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, November 30, 2009

Michael Kors Opening, Chicago 2009

A couple of weeks ago, my cohort and I sipped bubby from Swarovski Crystal embellished Moet & Chandon White Star bottles as we sifted through Michael's 2010 Spring and Resort collections. The shops at 900 N. Michigan were magically transformed into a runway as local amazons strutted down the white catwalk.

Michael Kors Opening, Chicago 2009

Michael Kors Opening, Chicago 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vodka Quadruple Distilled Through Diamonds

Every vodka has a point of differentiation. Some are marketing ploys, others are legit; and this lush is thrilled to share one of the coolest offerings she’s come across in quite some time.

Crystal Head Vodka first caught my eye when I was perched at the bar at Kuma’s, downing a Two Hearted double IPA and noshing on a dish so gluttonous (waffle fries topped with BBQ pulled pork may or may not have been involved), I can’t even bring myself to share with you. I was sandwiched between a Kings of Leon-hating guy with silver dollar spacers and a full tattoo sleeve and a 40-year-old suburbanite, trying too hard to fit in with new Chuck Taylor’s. The crowd at Kuma’s is an anthropological study that speaks to the power of food and how it brings people together, but that’s a whole other story and this isn’t an ‘Analyze This’ Cheeky column.

It was at this crossroad that a glass bottle, shaped as a human skull, caught my eye. Above it was a note that read: Not for Public: Don’t Drink. I was intrigued and asked the girl behind the bar what was in the skull.

“Not sure. Something to do with Dan Akroyd.”

“Hmmm…okay. Dan Akroyd? What? Really?”

And so the fascination with the mysterious glass skull bottle began.

The bottle is an accurate glass rendering of a human skull and was designed with the utmost attention to the symbolic nature of the skeleton. For those who have seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this crystal skull may look familiar. It is. Both are based on a similar legend:

Thousands of years ago, thirteen Crystal Heads were scattered across the earth. Their workmanship is perfect: they contain no tool marks and have been cut against the natural axis of the crystal, defying the laws of physics. Some say they’re artifacts from the lost civilization of Atlantis, others claim that they date back to the Mayans, and there have been rumors that the skulls were created by a higher intelligence.

Brought together, the Crystal Heads are said to have vast knowledge and enlightenment capable of unlocking our most enigmatic ancient mysteries. Alone, each is believed to house radiant psychic energy, which has magical powers and healing properties.

According to the videos on the Crystal Head website, Dan Akroyd claims that he’s always been interested in the supernatural and legends of a higher power, so he teamed up with Milan glass manufacturer, Bruni Glass, and worked with Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits (Akroyd is part owner) to produce a pure spirit that has been quadruple distilled through Herkimer diamonds. Two things are clear: one, Crystal Head Vodka is smooth and balanced; and two, there’s more to Dan Akroyd than Blues Brothers and Ghostbuster fame. He’s also a reputable wine maker with his Dan Akroyd Winery. We love it.

You can find Crystal Head Vodka at Binny’s and Sam’s locations in Chicago, but don’t expect to find it in local bars or lounges just yet. It’s a selective spirit, so just keep an eye out for it next time you’re jockeying for a position at Kuma’s.

Crystal Head Vodka

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wine from Down 'Unda

In order to get Chicagoans to open up to Australia’s wine diversity and to encourage city dwellers to look beyond Shiraz, Wine Australia worked with the City of Chicago to develop a unique Australian Wine Oasis in tandem with Chicago Jazz Fest. The chic urban oasis provided a relaxed atmosphere where you could experience 24 wines by the taste and the glass. All of the wines were between $9 and $15: a budget friendly price for you Cheeky girls saving up for this season’s Louboutins. Be sure to visit where you can enter to win a trip to Australia to visit their wine country.

This Cheeky writer chatted with James Gosper, Director of Wine Australia for North America to get the deets on the wines that grow in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cheeky: What’s unique about the climate and land of Australia that lends to producing such great vintages?

Australia has a huge diversity in climate and soil which lends to amazing diversity in wines styles and varieties. You can enjoy cool climate Pinots Noirs on one hand, and warm climate full bodied Shiraz on the other. We had wines of many styles and many climates at the festival to demonstrate this diversity.

Cheeky: Tell me about the most under-rated Australian wines

Australia is regarded as Shiraz - so all other varietals and styles are under rated. At the Festival we had extraordinary interest in many alternatives varietals such as Viogniers, Pinot Noirs, Grenache, Pinot Gris, Roses, sparklings, and some very interesting blends. The objective of asking the consumers to “Open Up” was achieved with great success. One consumer stated that he did not know the Australia produced Pinot Noir, and then proceeded to say he was blown away by the quality the Pinot noir had to offer.

