Here's The Jist:

As a Drink Editor I receive a lot of requests for restaurant, bar and nightlife recommendations. So I started a blog to chronicle Chicago's social scene which eventually morphed into New York's drinking and dining scene. After years in Chicago, I'm now a full time resident of NYC, the East Village to be exact. Look forward to sharing the latest and greatest from the wine & spirits world, straight from the Big Apple.






















Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Heismans


We got to go to the Heismans. Pretty cool experience. The Nokia Theater is much smaller than it looks. I was so close to Kirk Herbstreit (my man) and the three Heisman nominees- Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy, that I could nearly touch them. I may or may not have seen a bead of sweat drip down Kirk's brow. Hey, he was probably a little nervy.

The Heismans 2008


PAGE SIX

http://www.nypost.com/seven/12172008/gossip/pagesix/benefit_curfew_144607.htm

December 17, 2008 --
AFTER donating three hours' use of their venue at no cost to benefit Charity Water, it's no wonder Metropolitan Pavilion organizers wanted to clear the space for a money-making endeavor. Monday night, Adrian Grenier hosted the benefit, but at 10:20, the Met Pavilion "flipped the lights on and off, turned off the music, and kicked everyone out. They were scheduled to host a bat mitzvah." Even with the time constraints (and co-host Jessica Stam out with the flu), Grenier raised $40,000 before heading off to the VIP party at RDV, while most guests were herded over to Kiss n' Fly. Page Six heard that that Adrain left with two special ladies. It's been said that one girl's name was Stephanie.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Charity: Water Event with Adrian.


I spent the past five days in glorious NYC. Above is one of the highlights. Allison and I met Adrian Grenier at the Charity: Water event. He's really cute, obviously, but he was kind of a dud. I give him props for not bringing an entourage with him (no pun intended, literally, he did not have one guy or girl hanging with him all night).  Stay tuned for pictures from the Heismans and GASP! a Whitney Port sighting. She's filming the Hills spinoff, "The City."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Debut in Cheeky Chicago


As most of you already know, last week I made my debut in Cheeky Chicago. For those of you not familar, check it out: www.CheekyChicago.com It's a pretty fun site geared towards smart, saavy, cosmopolitain, tres chic Chicago women. I'll be writing and editing weekly columns for the SCENE section, so sign up for our weekly newsletters for the latest and greatest in Chicago. I'll still be penning monthly Drink Reports for Chicago Scene, but think of this as your quick go-to guide when you can't find anything to do. Our SCENE section is new every Friday, so see you soon...

The Cheeky Girls on ABC 7's 190 North


Janet Davies chats with Jessica and Erica on a Novemeber episoide of ABC 7's 190 North.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cocktail Party at the W Hotel


Thank you to everyone who came to the cocktail party that I hosted this past Saturday with VeeV at Whiskey Blue at the W City Center. What a great turn out (um, nearly 200 people!). Hope you enjoyed the fabulous VeeV cocktails.

I look forward to hosting more soirees and serving as a catalyst for you to try new brands.

Below are some photos that were taken. Just a few of my favorite things...

You know you love me.

XoXo

Monday, November 17, 2008




Moet & Chandon White Star...Chicago Scene Style


Received two bottles of Moet & Chandon White Star embossed with customized crystals. My girl Kimberly Burt sent them to be photographed by the Chi Scene creative team. Keep a look out for these in the Dec. Drink Report. Customized bottles like this are available exclusively at Martini Park.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trick or Treat: Cocktail Style


Nothing like a little candy with your cocktail. If you're too cool for school and rather dress up than don a costume (hater...), head to C-View where they're doing a cocktail and candy pairing. The Halloween-only menu is below and all candies are original confections from C-House's Executive Pastry Chef Toni Roberts. I must admit, the cocktails sound better than the candies below (I've never been a fan of jellied anything and I think Carmel corn is the worst Halloween candy ever) but props to the fab C-View for adding some high class to candy.

