#FoodieFriday Feature | What’s New at Red Monkey Tavern in #Raleigh @ShopCrabtree #dineCrabtree

On a recent visit to Crabtree Valley Mall, lunch and libations were on my agenda. I am excited to share my #dineCrabtree experience at Red Monkey Tavern, who recently switched over ownership and have so many awesome things going on! They have a NEW menu, NEW concept, NEW management and a NEW fan in me!

VIEWS + VIBE

This was my first time dining at Red Monkey and I honestly did not know what to expect. In fact because of my love-hate relationship with monkeys, I just never thought to do anything except take out of town guests to the infamous monkey bench that sits outside the restaurant and let them take funny photos! Do you remember the time when Michael Jackson had a pet monkey named Bubbles? I think this bench lets people have their wish of getting up close and personal with a monkey. You will almost always see someone sitting beside it. LOL!

I am so glad I was invited to step inside and dine at this cozy, casual restaurant. The decor has a bit of a tropical feel to it and in my opinion one to many plush monkeys. However after receiving a warm welcome from the host followed by a friendly greeting from the waitress, I felt comfortable at the Red Monkey. Salsa music and Latin Jazz tunes were playing and I immediately liked the vibe. We were seated at a cozy booth across from the bar but they also have some intimate tables for two

as well as outside patio seating

and a lower level lounge area, which can be reserved for private events!

DRINKS

Before ordering food, I took a look at their “Monkey Drinks” menu, which consisted of beer, wine and craft cocktails. I ordered one of their “Monkey Mules” called a Redneck Mule, which is made with Jack Daniels Honey and ginger beer. I love moscow mules and was impressed with their unique, refreshing twist on a classic drink! My hubby ordered a top shelf L.I.T. Monkey, which stands for Long Island Iced Tea.

After meeting Marcella and learning that she was from Miami, she encouraged me to try a Mojito and I am so glad I did! After living in Miami myself for almost 19 years, I can say Red Monkey will be my go to place when I want a real Mojito without getting on a plane to South Florida. And guess what…on Mondays you can enjoy a Mojito for just $5.00! Yes, I’ll drink to that!

THE MENU

At first glance of the menu, you will see American faves and tavern food like wings, nachos and burgers. I also saw some dishes that reminded me of my favorite foods from traveling in the Caribbean like yellow rice, plantains, jerk chicken and ceviche. The cuisine is Latin Fusion and I learned from talking to the owners/management that many of the new dishes are inspired by family recipes. If you taste sofrito in a dish, you have Randy’s Abuela to thank for that!

Appetizers

When I asked our waitress what was her favorites on the menu, she advised everything is good but she loved the steak! So that’s where we started with an order of the steak nachos plus the Maryland style crab cakes. Considering my husband and I were both born in Maryland, we are a bit of crab cake snobs. ‘Not bad’ we thought but we also shared with the owner they may not want to call it Maryland style. Perhaps simply crab cakes. It did have a nice flavor and I enjoyed the cilantro cream that it is served with.

If you love nachos, definitely order the “Monkey Nachos”! They come in a huge bowl and are gluten free. It is served with chipotle queso, bacon, Pico de Gallo, roasted jalepenos cilantro crema and you can add on chicken or steak for extra yumminess!

Entreés

The menu offers a delicious variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and house favorites to chose from. Our eyes were drawn to two classic dishes we enjoyed while living in Miami around so many cultures. Check out the description of the Cuban Sandwich:

As described, I felt like I was on a mini vacation enjoying a sandwich I learned to love in Miami. The bread, the pork, ham, cheese,pickles… everything was just right! However,I could not finish my food due to the constant visits my fork took to my husband’s entreé. He ordered the Skirt Steak Churrassco and as soon as I saw it and smelled the aroma, I knew I wanted to taste his dish. The quality, tenderness and flavor of his steak along with the yellow rice & pigeon peas, black beans and sweet plantains made me secretly wish I had ordered his instead. The chimichurri sauce served with the steak was also very good!

