Category Archives: spirits and cocktails

3 Chicago restaurants kickstart September 2017

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Happy 15th, Weber Grill!

Weber Grill Restaurant, 539 N. State St. Friday, Sept 1 – Saturday, Sept 30, they’re celebrating their 15th anniversary. For only $15, Executive Chef Jason Friedland’s giant burger (a Certified Angus Beef® patty, hickory smoked beef brisket, Merkt’s cheddar cheese, bread and butter pickles, and brisket mustard aioli) and a Weber Backyard Brew (a Goose Island wheat ale) draft beer. (Burger only $11). @thewebergrill

Maggiano’s lobster mac

Maggiano’s, 516 N. Clark St., is bringing back a feature favorite – mac n’ cheese adults will love! Langostino lobster mixed in with pasta and a rich, white wine truffle cream sauce. Baked with fontina cheese, fresh dill, and herb breadcrumbs. Make it your entrée or share with everyone as a perfect side. Only until September 27, so hurry in.

River Roast, 315 N. LaSalle St., has a new beverage program led by beverage manager, Ken Pritz – classic cocktails with a fresh, innovative twist. Look for local Midwestern beers in River Roasts’ 13 rotating taps along with classic wines from France, Italy and Spain, as well as Argentina and Chile. Check out the new Happy Hour Package: two hours  of passed hors d’oeuvres and a beverage package including local beers, red and white wines, and a selection of spirits for $35 per person. Hors d’oeuvres include a Slider Station – burger, pulled pork and coleslaw, and crispy chicken – all served with house made chips; Golden Gobbets, seasoned chicken with honey; BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with ancho chile cream; Preserved Fruit & Goat Cheese on walnut crostini; and Tomato Bruschetta with spiced ricotta and French bread.
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Eat hearty in July at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

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July Mac of the Month

Mac and Cheese Day – 7/14: Get cheesed with Spin Dip Mac at Jake Melnick’s. Jake’s Creamy house-made mac n’ cheese is tossed with their creamy spinach artichoke dip, topped with cheddar and Swiss cheese then baked until golden. Garnished with fresh tomato, Parmesan, pita chips and Sriracha crema.

Ice Cream Day – 7/19: Treat yourself to Jake Melnick’s Hot Fudge Sundae ($6.25) after a “fish” dinner.

July Ahi Tuna Burger

The Asian B.L.T.T. is the perfect summer burger featuring a hand-packed Ahi Tuna burger, topped with smoked teriyaki bacon, wasabi ranch salad and crispy wontons. The salad is on the burger so it counts, right? BTW, July is Ice Cream Month so don’t hold yourself back from celebrating all month long!

 
July Pina Colada Wings

International Chicken Wing Day – 7/29Grab a basket of the Spicy Pina Colada Wings, the perfect celebration flavor. Jake’s jumbo wings are fried until crispy, tossed in their house-made spicy pina colada sauce and garnished with toasted coconut. Served with Ranch dressing.

Oh, and just in case you don’t have enough carbs, it’s also National French Fry day on Friday, 7/14. Jake’s will be selling $5 specialty baskets this Friday, the 14th including the Breakfast and Street Fries.
Go and consume in peace and happiness.
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July 2017 Chicago restaurant news

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Summer is a busy time for Chicago’s restaurant scene. All season long, patios and rooftops burst with happy diners and drinkers, but air-conditioned interiors beckon more seductively for some – a welcome haven from the heat and humidity and a time to enjoy good food with friends and family. Below are a few restaurant items of interest.
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Shaw’s Chicago Lobster Fest is ON!

Lobster Festival is back at Shaw’s Crab House Chicago, 21 E. Hubbard. All during July, enjoy the decadent taste of everyone’s favorite crustacean. Special menu items for the month include: Lobster Maki. Lobster Tacos. Lobster Roll. Lobster Fettuccine. 1.5 lb Lobster Boil with potatoes, corn, and sausage.