P.S. I'll choose a Take 5 over any of the below, all day, any day :)

THE CONCORD
RUM / CONCORD GRAPES / FRESH MINT / LIME
* Pistachio Brittle

GINGER CIDER
CANTON GINGER-COGNAC / CALVADOS / APPLE CIDER / HONEY
* Caramel Corn

THE FLOWER
ST. GERMAINE LIQUEUR / CHOPIN VODKA / LEMON
* Fruit Jellies

HONEY DON’T
AQUA LUCA / HONEYDEW / LIME
* Sour Candied Citrus

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cocktails by Design


On November 6th, I’ll be heading to the Merchandise Mart for the 7th Annual Dinning by Design extravaganza that’s hosted by DIFFA (Design Industry Foundations Fighting AIDS). Dining By Design is a multi-city tour that showcases spectacular, over-the-top dining environments- so cool.



DIFFA will bring together a talented cast of local and national designers, artists and personalities to put a spotlight on stylish and outlandish trends in design in an effort to raise money to support Chicago area HIV/AIDS service agencies.



I’ll be headed to Cocktails by Design on Thursday, Nov. 6th where you can mingle with designers, preview their dining creations, and sip specialty cocktails from Stoli and Stoli elit. Stoli elit is the national sponsor of DIFFA 2008 Dining By Design and they’ve enlisted the creative services of the Rockwell Group to create an extravagant dining experience on behalf of the brand.



You can buy tickets to one of three events:



Even if you know nothing about table top design, like me, buy a ticket, come on down and we can drink together.

Hip Sips of Cocktails, Cuisine and Couture at the Dub


The W Chicago-City Center’s “ristorante we” and chef Brad Phillips will begin hosting ongoing monthly HIP SIP soirees throughout February 09 which will be inspired by a variety of themes including Golden Era (60’s), Art of Food, White Party, Bridal and New Year, New You. Each HIP SIP will feature small bites, cocktails and fashion to match the evening’s theme and will take place in the restaurant, plateau and ballroom.

Check out tomorrow’s event. Sounds pretty cool. I would totally be there if I didn’t have to head out of town for the weekend. Drink up!

October 24th-Golden Era (60’s)
Guests will enjoy 60’s inspired small bites, in addition to classic cocktails such as the martini, gimlet, Manhattan and sea breeze. Luxury vintage clothing will be on display and available for purchase while makeup artists will offer vintage style makeup including false eyelashes and red lipstick to keep in theme with the evening.

Friday, October 24th from 6-8:30pm
Location: W Chicago-City Center
172 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60603

Basil Hayden Design Chicago

A fierce and fabulous crowd of Chicago’s top tastemakers turned out for the Basil Hayden Design Chicago finale event, where they sipped Basil Hayden cocktails and cast their votes to determine the winner of the competition. Once results were tallied, Chicagoan Rion Stassi was named the winner of the Basil Hayden Design Chicago competition. Rion’s distinctive 36-inch Basil Hayden-inspired chandelier garnered praise from guests and event host Nate Berkus, earning him the $10,000 grand prize, which he plans to use to jump-start his career.

The top three designs were: a distinctive Basil Hayden-inspired chair designed by Sarah Tranum; a modern coffee table inspired by Basil Hayden's rich amber color and signature copper-band packaging created by Bryan Lump; and an elegant, 36-inch chandelier designed by Rion Stassi. Each designer resides in Chicago and they received $2,500 to turn their concept into a reality for display at the VIP finale event at Crimson Lounge that happened on Oct. 15th.

Winner Rion Stassi with Nate Berkus


Winner- Rion Stassi with his Basil Hayden inspired Chadelier


Nice Check


All Finalists with Nate Berkus


Finalist Brian Lump


Finalist Sarah Tranum



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cabana Cachaca dinner at Japonais


Last week I went to Japonais for a Founders dinner to celebrate the re-launch of Cabana Cachaca. Confession: It was my first time at Japonais. It’s so funny how there are those must-see restaurants in Chicago that, to be quite honest, I just never get around to visiting. The menu was tightly edited with food selections that complemented each drink. The first two cachaca drinks were created by Kyle McHugh, a Chicago mixologist and founder of TheBoozehound.com, a go-to web resource for spirit aficionados. Kyle actually just opened his own liquor haven. Stay tuned for details about that establishment. Word on the street is that he only carries three vodka brands and you better believe it’s not a mass produced selection.