Cheeky: Share some thoughts on what separates the wines from Australia from those produced in other regions of the U.S.

Many wine drinkers know they can get Pinot Noir from Oregon and cabernet from Napa, however they are completely unaware of the diversity of Australian wine regions. Our wine regions stretch from east to west coast, and many have been producing wines for more than 120 years.

Cheeky: Who do you predict as the new “It” girl, the up-and-coming wine varietal that Chicagoans should have their pulse on?

Check out Aussie Rieslings (Clare and Eden valley), Pinot Noirs from Victoria and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends from Margaret River. And you can’t forget old vine Grenache - yummy.

Open up to Australian Wines

Midwest Wines

With September comes the fall harvest of grapes growing ripe in the vineyards of the Northern Hemisphere. Late August through October are prime months for harvesting grapes, known as the vintage. A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown and harvested in a single specified year. In certain wines, it can denote quality. But don’t be mistaken; vintage doesn’t mean that the wine is made with the most mature grapes.

If the weather in 2004 was particularly dry and temperate for, lets say, a Pinot Noir, many houses will produce a vintage and market it as such, rather than create a non-vintage which is a blend of two or more grapes from different years. The wine that you are currently drinking is most likely a non-vintage because it’s an easy way to produce a consistent wine such as a Pinot Gris, Cabernet or a Malbec. A perfect vintage is like the perfect storm: the powers that be mandate the weather. From my experience, if you know that 2004 was THE year for Pinots from the West Coast, then my reco is to opt for the less expensive bottle.

With these tid bits of wine knowledge in your pocket, it’s time to explore the great wineries of the Midwest. In the early 20th century, Illinois was the country’s fourth-largest wine producer. Then that little thing called Prohibition was put into place and vineyards were transformed into corn fields. It’s been over a century and now Illinois is home to 80 wineries.
I know what you’re thinking:

What? Wine in Wisconsin? Gewurztraminer from Michigan?

Yes, my Cheeky girls and, ahem, boys, the Midwest is Pandora’s box. Once you open it up, the possibilities are endless.
And who better than Kyle McHugh, owner and proprietor of Drinks Over Dearborn (650 N. Dearborn) to share his favorite selections of Midwest varietals.

1) Lynfred Winery, Roselle, IL
“Vin de City” Red, a jammy, medium-bodied wine that, according to Lynfred’s blog, swears it pairs perfectly with a Chicago hot dog. BYOB and head to Hot Doug’s. And stock up for fall entertaining with their Cranberry Vino.

2) August Hill, Utica, IL
Seyval, Blanc, 2008, similar to a Pinot Grigio, this is a light-bodied, semi-dry table wine. The Seyval Blanc grape is a French-American hybrid, relatively unfamiliar to consumers, but undeniably tasty.

3) Black Star Farms, Traverse City, Michigan
2006 Arcturos Cabernet Franc, a result of premium fruit from three vineyard sites: Black Star Farms estate, Montague estate and Nelson Road Vineyard - one on the Leelanau Peninsula and two on Old Mission Peninsula. Different vineyards have different soils and growing conditions and thus, have differently flavored fruit. Combining them makes this a more interesting and complex wine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 2009: Versatile Vodka

Appleton and Avenues at the Peninsula

Exquisite food commands perfectly paired cocktails. And that’s just what I experienced last week at Avenues at the Peninsula. To introduce Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum to the Chicago scene, a group of twelve joined Master Blender, Joy Spence, for a dinner and cocktail pairing featuring the Appleton Estate Reserve Blend. Steve from Chicago cocktail Mecca, The Violet Hour, was on hand to serve up several artfully prepared, delectable drinks that whet our appetite and left us wanting more. Executive Chef, Curtis Duffy (love), was the mastermind behind our multi-course dinner.

To open the palate, we were greeted with a flute of the Royal Aperitif made with Appleton Estate Reserve (a luxurious blend of 20 select aged rums), a half ounce of honey syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a pop of Champagne.

We moved on from the lobby reception to a private room where we were made privy to the exceptional cuisine and culture of Avenues. It must be said that the precision with which the Avenues staff operates is nothing short of extraordinary. Dressed in black, they enter a room from tallest to shortest in perfect stride; they swoop in like silent ninjas to rescue fallen napkins; water glasses are refilled without a droplet being spared.

It’s no surprise that Appleton has chosen Avenues as the venue to showcase their esteemed spirit. It was quite the celebration.

Paired with the the King Crab first course, the Jamaican Cobbler was a refreshing blend of Appleton Estate Reserve, dry sack medium sherry, Massenez Crème de Peche, a sugar cube and garnished with ruby red grapefruit pieces.

