Category Archives: Theme parties

Halloween party, at least for a night, raises classic Dallas cocktail team from the dead


Victor Tangos, where Monday's Halloween bash benefits a good cause. Photo by Mei-Chun Jau.
Victor Tangos, where Monday’s Halloween bash benefits a good cause. Photo by Mei-Chun Jau.

Here’s some Halloween weekend activity that won’t have you saying Boo.

Monday’s event at Victor Tangos is the highlight, and the costume party/cocktail fest doubles as a charity effort, with proceeds benefiting Dallas CASA, an agency that helps abused and neglected children find safe and permanent homes.

Bar Smyth
Josh Hendrix and Omar YeeFoon, behind the bar at since-closed Bar Smyth. Now spirits ambassadors, both will be pouring at the Victor Tangos event.

The longtime Knox-Henderson craft-cocktail den is teaming up with Brian Floyd of The Barman’s Fund, a national organization of bartenders who hold monthly events to benefit worthwhile causes and donate their night’s tips to the proceeds.

The Victor Tangos party features an all-star cast of Dallas bar industry pioneers, including five members of the original teams at milestone craft-cocktail joints Bar Smyth and/or The Cedars Social, both of which earned national acclaim: Michael Martensen, Mate Hartai, Josh Hendrix, Julian Pagan and Omar YeeFoon.

Joining them will be Victor Tangos vet Emily Arseneau, Brian McCullough of The Standard Pour, Midnight Rambler’s Zach Smigiel and spirits distributor Kristen Holloway.

The fun gets underway at 7 p.m. with drink specials, with tracks spun by DJ Bryan C and prizes to be awarded for the best, most outlandish and most inappropriate costumes.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the classic Windmill Lounge on Maple Avenue will hold its annual Halloween bash with drink specials, a midnight costume parade and contest ($100 for first place!) and DJs Chris Rose and Genova providing the beats.

The Windmill's Halloween party gets underway at 9 p.m. (Image courtesy of Windmill Lounge)
The Windmill’s Halloween party gets underway at 9 p.m. (Image courtesy of Windmill Lounge)

Both events are free.

Victor Tangos, 3001 N. Henderson, Dallas.

Windmill Lounge, 5320 Maple Avenue, Dallas.

Bigger venue means higher hopes for annual charity cocktail bash

This year's benefit cocktail event aims to be the largest ever.
This year’s benefit cocktail event aims to be the largest ever.

It’s the fete that launched a thousand sips.

Now, it’s back for another run: The 5th annual Trigger’s Toys cocktail bash, billed as “The Ultimate Cocktail Experience,” is projected to be the biggest ever – with ailing kids as the beneficiary.

The yearly pop-up, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, has moved to Klyde Warren Park, showing how far the annual benefit event has come after stints at The Standard Pour in Uptown and Henry’s Majestic in Knox-Henderson.

Five teams of bartenders, distributors and brand ambassadors from around Texas will face off for charity, and under this year’s theme, “Cocktails Around The World,” each squad’s pop-up bar will represent a particular continent – North America, South America, Africa, Asia or Europe.

With this year’s larger venue, Trigger’s Toys founder Bryan Townsend hopes to raise as much as $300,000, more than three times the $130,000 raised at last year’s event. By 2020, he aims to offer a million Christmas-season care packages to needy area children.

“We’re offering a unique way for people to experience the talents of our service industry while giving back to their community,” said Townsend, who named the agency for his dog, Trigger, after seeing the animal’s positive effect on a child in need of therapy.

The annual event helps chronically sick kids and their families through financial assistance and supplemental programming.

This year’s event will run from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets, available here, are $65 or $125 for the VIP experience — including 6 p.m. entry.

Team captains and their logos (provided courtesy of Trigger’s Toys) are as follows:


AFRICA: Rafiki’s

Captain: Bryan Dalton, Mexican Sugar, Plano


ASIA: Kamikaze

Captain: Kiyoko Kinoshita, Midnight Rambler, Dallas


EUROPE: Mad Hatter’s Cocktail Emporium

Captain: Jenny Park, Filament, Dallas


NORTH AMERICA: New World Carnival

Captain: Andrew Stofko, Victor Tangos, Dallas


SOUTH AMERICA: Dr, Amazon’s Apothecary

Captain: Ravinder Singh, Rapscallion, Dallas


For more information, or to donate to Trigger’s Toys, go here.

For achievement in sound mixing, here are the nominees for your Oscars watching party

The Divorcee
Actress Norma Shearer shares a drink with a suspicious Conrad Nagel in Robert Z. Leonard’s 1930 film “The Divorcee.” (Photo courtesy of John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)

If you’re looking for a starring role in whatever Oscars watching party you’re headed to on Sunday, you could do worse than to come armed with cocktails.

