Thirsty Thursday #4: Treehouse Vineyards Edition

Are y’all THIRSTY yet?!

You sure ought to be, because it is THURSDAY!!!

Do you like wine?

Do you like tree houses?

I can’t imagine anyone that DOESN’T like wine and tree houses, or at least one of the two! Treehouse Vineyards in downtown Monroe is such a treat to discover. A few weeks back, my mom and I took a little road trip over to Union county and tried it out and I cannot wait to go back. There is currently a two person tree-house that you can spend the night in! This fall their eight person tree-house will be ready to rent!

As soon as we drove up, I felt at home 🙂 :

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Inside the tasting room we found requisite winery gift shop delights!

There was plenty of great jewelry, funny paper napkins, and sparkly wine themed shirts!

Neon sign that proclaims the truth!!

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During the tasting, if you don’t like something you can dump it in the Solo goblet…which I did not do because everything was delicious! Plenty of the little wine cracker to nosh while you sip. There is a cooler case full of cheese and meat appetizers you can buy (very reasonably priced) to snack on while you sip. They even have Palmetto Cheese. SWOON.

I gotta tell you, the wines were GOOD. I’m not really a sweet wine person, and much of what is made in North Carolina IS sweet. That’s because muscadines grow well here, and many varieties of wine grapes just don’t. I’ve tried quite a lot of wineries in NC, and even in the Yadkin Valley it’s pretty common to find wines that just aren’t very good. This is a winery does a great job making delicious wine, mostly with fruit they grow in their own vineyard. All this is coupled with friendly staff that didn’t act snooty. It was a refreshing change!

My favorite wine was “Sweet Union”. I could drink that stuff all day long! All the wines have names with really great stories behind them. You’ll have to take the tour to learn all about them!  Possibly the greatest thing is that you can get any of their by-the-glass wines made in to a wine slush. A. WINE. SLUSH. Seriously.

This is the Date Night Treehouse that you can rent by the HOUR.

I’m not even kidding.

If you peak back in the tree you can see little bits of the tree house hiding in the trees!

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Inside and front porch of the Date Night treehouse.

 

The view from the front porch.

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Because wine slush y’all.

WINE.

SLUSH.

Take a friend! Take a picnic! Take a book! Take a board game! This is a wonderful location for a family afternoon outing. There are porch swings hanging from trees. There is “corn hole”. There are plenty of places to sit back and enjoy the view, even if you don’t (or aren’t old enough to) drink. There is even a great tin roof to listen to, just in case it rains.

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For real–if you’re going to visit a vineyard in the Piedmont of North Carolina, this is one of the most fun. Just be sure to get a wine slush and some Palmetto Cheese! Yum!

Tell them Coon-Smith Sutlery sent you!

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Thirsty Thursday #3

You thirsty yet?

You oughta be because it is THIRSTY THURSDAY!!!

Here is the haul from my trip a few weeks ago to World Market…

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4 of these are still on ice for another tasty party!

I bought all of these on a sort of recent trip to World Market in AVL (see this post for more) in preparation for my birthday month party times. I LOVE weird soft drinks and sampling them is a fun way to party with kids and pals that don’t drink cocktails. I had all these delights chilling and chillin’ in the fridge waiting on an event to try them out. What is a better excuse than a Doll Party for shots of sugar?!? At our most recent meeting, me, Amethyst, Mod Mom, and Grumpy Skittles tried out a few new soft drinks so we could share the reviews with you!

Here is how that went down!

Jones PB & J Soda and Sioux City Prickly Pear

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The peanut butter and jelly from Jones has to be one of the weirdest taste sensations I have ever encountered. Sipping this soft drink was FOR REAL like being at Willy Wonka’s candy factory. When the liquid hit the front of my tongue it tasted like pretty much any delicious grape soft drink. {As a kid of the 1980s, I still find that Dimetapp flavor nostalgic and comforting.} Now comes the weird part. After the initial flavor of grape, came the peanut butter flavor, but that flavor came creeping up the back of my tongue! It was as if the peanut butter hadn’t touched the front of my mouth at all but came back up my throat!!! It was soooo very strange–I’ve never felt/tasted anything that way before! The whole tasting party agreed that the drink was delicious…but totally STRANGE!  I’d like to try it with a salty snack–the sweet and savory would make for a tasty combo!

verdict: I’d drink it again, and I’d try it with vodka!