Desserts

Red Monkey has a Happy Hour dessert special from 5-7pm offering $5 specials different days of the week. The food portions were so big I almost did not have room for dessert but trust me you will want to either save room, make room or get dessert to go! The Tres Leche de Coquito was amazing! It’s a moist sponge cake topped with coquito, which some people refer to as Puerto Rican egg nog. There is enough to share but it is so good, you may not want to. Like their Mojito, this dessert is authentic and delish!

SobeSavvy Tip: Save the date for these Upcoming Events!

This upcoming week Red Monkey has a Trivia Night coming up on April 24th along with their weekly Salsa Classes on Wednesdays: https://www.facebook.com/events/145767506137467/

Also on Mother’s Day they are offering an All You Can Eat Buffet Brunch!

The lesson in my dining experience here is to not judge a book by its cover. I let the name of a place and past reviews discourage me from ever stepping in to the restaurant. The staff, service, sips and steak were all satisfying and I know I will be going back! I encourage you to stop in and see what’s new at the Red Monkey Tavern. Follow on Instagram @RedMonkeyRaleigh & @ShopCrabtree.

Looking for the Best Sips & Sushi in #Atlanta that the whole family can enjoy? Check out @TheCowfishATL Sushi*Burger*Bar #TheCowfish

Atlanta has become one of the great food cities of the world in the last 15 years. Name a cuisine and odds are you will find it there! Because my family and I are traveling foodies, one of our things to do is to seek out good food wherever we go. Sometimes it is best to revisit a place where you have dined before because the food, service and quality is consistent. That place for us is The Cowfish.

My daughter, fondly referred to as #outandaboutAva, is always ‘heads over heels’ to dine at The Cowfish. They currently have 5 locations, including this one at Perimeter Mall in Atlanta. She enjoys the fun yard games on the outside as much as we enjoy the Sushi, Burger, Bar on the inside!

DINING ROOM VIBE

Although there is outside patio seating, my family and I had dinner in their casual dining room. We sat at a booth that gave us a view of the beautiful aquarium behind the bar. There is also a smaller one by the hostess stand which has a sole yellow cowfish swimming in it! My little one was amazed at it’s peculiar shape and unique look. That is not the only unique thing about this restaurant. I think The Cowfish has some of the Best Sushi and Sips on their menu, which is why we came here for dinner. But first this Mom & Dad need…..

DRINKS

It was almost 84 degrees outside so we were ready for a few cocktails. I tried a Sake sampler, which offered both cold and warm sake pours. The Fuji Apple cold sake was my absolute favorite! I loved the presentation on a board with each name. Matter of fact I loved it so much I ordered a bottle of the Fuji Apple! Hubby is a bourbon/scotch man so he ordered one of the handcrafted cocktails which they called a “new fashioned”. SobeSavvy Tip: Enjoy half off Martinis every Tuesday and discover your favorite Martini on the menu!

MENU

We started off with an appetizer of Blackened Tuna Nachos. Seared tuna slices on Wonton Chips over their crab Rangoon dip. It was delicious and enough to share with my #HeighPartyof3.

My soon to be 7 year old ordered the grilled chicken kids entrée. It came with fries and edamame and is served in a bento box. Also included is a fun cowfish tatoo and rice crispy treat with a swedish fish on top for dessert!

Hubby ordered from their “Burgushi” section. The Cowfish finds ways to merge a tasty burger with fresh sushi in different dishes. His Fusion Specialty Bento Box came with a mini burger, a sushi roll, fries and Thai cucumbers. I must admit I was picking off his plate, I mean bento box as I enjoyed the variety of his dish.

I ordered “The Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll which is a creative and tasty sushi roll version of the classic Surf & Turf. Guests can order strictly sushi or strictly burgers from other areas of the menu, but The Cowfish offers the best of both worlds!

