Category Archives: spirits and cocktails

5 more Chicago culinary news notes


Spring keeps poking up its lovely head and then pulling it back down again. But, hey, this is Chicago and we know exactly how to handle those crazy fickle ups and downs. We go out to eat and drink! And our beloved Chicago culinary industry is always there to give us more reasons to do so. Here are 5 ideas for your consideration:

  1. minigrow28 S. Wabash. Opening March 20, this one-of-a-kind, fast-gourmet dining experience elevates everyday eating. From the creators of Philadelphia-based honeygrow, purveyors of wholesome stir-fries and salads, minigrow brings consciously sourced, chef-driven food to the heart of The Loop.  Custom mazemen noodle and salad bowls, cold-pressed juices and chocolate chip cookies made in-house daily, and more.
  2. Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille, 5 Oakbrook Court, Oak Brook, introduced three new cocktails this year. The place is on the outskirts of Chicago but worth a visit if you’re into intriguing cocktail combos. Check out these unique drink ideas if you’re heading out west soon:
    • The Jameson Mocha Old Fashioned ($15) mixes Jameson’s Caskmates Irish Whiskey with  housemade coffee syrup and Bittermens mole bitters for a slight caffeine hit and a definite buzz – a great way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.
    • The PassionNut for Port ($15) mixes Fonseca Bin27 Port with DonQ Coconut Rum, Passion Fruit puree and fresh pressed lemon juice for a fresh and robust tropical escape. Pair it with Perry’s Beef & Bleu ($13.95) for a mouthwatering balance of sweet and savory.
    • The Rosé Collins ($15) is a wine-based cocktail that mixes Botanist Gin with rosé wine and fresh lemon juice. Try it with Perry’s Bacon Wrapped Scallops ($19.95).
  3. SAVE THE DATE! WhiskyX at the United Club in Soldiers’ Field – April 27, 2018. Music, food and many new and venerable brands of bourbon, Scotch whisky and more. This spring some of Chicago’s most beloved chefs will serve whiskey-inspired and infused dishes for VIP ticket holders. Several of the city’s favorite food trucks will be on-site selling food throughout the event as well. An  “early bird special” ticket (20% discount) on sale only between March 6 and 13. Beat the sell out and buy now.
  4. Osteria Via Stato, 620 N. State St., invites you to enjoy Chef David DiGregorio’s array of springtime brunch delights on Easter Sunday, or Pasqua as it is known in Italy, 10:30am to 3pm. Omelet station,  and a bounty of Italian-inspired offerings like ciabatta ‘French’ toast; house-made sausage & vegetable strata; and a Ricotta Doughnut station where the tender-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside treats will be handmade-to-order. For the kids, an Easter Candy table will be set up. $54.95++ per adult, children aged 10 and under are $19.95 and children aged five and under eat free. Reserve at 312-642-8450.
  5. Through March 31, snack madly with Garrett Popcorn Shops® and their new, limited-time, handcrafted Hickory Smoked Bacon CheeseCorn, both in shops and online at  Garrett Chef David Funaro  created this gourmet flavor by infusing signature Garrett CheeseCorn with juicy, hickory-smoked bacon flavor. Watching basketball with a gang? Try Baller Bundles – scoops and empty bags for filling and sharing in either Garrett Mix® or Hickory Smoked Bacon CheeseCorn, online only at through March.

Late December restaurant news in Chicago


Love to learn about the specials some of our Chicago restaurants put together for the holidays. Fun. Festive. Food and drink to celebrate with. Check out these news bytes about 6 of them. And Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, etc. etc.