Upon arrival we headed downstairs to the uber chic lounge area where we were greeted with The Autumn Harvest, my personal favorite, made with Cabana, Looza peach nectar, orange juice, Fee Brothers peach bitters, cinnamon and four whole cloves. So perfect for Fall.

Then it was upstairs to a private dining area where we had our choice of a first course. I went for the ridiculously rich crab cakes with mustard soy sauce. Then it was on to sampling The Flowering Orchid with a second course selection. The Flowering Orchid was served in a martini glass with of course, a fresh orchid garnish. What I loved about the Flowering Orchid (Cabana, Navan, lemon juice, cranberry honey syrup, ponzu sauce and a spritz of rose flower water) was the touch of Navan Vanilla Liqueur that adds a hint of sweetness. This exotic drink was served with Tuna Tuna Salmon- salmon tartare topped with sliced tuna, avocado sauce and wasabi tobiko sauce. I’m afraid of spice and the wasabi was just right…

On to the Cabana Rose, created by Julio Burbano another Cabana mixologist. This was the sweetest drink of the night thanks the mix of cachaca, raspberry liquor, lime juice, orange juice and the floating cachaca soaked raspberry. I sipped on this slash gulped it down with my main entrée (yes, after all of that we’re only at the main entrée) which was Samurai Cut Tuna Steak. Clearly I love tuna seeing that I had it for two courses. It’s safe to say that this was the best ahi tuna that I’ve ever had-ohba yuzu marinated ahi tuna grilled over roasted scallion potato puree and pickled celery salad.

Desert was the Cabana’s Passion (cachaca, sake, orange liqueur and passion fruit) served in tandem with a delicate Passion Fruit Tart made with custard, cilantro syrup, a sugar cookie crust and my new FAVORITE: palate cleansing, refreshing thai basil ice cream. Wow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Piper-Heidsieck and Viktor & Rolf


While I'm on the subject of Piper-Heidsieck, Viktor & Rolf re-imagined the iconic bottle and here it is. The Rose Sauvage- Upside down. It's sitting in a glass display case on my bar. I just don't have the heart to drink it. It's too cool. Rumor has it the house is collaborating with another designer to redesign the bottle in their own way. Here's hoping it's Lagerfeld...

Piper-Heidsieck Rare Champagne Tasting

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by Pops for Champagne for the Piper-Heidsieck RARE tasting of the 1999, 1998, 1988 and 1979. It had been a couple of months since I had attending a tasting of this caliber (the last was for Moet & Chandon at the Trump) and my excitement skyrocketed when I learned that one of my dear friends from a past life was a Piper-Heisdsieck distributor. Small world. Rather than regal stories of the past, I want to dedicate this post to the incredible oenologists, or winemakers, who had the patience, determination and ambition to nurture the grapes that were born during the rare years: only seven years in the past three decades were deemed rare.

What Constitutes a Rare Year?


Over the last three decades, few years were sufficiently out of the ordinary to justify the creation of a rare vintage. To take a basic step back, a vintage means that the grapes that make up the wine were grown during the same single year. So a 2000 vintage means that that wine is made from grapes grown only during the year 2000. A lot of wines are nonvintage, or blends of different years.

During the hot summer of 1976, France was hit by an unprecedented drought. Under such extreme conditions, winemakers wondered if the creation of a vintage worthy of the house of Piper-Heidsieck could be achieved. However, such an extraordinary event could give rise to an extraordinary vintage and confounding all expectations, the vintage created in 1976 was one of extreme purity. It was given the name Rare as a reminder of the events which shaped it. Ever since, special vintages have been produced in those rare years in which nature shows its unpredictable side, each time very different but always exceptional.

All of the wines below were made during rare, or unusual years, when the temperatures were extremely odd. But they’re all in the same family because they are all made of the same rare blend: Chardonnay, completed with Pinot Noir.

