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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