  1. Naoki Fried ChickenDecember 22nd & 23rd only. Naoki’s savory Japanese-style fried chicken, prepared by half or whole bird and served with Yuzo coleslaw, Roasted sweet potatoes and Teriyaki & Toban Jan dipping sauces. Available dine in or carry-out. To place an order or make a reservation, call 773-868-0002.
  2. Texas de Brazil, 210 E. Illinois, will open early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (11am to 9pm) with their full rodizio-style menu available all day, as well as Horseradish Crusted Ribeye (a special holiday item). Pricing for Chicago here and Schaumburg here. Closed on Christmas Day, but open regular hours with the regular menu on New Year’s Day.
  3. The Shelby, 2759 W. Augusta Blvd. (their website isn’t up yet but Google has reviews)  opened December 19. Open 5pm weeknights, and 11am Saturday and Sunday. Casual restaurant/bar with a hearty beer program, a full bar, and Chef (formerly with Haywood Tavern, Bite Cafe, Longman & Eagle, and Spiaggia) Rodney Staton-created snacks, salads, and a load-your-own burger and baked potato program.  Enjoy their no-bull approach to food, drink, socializing, and service in soulful, well-worn surroundings (denim upholstery, dark wood carpentry, whitewashed brick walls, and canary yellow stools), and with a soundtrack influenced by the Memphis music scene: Stax records artists, Sun records’ Big Star, Isaac Hayes, and The Grifters, to name a few.
  4. ENO Wine Room, 505 N. Michigan in the InterContinental Hotel, will be popping bubbles every hour to ring in 2018. Learn about ENO’s New Year’s Eve celebration here. If you’d rather celebrate at home, ENO’s General Manager and champagne expert, Amanda Herrell, suggests breaking out the bubbly bar yourself! Her beverage and food pairing recommendations include: Don’t feel pressured to serve only champagne! Other good dry bubbles: Crémant de Bourgogne, Cava, and Franciacorta. Sweeter  tasty bubbles: Lambrusco, Brachetto, and Moscato d’Asti. Pair them well! With dry bubbles, stick with rich triple cream cheese. The rich and decadent flavors will be complemented by the bubbles. For the sweeter bubbly drinks, indulge in foie gras mousse. The effervescence combined richness and the berry flavor of the wine will mesh well with the savory dish.
  5. Celebrate the New Year at Ceres Table, 3124 N. Broadway. Sunday, December 31 | 5:00pm – 11:00pm (reservation times) A special four-course, regional Italian meal, presented by Executive Chef Steven O’Neill. For $55/person (*Special: reservations before 6:30pm and after 10:30pm, only $45/person) guests will enjoy their choice of one dish per course from the complete menu.
  6. Lowcountry, 1132 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago’s premier boil-in-a-bag seafood destination announces a second location opening in the South Loop early 2018. At Lowcountry South Loop, the magic four steps remain the same: choose your protein, like snow crab legs, head-on shrimp, mussels and more, then choose a sauce, a spice level, and add-ons like corn, sausage, and potatoes. New boil combinations launch upon opening, and now you can get pre-set seafood bags built for one, two, three, or four people filled with a variety of shellfish and add-ons. Love the music on their website!

Mago Grill & Cantina rings in Hanukkah & holidays with Mexican flair


The holidays for many ethnic groups are fast approaching. and Mago Grill & Cantina has the perfect addition to any celebration table. Mago is featuring a full size (9”) Eggnog Tres Leches and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Flan inspired by Chef Juan’s late grandmother’s holiday recipes, both $35, through December 31. They are both available with just 24-hour notice at any Mago Grill & Cantina location (Chicago, Arlington Heights, Bolingbrook or South Barrington). Perfect for those last-minute Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas dessert needs!

Mago Grill & Cantina fabulous holiday desserts

You might be surprised to learn there is a large Mexican-Jewish community in Chicago that draws influences from both cuisines. To honor this group, Mago decided to combine traditional Hanukkah dishes with a Latin flare, thus culinarily fusing Mexican and Jewish culture. Hanukkah Menu Items  available only 12/12/17 – 12/20/17)

Playing off the traditional Hanukkah short rib meal, Mago will offer a limited-time Beef Short Rib entrée for $26 (Pulque braised, fork tender beef short rib served with Mole de Manzana, or Apple Mole and cilantro potato latkes). Or try Roasted Half Chicken for $20 (wild mushroom huitlacoche cream, roasted Yukon gold potatoes).

Honoring the Jewish tradition of eating apples with honey during Rosh HaShanah, Guava and Apple Crisp dessert for $8 (Baked granny smith apples with guava topped with a cinnamon crumble). Apples in the cocktail line: La Manzanita cocktail for $13 (Apple & cinnamon infused Patron Blanco Tequila, apple cider, fresh lime juice).