The prickly pear soft drink was easy to like. We all thought it tasted kind of like raspberry– I’m not sure what a prickly pear tastes like, so it might taste just like that, too! Of all the drinks we sampled this time, this was the one that I would pick if I wanted to drink a soft drink plain. This what I think of as a lunchtime drink. That is to say, it’d be great with a pimento cheese sandwich and some potato chips!

verdict: I’ve already bought another bottle! (Thanks, Mom! ❤ )

Hajikete Grape Soda

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It was kind of a strange brownish red rusty color.

Amethyst and I actually tried this one when we opened the Japan Crate. {Side note: aren’t my nails super cute? They perfectly matched the can XD !} I found this drink reminiscent of the sparkling grape juice my family pawned off on us kids at New Years Eve parties until we were old enough for the real stuff. Amethyst was the one that pointed out to me that it tasted kind of like muscadines. That totally nailed the flavor in my mind! It definitely had more of a mature taste than just regular grape Nehi or Fanta. It did not taste like Sangria at all, but it probably would be delicious added to a pitcher of some!

verdict: I’d drink this again, ICE cold!!

EDIT: While searching for a shopping link for y’all for this drink I discovered two things. “Sangaria” is the brand, not the flavor LOL. Also, the work “Hajikete” means “burst”! This drink certainly was bursting with muscadine flavor, alright! And look! We learned a new word while researching 🙂

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Birthday Cake Soda

This drink was achingly sweet. I kinda felt like I might have gotten a new cavity while drinking it ;0 . The drink had a strong taste of vanilla something…not sure if it tasted like cake per se, but something in the candy realm. The flavor was even too sweet for the teen in our tasting group and I think that says it all. The only way I can see drinking this, is maybe mixed with whiskey and topped off with some plain seltzer to cut the intensity.

verdict: I’m not sure I would buy this again unless I was having a MAJOR sugar craving.

Despite this not being my most favorite drink I would still love to win some–there is a contest going on right now where you can win a whole case! Click here to try and win!

<———How stinking cute is the little hedge hog on the label?!?! Jones always has the best labels and they’re actually pictures that are submitted by fans! Makes me want to try to get my cats, Duck and Patti Smith on a bottle!

Not-So-Soft-Drinks

Speaking of birthday flavor, here are some delicious treats I got for my big 34! How great is that bottle of pink bubbly!?! I’ve never had the Shotgun Betty, but ModMom tells me it is good stuff! Both are so sassy! I can’t wait to try them. Don’t worry–I’ll tell you all about them in another Thirsty Thursday post!

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Hang on just one more day–Friday is almost here!

Thirsty Thursday #2

OH HAI THERE, THURSDAY!

Are you a little thirsty yet?

Lordy, I sure am.

S O F T * D R I N K

“The term was originated to distinguish the flavoured drinks from hard liquor, or spirits. Soft drinks were recommended as a substitute in the effort to change the hard-drinking habits of early Americans.”–from the online Britannica

It’s cool if you want to call it “soda” or “soda pop” or “Coke” or “dope” or even “pop” (though I will definitely NOT be calling it Pop since that is what I called my father, and drinking your dad is just weird) but I call it a “soft drink” generically.

Until I add booze. Then it’s a cocktail 😉

Here are a few things that are in my fridge stash currently!