We moved onto the second course of Iberico Pork Belly (did you know the rare, black Spanish pigs only eat acorns?) and matched the tender pork with the Bless Up: Appleton Estate Reserve, Carpano Antica (a special, high-end red vermouth), Aperol (a traditional Italian orange liqueur aperitif), a splash of Averna (an herbal liquor) and a dose of white crème de cocoa. All of the ingredients are combined over ice and are stirred until freezing. The contents are then strained in to a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with an orange peel.

The Bless Up was similar to a Manhattan in that the flavor profiles of the rum were sweet like bourbon and left a pleasant after taste that complemented the salty texture of the pork belly.

And with desert came the Perfect Pour, a two ounce taste of Appleton Estate Extra 12-Year-Old served neat. The 12-Year-Old is aged for a minimum of 12 years in oak and exemplifies the divine characteristics that can be achieved through time intensive oak aging.

Jamaican (as in you’re-makin’) me crazy!

Lolla Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel

This Cheeky writer snagged a VIP pass to the Music Lounge at Hard Rock Hotel Chicago and, let me tell you, as a three year veteran of not only the lounge, but Lolla as a whole, this is one of the highlights of the weekend. The Music Lounge is an exclusive three day VIP/Artist retreat where the perks include gifting (by Griffin, Café Bustelo, Blue Mic, Dickies), a tattoo parlor (for reals), training sessions from DavidBartonGym, as well as fab food from China Grill, cocktails and coffee drinks at the Music Lounge Cafe.

Seriously, the Hard Rock Hotel knows how to do it up, rockstar style

Not only is the Music Lounge a to-die-for experience, but Base Bar is just as cool.

Little insider info for ya: it’s called the Base Bar not only because of the obvious music reference, but because the bar is located in the Carbine & Carbon historical building and both elements are bases…interesting.

Pop into Base Bar anytime this weekend and a FREE cocktail. Yep, there is something in life that is free. From 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday during the festival, Base Bar is serving FREE Lolla cocktails sponsored by UV Vodka and FECKiN Irish Whiskey, including The Rockstar Special, Killers Cocktail, Lolla Lemonade, Depeche Mode on the Hard Rocks and VIP Spiced Punch.

Or opt for one of these:

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah(s)…I Need a Drink: Stoli Vanilla Vodka, lychee puree, rose water and fresh lime

Sex on Fire: Templeton Rye Whiskey, espresso, Angostura bitters and blood orange vinegar

A Glass of Glasvegas: Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka, muddled cucumber & honeydew melon, fresh squeezed lime and a splash of soda


Jbar at the James Hotel is one of best spots to party post or pre-concert. Kanye popped by last year and hosted his official after party and you never know who may make an appearance. This year they’re celebrating with themed drink specials on Friday and Saturday night. Go for The Vampire Weekend – a specialty drink based on the favorite band made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka (so good!), Chambord, club soda and lime over ice. Still wearing your Lolla wristband? Fab. All Lolla drinks are only $5 for you. Regular price is $12. What’s more, if you need some pre-concert sustenance, the 40 Day Dry Aged burgers from David Burke’s Primehouse are only $5 from 6 - 9 pm on Friday.

How to Inhale a Martini at Red Kiva

The VaporTini

At Moto, a Class 4 laser (usually used for military experiments or eye surgery) and a vanilla bean are used to “caramelaserize” a wineglass. David Burke’s Primehouse has served up a house Manhattan made with sweet vermouth, leather-infused bourbon and a bitters-spiked maraschino puree: a liquid dropped into the drink that will coalesce into a “gumdrop” when it hits the side of the glass.

Adventurous bartenders and master mixologists around the world are employing the techniques of avant-garde cooking to their work behind the bar. On the heels of molecular gastronomy - a culinary discipline pioneered in the 1980s - comes a new breed of innovation: Molecular Mixology. It is with this gastro art form that chemistry and physics determine what makes a brilliant cocktail and scientific techniques that were once only used behind a stove are now being used behind the bar. Part of the challenge to the art of the drink lies in pairing components with a similar genetic makeup that may not have traditionally gone together; the other part is juxtaposing various temperatures and disparate textures to create startling combinations.

Molecular gastronomy combines foods with similar chemical compositions. If one ingredient has a high level of amines or aldehydes then they should be paired with other ingredients with a similar makeup. Molecular mixology pairs alcohols, spirits, spices and aromatics with similar chemical compositions to create a perfectly blended drink.

On a similar note, Red Kiva proprietor, Julie Palmer, is introducing a need breed of the martini: The VaporTini.