5 cool December-in-Chicago happenings

We hate to admit it, but for many of us the holidays are an official excuse to overindulge ourselves – in sweets, in over-the-top decor, in food and wine. And why not? That’s why New Year’s comes right after the holidays, right? So we can make resolutions to lose the weight, get back in shape, forego ice cream or booze or whatever our particular downfalls might be.  So here are a few ideas to get you started overindulging – and one for helping save the farmers while you eat healthy.
  1. Naha quiche

    Cocoa + Co., 1651 N. Wells St., debuts a new savory café menu in partnership with Michelin-starred Naha’s Pastry Chef Craig Harzewski. The Old Town café just started offering a rotating selection of flavors to reflect the season: Empanadas ($5.50) – Duck, squash and cannelloni bean or Ratatouille; Quiche Tart ($5.75) with bacon and chard or without bacon; Gluten Free Baked Oats ($4.50) – apples, raisins and house-made plum preserves. Also, Chef Harzewski will now be crafting Coca + Co.’s signature items like Apricot Oat Cookies, Salted Big Chip Cookies, Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel Brownies and more.


2. Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan, is sporting a giant gingerbread hotel with city skyline, as well as extravagant décor for the holiday. The gingerbread hotel stands over six feet tall and took three pastry chefs more than 270 hours to create using 380 pounds of flour, 280 pounds of powdered sugar. Celebrating the building’s 90th anniversary, Executive Chef Mario Garcia this year added to the Chicago skyline display that includes gingerbread replicas of famous landmarks like the John Hancock, Willis Tower, The Bean and more. Watch a time-lapse video here. And check out the hotel’s iconic decorations – the 24 ft. Christmas tree with thousands of metallic ornaments, 2000 inches of decorated garland, a 30”-diameter Poinsettia kissing ball, and 60-foot wreaths throughout the hotel. 60 FEET!? Wow.


3. Maggiano’s, 516 N. Clark St., is now offering its Holiday Lunch Family Style. Enjoy the riches of Maggiano’s menu while you celebrate the holidays together. Check out their lunch menu – warm and comforting food without the hassles of cooking and serving yourself. Family style lunch only available November 27th to December 29th, Monday-Friday 11am – 3pm. $19.95 per person, $12.95 for kids ages 5-12.



Peninsula chocolate bar

The Peninsula Chicago and Executive Pastry Chef Dimitri Fayard present ‘Chocolate at The Pen,’ Chicago’s premier chocolate bar in The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago, accompanied by live jazz music by Stephanie Browning. Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 to 10:30pm. Pick from a selection of one- and two-bite elegant chocolate desserts and petite chocolate delicacies or a hot chocolate station. Call for reservations 312.573.6695 or e-mail


5, Imperfect. One in five fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. don’t meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores, usually causing them to go to waste on the farm. The curvy carrot, the miniature cherry and the oddly-shaped orange are all delicious and nutritious, but are often left to rot in fields or sent to the local landfill.

Why? To eliminate food waste, help farmers benefit from a full harvest and make healthy fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable. Each customized box is filled with a variety of organic or conventional ugly fruits and vegetables priced at 30 to 50 percent below grocery rates, grown regionally and shipped from Imperfect’s Northlake, IL distribution center. Choose boxes for singles or families, and customize the mix of fruits and veggies in your box each week. Chicago residents can sign up for the new delivery service, that launches Monday, December 4.

