TimeOut names best bars in Chicago

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Chicago skyline at sunrise Deutsch: C...
Chicago skyline at sunrise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time Out, the leading global media and entertainment brand that inspires and enables people to make the most of the city, has crowned Best Intentions Chicago’s Bar of the Year at its recent annual Bar Awards celebration. The Logan Square bar perfectly emulates Chicago’s historic dive bars in a way that doesn’t feel forced, complete with a menu full of balanced drinks and upgraded bar snacks.

The awards are part of Time Out’s global bar program, celebrating the best bars, brilliant bartenders, most outstanding bar teams and extravagant bar designs that define the drinks scene in eight of the world’s most influential cities.

Joel Meares, Editor-in-Chief of Time Out North America, said: “The Time Out Bar Awards once again celebrated and brought together the best and brightest of the drinks industry. These global awards enable us to showcase and capture the latest bar trends and innovations on an international level, and solidify Time Out as the ultimate guide for where you should be drinking this year—whether that’s in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago and Austin or London, Paris and Lisbon. If you’re looking for the best cocktails in Chicago the likes of Best Intentions, Estereo and Scofflaw are offering incredible, innovative drinks, served by great bartenders in stunning surrounds.

“We want to thank William Grant & Sons for having joined this year’s Time Out Bar Awards as presenting sponsor across the U.S. to support this inventive industry and spotlight those that are really driving it forward.”

The full list of Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2017 winners:

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Now brunch gives to Maggiano’s Make A Wish campaign

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#eatadishforMAK at Maggiano’s brunch

Maggiano’s has been partnering with Make A Wish® for years. They designate certain dishes that, when you order one, they automatically donate a certain dollar amount to help Make A Wish kids. Check out Maggiano’s web page to meet the young fourth-grader Joshua who is the 2017 Maggiano’s Make A Wish Ambassador.  And check out the mouth-watering selection of dishes you can order and contribute to getting Joshua the service dog he has always dreamed of.

Maggiano’s Make A Wish white chocolate cannoli cake

Maggiano’s, the most popular family-style Italian restaurant chain in America, is always doing good things for the community while giving you good things for your appetite. And now you can donate by enjoying brunch any weekend from 11am to 3 pm. LOVE those lemon ricotta pancakes. And how about a mile-high piece of white chocolate cannoli cake? Num.

Spread the word , folks. Hashtag #eatadish4maw

 

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Pre-summer food, music and wine

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Pre-summer blooms off Michigan Ave.

Summer is at hand, people. No reason not to start right now enjoying the music, food and fun that are always on offer throughout our great city from spring through late fall. Here are a few opportunities to get you rolling…

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, on Sheffield from Belmont to Roscoe St. Sun. May 27 – Mon. May 28, 2017 – noon to 10pm.  And don’t fail to check out Trader Todd’s karaoke stage and contest – try out for best singer and look forward  to the award ceremonies in June at Trader Todd’s tiki bar, 3216 N. Sheffield. Check out our review on Trader Todd’s brunch here.
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Happy 40thbirthday, Potbelly! Thursday, June 1, they’re giving a $40,000 donation to One Summer Chicago. Check out the limited-time Potbelly birthday menu items,  and enjoy 40% off Originals sandwiches in-shop at Potbelly nationwide between 11am-3pm. Find your nearest Chicago Potbelly location and go enjoy.
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Dog-friendly, burger/beer specials. Burger + Beer promotion at The Patio at Café Brauer. From May 26 – May 29, get a juicy, succulent burger and a domestic beer for $15.95 all Memorial Day weekend. Read our rave review of Cafe Brauer here.
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English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Fran...
English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Frank Gehry – Pritzker, from across Michigan Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music at Pritzker Pavillion. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer – two weeks before the Grant Park Music Festival season begins. To celebrate, order a One Night Pass and get a reserved seat close to the stage for any Festival concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. And when you order online this weekend, you’ll save 25% on select seats for any concert in June! Use promo code MEMORIAL when you order online at gpmf.org. Offer expires Monday,  May 29 at 11:59 PM. Or,  explore our entire 2017 season. Choose any four concerts (excluding Beethoven Symphony No. 9 on August 18 and 19) with a Choose Your Own membership and we’ll add the Festival’s Independence Day Salute as our way of saying thank you.

