviews Before Making Plans for Tomorrow … Plus The Queen Puts A Sizzlin’ Twist On Hot Apple Pie … And The Diva Jazzes Up Royal Street!

August 20, 2018

As part of our new blog format, here’s part two of this week’s blog to get you primed for the weekend.

Give Your Happy Hour Plans A Fresh Twist This Friday

Get out of the usual Friday Happy Hour rut and try someplace new tomorrow. Check out my past reviews for recommendations!

Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford

Ted’s Montana Grill in South Windsor

Mill On the River in South Windsor

Burtons Grill & Bar in South Windsor

The Republic in Bloomfield

The Cook and The Bear in West Hartford

Queen Cayenne’s “RED🔥HOT” Apple Pie Martini

Just when you thought it was safe, The Dark Diva’s alter ego has gone wild in the “la-bar-atory” to createthis spicy fall concoction!
It ain’t your mama’s hot apple pie!

In a glass with ice, combine:

• 1.5 oz. Full Moonshine Apple Pie
• 1.0 oz. Waypoint Spirits Small Batch Honey Habanero Flavored Whiskey
• 0.5 oz. Cruzan®Vanilla Rum
• 0.25 oz. La Belle Orange Gran Orange Liqueur
• 2 Dashes Tabasco®Original Pepper Sauce

Stir well, strain into a chilled martini glass and toast the sweet heat!

The Royal Street Jazz
AKA King’s Twisted Blues!

The Dark Diva’s at it again with another recipe celebrating #NOLA and #NCISNewOrleans. This lethal cocktail consists of:

• 1.0 oz. Sazerac®Rye Straight Rye Whiskey
• 0.5 oz. Sweet Vermouth
• 0.25 oz. La Belle Orange Gran Orange Liqueur
• 6 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Mix ingredients together in an 8 oz. glass with ice, stir and jazz up the moment with a toast to Royal Street!

 

Have a great weekend!

The Republic In Bloomfield Earns Strong Happy Hour Allegiances … Plus The Queen Gets Mean … And Enjoy An Early Taste Of Autumn, Dark Diva Style!

September 11, 2018

A Moment To Reflect

Hard to believe it’s the 17thAnniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. So, wherever you are today, please join with me in a toast to the memory of the victims and to honor all the first responders and others who made whatever sacrifices were necessary to rescue the survivors. Cheers!

________________________________________________

Here in CT, we had a delightful preview of autumn with cooler temps, which was a welcome break from the recent heat wave. It also seemed like the perfect time to crack the seal on the jar of Full Moonshine Apple Pie I had been saving since my trip to Hickory Ledges Farm & Distillery back in August and create some new recipes for the season. We’ll get to those a little later in the blog. First, I want to share my review of Friday Happy Hour at The Republic in Bloomfield, CT.

Service Was Right On The Mark … Literally

Those of you who follow my blog know that I place a premium on service when visiting a bar for Friday Happy Hour. The lack of a smile or an indifferent attitude can make any bar seem ordinary and amplify even the smallest imperfections to the point negating any price or selection advantages. At the same time, a friendly outgoing bartender can elevate the appeal of any bar to exceptional status. And while the places I’ve reviewed so far have done very well in the service area, The Republic took it to new level.

Meet Mark, an exceptional bartender who has been with The Republic since it opened. He made me feel welcome from the moment I sat down at the bar.

I arrived at The Republic a little after 4 PM on Friday and found an empty seat at the bar. As soon as I had gotten myself situated, the bartender quickly approached with a warm smile and introduced himself as Mark (hence the subhead) and asked for my name, which he used all through my time there. Personally, I find that to be an important aspect of making me feel welcome at a bar. It was also the first time since I’ve been doing these reviews that the bartender has introduced himself/herself and used my name other than on the tab. That places Mark and The Republic as unique right from the start. And the service continued on a high note from there, as my every request was handled quickly and efficiently with a smile.

There was another bartender also working, but her interactions were with other guests. As a result, I can’t really provide a review of her work specifically, although she seemed to have an excellent attitude from what I could see.

(Before I left, I told Mark that I had been doing a bar review and asked him a few questions. I learned that he’s been bartending there since The Republic opened in 2012. That speaks well for The Republic in being smart enough to make sure he stayed!)