3 Saturday/weekend fun events at Chicago restaurants

Fizz Eatery & Soda Fountain in Belmont Heights (out west near Oak Park) this Saturday, 11/11 honors National Sundae Day with “buy one, get one free house sundaes” from 10 to 3pm. Banana Split ($7.50), Turtle Sundaes with Wisconsin-made ice cream ($4.95-$6.15), or Build Your Own Sundaes (2 or 3 scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, a cherry, and your choice of 2 toppings ($4.95-$6.15). Kids 12 and under who come in to celebrate National Sundae Day will be entered to win an ice cream social for up to 12 people!
Chicago Brewseum Hot Dog Fest. An intimate, low- to no-wait beer event – only 300 tickets will be sold. Saturday November 18, 1 to 5pm at Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Dr.  It’s all about Chicago, hotdogs, beer and fun! Support the The Chicago Brewseum, a non-profit organization aiming to build the country’s first museum dedicated to telling the story of beer. What you get: A welcome beer courtesy of Old Style; 3 oz tastings of all the specialty beers; a Chicago style hot dog courtesy of Ball Park (vegetarian/vegan option available); access to the newly reopened Theater on the Lake; outdoor games (weather permitting); vinyl spins courtesy of DJ Charlie;  hot dog themed art for purchase; access to the secret and illicit speakeasy.  Tickets from $25 to $100.
Hot toddies and deep-fried Oreos at Jake Melnick’s

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap. The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival returns November 17 and one of the best places to warm up and enjoy special food & beverage offerings is Jake Melnick’s. Consider this: a Hot Toddy made with either Spiked Hot Chocolate and/or Irish Coffee PLUS incredible, batter-dipped, deep-fried Oreos for $15. Get ’em while they’re hot – special price only on November 17 + 18, 2017.


Bistronomic now doing monthly wine dinners


Bistronomic840 N. Wabash, is a contemporary bistro rooted in French culture in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Now it will begin hosting a two-course wine dinner beginning on November 9 at 6:30pm and thereafter on the first Thursday of each month. The first dinner will feature wines from France’s Loire Valley paired with Seasonal Oysters with Nichols Farm diced apple, ginger and preserve lemon and Coq Au Vin with seasonal mushrooms, bacon lardons and shallot puree. Cost is $59 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Make your reservations on the website or by calling (312) 944-8400.

Bistronomic sommelier Edy Orozco

The dinners are hosted by Bistronomic’s newly appointed sommelier, Edy Orozco, who recently completed his sommelier certification. A Guatemalan native, Orozco began his career in the United States in 2003, working as a busboy and attending Truman College to learn English. He developed his passion for food and wine throughout his career, including working at Seven Lions and Michelin-starred Takashi. In his management position at Seven Lions, Orozco attended wine training with Master Sommelier Alpana Singh and took over the restaurant’s wine training program in April 2016. 


Shaw’s Oyster Fest fun 2017 for TEN days!

Shaws oyster fest 2017 lasts TEN days!

Shaw’s Crab House Oyster Fest, in its 29th annual celebration, is going all out. Shaw’s much-beloved downtown Oyster Bar is hosting a 10-day party from October 5th through the 15th. Enjoy all-day happy hours, dinners with award-winning oyster purveyors from around the country, special oyster dishes, and more.


HAPPY HOUR DAILY.  Happy hour (usually 4 – 6pm) is now … ALL DAY!  Enjoy half off one east coast and one west coast oyster from open to close in the Oyster Bar!

POP-UP HAPPY HOURS: 50 CENT OYSTERS. In addition to the Oyster Fest Happy Hour specials, we will be offering surprise 50-cent oyster hours throughout the week that will be announced exclusively on social media (@shellyfromshaws) and the Shaw’s mobile club.

SLURP-OFF CONTESTS. Our famous slurp-off competitions will be taking place throughout the week. First round will take place at 6 p.m. on kickoff night, October 5. Or take your shot at the slurp-offs on Monday, October 9th, Tuesday, October 10, and Wednesday, October 11 at 6 p.m. The final will take place during the Grand Finale Event on October 15 with the winner taking away the title of Slurp-Off Winner and $1,000 in Shaw’s gift certificates.

LIVE MUSIC. Blues music will be happening every night of Oyster Fest from 7 to 10pm. in the Oyster Bar. View the band line-up here.

SPECIAL OYSTER-CENTRIC MENU.  Come in for special dishes for Oyster Fest including Po’boys, Baked & Grilled Oysters, Pan Roast Oysters, and our house specialty Buffalo Oysters to celebrate the oyster throughout the Shaw’s 10-day party run!