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Rich and rewarding Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

For home barbeques or hostess gifts, consider one of these excellent wines from Black Stallion Estate Vineyards. Black Stallion Chardonnay 2015, Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, and Black Stallion Sauvignon Blanc 2015 are deliciously complex and rich tasting. Perfect companions to grilled shrimp or lobster, super-marbled steak cooked a pointe on the grill, and any favorite traditional accompaniments like mustard potato salad, veggie pastasauteed fresh garlic asparagus or superb sauteed mushrooms.  Get your Black Stallion wines from these Chicago area retailers: SavWay Wine & Spirits, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse, Sunset Foods, Woodman’s, Heinen’s, or talk to your friendly Binny’s folks.

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And if you’re into  higher-end wines, here’s a list of special Black Stallion wines that have garnered serious recognition lately:

  • Wine & Spirits magazine “100 Best Buys of the Year” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 92 Points
  • James Suckling’s list of “Top 100 Reds of Napa Valley 2016” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 Points
  • Decanter: 2013 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 91 pts; 2013 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; Highly recommended, 91 pts;  2013 Gaspare Estate Vineyard, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts; 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts;
  • Wine Enthusiast: 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 90 pts; 2014 Los Carneros Pinot Noir: 90 pts
  • Robert M. Parker, Jr. / Wine Advocate (Barrel samples): 2014 Bucephalus Red Blend: (91-93); 2014 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92); 2014 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92)
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Fine brown spirits for moms, dads and grads who love them

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English: The mash tun of Glenfiddich distiller...
English: The mash tun of Glenfiddich distillery, Dufftown, Moray, Scotland Milled malt gets heated up, sprayed water vapour heats from top (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the time of year when we all scramble to figure out what to get the fathers – or father figures – in our lives. Just saw an old episode of the Cosby show in which he complained that moms always get good gifts, but dads get crazy ones. To prove it, he  dragged out a chest full of the questionable Father’s Day gifts – ugly ties, google-eyes, stupid hats, etc. – he’d saved from over the years. Don’t be that desperate gift-buying person this year! Consider getting your father/figure a bottle of serious whiskey or Scotch whisky. Or take him – or mom or grad – out for a few tastes at one of the many Chicago restaurants that carry fine whiskies.

If s/he doesn’t appreciate that sort of thing, you can always get him some light-up suspenders… Here are a few whisk(e)y suggestions:

  • Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (SRP $69.99). First of the new single malts from Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey, the second largest Irish whiskey in the world. Surprise any Irish whiskey-loving dad with this great new expression on Father’s Day. Tasting Notes: Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old Single Malt is vibrant and fruity, with a nose comprised of ripe apples, sweet citrus, and vanilla oak. The whiskey is rich and sweet to the taste, with a long-lasting finish.
  • Tullamore D.E.W. 18 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (SRP $109.99). Part of Tullamore D.E.W.’s newly launched single malts range, Tullamore D.E.W. 18 Year Old Single Malt is the brand’s oldest age statement to date. This uniquely smooth, warming expression makes a sophisticated Father’s Day gift for a dad who really knows his whiskey. Rich and oaky, its velvety smooth taste includes notes of cinnamon, apples, and toasted marshmallows, and its lingering finish is sweet and malty.
  • Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask Finish ($70.00), part of the Glenfiddich Experimental Series: Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s Malt Master and a passionate creator and innovator, teamed up with a small Speyside micro-brewer to craft this first-ever single malt Scotch whisky finished in IPA craft beer casks. Aromas include ripe green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom, along with aromatic hops and fresh herbs are part of Glenfiddich fruitiness and sweet, vanilla oakiness with a long finish. Perfect for the whisky lover who loves to try the latest and greatest. For an unexpected twist, serve the whisky over ice with a squeeze of blood orange.
  • Glenfiddich Project XX ($79.99): Second in the Experimental Series, this whisky resulted from a blending of 20 very special single malts, each from 20 international whisky experts. They were all invited to explore and select a specific cask from a warehouse at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown. This smooth, unique expression makes a Father’s Day gift for a dad who really knows his whiskey.
  • The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (SRP: $54.99): The most hand-crafted Scotch whisky, this one is aged up to 12 years in traditional oak casks and finished up to six months in sherry oak casks – The Balvenie’s signature. Look for notes of sweet fruit and Oloroso sherry layered with honey and vanilla. The long, warming finish draws out the nutty sweetness and delicate spiciness of this classic expression.
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Kentucky Derby parties and specials around Chicago

