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, 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 :)

* Pistachio Brittle

* Caramel Corn

* Fruit Jellies

* 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, 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.