1976 Vintage

The drought which affected the entire Champagne region resulted in wines of exceptional purity.

1979 Vintage

The cold and rainy spring led to late flowering and harvesting. The wines from this year were incomparably crisp.

1985 Vintage

An extremely cold winter with black frost produces firm wines.

1988 Vintage

The record levels of sunshine experienced that year followed by cool temperatures resulted in powerful wines.

1990 Vintage

The April Frost affected almost half of the vineyards, leading to a difficult flowering period and elegant wines.

Monday, October 6, 2008

1998 Vintage

Temperatures soared to 102 degrees during early August, burning the grapes and producing rich wines.

1999 Vintage


From May to September, the vineyards were showered by violent hailstorms. The resulting wines were crisp.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Patrón Tequila Express


The Patrón Tequila Express (a 1927 refurbished, private rail car) rolled into Chicago today and needless to say, I was bummed to have missed a mid-day tequila tasting, good food and live music. The train is part of the Patrón Music in Motion Tour, a national fundraising effort to help rebuild New Orleans. There are four ways to participate (see the web site for details) and for those who are active in helping to raise funds, can win some pretty cool prizes like a Gibson guitar, a trip with friends on the Patron Express, a chance to attend a NYC Red Carpet event and the VMAS and tons of Patron product. Chicago is the last stop before the train rolls into the Big Easy.

Check out the website for more info: www.musicinmotiontour.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lunch with Harald Stückle of Beck’s Oktoberfest


Last week I had a chance to meet with German brewmaster, Harald Stückle who is the brains behind Beck’s seasonal Oktoberfest offering. Brewed in Bremen, Germany, Beck’s Oktoberfest is brewed using fresh glacier water, Beck’s exclusive strain of yeast that’s been nurtured and cultivated for generations, top-grade barley, and hops hand-selected from the Bavarian Hallertau region by German brewmasters. Stückle, a Beck’s brewmaster who lives in Germany and has spent 14 years perfecting the science of brewing, came to Chicago to talk to with me over a leisurely, nearly two-hour, European-style lunch. We chatted about the Beck’s brewing process and the tradition behind Maerzen-style Oktoberfest beers, which are traditionally only available September through October. We sipped and sampled original Beck’s and the Beck’s Oktoberfest, all from souvenir steins, which conveniently hold a Beck’s bottle. The Oktoberfest was rich with caramel and spice undertones: A perfect fall beer.

Be sure to check out the October issue of Scene where I cover off on other seasonal brews that have reached Chicago just in time for Oktoberfest; well, the tail end of it at least (the Bavarian beer fest traditionally runs from the end of Sept. to early Oct.)

Demonstrating the perfect pour with a perfect froth in a perfect glass

Stephanie Miller, Harald Stückle and Dan Russo of Rockit

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fear No Fashion Sponsored by Kilo Kai


Thought that I’d share some info on a great grassroots organization in Chicago that is being sponsored by Kilo Kai Rum. I covered Kilo Kai in the August issue of Scene and now, the renegade rum brand has proven that there is more to them than just a great tasting spiced rum. On Sunday, September 28, 2008, Kilo Kai is one of the sponsors of “Fear No Fashion,” a fundraising event at the Cubby Bear in Wrigley that will benefit the PAVE Foundation (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment). Nadia Underwood (from TV’s Beauty & the Geek 3) and Josh Mora (Comcast Sportsnet) are the celebrity hosts. PAVE is a Chicago-based national grassroots nonprofit organization that uses education and action to shatter the silence of sexual and domestic violence. ”Fear No Fashion” will take place from 4 to 8 pm (open bar from 4 to 5 pm) and will include a fashion show, burlesque acts, complimentary drinks from 4-5pm and a silent auction. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.fearnofashion.org.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