The VaporTini consists of flavor-enhanced alcohol vapors served in a glass globe that you inhale by “sipping” through a straw. The glass globe has a custom-made silver metal base and evokes a 1970’s mod, futuristic feel. Red Kiva’s mixologists pour the selected alcohol into the glass globe then heat the liquid to 110 degrees, beginning the vapor process. A glass straw is inserted into the globe and participants “sip”, or inhale, the vapors. They’ve suggested that you inhale the flavored vapors slowly for 20 minutes.

The VaporTini’s creator, Julie Palmer, was inspired to create the”inhale-tail” while in Helsinki, Finland on the shortest day of the year. The local tradition in Helsinki is for people to pour vodka onto hot sauna coals and inhale the vapors. Julie wanted to create a similar experience at Red Kiva. After several prototypes and many different trials with her father, an engineer, the VaporTini was born.

The VaporTini Menu is below, where each cocktail is prepared for $10.

Effen Black Cherry Vanilla vodka with a chocolate-covered cherry garnish

Tanqueray Rangpur with a candied citrus peel garnish

Knob Creek with a griottine garnish

Absolut Raspberri served with raspberry candy and chocolates

VaporTinis are available on Thursday evenings beginning August 6th and table reservations are welcomed for VaporTini service.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The James Hosts Party for MCA artist Justin Cooper

The James continues to recognize unique artistic pursuits in Chicago with the Justin Cooper Artist’s Reception onThursday, July 30 from 5 to 7 pm. This distinguished fete toasts the weeklong Justin Cooper Vay Kay Performance Series at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, taking place immediately following his performance that evening.

 The James currently features a Justin Cooper photograph installation, courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery, throughout the lobby and will celebrate Justin Cooper as the guest of honor for this exclusive evening of art, featuring complimentary “Cooper-tini” cocktails made with Bacardi Dragon Fruit, spiced apple and lime, topped with a champagne floater and garnished with a fresh apple. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres will also be served from David Burke’s Primehouse Chef Rick Gresh. The James’ extensive wine, beer and cocktail selections will also be available for purchase.

Reservations are not required and all are invited to mix and mingle while enjoying delicious food, drinks and the art of Justin Cooper. 

This party will take place in The James lobby, located at 55 East Ontario.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Liquor Infusions

From the Green City Market to the small organic farm stands that pop up on weekends in neighborhoods, fresh produce is everywhere. For all of the Cheeky foodies out there who are dreaming up news ways to use locally produced food, try experimenting with liquor infusions.

Whether you’re hosting a summer dinner party and need a unique pairing to your fresh tomato salad (try basil-mint infused vodka) or if you’re on the prowl for the perfect hostess gift for a friends’ weekend cabin (strawberry infused tequila), homemade infusions are simple and can be great gifts. I’m heading out to an East Coast beach party in a couple of weeks and plan on making a vanilla bean vodka so smooth it can be served on the rocks or with a splash of lemonade. It’s a great nightcap for a relaxed Hamptons bonfire.

And the best part is that you don’t have to have any spirits experience to infuse.

Below are my top three picks for homemade infusions this summer. And if you simply can’t bring yourself to infuse at home or if you’re strapped for time, pop into Binny’s or Sam’s and pick up a bottle from 267 Infusions. The brand is my go-to for fresh flavors in a pinch.

A couple rules of thumb:

  • When infusing vodka, rum and tequila, use a moderately priced, mid-range spirit like Smirnoff, Bacardi or Sauza. The natural flavors of the herbs, spices and fruits will offset the alcohol notes and will round out the spirit. You can certainly use Ciroc or Corzo, but their nuances won’t be fully appreciated when mixed with fruit flavors.

  • Budget a week for the flavors to seep into the spirit.

  • Use the freshest ingredients possible (no frozen and thawed fruit).

  • The fruit will continue to ripen while in the spirit, so err on the side of unripe versus over-ripe.

    Mango Rum

    Ingredients: Two ripe mangos, 1 litre of white rum

    · Cut length-wise into crescent shapes and put into large mason jar.

    · Store air-tight mason jar in cool area of kitchen for at least a week. I’ve found that a week is an adequate time for the sugars and flavors of the mango to seep into the rum.

    · You have the option to serve the rum as is - with the mangos still inside - or you can use cheesecloth and strain the rum into a fresh container.

    Fresh Strawberry Tequila

    Ingredients: Two handfuls of full, nearly ripe strawberries,1 litre of Blanco or Gold tequila

    · Wash strawberries and drop whole berries into large jar.

    · Store air-tight mason jar in cool area of kitchen for at least a week.

    · The best part about whole berry infusions is that the berries become so drenched in tequila that they can be taken as a shot, or they can be used as a garnish to a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Organic Basil-Mint Vodka

    Ingredients: Fresh, whole leaf basil, whole mint leaves, 1 liter of vodka

    · Drop whole basil and mint leaves into vodka. Do not cut or crush.