DESSERT

Thinking of dining here soon? I have just one piece of advice SAVE 👏ROOM👏 FOR 👏 DESSERT! We split a very BIG slice of their Chef Dave’s Not Factory Made Cheesecake. This creamy, almond coconut cheescake is beyond good and everyone enjoyed it!

See what else we enjoyed here on my Instagram post:

Here are some fun things coming up at The Cowfish in Atlanta:

• Offering half priced Skinny Gonzales Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo

• Offering complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries on Mother’s Day

Be sure to stay up to date

Visit The Cowfish at www.thecowfish.com

Follow on Twitter: @The_Cowfish

Instagram: thecowfishsbb

Facebook: @thecowfishatl

Thanks again to our friends at The Cowfish in Atlanta for hosting our dining experience. My daughter left with big smiles and lots of fun, foodie Spring Break memories.

#outandaboutAva visits The Cowfish in Atlanta for a fun, family-friendly dining experience | SobeSavvy.com

Need #Superbowl Sips for the Big Game? Try @Beetology #CocktailRecipes + @RoyalWineCorp🍷

Recently I learned about some handcrafted juice mixers from Beetology and a berry different Sangria by Joyvin and how they would be great game day drinks to serve on Superbowl Sunday. Although that day is known for beer, assorted dips and wings, it’s always a good idea to serve cocktails, mocktails or even wine for guests who are non-beer drinkers.

Beetology blends are handcrafted from organic beets,veggies,fruits and offer versatile mixers that are good for you. Rich in antioxidents, Beetology packs vitamin C, iron, fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients essential for good health. Therefore you can enjoy the beet juice blends by themselves as mocktails or can be mixed into cool cocktails like the following refreshing recipes:

Cocktail/Mocktail Super Bowl Recipes

Beetology Zinger

3 oz. Beetology Beet + Lemon + Ginger

1.5 oz. Gin

Candied ginger and lemon peel garnish

Directions

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add Beetology and gin.

Shake until chilled, strain and garnish with a lemon peel and candied ginger.

Bourbon Beet-It

3 oz. Beetology Beet+Cherry

1.5 oz. Boondocks Bourbon

1 dash bitters

Spiced Cocktail Cherry (recipe below) or your favorite store bought maraschino cherries

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add Beetology and Boondocks Bourbon. Shake until chilled, strain and garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Cocktail Cherry Recipe

½ cup sugar

½ cup Beetology Beet + Cherry

1 stick cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1 cup Boondocks Bourbon

1 pound stemmed and pitted cherries

Directions

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, Beetology, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Bring to a low simmer, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and add bourbon, and stir to combine. Add cherries and stir until coated with syrup. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate before serving.

Berry-Beet-a-rita

3 oz. Beetology Beet + Berry

2 oz. Silver Tequila

½ oz. lime juice

Directions

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add Beetology, lime juice and tequila. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds, and serve in a glass with or without salt.

Beety Bloody Mary

4 oz. Beetology Beet + Veggie

1/2 tsp. grated horseradish

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 dash hot sauce (more if you want it extra spicy!)

2 oz. LVOV Vodka

Celery stalks for garnish

Directions

In a tall glass, add Beetology, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, stir to combine. Add ice to fill the glass, LVOV vodka and stir. Garnish with celery stalk.

Tropical Beet-a-colada

4 oz. Beetology Beet + Tropical Fruit

2 oz. coconut cream

2 oz. dark rum

2 oz. coconut rum

1½ cups ice

Pineapple slice for garnish

Directions

Put the ice, Beetology, coconut cream and rums into a blender. Blend until smooth and frosty. Pour the drink into 2 glasses and garnish with pineapple slices. Makes 2 drinks.

Look for Beetology in the refrigerator section at health food, specialty, grocery, and kosher food markets in five varieties. For additional information about Beetology visit beetology.com.

