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!

Burtons Grill Raises The Bar For Friday Happy Hour In South Windsor … Inspiration Strikes For A Clearly Different Cosmo … And Queen Cayenne Lights You Up With A Twisted Tabasco® ‘Tini!

September 4. 2018

Well, meteorological fall may have begun, but we’re in the midst of another summer heatwave here in CT! This is ridiculous! I’m ready for a touch of fall chill!!! In the interim, I have some excellent ways to beat the heat starting with a new Friday (or any other day) Happy Hour destination – Burtons Grill & Barat Evergreen Walkin South Windsor!

Managing Expectations Is Easy,
If You Consistently Exceed Them!

While I have so far found a lot to like about all the bars/happy hours I’ve visited, Burtons definitely raised the bar on my future expectations, which will create a challenge for the next stops on my list. Admittedly, having never been there before, I had no idea what to expect when I visited Burtons this past Friday. I soon learned to expect a lot, starting with the first server I encountered.

Having parked in the lot behind Burtons, I walked around to the side of the patio where a server immediately asked if I was going to bar and, when I said yes, opened the door for me as if were instinctive. Inside, the bar appearance had a nice, classic contemporary vibe with a mix of wood, granite and glass. Choosing an empty seat at the closest corner, I was quickly greeted by Fabian, one of the two bartenders on duty, who presented me with several menus (drink specials and the main menu)to peruse. Here I encountered my first big surprise!

Burtons White Cosmo $5 Happy Hour Special! Yes, that’s my purple lipstick on the rim. 🙂

Online, the Happy Hour drink menu seems a bit limited with regards to mixed drinks as it only specified $5 premium cocktails with a $2 surcharge for martinis and manhattans. What I found in person was the backside of that menu, which featured 6 different specialty cocktails – 3 Mules, an Old Fashion, a White Cosmo, and a Sangria. Now, I was quite intrigued by the White Cosmo, so I ordered it to begin. A mix of New Amsterdam vodka, Tuaca, white cranberry juice and lime syrup, it was a bit tart to start, but quickly grew on me. (I was surprised to see it used Tuaca, an Italian liqueur I am quite fond of after being introduced to it by ex’s Sicilian uncle. Plus, it spurred memories of the Winterberry Cosmo I had at Bonefish Grill several years ago.) It was so good, it inspired me to create The Twisted Cosmo Blanco (recipe can be found later in this post).

Food For Thought And Taste …

Perfectly prepared and presented, the Seared Tuna Sashimi was absolutely delish!

On the online menu, it simply says ask about their ½ price shareables. What that means is that their appetizers are half off during Happy Hour. It’s a decent selection which is sure to offer something to most people. For me, the Seared Tuna Sashimipiqued my interest, so I chose it for round one. When Fabianasked me if wanted chopsticks, that sparked a short, humorous discussion about learning how to eat with them. From the presentation to the last bite, it was a fabulous dish that I would order again in a heartbeat. (I even managed to eat it all using chopsticks with only one minor embarrassment when a piece of tuna fell out of the chopsticks before it got to my mouth … haha!)

Round Two Was A Mixed Bag But Still Good!

After finishing my White Cosmo and Seared Tuna Sashimi, I was eager to check out more of their offerings. The couple to my right had ordered the Point Judith Calamari, which looked tasty and which they recommended as calamari connoisseurs (which my ex and I sued to be as well), so I decided to try it with an Old Fashion (my first time trying one). At this point, Caleb was tending to my needs because he and Fabian were tag teaming in perfect harmony serving guests at the bar in addition to handling restaurant drink orders at the service bar. Both bartenders delivered flawless service from start to finish.

My first, but not my last, Old Fashion!

When my Point Judith Calamari arrived, I found it to be a bit crispier than I prefer. That is not a knock on it, but simply an acknowledgement that we all have different tastes. The couple who recommended it really liked it and it was not bad at all. It’s just that I prefer mine fried just a little lighter. In any case, they were tasty and not the least bit greasy. The Old Fashion was quite interesting because it was something new for me, but quite enjoyable and worth trying!

High Marks For Friendliness …
On Both Sides Of The Bar!

As followers of my blog know, I place a very high premium on attitude, especially behind the bar. At the same time, however, a friendly crowd on my side of the bar also speaks volumes about the quality of any establishment. I wound up sitting between two couples who were quite friendly and enjoyable to converse with during my time there. One couple professed to be regulars, while the other couple were certainly no strangers to the place. Their glowing remarks along with my own experience made it easy to see why this could become a regular Happy Hour spot for me. Simply put, you rarely find bad people at good happy hours or vice versa.

***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***

With 15 locations along the East Coast, Burtons may be a chain, but it’s atypical. It sets an upscale standard without being stuffy or over impressed with itself, as evidenced by the friendly attitude of the servers, bartenders and patrons. That in and of itself is worthy of my ***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***rating. At the same time, the seasonal drink specials and food options set a very high standard for enjoyable quality and value!

Check out their menus, hours and more at burtonsgrill.com.

Tell them The Dark Diva sent you!

Burtons’ White Cosmo Inspired
A Clearly Different Dark Diva Martini –
The Twisted Cosmo Blanco

It’s Maggie McFly’s Mexican Cosmo meets Burtons White Cosmo with a Dark Diva twist in The Twisted Cosmo Blanco! Party all night long, whether you should or not, with this irresistible concoction!

In a glass with ice, combine:
• 1.0 oz. Jose Cuervo Especial® Blue Agave Silver Tequila
• 0.5 oz. Patrón Citron Extra Fine Lime Liqueur
• 0.25 oz. Patrón Citron Extra Fine Orange Liqueur
• 3.0 oz. Ocean Spray® White Cranberry Juice
Stir, pour into a chilled martini glass, and toast a total loss of inhibitions!!!! Cheers!

Queen Cayenne Will Light You Up
And Burn You Down –
Welcome To Queen Cayenne’s Red-Hot Gator Club

As a tribute to #Tabasco and #NCISNOLA, 2 of my faves, my alter ego came up with this hot, not for the faint, concoction — Queen Cayenne’s Avery Island “Fire-tini” AKA A Twisted TabascoⓇ‘Tini! Nobody brings the heat like Queen Cayenne!

In a glass with ice, combine:
1.5 oz. Sazerac® Rye Straight Rye Whiskey
0.5 oz. Chartreuse Liqueur
0.5 oz. Mathilde Pêche (Peach) Liqueur
4 dashes Tabasco® Pepper Sauce

Stir, pour into a chilled martini glass, and toast the fire within! Cheers!

Hope you enjoyed this edition of Miss Bri’s Fresh & Twisted Blog.
Thanks fore 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!