There’s A Lot of Happiness
In Their Happy Hour Cocktails

The Happy Hour cocktail special consisted of well drinks for $5, which is fairly standard. However, that’s the only thing I would classify as standard, since their “well” vodka (Labrador Noon) and gin (Wintonbury) are excellent locally distilled varieties by Waypoint Spirits (also in Bloomfield). I have classified both as premium products in my comparison videos. Additionally, I like to see local bars supporting our craft distillers, when their products are good as in the case of Waypoint Spirits.

A very large Wintonbury Gin & Tonic for only $5. An excellent deal!

The surprises continued as I watched Mark make my Wintonbury Gin and Tonic. I expected it to come in a typical 8 oz. glass, but what I got was a huge glass (as you can see from the accompanying image) filled with a very good gin and tonic that was definitely an exceptional value, especially considering the smoothness of the Wintonbury Gin. After finishing my cocktail, I opted to downshift to the cabernet (also $5). It was a generous pour of wine that had a nice depth of flavor with a mellow warmth that was quite enjoyable.

Oysters on the Half Shell
Make Me as Happy as a Clam

Bad puns aside, the Happy Hour menu has something for everyone and, for me, that means oysters at $1.50 each. Since I can’t eat cheese, a lot of happy hour menu options are not available to me, so I rate the menu based on whether I can find something without cheese that appeals to my taste, like the East Coast Oysters. Being hungry I ordered six, which were so tasty they didn’t last long enough for me to take a picture of the nice presentation. Needless to say, a majority of you will easily find something you’ll like.

C’mon Feel the Noise … It’s Alive

At the time I arrived, there was a talkative crowd on the front patio, but the interior was relatively quiet. However, that began to change as it got later and more crowded. I had been chatting with the couple next to me at the bar when we noticed the noise level increasing exponentially. They told me it was teachers coming in (students are not the only ones happy for the weekend). It added an infectious liveliness to the atmosphere with so many voices talking, laughing and enjoying themselves.

Apart from the noise level, everything else about The Republic ambiance is quietly welcoming with an engaging mix of industrial modern and classic New England décor elements including a long, metal-topped bar and plenty of stools.

***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***

From the moment Mark introduced himself through the huge Wintonbury Gin & Tonic and more, The Republic stood out as a distinctively different Friday Happy Hour experience that deserved nothing less than my highest rating as ***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***! With the exceptional service, impressive drink values, diverse menu and inviting atmosphere, it’s easy to understand why it enjoys a high degree of popularity and strong allegiances.

Check out their website for more details, including hours, menus and directions.

Tell them The Dark Diva sent you!

Queen Cayenne’s French Quarter Bitch Slap
AKA The Devil Comes In Red Stilettos!

As the song says, it’s a good idea to never mess with The Dark Diva’s alter ego unless you want to get burned.

A word of warning down in New Orleans,
Never wanna mess with a voodoo queen.
She’s got spells that will set your heart on fire,
And turn your soul into a funeral pyre.
So, better make sure that you understand,
Nobody brings the heat like Queen Cayenne.

If she finds out that you been messin’ round,
She’s gonna light you up and burn you down.
Oh, hell yeah, you better know that she can,
‘cause nobody’s hotter than Queen Cayenne.

So, if Queen Cayenne gives you a French Quarter Bitch Slap, just say thank you! This spicy concoction with the even spicier name consists of:

• 1.0 oz. Sazerac® Rye Straight Rye Whiskey
• 0.5 oz. Chartreuse Liqueur
• 0.25 oz. Waypoint Spirits Small Batch Honey Habanero Flavored Whiskey
• 0.25 oz. La Belle Orange Gran Orange Liqueur
• 2.0 oz. Club Soda

Mix ingredients together in an 8 oz. glass with ice, stir and toast sweet death with a kick!

Try These Dark Diva Cocktails
And See Why Autumn Never Tasted So Good!

Autumn Dream Martini

Get your fall preview party started with this high-octane trip to nirvana … the dark side of the Harvest Moon … or wherever you end up. Just don’t try to drive there!

In a glass with ice, combine:

• 2.0 oz. Full Moonshine Apple Pie
• 1.0 oz. Skyy Infusions® Vanilla Bean Vodka
• 0.5 oz. Skyy Infusions® Bartlett Pear Vodka

 Stir, strain into a chilled martini glass and toast the fruits of the still!