Joyvin Sangria, from Royal Wine, is another Superbowl Sip to serve for guests who aren’t into mixed drinks. It’s a crisp, satisfying sangria with just a touch of fizz to go with fresh citrus and berries. Garnish with a few pieces of fruit for a refreshing, light Super Bowl beverage sure to please game time guests. You can learn more about Royal Wine on FaceBook.com/RoyalWineCorp/, and instagram.com/royalwinecorp/, and twitter.com/royalwinecorp

I hope you enjoy Superbowl Sunday and have a toast to your winning team with one of these cocktails! Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below …

Which one of the above cocktail recipes from Beetology would you try? Have you tried any Royal Wine such as Joyvin Sangria before?

Hosting a #Hallowine Party on #Halloween ? Try wines @MercerEstates @santacristina46 + more🍷

Happy Halloween everyone! This past weekend, I thought it would be fun to combine my love for wine and good times by hosting a HalloWINE tasting party! Costumes were optional but having an open mind to trying new wines was a must. Thank you to the wineries who provided free samples to facilitate and share my review with you. 

THE INVITE–

I sent a simple text with the above graphic to my wine loving girlfriends to come out and enjoy. I picked up some fun Halloween decor from Dollar Tree and Walmart, like these “Don’t Be A Basic Witch” cocktail napkins for just .99 cents !

THE WINES —

  • Barrymore by Caramel Road Pinot Grigio 2015 (SRP: $13.99)
  • Barrymore by Caramel Road Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016 (SRP: $17.99)

Carmel Road winery partnered up with Drew Barrymore {Yes, THAT Drew Barrymore} to produce some delightful light and crisp wines known as Barrymore Wines. We tried their Rosé and Pinot Grigio. On their website, Drew speaks of growing up in California with some of her fondest memories were around the table.
The Pinot Grigio (with flavors of lemon drop, Asian pear, honeydew melon alongside the “wet stone” minerality) was fantastic with a mixed greens salad and vinagrette dressing. The Rosé (with flavors of fresh red fruits, notes of peach and apricot with floral and light citrus aromas) went perfect with spicy shrimp cocktail. It was perfectly balanced; not sweet and not dry. This wine was an instant hit with everyone there. Final thoughts: Barrymore Wines by Carmel Road are a match made in vineyard heaven!

#SobeSavvySips HalloWINE Tasting 2017

  •  Santa Cristina 2015 Rossa Toscana IGT (SRP: $13.00)

Four cheese ravioli with red sauce was served with Santa Cristina 2015 Rosso Toscana IGT. This Italian wine is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Soft and approachable, the Rosso (with flavors of cherries,plums and notes of spice) is the perfect everyday house wine! I can’t wait to try it with fall-inspired dishes like Slow Cooked Pork Loin with Apples and Prunes.

  • Mercer Estates 2015 Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills Reserve
  • Mercer Estates 2014 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills 

Two wines from the popular Washington State winery, Mercer Wine Estates, also was shared amongst my girlfriends {and my hubby who was our official somellier for the evening !} I thought a deep,dark mysterious red wine such as their RESERVE Syrah and a “Shining” {..get it} white wine like RESERVE Chardonnay would be great with our Halloween theme.

We could not wait to see what mysterious wine our HalloWine Sommelier would present & pour next!

Hubby served up the Chardonnay (with aromas of lemon cream pie, caramel apple and toasted butterscotch) while we had some crackers, cream cheese and speciality jams. This wine had the right amount of oak and butter, which went well with this party snack. Angus meatballs paired well with this Syrah (with aromas of blueberry preserves and complex notes such as tea tree,coffee,sage,rosemary). Wine often changes on the palate when paired with food and this wine is deep and dark. It has many complex layers to enjoy. If you enjoy a red with great body and weight, this is one to enjoy!

  • Mommy’s Time Out Prosecco 
  • Mommy’s Time Out Moscato      (SRP for both $9.99)

It was wonderful learning about and tasting some amazing wines. Sharing it with my husband and a couple of friends made this intimate HalloWINE gathering even more special! However, today on Halloween, after getting my lil one in her costume and going trick or treating, this Mom plans to have a moment to relax by myself with Mommy’s Time Out Wine. I’m gonna grab a few pieces of chocolate from our daughter’s trick or treat stash, and pour me a glass of either Mommy’s Time Out Moscato or Mommy’s Time Out Prosecco. All of their wines are made from grapes grown in Italy and have fresh, fruity, well balanced undertones. 