    · Store air-tight mason jar in cool area of kitchen for at least a week.

Do-It-Yourself Liquor Infusions

Do-It-Yourself Liquor Infusions

Spiked Milkshakes and Ice Cream Cocktails

Pie is out. Crème Brulee is passé. And that chocolate molten lava brownie cake? Hasta la vista, baby.

There’s a new player in town and it comes with a little bit of heat. A little bit of edge. Enter the spiked milkshake and the ice cream cocktail. Yes, ladies, now two of our favorite things in life - sweets and spirits - have gotten married and they just made a baby.

At C-View (166 E. Superior), Executive Pastry Chef Toni Roberts is introducing her brand new C-House Shakes. They’re sweet, creamy and made to order. If you’re a chocoholic, opt for the Super Dark Chocolate Malt ($6) and add in a liqueur of your choice. I recommend adding a healthy dose of Kahlua or Starbucks Coffee Liqueur to your rich chocolate shake. Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur that will complement the chocolate notes and will lend a layer of nutty texture to the shake. For an Italian twist, add Disaronno Amaretto, a liqueur flavored with herbs and fruits soaked in apricot kernel oil.

For those who prefer something a bit lighter, the Strawberry Lemon Shake ($6) is your ticket. Transform the fruity shake into a spirited sipper by adding a touch of limoncello or a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur. There are an abundance of light, organic liqueurs available that are fantastic complements to sweet, summer drinks. My new favorite line is Thatcher’s Organic Liqueurs, a collection that is distilled in Michigan and distributed throughout the Midwest. Another creative addition to the Strawberry Lemon Shake is a splash of VeeV, an acai liquor that has become the new “It” girl of the mixology world.

The milk shakes include your choice of two toppings – whipped cream, brownie crumble, butter pecan, malt powder and shaved milk chocolate. To add even more decadence, you can top on more ($2 additional) “Crushed Candy Bar Toppings” from the C-House dessert menu.

Tizi Melloul (531 N. Wells) has just turned ten and what better way to celebrate the anniversary than with a tasty treat. For an interesting take on a classic, cool sorbet, try the Spiked Sorbet, made with refreshing pomegranate sorbet drenched in Red Sangria and served in a wine glass with a splash of soda. And the Creamy Creation is an inventive spiked dessert that is made with your choice of ice cream (homemade mint chocolate chip, movie butter flavored popcorn or vanilla bean) and then is topped with a SVEDKA Vodka Citron, a splash of 7 UP and a hint of bitters. With a revamped menu that includes Mediterranean inspired small bites and refreshing summer cocktails, Tizi Mellloul is proving to be an under the radar River North gem. It’s a trifecta with their new Crescent Menu (which includes seasonal specialties like herb goat cheese stuffed peppers and bacon wrapped dates), $3 Martini Mondays and an outdoor summer patio where you can sip on Safi Sangria or vanilla-infused Ali Baba Lemonade.

When the work day is over and you’re ready to play, it can be tough to decide where to go for a sweet summer treat. After all, Chicago is home to some uber fabulous outdoor patios, lounges and restaurants. So where does one go when faced with a drink dilemma? A cocktail conundrum of sorts? To C-View and Tizi Melloul, of course.

Spiked Milkshakes and Ice Cream Cocktails

ROOF at the Wit Opens

The weather was gloomy and rain was in the air, but I had a new black dress from Bloomingdales and nothing was going to stand between my date with Roof at the new hotel, theWit (201 N. State). Sure my impossibly straight hair was falling flat from my attempt at hot rollers that morning and I may or may not have broken a strap on my sandals, but it was nothing a hair tie and a couple of cocktails couldn’t cure. And cure it did. Roof was so fun that it could turn an eternal pessimist into Elle Woods.

I hopped onto the express elevator and zipped up to the 27th floor (past the chic guest rooms and past Screen, the multimedia private viewing room where Game 4 of Lakers/Magic was being screened) and was greeted with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a cool palette of charcoal, black and ivory. It was sensory overload as I got off the elevator because I was so consumed with taking in the space - the vaulted ceiling, the seven-foot tall double sided fireplace, the plush lounge chairs and gasp! is that a glass-enclosed table for eight resting on a plank extension? - that I wasn’t quite sure if I was to go to the left towards the smorgasbord of food or choose my own adventure and opt for the right where a bevy of good looking people were mingling.

Sadly, or should I say, wisely, I chose the food.