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Michigan Ave. spring tulips

Okay, spring is here for sure and tomorrow’s the first big day to celebrate. My daughter’s been giving an annual Derby party for some years now, and Kentucky ain’t got nothin’ on us. Everybody loves dressing up in outrageous hats and fancy duds, drinking champagne, juleps and whatever, and picking horses by lottery.

But whether you study racing stats and place big bets, or you just love looking at those gorgeous horses, the Kentucky Derby is always an excellent excuse to go out and imbibe and eat with friends. And in Chicago there’s never a shortage of places to do that. Here are a few to consider for your drinking and dining pleasure:

Brando’s Speakeasy & The Essaness Room, 343 S Dearborn St., Monday, May 1 through Saturday, May 6, from 3pm: $6 Mint Juleps and FREE fried chicken. on Derby Day (May 6) beginning at 6pm (while supplies last).

Commonwealth Tavern Roscoe Village, 2000 W. Roscoe St., Saturday, May 6, open at 10am, drink specials $2, $4 and $6 Win Place Show special all day featuring $2 14-ounce Miller Lite drafts, $4 Blue Moon pints and $6 Buffalo Trace Mint Juleps. $7 to $14 food specials include a Kentucky Hot Brown (smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, parmesan, beer cheese, sourdough; $14). Watch the race on eight TVs including a 70-inch plasma.

Easy Bar, 1944 W. Division St., Saturday, May 6, from 3pm, $8 cocktail specials and a special Basil Mint Julep for $10 all day (while supplies last). Watch live coverage on TV.

Estelle’s, 2013 W. North Ave., Saturday, May 6, open at 5pm, $8 Mint Juleps. Plus get $1 off your first drink if you’re wearing a derby hat.

Kanela Breakfast Club, Saturday, May 6 from 7am to 3pm, $6 Mint Juleps and complimentary starters. Derby attire gets you a complimentary starter to share.* Kanela’s starter options include the Kanela Roll, Monkey Bread, Loukoumades, Chia Seed Pudding, Potato Pancakes, Mac and Cheese, Greek Yogurt, and Steel Cut Oatmeal. Locations – Andersonville: 5413 N. Clark St., Lakeview: 3231 N. Clark St; Old Town: 1552 N. Wells St.; Streeterville: 502 E. Illinois; Wicker Park: 1048 N. Milwaukee Ave. *Parties of two or more only. One per table.

Remedy Bar, 1910 N. Milwaukee, Saturday, May 6, from 4pm, $8 to $9 drink specials. $8 Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps as well as complimentary Kentucky Burgoo (traditional stew). Anyone dressed in derby hats or attire will receive $1 off drinks. Sound on!

Roanoke Restaurant, 135 W. Madison St. Saturday, May 6, from 10am. $18 to $22 food specials including a Hot Brown (rotisserie turkey, thick sliced house cured bacon, hearth toasted brioche, veal demi glaze, fried egg), Burgoo (confit of duck, rotisserie pork shoulder, rotisserie chicken, lima bean puree, wilted red cabbage, roast potatoes, Cipollini onions, carrots, tomato sauce and beef broth), Country Ham Sliders (house made buttermilk biscuits served with thick sliced true Southern-style country ham, oregano and orange butter, blackberry country mustard) as well as individual Bourbon Pecan Pies.