For more information on any of these wines, please visit:

Mommy’s Time Out www.mommystimeoutwine.com

Mercer Estates          www.MercerWine.com                  Facebook: MERCERESTATES             Twitter: @MercerEstates

Santa Cristina         www.Santacristina.wine

Barrymore by Caramel Road www.barrymorewines.com

Remember, these wines are not just good for Halloween but for enjoying anytime! 

Do you plan to enjoy some HalloWINE this Halloween? What are you doing to celebrate? 

Cheers🍷 and Happy Halloween !! 

Celebrating #NationalVodkaDay with #NC ‘s own @OakleeDistill #BootsVodka #TroopStrength 

Boots Vodka Troop Strength | ‘Vodka with Traction’

Hey Vodka lovers, time to celebrate! October 4th is National Vodka Day and I want to tell you about a delicious vodka made by Oaklee Distilling Cocalled Boots Vodka Troop Strength. Based in Wendell, NC., founder Lee Browne has created an unique vodka distilled using sweet potatoes and corn!

Boots Vodka Troop Strength at Yelp Triangle Made Event | Oaklee Distilling Co. Founder, Lee Browne with Leslie Heigh, Founder of SobeSavvy.com

I had the pleasure of meeting Lee recently and tasting Boots Vodka at the Yelp Triangle Made Event. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it neat! Lee served it chilled-shaken,not stirred-for guests to try and advised that this spirit would serve well in vodka forward cocktails, such as this classic: B&B Vesper 

-Add 2oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin, 1oz. Boots Vodka Troop Strength, and 1/4oz. Cocchi Americano to a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

We learned that Boots Vodka is milled, distilled and bottle filled at Troop Strength, which identifies it as 90 proof. That’s a slightly higher proof than the usual vodka product. No wonder it’s known on the vodka market as a “Vodka with Traction”.

Boots Vodka Troop Strength | ‘Boots Up’ Cocktail Recipe

After trying Boots myself, I thought the vodka was earthy, pleasing to the palette and would be something my husband and I could serve to both our male and female friends. Since Fall is here and the time is near to start cozying up due to cooler temps, I thought I would warm you up with a fun recipe post for a cocktail made with Boots Vodka. Ladies and Gents, I present to you the Kinky Boots Martini! 

Boots Vodka Troop Strength | Kinky ‘Boots’ Martini


KINKY ‘BOOTS’ Martini

In a shaker combine 1-1/2oz. Boots Vodka Troop Strength, 1/2oz cranberry juice, 1/2oz. fresh lemon juice and add a splash of grenadine for more red if you wish (like in the Broadway musical play ‘Kinky Boots’, Red is a sexy color! ). Shake with ice until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Below are a few events Oaklee Distilling Co. will be attending if you would like to meet with them there and try Boots for yourself! 

  • 10/6 and 10/7 – Wendell Harvest Festival — Wendell, NC
  • 10/19 – Little River Ducks Unlimited Banquet — Wendell, NC
  • 10/21 – Rex Hospital Gala — Downtown Raleigh

Also here’s the website if you’d like a little more info: http://www.oakleedistilling.com/

I highly suggest you make plans to tour the distillery and taste some of Oaklee’s vodka, now available in North Carolina and Virginia. This season, enjoy the above recipe made with Boots Vodka Troop Strength and let me know in the comments below⤵

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED BOOTS VODKA OR SWEET POTATO VODKA? WHAT IS YOUR FAVE VODKA COCKTAIL?


Cheers!

Boots Vodka Troop Strength | Distilled from sweet potatoes and corn and bottled at Troop Strength

Celebrate #FirstDayofFall with #EndofSummer Sips made with @BedlamVodka #bringthebedlam

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, however all pictures and opinions are 100% my own.