Thursday, October 5: Tap Party with Haymarket Brewery. We’re kicking off Oyster Fest with a tap party in collaboration with Haymarket Brewery. We’re celebrating their first ever tap release outside of their Chicago-based brewery with a brand new Shaw’s beer, Lemon Rye-sing Saison, that was made to pair perfectly with fresh oysters.

Saturday, October 7, Sunday, October 8, Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15: Shaw’s Oyster Fest Brunch. As the weekend draws near, consider indulging yourself with one of the restaurant’s fabulous Saturday or Sunday brunches. Many additional oyster offerings will be on the display at the Grand Shaw’s Buffet that has redefined brunch in Chicago.

Thursday, October 12: From Coast-to-Coast Dinner. Shaw’s and guest chef Leo Waldmeier, of the iconic Drake Hotel and Cape Cod Room, are welcoming oyster growers from each of the coasts to come together for the first ever Coast-to-Coast Dinner. This interactive, four-course dinner with wine pairings will feature Hama Hama, from Washington State- repping the west coast- and Island Creek, from Massachusetts- repping the east coast- along with Chef Waldmeier’s signature Bookbinder soup. The dinner is priced at $89 per guest (exclusive of tax & gratuity) and starts at 6:30 p.m. Buy your tickets here.

Sunday, October 15: Grand Finale. And you definitely don’t miss the Grand Finale Party on Sunday, October 15 from 4 to 10pm. This special ticketed event ($70 exclusive of tax & gratuity) features an over-the-top offering of classic Oyster Festival dishes, wine and beer favorites, specialty cocktails, an Oyster Roast in the Oyster Hall of Fame Room, live music from 4 to 10pm, and of course the oyster slurp-off finale! Tickets for the finale can be purchased here.


How to find a new spirit to love – and 20 bucks off

Dozens of new and exciting spirits at Chicago Indie Spirits Expo 2017

Who can afford the expense of buying whole bottles of liquor just to try them out? And even sadder, some of the most interesting and potentially appealing beverages might not even be available to try at your local watering hole. But happily, now you can  – in one place. Note: Come with your belly full so you can absorb all these wonderful tastes without going down for the count – and take a bus or hire a driver.


Chicago Indie Spirits Expo 2017 is one of the largest gathering of small, independent, family owned, handcrafted spirits and the distillers, importers, bottlers, distributors and representative under one roof. Sample some of the best of the boutique vodkas, gins, rums, tequilas, mezcals, whiskies and liqueurs from all around the world. Last year, over 140 different exhibitors were featured with hundreds of different spirits. Great way to find new brands to add to your liquor cabinet at home or your portfolio if you’re a pro.

Tuesday, October 3 at 5:00 PM – 9 PM CDT
Hilton Chicago Hotel
720 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60613

Tickets here.

USE CODE: Indiedeal – get $20 off the ticket price


Common Threads hosts Cook-Off to help hungry kids


Common Threads is hosting its Seventh Annual Cook-Off on Thursday, October 5 from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. It’s a culinary showcase with dishes by culinary personalities from some of Chicago’s most celebrated restaurants and a silent auction – all proceeds of which will help bring health and wellness to children, families and communities through cooking and nutrition education.

Eat your way through dishes from 35+ of Chicago’s most renowned restaurants and hot-spots. Each dish will celebrate the garden, the pasture, the barn, the seed or the barrel. Once you eat and enjoy some handcrafted cocktails, you get to cast your vote for a winner in each category.
Hosted at the Revel Fulton Market, the Cook-Off supports Common Threads’ Chicago-based nutrition education and hands-on cooking programs for underserved communities. Look for dishes from Chicago’s top restaurants like: Acadia, Arami, Bad Hunter, Bernie’s Lunch and Supper, The Blanchard, BLVD Chicago, Boleo + Vol. 39, Cindy’s, Eataly, NoMI Kitchen, Sable Kitchen and Bar, Son of a Butcher, Sunda, Travelle Kitchen and Bar and many more!
Common Threads is proud to welcome a host of sponsors including Barilla, Kenmore, Lifeway, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and UnitedHealthcare. Learn more and buy tickets here.

3 Chicago restaurants kickstart September 2017

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.