Need direction? Maybe you’re a do-it-yourselfie, determined to devise a cocktail menu that plays off this year’s Best Picture nominees. Here are some modest tongue-in-cheek suggestions:

THE BIRDMAN: A play on the Aviation, but with a handlebar mustache garnish. Like the film’s title character, this once famous star built his legend around flight – then, years later, fights in vain to achieve misguided respectability.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: A swig of Zwack, the Hungarian herbal liqueur, poured through an ice luge into the drinker’s mouth, which in honor of Wisconsin-born Willem Dafoe – is furiously chased by a beer.

THE FLIPLASH: A tequila flip with a tiny cymbal garnish – and in deference to the subject of the film Whiplash, a smattering of beets to help keep rhythm.

THE ROB-ROY-HOOD: This take on the classic Rob Roy isn’t meant to be consumed. Instead, like the subject of Boyhood, it’s meant to be watched, getting progressively older before your very eyes.

THE AMERICAN SNIPER: A lethal shot of overproof rum, of course.

OK, maybe not.

Plenty of other nominees abound, from the classic Los Angeles cocktail to the actor-inspired list of drinks recently featured by from beverage consultant Brian Van Flandern’s book, Celebrity Cocktails.

The best way to show your achievement in sound mixing, though, might be to whip up the cocktail served to the stars themselves at the Governor’s Ball following the star-studded awards ceremony. That would be the Scot’s Pear, among the items featured this week at a sampling of the annual feast’s menu conducted by various Wolfgang Puck Catering operations around the U.S., including Dallas.

Wolfgang Puck Catering
The Scot’s Pear: Make this drink and soon all your guests will be delivering acceptance speeches.

Wolfgang Puck Catering is marking its 21st year planning the annual post-Oscars feast, and the preview spread, held at Reunion Tower’s Cloud Nine, featured the drink alongside treats like mini Wagyu beef burgers and chicken pot pie.

A winning blend of premium Johnnie Walker Platinum Label whiskey, tawny port, ginger syrup, pear/lemongrass puree and lemon, the Scot’s Pear’s apple-like sweetness, tinged with hints of citrus and spice, nicely balanced the whiskey and kept it from going all Robert Benigni over everything.


1.5oz Johnnie Walker Platinum Label

.25oz Tawny Port

1oz Pear Juice

.75oz Ginger Syrup

.75oz Lemon Juice

Shake and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger.’s list includes the most intriguing House of Friends, a nod to actor George Clooney and his partnership in Casamigos tequila – a mix of tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, Cointreau, agave and lime. (Coincidentally, Matt Orth at Dallas’ LARK on the Park last year crafted an excellent, similarly named drink that also featured Casamigos, an approximation of the Spanish words for the same phrase.)

Courvoisier cognac has also thrown together a few cocktails to recommend for the occasion. The most interesting of them is probably The Talented Mr. Cooper, a nod to Bradley Cooper’s Best Actor nomination for American Sniper.

Courvoisier cognac


1 ½ oz Courvoisier VSOP

½ oz Cherry Heering

6 black cherries

Dash of gomme (you can use simple syrup)

Soda water

Mint garnish


Muddle five cherries in a shaker, then add the Courvoisier, Cherry Heering and syrup. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with soda and garnish with a sprig of mint and a single cherry.

Happy Oscar’ing.

Fancy clothes, fancy dranks: Sissy’s’ annual Derby party rides again

Sissy's Southern Kitchen
If you can’t make it to Churchill Downs, there’s always Sissy’s.

For those of you who like to drink in costume, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Barely a few days have gone by since we told you about History With A Twist, the Prohibition-Era vintage-cocktail-station benefit hitting Dallas Heritage Village later this month.

Now, on Saturday, May 3, comes Sissy’s Southern Kitchen’s third annual Jockeys and Juleps party, where you and your sophisticated self can sip $8 Mint Juleps while watching the horses run the track onscreen at the venerable Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs fashion is encouraged, and a $200 prize awaits the house’s best outfit. If this all sounds to you like a winning place to show (see what we did there?), grab your gaudy hats, your bow ties and blazers; settle your sockless feet into those horsebit loafers and join Sissy’s from 3 to 6 p.m. for the big race and all its pre- and post-hoopla.

The day’s drink specials – starting with brunch at 11 a.m. – will also include a Grapefruit Julep, Kentucky Punch and Presbyterian Bourbon Press. Reservations are available.

SISSY’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN & BAR, 2929 Henderson Ave., Dallas. 214-827-9900.

Drinking in the style of yesteryear: Get your glad rags on for a cause

Benefit party
Picture yourself walking around here with a cocktail in your early 20th-century best. (Courtesy of Dallas Heritage Village)

So. You’ve been looking to unleash your inner Bonnie or Clyde. Minus the bank robberies, and especially minus the fatal ambush. Really, it’s about the threads. And the giggle juice.

Well, now’s your chance, pal: History With a Twist is returning to Dallas Heritage Village on April 26. Be a wisehead and get over there.