If you attended the NC Restaurant & Lodging Expo or followed my stories on Instagram, then you know that was an amazing event to meet vendors in the restaurant, food service, lodging & hospitality. While there I got to sample and learn about Bedlam Vodka who is distilled and bottled by Graybeard Distillery in Durham, NC. After one sip, I knew I had to help spread the word about this amazing Vodka via my Spirits/Beer blog, as well as share some of my favorite #SobeSavvySips cocktail recipes (crafted by favorite at-home mixologist, my husband).

Before I share two cocktail recipes that will have you dancing like the bottle of Bedlam in the above video clip, let me tell you the number one reason we found this vodka to be enjoyable. It is so S.M.O.O.T.H! There was no burn and very smooth to drink. Per the company and as printed on the bottle: “Vodka Need Not Burn” 

Bedlam Vodka “Vodka Need Not Burn”

How is that ‘no burn’ possible you ask? Bedlam Vodka is distilled from rice instead of wheat or potato. Designed from an Irish vodka recipe handed down over a few generations of Scott Russ’ family, this spirit is sure to elevate any vodka cocktail recipe you may have already in your repetoire. Speaking of recipes, brand director/bartender Jesse Cortez, mixes the versatile vodka into unique drinks that are unexpected and delicious. Be sure to follow Bedlam Vodka on Instagram for inspiration!

#BringtheBedlam | Bedlam Vodka

We have tried Bedlam Vodka in two cocktail recipes that I think everyone over 21 would love:  Moscow Mule & Thyme for Fall Martini

RECIPES

Bedlam Vodka | #SobeSavvySips Moscow Mule

MOSCOW MULE

PREP 5mins TOTAL 5mins

This perfect all-year round drink is a classic, easy to make drink that only requires 3 ingredients. Invest in some His and Her copper (a favorite autumn color) mugs and enjoy!

Makes 1 drink

YOU WILL NEED

A half of lime

2 ounces Bedlam Vodka

4 ounces cold ginger beer

Ice

DIRECTIONS

●Squeeze lime into a copper mug
●Fill glass with ice then pour in the vodka and ginger beer
●Garnish with a lime 

Bedlam Vodka | #SobeSavvySips ‘Thyme For Fall’ Martini

THYME FOR FALL Martini

PREP 15mins TOTAL 20mins

This cocktail is inspired by a recipe called The Salty Dog . I’ve made some variations to suit my taste. For example I prefer a sugar rimmed martini glass while the recipe calls for course salt around the rim. This tasty, thyme-infused drink calls for gin in some recipes, but my husband thought Bedlam Vodka would go well in this light, citrusy, herbal cocktail. He was right!

This recipe calls making a Thyme Simple Syrup with these ingredients: 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water + 8 sprigs Thyme

*The Cocktail Novice has a great guide for infusing herbs in simple syrups , that you can check out >>here.*

Makes 1 martini drink

YOU WILL NEED

2 oz. Bedlam Vodka
3 oz. Freshly Squeezed Pink Grapefruit Juice
½ oz. Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
½ oz. Thyme Simple Syrup
1 Tbsp Sugar, For Glass Rim
1 Grapefruit wedge

DIRECTIONS

●Combine Vodka, Juices, Thyme Syrup and Ice in a Cocktail Shaker
●Shake Well
●Sugar the rim of a Martini Glass
●Strain Cocktail Into Martini Glass
●Garnish with a Thyme Sprig &      Grapefruit Wedge

Bedlam Vodka is available in NC ABC Stores plus bars and restaurants across the state.  Also, those of you in SC and GA can also enjoy the smooth taste of Bedlam Vodka. This company has plans of going nationwide, and to #bringthebedlam to everyone! Be sure to follow www.bedlamvodka.com to see what locations they will be in next!

Bedlam Vodka Cocktails

Hope you enjoy these 2 cocktail recipes and are inspired to go out and buy Bedlam Vodka and toast to the first day of Fall! 

Cheers!