Husky Hokie TD Juice
AKA Twisted Autumn Cheer

A cool autumn weather preview, college football and my Hokie Husky TD Juice = Party-time!This drink salutes the Huskies of UConn in the state I now call home as well as the Hokies of Virginia Tech, my alma mater. A couple of these and you’ll be ready to dribble the football all the way around the bases and score on a penalty kick!

In an 8 oz. glass with ice, mix:

• 2.0 oz. Full Moonshine Apple Pie
• 0.5 oz. Skyy Infusions® Vanilla Bean Vodka
• 1.0 oz. Maker’s Mark® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
• A Splash of Wild Moon® Birch Liqueur

 Stir and toast your favorite team (as long as it’s the same as mine)!

A Very Twisted Apple Pie a la Mode

It’s dessert in a glass … with a bit of a kick just for fun! Try it with somebody special in front of a fire on a crisp autumn night … either before or after the kinky stuff.

In a glass with ice, combine:

• 2.0 oz. Full Moonshine Apple Pie
• 1.0 oz. Skyy Infusions® Vanilla Bean Vodka
• 2.0 oz. Irish Cream Liqueur

Stir, strain into a chilled martini glass and toast your inhibitions good-bye!

HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EDITION OF MISS BRI’S FRESH & TWISTED BLOG. 
THANKS FOR CHECKING IT OUT. 
PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

Escape From The Weekly Grind At This Mill’s Friday Happy Hour … And Queen Cayenne’s Voodoo Cocktails Bring The Heat!

August 27,2018

Welcome to Monday as we start the final week of August with the forecast for a heat wave … ugh! After living in New England for 13 years, this is the first year I can truthfully say that I am actually looking forward to the cooler weather of fall. Of course, one of the best ways to beat the heat is with a cool libation, especially when it’s served in the right environment. And that leads to this week’s Friday Happy Hour Bar Review.

The Mill On The River:
Friday Happy Hour Bar Review

Past and Present Mix Perfectly
at this Spot on the Podunk River

Yes, there is a Podunk River (named for the Podunk tribe of Native Americans), which flows through South Windsor, CT. It was here that colonists first built a mill and damn over 250 years ago. The original mill was destroyed by a flood in 1750, then rebuilt in 1775. Eventually, over the years it fell into disrepair before being rebuilt into The Mill On The River restaurant that exists today.

I will admit that I had been there for dinner twice several years ago and twice last year for their Sunday brunch. On all four occasions, the food and the service were excellent. But this past week marked my first time there for Friday Happy Hour. Not to prolong the suspense, it did not disappoint!

The outdoor dining area at The Mill on the River border Vintons Millpond.

Located on Route 30 (Ellington Road) in a quiet residential area, The Mill on the River offers an appealing vista with Vintons Millpond, water cascading down the face of the mill dam and the covered footbridge above the dam leading to the entrance. Inside, it’s classic New England colonial charm with the dark wood and stone décor, lots of windows and a sense of history. Yet, there are just enough modern accents, especially around the bar so that it feels fresh at the same time. It’s a juxtaposition that works very well. Inside the bar, windows on two sides provide plenty of natural light and pleasant, relaxing views of the outdoor dining deck, millpond and grounds.

The Bar was Hopping,
but the Staff Never Missed a Beat

The entrance to the covered bridge above the mill dam.

By the time I arrived around 4:20, Happy Hour had already been going for a while (it starts at 3). The bar was reasonably crowded, although there were still a few seats available. It was an interesting mix of couples and small groups of various ages that were all chatting happily and giving a convivial rhythm to the noise of the conversations that made the place feel alive and inviting.

Behind the bar, Greg (the bartender) had his own rhythm going in juggling the acknowledging of each guest, taking their orders, mixing/pouring their drinks and never dropping the ball so to speak. He’s apparently quite experienced, because there was a smooth flow to every action. I never felt like it was taking too long for my drinks or my appetizer to arrive. It was exactly what you want … and should expect. A little bit after my arrival, he had help with service bar and the regular bar as it got even more crowded. Still, everything worked in perfect harmony.

Happy Hour Food Left Me Smiling …
And Full

One of the things that has consistently impressed me on my Happy Hour rounds has been the variety, quality and value of the food specials, and The Mill on the Riverwas certainly no exception. Not having had clams for quite some time, I opted for their Crisp Rhode Island Fried Clam Strips for $5.