The second annual event celebrates classic American cocktails and the style of the Prohibition Era. Vintage early 20th-century fashion is encouraged, so break out your jazz suits, your cloche hats and your fedoras, and take a stroll down the village’s throwback Main Street while tipping a few fancydranks from big-cheese bartenders Michael Martensen and Brian McCullough.

Hors d’oeuvres will be on hand, as will tunes from the Singapore Slingers, a small orchestra specializing in pre-swing American dance music. I’ve never heard them, but they sound swell. Also expect a silent auction, photo booth and vintage car show.

Tickets – available here – are $75 or $125 a couple, with proceeds benefiting the village’s historical education activities. The event runs from 7 to 11 p.m. It’s going to be hotsy-totsy.

DALLAS HERITAGE VILLAGE, 1515 S. Harwood, Dallas. 214-421-5141.

It’s been 80 years since the nation regained its sanity: No one’s going to blame you for wanting to celebrate

Victor Tango event
Want to celebrate Prohibition’s end? Victor Tango’s can help. (Image courtesy of Victor Tango’s)

In many ways, Prohibition was the best thing to happen to U.S. drinking culture. The Dry Movement’s successful forging of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920 left imbibers with nowhere to drink legally except in foreign lands, which they did while visiting Europe, Cuba or the Caribbean. America’s suddenly employment-challenged bartenders went where the work was, resettling in places like Paris or Havana where their cocktail knowledge was infused with the riches of local ingredients, concoctions and sensibilities.

They say that that which does not kill you makes you stronger, and except for a nasty batch of bathtub gin, that may be true. When Prohibition was repealed on Dec. 5, 1933, many of those newly enriched bar peeps returned with their worldly cocktail know-how (and a penchant for rum or Champagne), and those that stayed in the U.S. now had new tricks up their sleeves for enhancing inferior booze. Plus we got speakeasies.

Thursday marks the 80th anniversary of the 21st Amendment, which 86’d the 18th for good. For those of you inclined to celebrate, options abound, some of which might have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief.

First, there’s Victor Tango’s on Henderson, where classic cocktails like the Sazerac or Mary Pickford can be had from 5 pm and onward this evening for the Depression-Era price of just 80 cents apiece.  A fancy drank for less than the price of an iTunes song: crazy, no? Make sure you’re sitting down, because here’s some absolutely off-the-charts insanity: From 3 to 7 pm at Plano’s Whiskey Cake, you can responsibly indulge in your choice of five classic cocktails — like the French 75 or the Moscow Mule — for just a nickel apiece. Yes, you may need to be pinched right about now.

Uncharacteristically, tonight’s least lunatic Repeal Day gathering will be at Dallas’ Windmill Lounge, where authors Jeffrey Yarbrough and Rita Cook will be signing their book, “Prohibition in Dallas and Fort Worth: Blind Tigers, Bootleggers and Bathtub Gin,” all while presumably having cocktails.  That event runs from 5 to 7 p.m.

Additionally, a number of cocktail artists formerly of Smyth and Cedars Social will be behind the bar tonight at Bolsa from 9 p.m. onward.

So remember, while the repeal of the 18th Amendment might be to blame for Cinnabon-flavored vodka, it’s also the reason you can publicly enjoy a decent Old Fashioned all year long, and that’s one civics lesson worth remembering, at least for a night. As Alex Fletcher, Victor Tango’s bar manager, put it: “We’re celebrating our right to mix, stir, and shake up some serious libations.”

Power to the people.

VICTOR TANGO’S, 3001 N. Henderson, Dallas. 214-252-8595.

WHISKEY CAKE, 3601 Dallas Parkway, Plano. 972-993-2253.

WINDMILL LOUNGE, 5320 Maple Avenue, Dallas. 214-443-7818.

BOLSA, 614 W. Davis, Dallas. 214-943-1883.

Halloween hoedown at Sissy’s: Get your hillbilly on.

Sissy's Southern Kitchen's Halloween Hoedown: You won't say boo.
Sissy’s Southern Kitchen’s Halloween Hoedown: You won’t say boo.

I don’t usually need a good reason to wear gingham and overalls, but now I have one: Sissy’s Southern Kitchen in Knox-Henderson is throwing its second annual Halloween Hoedown, with a $200 prize for best hillbilly-themed costume – possibly enough cash to get that Dodge Charger off the concrete blocks.

Halloween-themed $8 cocktails will abound, incorporating the bar’s heavy hitter spirits – from the Tito’s vodka Slaughtered Mule to the Moet-powered Voodoo Blues. Also, there are now drinks called the Witch Doctor and Zombie Handshake, to which I say: It’s about time.

Arrive in costume and you’ll get a raffle ticket for numerous prizes given throughout the occasion, which runs from 5 pm to midnight with live music from Southern Renaissance. And you can even feel good about the whole thing since 15 percent of the proceeds support Family Gateway, an organization fighting child homelessness.

Interested in staying for dinner? Reservations are recommended. Word is there’ll be fried chicken.

SISSY’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN, 2929 N. Henderson, Dallas. 214-827-9900.