Cel-Ray SodaGoombay Fruit ChampagneMaterva Yerba Mate Soda

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I think I was in high school the first time tried Cel-Ray. It either came from Earth Fare, or maybe the Dekalb Farmer’s Market in ATL, I can’t quite recall. I became a soft drink connoisseur at a pretty early age (see Blenheim’s story below) but it was as a teen that really began to hone my palette for sugar and CO2. Cel-Ray was my first weirdo favorite. It tastes a lot like ginger-ale, but with confusing vegetable undertones. According almost every article I have read about it online (herehere, and here), it pairs well with pastrami. I say it pairs well with gin, but I’m not going to argue.

This Goombay Fruit Champagne is a left over from the last cruise mom and I took to the Bahamas. There is a little grocery store right in Nassau that we’ve gone to both times we’ve been on the island and we end up buying weirdly wonderful things like ginger root scented bath soap and writing booklets for students with the picture of an historic Bahamian prince on the front. We love grocery stores. Honestly, this stuff tastes like Hawaiian Punch, haha.

I can’t even remember where I got the Materva can and I’ve never had it before so I can’t tell you what it tastes like. However, I became obsessed with (and possibly addicted to) yerba mate while in high school. The ritual continued with friends I met early on in my freshman year of college when I spotted the lovely Laura on the patio of my dorm, reading a book and sipping with her kit. She used to add orange drink powder to hers–something that is supposedly popular in Argentina. I’ll report back when I open this can. I imagine it tastes like bubbly grass and sorghum.

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BEWARE THE BLENHEIM’S!!!

(This is a scan from a zine {Letters I will never send to you, Volume #4} I wrote years ago where I tell the old tale of “That Historical Day” at Teal’s Seafood, in Cheraw, South Carolina, the “prettiest town in Dixie” in the year of our Lord, probably 1989)

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But for real, this stuff is SO GOOD with rye whiskey. Just go ahead and try it! You’ll like it! Also, if you’re lucky enough to live near a Mast General Store they almost always have them not only in stock, but CHILLING in their coolers.

Dr. Enuf  and Red Velvet Cake Soda

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I currently can’t find anywhere that you can buy the Red Velvet Cake soda, and according to the guys over at Soda Jerks it’s pallet worthy (their highest rating). I might ought to hang on to it and see if I can pay off a crown with the eBay proceeds. Any takers? $50 OBO, lol. I can’t help but think it’s be great with light rum.

The Dr. Enuf came from my Johnson City, TN supplier “tnCorgi”. This means it is doubly fresh since it’s from there! There are so many weird and wonderful articles to read (herehere, and here). This soft drink is wonderful when mixed with pretty much ANY liquor (vodka, gin, whiskey and rum) and has been known to help a hangover if you imbibed a bit too much the night before. Dr. Enuf was definitely on the list of things I had to import while I lived in Missouri (along with Cheerwine, Duke’s mayonnaise, and Zapp’s potato chips). It’s good stuff. Enuf is ENUF!

Drink up! Tomorrow is Friday! Hooray!

Thirsty Thursday #1

With this coming up on porch sitting season I thought it would be a good time to talk about cocktails. Now, I call anything that has alcohol in it a “cocktail” be it beer, wine, or liquor.  I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite drinks for this time for year for you to put on your springtime to-do list.

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I have a funny little annual tradition where on one of the first warm days of the year I stop at a convenience store and pick up a tall boy of whatever beer is cheapest, I grab a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie, I go home and enjoy both in the warm sun of the early evening. It’s a magical sweet buzzing thing to do that makes it seem like this summer is going to be just like in the movies. That’s a feeling you can only buy with a snack like that.

Here are my top 3 must have cocktails for spring!

20160323_164031.pngPISS BEER with Twang

From March until October I always have to have at least two or three cans of cheap lite ‘suds’ (as my dad used to call them) in the fridge.  Not much can beat the cold sensation of 4% alcoholic carbonation on your palette. Don’t shy away from terrible beer. Get whatever is cheapest and be sure not to buy anything that sponsors a rival racing team (Gotdang Brad Kezlowski! I want him to switch teams so I can drink Miller Lite again!). The addition of beer salt takes this instant remedy to a whole other level. Twang is my favorite brand; it comes in little mini bottles and also handy packets that can go in your wallet. Beer salt is also really delicious on cut up cucumbers and all types of melon. Likewise, the chili powder fruit salt is really delicious in beer.