Tavern On Little Fort, 4128 N. Lincoln Ave., $7 Buffalo Trace Mint Juleps and $6 Kentucky Mules (Moscow Mule with bourbon). TVs in the bar and beer garden (weather permitting) with the sound on. “Best Derby Hat” contest. Large groups can book parties in the Beer Garden which accommodates up to 68 guests.

 

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Food and drink news in Chicago

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It’s definitely spring in Chicago – though many of us are wandering the streets in a daze, wondering vaguely why winter never arrived. The trees are covered in spring-green buds, and the daffodils and tulips are painting the scenery in joyous colors. And, of course, our fair city has lots of food and drink news, about which here are a few bits for your consideration.

English: Chicago skyline at sunrise Deutsch: C...
English: Chicago skyline at sunrise Deutsch: Chicagos Skyline bei Sonnenaufgang Français : Panorama urbain de Chicago au lever du soleil. Chicago sunrise 1.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Live music and chocolate in The Lobby at The Peninsula camp hotel in downtown Chicago. Every Friday and Saturday night from 730 to 11 come enjoy an evening of music, dancing, and chocolate. Guests to dine at The Lobby or Shanghai Terrace for dinner will receive a special 50% off on their chocolate experience.
  • Drumbar, since 2012 Chicago’s speakeasy-style cocktail lounge, is introducing a new passport-themed drink menu inspired by the bar staff’s experience with and love for a specific destination. Perfect to imbibe atop Drumbar’s rooftop terrace. Two examples: 1) THAILANDCompass Box Glasgow Blend scotch, coconut milk, fresh mango puree, lime juice and house made sticky rice cordial; 2) MAINE: Templeton Rye, lemon, rosemary vermouth, Cruz Blackstrap and Lapsang dem tea topped with Allagash beer foam and a spray of Laphroiag Scotch Malt Whisky.
  • Irish Wheat AleGuinness, the company known for that distinctive wonderful dark drink called Guinness Stout, is right on trend now with a new ale made with wheat grown in Ireland. Wheat beer is huge across the world these days – in fact it’s the third largest beer segment today. And just in time for spring, Guinness Irish will be available in your favorite pub. It’s got a clean, crisp refreshing taste with notes of zesty citrus, subtle clove and – get this –  banana! It’s a lovely pale gold with the typical wheat haze. Alcohol is 5.3%, and it’s made with hops are from Mount Hood and Amarillo and  with Irish Wheat and Stout malts. Frothy head and mellow flavor. We love it. Guinness knows what it’s doing. Where to find Irish Wheat Ale in Chicago.  
  • English: Drake Hotel (Chicago) Entrance
    English: Drake Hotel (Chicago) Entrance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Drake Hotel. If you need an excuse to go and enjoy the lush surroundings and the excellent food at this Historic Hotel in downtown Chicago, consider the Palm Court’s High Tea as a great way to treat your administrative assistant, if you’re working and have one of those – or yourself and your pal if you’re retired and doing your own administering – for Administrative Professionals Day on April 26. Seatings are every hour and a half from 11am to 5pm. Or if you prefer an executive-type meal, reserve a table at Coq d’Or for a prix fixe menu that day from 11am to 2pm. Either way, prepare to feel pampered.

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3 Chicago restaurants with news for spring 2017

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Firecakes inside Lou and Grey

Firecakes Donuts will operate for two months a pop-up donut counter inside Lou & Grey, the contemporary women’s apparel store at 3442 N. Southport Ave. Locals and visitors alike are finding it a place to grab a great cup of coffee and a fabulous donut. Or visit Firecakes Lincoln Park store, 2453 N. Clark St. or its Hubbard Street location, 68 W Hubbard St.