Roof has an Italian-inspired small plates menu created by Executive Chef Todd Stein and as a precursor to our full dinner at State and Lake, we nibbled on a light menu sampling. Funghi Pizza made with roasted oyster mushrooms, smoked mozzarella and thyme and Bianco’s Pizza decked out in parmesan, pistachios and rosemary were two of my favorites. The mini Grilled Lamb Burgers with minted cucumber dressing and tomato marmalata were the perfect size, ideal for sharing with friends over a cocktail.

And speaking of cocktails, Roof has an eclectic selection of European wines and a gourmet cocktail program, one in which this drink writer thoroughly enjoyed.

The space is really quite stunning. It’s as if there are all of these nooks and crannies that you could see yourself claiming to be your spot. There are two outdoor terraces: one that has a P. Diddy white party Miami vibe and the other that has a more Hamptons chaise lounging chair feel. The interior is warm and inviting, begging for conversation and a crisp glass of wine.

As the clouds subsided and the Chicago skyline could be seen in all her glory, it was down to the floor level for dinner at State and Lake where we sampled a wonderful display of appetizers, small plates, entrees, beer, wine and, of course, dessert.

State and Lake is a great place for a pre-theatre dinner and drink (go for the Louisiana BBQ shrimp with cheddar bacon grits and a glass of white), a casual beer with an old friend (small plate of baby back ribs with far east sauce and cashews paired with one of their 16 beers on tap) or a dinner with the girls (lemon sage roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and a bottle of Klee, a pinot noir from the Willamette Valley).

Once summer weather decides it wants to show up in Chicago, I’ll be the first to round up the troops and head up to Roof and dine at State and Lake. Then again, if bad hair and drizzly weather didn’t stop me from this night, unseasonably cold weather has nothing on me.

P.S. Cheeky is looking forward to Cibo Matto, the Wit’s yet to be opened restaurant. Get excited.

Summer Wine Dinner with Solaire

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a beautiful dinner at the Signature Room on the 95th . Truth be told, I’ve only been to the Signature Room once before (gasp!), and similarly, it was for a liquor launch party. But this dinner had a subtle sophistication that only comes when a brand isn’t trying too hard to impress.

They’re confident. They know they’re good.

To celebrate the Solaire by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon selections, guests were greeted with a crisp glass of the aforementioned white. For a girl who swears by her favorite red wine, I was thrilled to discover that the notes of the Chardonnay weren’t overly oaked, or too intense. I greedily asked for more.

From our north side scenic view, the sun set and the lights of Wrigley Field illuminated. Ginger Zee, the charming (and so cute!) meteorologist from NBC 5, spoke to us about the unique climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, which is on California’s Central Coast. It was a clever concept. Ginger was the official host of the evening and throughout the dinner, in tandem with Solaire winemaker extraordinaire, Rick Boyer, she spoke to the unique climate of Central California and Rick commented on how the weather patterns affect the natural growth of the grapes.

As our first course came out, Rick, who has a degree in Plant Science and has made a name for himself for serving as chief winemaker in several well-respected wineries, spoke about the Bianchi Bend Vineyard (located in the Santa Lucia Highlands) and how the climate allows him to produce cool weather grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling. It’s in the Bianchi Bend Vineyard that the Chardonnay is produced.

Ginger then explained that every morning, by10:30 am, the fog around the Santa Lucia Highlands lifts as Paso Robles (south of the highlands) begins to warm up. This allows the vines to have a couple of hours of great sunshine before the land cools. The ebb and flow of warming and cooling results in a desirable, long, slow growing season.

As the main course made its way to the table, Rick and Ginger highlighted the characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon that was perfectly paired with my roast chicken. South of the Santa Lucia Highlands in Paso Robles is the Pine Creek vineyard where warm-weather grapes such as Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc and Malbec grow. What separates the two vineyards is the intense sun and heat. Pine Creek is about 15 – 20 degrees warmer in the summer and this temperature allows the grapes to ripen and develop into chewy wines. From these grapes you can expect dark berry notes like blackberry and boysenberry.

It’s also interesting to note Rick’s barrel selection for the two wines. Because each barrel produces a distinct flavor, he balances the wine by using three specific barrels:

· Billon (soft and textural barrel, gives off a fat feel in your mouth)

· Dargaud and Jargle (structural barrel that preserves acid, makes the grape more lively in your mouth)

· Mercier (aromatic barrel, brings out a coasty-smoky flavor)

He moves the wine from one barrel to the next so the wine takes on a little bit of each. It’s a harmonious, homogenous blend.

We nibbled and chatted, sipped and discussed. And as the evening progressed, I reflected on how refreshing it was to enjoy a wine and then shake the hand of the winemaker whose vision steered its creation. Rick Boyer was warm, intelligent and his love for the land, the grape and the end product shined through.

