Just about every new restaurant (of note) opening in Chicago has an all-star cocktail list. Sometimes, they’ll employ a guy like Adam Seger or Paul McGee to create or consult; one thing is for sure, they stock names like Luxardo and St. Germain with regularity, make their own simple syrup, squeeze their own citrus and wouldn’t dare put a bottle of Rose’s lime juice anywhere near the bar. The bartenders (a.k.a. mixologists, bar chefs, barkeeps) know their drinks by heart, and often create their own libations based on classic recipes. Liquors and liqueurs are meticulously sourced, the atmosphere is conversation-friendly with chairs to boot – not just barstools – and best of all, it doesn’t matter if you’re a rum, tequila, bourbon or gin drinker, you’re going to find something that sounds absolutely delicious (and thirst quenching). Just please don’t ask for a vodka soda.
Belgian Saisons are as popular as Pinterest these days (at least among beer geeks), so it’s no surprise that Le Merle – a product of the North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg, CA – is top-of-mind lately. It won a Gold Medal at the 2010 World Beer Championships, and it’s been popular at The Hopleaf for the last few months. Food friendly and arriving in two different sizes, you might just want to get one as a gift, since you’re going to be drinking one yourself. Cheers.
Tickets to Chicago’s 2012 Baconfest sold out in less than four hours, but you still have a few chances to snag some tickets for the April 14th event. You could write a poem about bacon, or just keep reading here for details on another cool contest. Read More
You could say Benjamin Schiller is a “spirited” man. His job kind of requires him to be. As the Bartender/Chief Cocktail Guy at Boka, he’s constantly coming up with new drinks that reflect the season, but also, what is made available to him through the markets and his vast network of distributors. This week, Schiller is getting in touch with his inner dude, by combining three things you would normally associate with smoky parlors and backroom hobnobbing: bourbon, coffee and tobacco. He calls it a Weston, and even if you can’t find an atomizer to spray your tobacco mist (isn’t that the same as blowing smoke over the drink before serving?), you could always just belly up to the bar at Boka. I’m sure he’d be happy to make you one. Cheers.
The Weston by Benjamin Schiller, BOKA
2 oz. Weller 12 year old Bourbon
½ oz. Dark Matter coffee syrup (from Star Lounge in Ukrainian Village)
2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
1-2 sprays of pipe tobacco mist
Combine bourbon, coffee syrup and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir. Strain over 1 large cube in a rocks glass. Aromatic garnish with Pipe Tobacco mist.
Chicago has a history of underground, illicit activities. Remember prohibition? Just ask Geraldo Rivera about Al Capone’s vault. Apparently, Chicagoans enjoy a little under-the-radar dining as well, choosing to seek out “dinner clubs” that require sign-ups, secret agreements and a willingness to let someone cook whatever they want in someone’s apartment/loft/gallery. The key is that these culinary “speakeasys” are outside the reach of the city’s health department, and therefore, are able to do things on their own terms. Bonus: most of them are BYOB as well.
MINNEAPOLIS – Beyond those images of Mary Tyler Moore flinging her chapeau into the sky, and a sweaty Prince belting out “Purple Rain” on stage at First Avenue, Minneapolis has, traditionally, been a repository for more Swedish jokes than I care to remember (including the one about how Aquavit couldn’t make it here, despite the large number of Scandinavians living in the region). But those of us from the area, or who have frequent business in the Twin Cities, realize that the food scene has become a lot more interesting over the past few years. It helps to have guys like Andrew Zimmern blog and tweet from his adopted home so frequently, raising the flag and telling other food fans about the region’s delicious discoveries. But Minneapolis is doing just fine on its own; with or without Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s help.