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Firecakes Donuts also operates a Donut Truck in the Loop on weekday mornings and, in season, in the evenings and on weekends at various neighborhoods around Chicago. The Donut Truck also can be booked from private events and catering; please call 312-329-6500 for more information. Delivery, catering and pre-orders are available. Please place orders by 3 p.m. for next day pickup or Chicagoland delivery.  Firecakes also serves a giant birthday cake donut that serves 2-3 people and an ice cream donut sandwich. Firecakes Donuts serves coffee from La Colombe Roasters. Major cards are accepted. For more information, please call the stores at 312-329-6500 (W. Hubbard St.) and 773-666-5277 (N. Clark St.)
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Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago
Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weber Grill Restaurant539 N. State St. (also Lombard, Schaumburg, Indianapolis), on Easter Sunday (April 16th) offers  grownups traditional holiday favorites, plus either Mimosa ($7) or Backyard Bloody Mary (Absolut vodka, housemade bloody Mary mix served with smoked sausage & Gouda skewer and a mini backyard brew 10.5). Along with their brunch plate, kids get Easter eggs filled with candy and special treats.

 
Brunch “A-la-carte” Features Served Until 2:00pm – Grilled Steak & Eggs Southwest Style Skirt Steak and Eggs Any Style Guajillo Salsa, Breakfast Potatoes ($17.50); Chocolate Cherry Pretzel Bread French Toast Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream ($10.50); Double Smoked Bourbon Glazed Ham Benedict, hollandaise, toasted English muffin grilled asparagus, breakfast potatoes ($14); Kid’s Brunch Plate (Twelve & Under), choice of scrambled eggs or pretzel bread French toast ($6.50).
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Weber’s full Dinner Menu served all day plus two specials: House Smoked Bourbon Glazed Ham, horseradish cream sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus ($16); and Wood-Roasted Leg of Lamb, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, rosemary jus ($20).
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Snap Kitchen is excited to introduce three internationally inspired dishes, each boasting a unique primary health benefit. With an obsession for food innovation and believing that eating healthy should be really fun, Snap Kitchen was inspired to create three incredible new Bowls with Benefits, available in store or for delivery. The product of the collaboration between Snap Kitchen’s research and development chefs and dietitian, each bowl is based on a super-flavorful take on cauliflower rice, topped with nutrient-rich ingredients. The lineup includes a Whole30-approved bowl and vegan option.
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The Tex-Mex Chicken Bowl is Snap Kitchen’s take on the classic burrito bowl, with anti-inflammatory ingredients and superfoods like turmeric and spirulina for a whole new spin. The Tex-Mex bowl contains:
  • Spanish cauliflower rice with a smoky flavor from smoked paprika and mega anti-inflammatory benefits from turmeric;
  • spirulina crema made from cashew, avocado, and spirulina that offers up healthy fats and B vitamins;
  • topped with fajita veggies and chicken, and homemade red salsa.
Meatball & Kimchi Stir Fry Bowl with natural probiotics and nourishing prebiotics to get your gut in check. This bowl features:
  • kimchi fried rice made from cauliflower rice stir fried with fresh garlic, ginger, and kimchi;
  • grass-fed beef meatballs made with sautéed ginger, onion, and mushrooms for a tender texture and veggie bonus;
  • kimchi with fermented cabbage and sea vegetables featuring naturally occurring probiotics;
  • plus organic edamame, stir fried veggies, and ginger sesame vinaigrette.
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Packed with plant-based ingredients full of antioxidants, the Mediterranean Mezze Bowl is the most beauty-full meal at Snap Kitchen yet. This bowl features:

  • kale and cauliflower tabbouleh with zucchini, onion, jalapeno, and garlic;
  • golden turmeric chickpeas full of nutrients from turmeric, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast;
  • vegan tzatziki that starts with cashew crema with chopped cucumber, lemon zest, mint, and dill for a tangy addition to the bowl’s flavor lineup;
  • beet hummus full of nutrients like betalains with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification benefits that give your skin a healthy glow;
  • plus roasted red bell pepper and eggplant, and Kalamata olives.
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Order ahead or get them for delivery on the new Snap Kitchen app for iOS – it’s a beautiful app with full color pics that’ll make you even hungrier.

