Category Archives: spirits and cocktails

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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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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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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2 more Chicago restaurants with wondrously-warm-winter news

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As the temperatures continue to be chillingly above normal, we can all feel free to keep exploring our restaurant options, sans hoods, gloves and scarves. Check these announcements out:

Seasides carryoutw fried chicken

Seaside’s opens Monday, March 13 for carryout and delivery from the team behind Oyster Bah in Lincoln Park. The menu focuses on fried chicken, slow-cooked BBQ ribs, fresh Maine lobster, and sides, all fit for sharing. Harking back to childhood memories of the Jersey Shore, Oyster Bah and Shaw’s Crab House Partner, Bill “Seaside” Nevruz, brings family-style simple, delicious fare to take-home .

Seaside’s shares kitchen space at Oyster Bah. Order in person or online for pick up Mondays-Thursdays 5 -10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 4 – 11pm, and Sundays from 4 – 9pm. Or get delivery through the Door Dash app. Right now, diners who place an order through Door Dash can receive $5 off (with a minimum purchase of $15) by using promo code LETTUCEEATS.
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Ella Elli1349 W. Cornelia Ave., the eleventh concept by 4 Star Restaurant Group (Tuco and Blondie, Crosby’s Kitchen, Remington’s), opened in Lakeview just off Southport Avenue last night, Tuesday, March 6. With culinary operations led by 4 Star Executive Chef Matt Eversman and branding and design development by Chicago-based Grip (Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster), the 75-seat concept is a warm, intimate lounge space to enjoy cuisine created with global influences, a unique wine list and classic cocktails.
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Guests can enjoy dishes by 4 Star Executive Chef Matt Eversman, alongside Executive Chef Nolan Narut that range from charcuterie and toasts, vegetables and salads to pizzas and pastas, meats, fish, and desserts. Cured Meats and Pickles, Artisanal Cheeses and Steak Tartar, with toast options like the Prosciutto Butter Toast with radish and dill.

Vegetables and salads are stand-outs at Ella Elli. Crispy Grain Salad with goat cheese and shaved vegetables, Roasted Carrots with crème fraiche, harissa and pickled celery. From the wood-burning pizza oven comes Roasted Oyster Mushroom with goat cheese. Pastas include Rigatoni with roasted cauliflower, mint and chilies. Seafoods include Hamachi Crudo with persevered lemon relish and Wood-Oven Octopus with crispy potatoes and salsa verde. Meats: Burger Au Poivre with St. André triple cream and watercress, or Lamb Scottadito with spiced yogurt and harissa. Desserts include Profiteroles with mint gelato and espresso dark chocolate sauce, and Spanish Blue Cheese Beignets with cardamom powedered sugar, fresh lemon and fig-balsamic glaze.
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3 Chicago restaurants with late “winter” news

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It’s winter, right, people? 63 degrees? I don’t think so. 43 degrees? Not really. How about 70? Do I hear 70 degrees? In any case, it’s a great time to get out and try some of the delicious things going on at Chicago restaurants these days. Here are 3 of them.

Dim sum :Author: User:Das_O2 :Date: August 20t...
Dim sum :Author: User:Das_O2 :Date: August 20th, 2005 :Notes: Typical dim sum breakfast in Hong Kong. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Intro, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, is now offering Dim Sum brunch, Sundays from 10am to 3pm.  The unique and delicious menu can be ordered a la carte, or shared family-style at $22.95 per person. Check out: Smoked Salmon Bao, “Everything Spice”, Caper Szechuan Aioli, Chinese Homestyle Eggs with Pork Belly and Congee Rice and Chinese Donuts with Cinnamon and Espresso Milk. Full menu here and call 773-868-0002 to reserve.

Dovetail Brewery Taproom dog friendly photo by Cindy Kurman
Dovetail Brewery is dog friendly

Not a festival, not quite a market but absolutely a great time. Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine, will be hosting some of the tastiest artisanal local craft vendors in its taproom from noon to 5 p.m. on March 25. Stop by and create your own charcuterie board of assorted breads, cheeses and meats to accompany your favorite Dovetail beers. And by popular demand, Dovetail has added a 1 pm. tour on Saturdays. Stop by the brewery at either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. to enjoy an informative and fun tour. Tour admission is $15 which includes your choice of three Dovetail 0.3L servings of beer.

Ēma, 74 W. Illinois, another LEYE restaurant, is having its first-ever wine dinner on March 29 at 6:30. For $75 a person (plus tax and gratuity) you’ll be treated to a mezze feast of Ema favorites and specialty dishes crafted by Chef CJ Jacobson and accompanied by wines from Sandhi Winery in Santa Barbara, California. Leading the event is winemaker and James Beard beverage book winner Rajat Parr, author Secrets of the Sommelier, and recipient of the 2015 James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Professional.  Call 312-485-5778 or email emaparties@leye.com to reserve.

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3 days only! 312 Chicago celebrates 19 years with $19 specials

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312 Chicago celebrates 19 years!

As a thank you to customers in celebration of 19 years in Chicago’s bustling Theater District and across from City Hall,  312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle, and Chef Luca are offering *all* dinner entrees for $19 each as well as $19 bottles of select red and white wine. Starting on their anniversary, 3/12/17 and evenings through Tuesday 3/14, you can get everything  at the party price – check the list below. Reservations are encouraged.

Here’s the complete menu:

  • Salmone, $27: Roasted Faroe Island Salmon, Tri-Colored Lentils, Cippolini Onions, Baby Spinach, Lemon Sauce
  • Branzino, $28: Mediterranean Skin-On Sea Bass, Cauliflower Puree, Manila Clams, Zucchini and Yellow Squash, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic White Wine Sauce
  • Cacciucco, $29: Sauteed Scallops, Shrimp, Tuna, Mussels, Clams, Lobster, Light Spicy Tomato Broth, Grilled Garlic Crostini
  • Pollo, $23: Roasted Chicken Breast, Beech Mushrooms, Crispy Onion, Sweet Grilled Corn, Creamy Polenta, Chicken Succo
  • Maiale, $26: Roasted‎ Pork Chop, Black Tuscan Kale, Potato Cake, Prosciutto, Brandy Cream Sauce
  • Filetto, $35: Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Tri-Colored Fingerling Potatoes, Truffle Butter, Porcini Mushroom Sauce
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