The clam strips were quite tasty and disappeared quick!

What I got was a generous portion of perfectly fried clam strips with just the right amount of batter and very little grease. They were served with both remoulade and tartar sauce, which were delicious, although I found that I preferred the remoulade better. A nice touch was the bit of cheesecloth over the accompanying lemon half, so the seeds didn’t squirt out. I ate almost all of them, before reaching my limit. Definitely praise worthy on all counts!

Happy Hour Drink Deals Worthy of A Grin,
And Not Much More

I started with a Cosmo made with their well vodka. It tasted good, but it felt it could have been priced just a bit lower since it was made with a very inexpensive vodka.

Unfortunately, if there was one area where the value was a bit questionable, it was in the cocktail prices. I realize I’m being somewhat picky, but since the drink deals are the centerpiece of Happy Hour, at least for me, I feel justified in my pickiness. Cocktails made with liquors from the well are $6, which I consider a bit high considering my Cosmopolitan was made with McCormick’s vodka. Now, I will say it was made well and tasted fine. Plus, I am not a believer that price is always indicative of quality. However, McCormick’s is still very inexpensive, so it feels like drinks made with it should be less than $6.

Their private label cabernet was a more reasonable deal for Happy Hour.

 

The $5 deal on their own private label wines felt more reasonable. I chose the cabernet which was smooth and pleasant, but nothing extraordinary. It was also a generous pour, which contributed to making it feel like a relatively better value.

***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***

Despite my reservations about the Happy Hour cocktail pricing, The Mill on the River sets a very high standard with the service, the food and the extraordinary setting. I am compelled to give their Friday Happy Hour my top rating of ***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED*** because in many ways there’s nothing else like it.

For more information, visit The Mill On The River website..

Check out their Friday Happy Hour and tell them The Dark Diva sent you!

 

The Heat Is Always On At
Queen Cayenne’s Red-Hot Gator Club

Queen Cayenne is The Dark Diva’s alter ego, inspired by a love of New Orleans, Tabasco®hot sauce, Cholula®hot sauce, spicy cooking (especially Cajun), hot blues and jazz music, and sultry dark magic. But a word of warning … when you mess with Queen Cayenne, you are definitely playing with fire. She will light you up, burn you down, and leave what’s left for gator bait!

Here are some of Queen Cayenne’s favorite recipes for her Voodoo potions … er … cocktails, which have been recently featured on The Dark Diva Rules Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram:

Queen Cayenne’s Sweet Hellfire Whiskey

The perfect accompaniment when you’re grilling, this cocktail brings sweet heat. When you’re hot … burn, baby, burn! In an 8 oz. glass with ice, combine:

1.0 oz. Waypoint Spirits Small Batch Honey Habanero Flavored Whiskey
1.0 oz. Maker’s Mark®Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
0.5 oz. Patrón Citrónge®Extra Fine Mango Liqueur
0.25 oz. Mathilde Pêche (Peach) Liqueur
Splash Wild Moon®Lime Liqueur
2 Dashes Tabasco®Brand Pepper Sauce

Stir ingredients, sip carefully and start cooking … before you light the grill!

Queen Cayenne’s Cajun Gator Bite

Feeling mean? Try tangling with this cocktail that bites back … it’s green whiskey fire with serious teeth! In an 8 oz. glass with ice, combine:

1.0 oz. Waypoint Spirits Small Batch Honey Habanero Flavored Whiskey
1.0 oz. Full Moonshine Circa 1797 Neutral Spirits
0.5 oz. Green Chartreuse Liqueur
0.25 oz. Patrón Citrónge®Extra Fine Orange Liqueur
4 Drops Tabasco®Brand Pepper Sauce

Stir ingredients, sip carefully and hope you don’t end up as gator bait … chomp!

Queen Cayenne’s French Devil
(AKA Twisted Triple 6)

This is a new one for those who’ll try anything once … maybe twice if they survive the first time. After a hard day of wrestling cantankerous reptiles (whether in the swamp or at the office), you’re ready to play with some serious fire! In a brandy snifter, combine:

1.0 oz. Green Chartreuse Liqueur
1.0 oz. Landy Cognac V.S.

 Stir, sip carefully and feel the burn! Beware the beast …

Thanks for reading this blog post! Please let us know if you have comments or questions. Also, feel free to offer suggestions of any Happy Hours you’d like to see us review!