PRO TIP: be sure to drink a few slugs off the beer before you salt it, otherwise you’ll have a volcanic science experiment on your hands (and lap and floor).

WOODEN LEGS, a whiskey drink

I’m not 100% what the deal is with this drink name, but back in the day, that’s what this drink was called at the Uprise Bar. Mr. Freeze would serve rail whiskey with ice, seltzer, bitters, and lemon. I make all sorts of variations of this drink during the hot hot hot summer months as it is a refreshing way to lighten up dark liquor.

#1 = Frozen fruit: raspberries and peaches–I like to use these as rocks. Aldi has these for less than $3 for 10 oz on most of their frozen fruit. Or better yet, freeze some fresh ones if you have access to free fruit! I’ve even heard of using frozen edamame, in a pinch. Either way, you’ve got a snack to eat once you’ve drunk the cocktail!

#2 = Bitters: My brand of choice is Peychaud’s but lots of folks also like Angostura. It’s good to have both brands for a well stocked bar. I’ve never been able to get past the ill-fitted paper label of Angostura…a silly thing, but it irks me none the less.  Plus I like the historical connections that Peychaud’s has to New Orleans (be sure to read their history here). I’m also a big fan of Bitter Truth Bitters, specifically the celery and Creole flavors. So far Scrappy’s Bitters aren’t my most favorite, but admittedly I haven’t tried any of their stronger flavors like Firewater and Orleans. My favorite of the sampler pack I got is definitely the cardamom pictured here–it lends a subtle punch of India that I really enjoy. Crude Bitters are made here in North Carolina which automatically gets me excited. Although not overly strong, I do enjoy the Rizzo blend in drinks with white liquor. I’ve got some Steen’s Cane Syrup on my bar for making drinks that need simple syrup. That may sounds crazy but I find that the molasses-like sweetness stands up to whiskey in a way the white sugar just can’t.

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These are some LaCroix flavors I’ve never even heard of! via Elaine Strauss for Medium

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Empties! Disregard the expired date, haha!

#3 = Seltzer: I usually buy the store brand of seltzer from whatever grocery store I’m at. If I’m having company I buy it by the bottle, otherwise I get cans. Truthfully, I drink this cocktail almost as much without the whiskey. If there is LaCroix on sale, I buy that. My favorite flavor to drink plain is coconut, but I lean more towards citrus flavors for cocktailing. I have a SodaStream but I never get the dang CO2 tanks refilled. I should put that on my to-do list!

#4 = Citrus: I’m usually too lazy to buy and cut up lemons/limes unless I’m entertaining. Most times I buy a bottle of Nellie & Joe’s key lime juice and use a splash of that instead of a slice or twist.

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#5 = Sonic Ice: Y’all. It’s what I call “crunch ice”. For around two bucks you can get a whole bag of it at Sonic and bring it home to your freezer.

#6 = Whiskey: Any kind! It doesn’t matter! Use whatever is your favorite. I am partial to Bulliet Rye if I’ve got extra cash or Evan Williams if I’m feeling broke.

BOOZY PUNCH for SPECIAL OCCASIONS

Chatham artillery punch (seen below) is traditionally a New Years drink according to some accounts, but I think it is refreshing for spring and summer.

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via Garden & Gun banquet picture from Georgia Historical Society

I just LOVE a punch. Punch makes any event so much more like a PARTY if there is punch involved. I like to make ice rings in my little quiche pans with orange juice and canned pineapple rings and frozen fruit, then float them in punch or sangria. I’ve been known to whip up a batch big enough to fill a cooler! I’ve never understood people using WATER for an ice ring–it waters down the punch, obvs! Once your ice ring is frozen, carefully dip your ice ring mold in warm water and your frozen treat will pop right out.

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Orange juice with lime slices and frozen raspberries!

What are your favorite spring time treats to drink?