C-House


When I was invited to dine at Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant du jour, C-House, located at the new Affinia hotel, I gleefully RSVP’d and immediately googled the dinner menu. Then panic struck. I was torn between the chorizo mac & cheese and the freeze-dried corn to start. Then came a face-off at the raw C-Bar: Yellowtail fish tacos vs. Cobia (coconut puree with radish and cashews). And I nearly lost sleep over the fresh Lobster Club sandwich, which was up against the fish & chips with homemade sweet and spicy ketchup. What’s a girl to do? Well, I ordered all of it. Seriously. I did. Granted the dinner was complementary, courtesy of the restaurant and their PR team who wanted to get the word out about the latest installment from the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised Samuleson. He’s a two-time James Beard winner and NYC figurehead of the glorified Swedish restaurant Aquavit, Riingo, an American-Japanese fusion restaurant and African powerhouse, Merkato.

At only 37, Samuleson is polite, professional and wise beyond his years. When he came to my table to introduce himself, I delved into a story about my love of scallops and he immediately brought out a plate of two massive scallops, with beets, horseradish and cabbage. I hugged him.

Of course I rounded out the dinner with coconut ice cream and an apple-plum turnover with cinnamon spice sherbet and sliced apples.

Make a reservation. The ambiance is upscale but cool. Very Graham Elliot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mixology at the Hotel Intercontinental


Dear Lushes,

I've been neglecting you. Apologizes. So without further adieu, thought I'd kick off the month of September by recounting a great Mixology class that I attended at the Hotel Intercontinental. I was invited there for a crash course in how to make the classic cocktails that will be offered this fall at The Bar. I deserved a big slap on the wrist for having never been in the hotel; it was stunning. We gathered in the Lion's Hall, which was the gateway to the former location of The Men's Bar when the property was known as the Medinah Athletic Club in the 1930's, and were greeted with champagne paired with cucumber and crab meat jello, topped with caviar.

Tamas Vago, Food and Beverage Director was the master of ceremonies, guiding us through the tightly edited collection of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. We had three phenomenal drinks, each of which were uniquely delicious and had legs to stand on its own. I hope the three food and drink pairings below inspire you.

Seasonal Sour


Drink it like a Cosmo.

Paired with: Chicken Kelligan Dalma and Yellow Tomato Basil Ice Cream on Pumpkernickle bread. The yellow tomato basil ice cream was surprising. Such an interesting texture. I immediately got brain freeze because I ate too fast and wasn't expecting an ice cream sandwich!

Ingredients: Belvedere, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup and Seasonal Fruit.
We muddled whole plums (skin on and be sure to grind the pit, it releases natural oils and adds texture to the drink) before adding vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Chicas- for a low cal option, forgo the simple syrup. The natural lemon juice may be sour, but it has natural sweetness that will balance out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hot 'n' Snowy


Replace your Vodka Soda Water with this baby

Paired with: Pumpkin Fritter filled with Spicy Venison and Shrimp Corndog (so good).

Ingredients: 10 Cane Rum, Ginger Syrup, Lime Juice and Ginger Beer
Shake an ounce of 10 Cane, simple syrup and lime juice then strain into a Collins glass with filled with ice. Add soda water and stir. Float another ounce of 10 Cane on top and garnish with a lime peel.

I'm a huge ginger fan and given its refreshing, crisp qualities, you can drink this like lemonade, well almost. Some cocktails are overwhelming in flavor which means it's hard to enjoy more than one. This isn’t the case. I could easily drink this throughout the night.

Gold Coast


Think of it as an updated Manhattan

Paired with: Soft Shell Crab with Asparagus Noodle and Cajun Spice and Maple Glazed Short Rib Samosa with Cherry Chutney.

Ingredients: Tempelton Rye*, Navan Vanilla Liqueur, 3 brulee cherries, a dash of blood orange bitters and 3 drops of Equinox, their proprietary bitters. Add all ingredients, except the Equinox bitters into shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Top cocktail with three drops of Equinox (so crucial is the addition of bitters, that the mixologist used an eyedroper to ensure the accuracy of the proportions) and garnish with torched, brulee cherries.