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Chicago chefs “Food Fight” to benefit scleroderma

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Chefs “Food Fight” for Scheroderma

Three popular chefs from Chicago will compete in the 9th Annual Food Fight for Scleroderma (an as-yet not-curable disease that tightens skin and sometimes internal organs) on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at AceBounce (230 N Clark St) in Chicago. Nicole Pederson (Found), Andres Padilla (Lena Brava) and Jared Wentworth (Trench) will each present a dish to a panel of judges and an audience of food-lovers. Guests vote for their favorite dish of the night. Judges score based on taste, creativity and presentation. The winning chef is announced at the end of the evening.

 The competing chefs will also have a restaurant, brewery and distillery from their respective neighborhoods to provide additional food and drink. VIP reception ($145) from 4 to 5pm. General admission ($95) cocktail reception from 5 to 6pm, then the competition will take place between 6 and 8pm.
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Tortoise Supper Club – drink up and give to worthy causes

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Feel welcome in the cozy classy atmosphere of Tortoise Supper Club

Just discovered the Tortoise Supper Club during a press event featuring D.E.W. Tullamore Irish whiskey’s “DEW and a Brew” tour through Chicago. Love the leather-and-wood ambience and loved the food and service, too. Now this cozy, classy restaurant, known for its steaks, chops and fresh seafood, is inviting us to come have a special cocktail so they can donate $3 per drink to the worthy cause of the month.

Cocktails for a Cause teams the supper club each month with a local non-profit to help raise awareness and funds for that organization.  The restaurant/lounge creates an original limited edition cocktail and donates $3 of every one sold to that month’s non-profit partner.

This month, Tortoise Supper Club teams up with The Miracle Center, which provides arts-education-based programming for inner-city Chicago kids.  Through its afterschool and summertime programs, youths aged 11 – 22 work together to develop full-scale theater productions that are then performed for the general public.  These programs help kids strengthen their creative problem-solving abilities and build self-esteem by developing their leadership and general life skills.

Curtain Call is this March’s Cocktail for a Cause. House-infused dill vodka is mixed with fresh-squeezed lime juice and a housemade honey syrup, finished with a couple dashes of grapefruit bitters and garnished with a touch of grapefruit zest. Even if you’re not a huge fan of mixed drinks, this one sounds like a winner.

No reservations required. Just come in and relax this month, meet the owners who are almost always onsite greeting guests, and know that 3 bucks of your Curtain Call price will be donated directly to The Miracle Center.

P.S. Weekly specials include Half Priced Signature Cocktails on Wednesdays, Sautéed Frog Legs and Buttermilk Battered Cod on Fridays, Northwoods Dry Rubbed Prime Rib on Saturdays and $1 Oysters / $1 Shrimp Cocktail from 4:30 – 6:30 pm on weekdays.  Live Sinatra-style jazz music is played in the lounge every Friday and Saturday night.

 

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3 new Scotch whisky brands from Brown-Forman

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Brown-Forman (the world-class whiskey company that also owns Jack Daniel’sWoodford Reserve, and Old Forester) recently unveiled its newly-acquired single malt Scotch Whisky brands at a cocktail party held at The Drifter, 676 N. Orleans, the hidden cocktail den underneath Chicago’s iconic Green River Tavern. The new brands include BenRiach, The GlenDronach, and Glenglassaugh.

These brands are new to Brown-Forman, but they’re iconic Scotch whisky brands with roots each date back to the 1800s.  Each of these three distilleries offers both peated and unpeated single malts, many of which have become cult favorites in their own right.

During the event, Global Brand Ambassador Stewart Buchanan led the group through a tasting of four of his favorite whiskies: The BenRiach 10, The GlenDronach 12, Glenglassaugh Evolution, and The BenRiach Curiositas.

And now you can now buy any of the new brands at fine retailers throughout Chicago.

 

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