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The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is excited to announce the official launch of Andersonville First Fridays, a late-night, monthly event series beginning this Friday, July 7 from 6-10PM. In an effort to promote local shopping and dining, businesses will keep their doors open late to welcome visitors with promotions, refreshments, and special experiences on the first Friday of each month. This month’s First Friday also coincides with the grand opening of Transit Tees at 5226 N. Clark.” Chicago Reader last month voted Andersonville Chicago’s best overall neighborhood. 
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Maggiano’s Make A Wish white chocolate cannoli cake

Maggiano’s Little Italy, 516 N. Clark, is always busy updating everything they do. It now offers lots of lighter-side pasta dishes, plus vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free Italian options. Browse their new brunch options and their lunch menu that now also includes some of their dinner-time pasta classics like Chicken Parmesan and Veal Piccata, plus Italian recipes with an American twist like Pesto Perlini Mozzarella and Grilled Salmon & Herbs. And don’t forget the kids’ menu – Ziti Pasta, Cheese Flatbread, and Giant Meatball with Spaghetti. Dine in, carry out or get delivery. With many pasta entrees, they give you an extra one to take home for free! Either way you get warmly satisfying food that fills your stomach while it comforts your spirit.

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Troquet River North

Bastille Day, July 14, 2017.  Troquet River North, 111 W. Huron at Clark, is offering an all-day special on Friday the 14th to celebrate. For $12 enjoy a classic croque monsieur with frites and a choice of Kronenbourg 1664 or Kir Royale.

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Bistro Voltaire, 226 W. Chicago Ave., promises a free appetizer glass of champagne to all diners July 14, and also offers a mouth-watering 3-course prix fixe dinner all that week for $38. Escargots, grenouille, tartiflette, bouillabaise, anyone?
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6 cool Chicago summer fun ideas

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Never a shortage of fun places to go and things to do in Chicago in the summer. Check these out for now and later – and notice that a few of them have stuff going on TODAY!
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Angelo’s Wine Bar, 3026 W. Montrose Ave., known inside for its rich, warm wood modern interior, now boasts a cozy, fairy-light illuminated patio where you can enjoy appetizers, pasta, pizza and small plates perfect for sharing with tablemates. From Burrata Mostarda ($14) and seasonal Spring Risotto ($16). Spaghetti generously tossed with Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil. Pizzas, P.E.I. Mussels in Brodo ($10), Roasted Skin on Salmon ($14) and Smoked Bone in Short Rib ($19) are just a few entree items. Patio hours are 4-11pm M-Th and 11am-11pm F-Su.

TODAY: Angelo’s Wine Bar’s neighborhood block party with live music, food, games, complimentary beer and wine (while supplies last) to celebrating the community. Proceeds from the optional $5 cover will be donated for neighborhood improvement. 4–10:30pm
Saturday, July 1, 2017. Free parking in the Angelo’s parking lot across the street.

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Pitchfork Music FestivalJuly 14 to 16, welcomes some of the most trusted voices in music this year, with a lineup of not-to-miss sips and bites. While you’re there look for the John Dewar & Sons Traveling Whisky Emporium, the immersive, one-of-a-kind “whisky tiny house.”  Taste specially-crafted DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky cocktails, tastings of unique single malts Aberfeldy and Craigellachie, and sample custom scotch eggs created by former Top Chef winner, Chef Michael Voltaggio.

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FireFin Poké Shop, a fast-casual food concept, is opening its 4th location (with a few others under development). Open Monday – Friday at Ogilvie Train Station, the healthy and chef-driven restaurant will serve a limited menu featuring nine poké favorites, with customizable options available to foodies, busy commuters and Loop lunchers.

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The Patio at Café Brauer’s Dog Days of Summer event on Sunday, July 23. Bring your pooch to the Lincoln Park Zoo’s al fresco restaurant and bar, overlooking the zoo’s scenic Nature Boardwalk, for a fun brunch fit for both you and your pup. There will be goody bags for the dogs and a kiddie pool available for the pups. And Cafe Brauer is a lovely place to enjoy the view and sip a glass of wine or a cocktail with your lunch or snack.

TODAY and Sunday, July 1 and 2, Skydeck Chicago opens one hour early, at 8am, to allow tourists and Chicagoans extra time to experience the spectacular views of up to 50 miles and four states from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. Imagine snapping an Instagram sensation on the projecting glass boxes known as The Ledge that is 1,353 feet up and extends 4.3 feet out from the skyscraper. Skydeck Chicago attracts more than 1.7 million visitors annually; it’s an ideal family activity for those looking for a fun outing this holiday weekend.

Furious Spoon Ramen Shop, known for handmade noodles at its multiple locations around Chicago, brings back for the month of July the chance for you to eat your way through the menu of ramen bowls. All You Can Eat Ramen for just $18 means you can eat as many bowls as you like during 1 visit (no sharing allowed). The promotion is valid at all locations, during all business hours. Guests who eat 5+ bowls will win a $25 gift card and be entered to win a hands-on noodle class for 4 (valued at nearly $500).

 

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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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