For your summer entertaining needs, this wine guru gives Solaire by Robert Mondavi a big thumbs up.

Head to Binny’s to pick up a bottle of the Chardonnay and/or the Cabernet.

Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

Say buh-bye to sloppy tequila shots, greasy quesadillas and a-thousand-calories-a-pop Margaritas. This Tuesday is all about celebrating Cinco in style.

I’m convinced that the Skinny Girl Margarita is the best thing to have come from the Real Housewives of New York and I’m excited to say that Chicago has found the boyfriend to the infamous SGM: Adam Seger’s Look Better Naked Margarita which combines partida reposado, all organic açaí-agave-rosemary-egg white. It’s the perfect cocktail to kick-start the warm weather months.

For those of you that may have heard of Nacional 27, but are yet to pay homage to the Latin-American food Mecca, I may hit you.

No really. You need to go.

And with the inexpensive invite to join us next week, there really isn’t an excuse.

If you’re new to the mixology scene, Seger’s cocktails are award-worthy. In fact, the guy is award-winning. Unlike most mixologists, Seger is a Certified Culinary Professional (CCP). It’s no wonder that he has the ingredient obsession of a chef. In addition to using specialty and boutique liquors for his drinks, he also sources artisan products, such as organic agave syrup from Peru and he creates other syrups and mixes in-house, including Sangria, Tres Leches and Horchata. And for those with a serious sweet tooth: Seger makes his own maraschino cherries.

Guests have a choice of white, red, guava or passion-ginger Sangria, which is made with house-infused wine, fruit, liqueurs, spices and brandy. True, this is a Spanish drink, but, ahem, calling all history buffs, who was it exactly that first settled in Mexico?

And with Tuesday’s Cheeky party comes all-you-can-drink Margaritas, and we’re not talking about too sweet, over-processed sugary mixed margs.

These are artfully-created, innovative displays of cocktail craftsmanship.

The Breakfast Margarita blends Sauza gold, Amaretto di Saronno, Navan vanilla liqueur, orange marmalade and egg whites, while the Signature Margarita consists of Cazadores reposado, Bacardi anejo and Grand Marnier. The Luxe Margarita mixes Corzo añejo, Grand Marnier centenaire and hand squeezed lime.

If you’re looking to step out of the box, opt for the Five Citrus Cazuelas. Built in a sixteen ounce pint glass, this cocktail harmoniously blends oranges, lemons, limes, ruby red grapefruit and Mexican sweet oranges. A pinch of Hawaiian pink salt is added to the fruit mixture and is then topped with an ounce and a half of rum, Silver tequila (opt for Corzo) and Fresca.


The $1,000 Mint Julep

It’s known as the most exciting two minutes in sports and as all of you racing aficionados know, the Derby is the first leg of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and is followed by the Preakness Stakes then the Belmont Stakes. But if you’d rather sit and look pretty in your big ‘ole Southern hat - then, boy, do we have a drink for you.

On May 2nd, Woodford Reserve bourbon will offer a tribute to jockeys with the world’s most exclusive mint julep cup. A collection of 99 sterling silver cups plated in 24-karat gold – a select few adorned with diamonds and signed by Triple Crown-winning jockeys - will be made available for purchase online until April 28th and must be picked up by the buyer at the Kentucky Derby next Saturday, May 2nd.

Proceeds from the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cups will benefit The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and The Robby Albarado Foundation.

When owners of the $1,000 Mint Julep receive their glass, they will enjoy a mint julep featuring a unique set of ingredients from around the globe: sugar cane cut and crushed by hand from Sainte Marie in the Reunion Island of France; Turkish mint grown near the Euphrates River; ice made of water from an aquifer in the wilderness of Central Norway; and a small batch of the Master Distiller’s personal selection of Woodford Reserve super-premium bourbon.

For those of you who can’t make it to this year’s Derby, pop into your local Binny’s and pick up a 2009 Limited Edition Woodford Reserve bottle that was designed by former jockey-turned-artist, Tom Chapman, for your own Derby viewing party. And for all you cheeky chicks looking for a local par-tay, check out the below:

Via Ventuno (2110 S. Wabash)

Housed in the former Room 21 space in the South Loop is Jerry Kleiner’s latest creation. Next Saturday, May 2nd from 4 – 6 pm, Via Ventuno’s bar area will celebrate with Chef Jim Kilberg’s special bar menu and Derby-themed cocktails. Bluegrass and Dixieland jazz will set the sounds of the soiree as you sip, smile and swirl.

