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.

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:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lolla Music Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel

Answering those tough questions

Lolla Music Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel

I was invited to the Lolla Music Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel for some much needed R&R (slash partying) prior to checking out the shows in Chicago's Grant Park. This year's major sponsors included Chicago's entertainment resource, Metromix, a bevy of beverage brands (who knew Cafe Bustelo coffee was so good!?), a gifting suite (Diesel Jeans anyone?), tattoo's from celeb artists, rock band and guitar hero. In the Eastsport Cafe food was taken care of by the China Grill, Berry Chill was on hand offering as much frozen yogurt in their signature flavor as you can eat and it was at this private sit-down cafe, that musicians mingled with the editors of Spin, Vibe, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.  

Fully-Stocked Anything Goes Bar

Don Julio mojitos?
Ciroc with organic lemonade? 
Plenty of Red Bull
Fuze fruit drinks galore
Cosmo's with a healthy dose of Nuvo? Oh wow. 

P.S. If you haven't tried Nuvo, a 15% alcohol sparkling liqueur, you're missing out. Think of it as an updated cosmo.

Free Tattoos

Cabanas for Lupe Fiasco but then it was into the crowd for Rage

Saturday, August 2nd:

The open bar in the cabana served Ciroc- Diddy's vodka of choice, well it has to be given his multimillion dollar ad deal with them.