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, 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:

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


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.