*Tempelton Rye: I was able to attend the historic launch of this infamous whiskey last August which was held in the Prohibition section of the Chicago History Museum. It was the first time in 80 years that the whiskey was served legally. It was the spirit that Al Capone made famous and the people of Templeton, Iowa made from scratch.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Round Barn Winery


Okay, okay, I know that when I started this blog, I said it would encompass the latest and greatest in Chicago's happenings. But one of the best things about this city is its proximity to some fantastic weekend retreats.  Armed with an invite to the annual Harvest Fest at the Round Barn Winery in southwestern Michigan, a reservation at an inn on Lake Michigan and my easy going sidekick, Saturday and Sunday was spent moseying around in St. Joe, Michigan. Not only does Round Barn produce a selection of white and red wines (opt for the Vineyard Tears, their best-selling dry white table wine), but they also make one of the world's only grape based vodkas- DiVine (check out Chicago Scene's September Drink Report on vodka). If vodka and wine weren't enough, the family owned estate, brews their own hand crafted beer. After the wine tasting in the old round barn, I tried their seasonal oak IPA- one of the better beers I've had in a while. Unfortunately didn't sell growlers during the tasting, alas, I couldn't bring any back to the city. But I did manage to buy an entire case of wine: a sampler of their Pinot Gris,  Dry Table White, Cabernet Sauvingnon, Merlot and Gewurztraminer. After the winery came dinner a new bistro in St. Joe. I was so inspired by my vineyard experience that I had to have a DiVine vodka martini, straight up with with three blue cheese olives. And to the novices who think that vodka is flavorless and dull, DiVine is one of the best vodka's that I've had. It's smooth, velvety and leaves a subtle aftertaste that makes you wonder what that special touch is. Then you realize that it's a local, small batch vodka, personally signed with the distillers seal of approval: a silver, cursive script that reads Vodka Dave, and you know it has to be good. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ode to the NYC Dive Bar


Ironically, one of my first posts won't even be about a place in Chicago. It's here and now, that we pay homage to one of the most interesting dive bars that I've ever had the pleasure of walking into. Everyone has a favorite, local haunt, but I can see why this downtown hole in the wall (Houston & Mulberry) is home to Crazy Jack (pictured) and Ms. Heathernin (who's Irish superstition barely allowed me to snap her photo, dare my Cannon Powershot steal her soul), the Irish bar keep who has manned the rotting mahogany pub for nearly 30 years.

I stumbled upon Milano's, when I was in New York this past week and did a double take because the I thought that the front door lead to a dark, narrow staircase. Instead the doorway lead to an impossibly narrow bar. When sitting on a bar stool, drinking the Brooklyn Lager, I had a couple of inches between  my back and the wall (which was chock full of tarnished brass picture frames of old New York). I made friends with Jack, or Crazy Jack as he called himself and after I sum up this train of thought, I'll be emailing him the same picture that you see here.

It was 11:30 am when I walked past Milano's and other than Jack (who was drinking a double Stoli and coca cola, interesting...) and his sidekick, who I'll call Bob, because I wasn't able to get his name because he was slurring his words so badly, there was a polite English man who had flown in from the UK the night before. It was this kind-hearted, altruistic English man who saved me from walking in on some dude who was passed out on the only toilet in the bar (with open, swinging bar doors like in western movies). What was going on behind that swinging door, I can't bring myself to write on this blog, but I'm happy to share the gory details via individual email per you request. Wow. 

That's the best thing about New York, or really, any dive bar in the U.S. There's always a story to be told and someone to meet.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Promise


The great thing about a blog is that you have the freedom to rave about or smash a product or brand. I'm not under literary or publishing restraints nor am I a slave to advertisers. The one thing that I guarantee to those who visit the Stephanie Paige is that on this site, you'll get organic, honest and sound recommendations. Whether it's a restaurant, lounge, cocktail, distillery or brand, if I post it I believe in it. I'll keep the sub par posts to a minimum, but if you're like me, you appreciate honest feedback-so I'll offer it. And if you have any recommendations, shoot me an email. Would love to hear from you:  www.StephaniePaigeMiller@gmail.com