Expect Benedictine Tea Sandwiches with Ramps, Deviled Eggs, Oyster Po’ Boys with Remoulande and Fried Okra with Truffled Honey, all of which are only $5 each. Sip on the Belle of the Ball ($8) which incorporates peach-macerated bourbon, cognac, absinthe, muddled brown sugar and bitters or go for the Red Means Go ($8) made with Blackstrap Navy Rum, Amaro, Blood Orange, Pomegranate Molasses and ginger beer.

The Pony (1638 W. Belmont)

Aptly named for the Kentucky Derby, the Pony is hosting an event benefiting the local charity, Equestrian Connection, which maintains horses as a therapeutic outlet for children and adults with disabilities. From 1:30 – 5:30 pm, as guests nosh on Southern style comfort food like biscuits and fried chicken, they can donate money and “bid” on their favorite horses from the Equestrian Connection (photos will be on display) - the one with the most money will be named the Derby “winner.” For $40, patrons can take advantage of the open bar and sip on classic mint juleps.

Limited Edition Woodford Reserve, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Organic Spirits

Cheeky girls love a good party and, let’s be honest, we also love a great drink. At your next soiree, go gaga over green and substitute a regular vodka for organic and swap your splash of soda for an organic liqueur.

But, Stephanie, I don’t know what places in the city offer organic-inspired drinks and I’m clueless as to what brands are out there.

Well, silly, I’m here to help.

Square One Organic Vodka is my go-to organic vodka when I’m out on the town. What makes the vodka green?

Founder, Allison Evanow, started at square one (pun intended) to create the purest vodka that this palate has ever tasted. Pristine spring water from the Teton mountains and organically certified North Dakota-grown rye are used to create a spirit with such clarity that Square One doesn’t need multiple distillation. It emerges through a single pass in the distiller with its unique flavor profile intact. But the ingredients are only half the battle. The Square One bottle reflects the brand’s eco-conscious philosophy. Notice that the bottle isn’t frosted (ahem, like so many other brands that will remain nameless). That process calls for the use of serious chemicals and the Square One label is printed on paper made from bamboo, bagasse and cotton, all sustainably grown and renewable fiber sources. And once the bottle is empty, the label easily peels off so it can enjoy a second life as a vase or other container.

Insider Tip: Allison was in town recently and spilled the beans: They’re launching Square One Botanical, a unique organic spirit that is 45% abv and infused with eight organic botanicals - pear, rose, lavender, chamomile, lemon verbena, coriander, rosemary and citrus peel.

Now that you’ve got your base liquor, try incorporating a secondary flavor such as LOFT Organic Liqueur. The first U.S. liqueur to be USDA certified organic, LOFT is the brainchild of a 20-year vegetarian, Lisa Averbuch, who wanted a flavorful organic spirit to go with her favorite veggie meals. Her mission was to save people from the synthesized flavor and bright neon colors found in your typical ‘tini. Being organic means that LOFT is produced without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. There are no additives, preservatives, artificial coloring or flavorings - which means that the orange tint you see in the LOFT tangerine bottle is derived from the natural fruit flavor. Their portfolio includes lavender, lemongrass, spicy ginger, tangerine, blueberry and raspberry.

Two of the LOFT liqueurs - the Lemongrass and the Spicy Ginger – won medals in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (the Olympics of the liquor world), so expect great things from the brand.

LOFT is only available in West Coast restaurants and venues for now, but you can learn more about the brand here and order your bottles online here.

Once your bottle arrives, try the Almost Purple Haze, a fantastic recipe that can easily be executed at home. Mix and shake 1½ ounces of LOFT Lavender, 2 ounces of Square One Vodka, ½ ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice, a dash of bitters and then garnish with an organic lime wheel.

Eager to explore what Chicago has to offer?

Organic Hot Spots:
· Sepia…go for the Salty Dog made with Square One
· Butterfly Social Club…THE organic place in Chicago
· Crust…some of the most diverse organic drink selections
· Drinks Over Dearborn…Kyle McHugh stocks great organic wines
· Crimson Lounge…VeeV , a sustainable acai spirit, has a strong presence

Friday, July 10, 2009

The "Al GRESHco" Feast at David Burke Primehouse

This past Wednesday, I dined al fresco, or should I say, Al GRESHco at David Burke’s Primehouse. What? You ate fresh vegetables, fruits and fingerling potatoes at one of Chicago’s best steakhouses?

I sure did.

But there was foie gras and baby goat, so it wasn’t completely sans meat.

Every Wednesday, Executive Chef Rick Gresh (hence, Al GRESHco) heads to Chicago’s Green City Market farmer’s market with his culinary team to shop and talk to the farmers and purveyors, selecting the fresh, local and sustainable ingredients for that evening’s Al Greshco menu, handwritten by the chef. Depending on the season and what the market has to offer, this creative four-course dinner menu changes weekly, ensuring all new and never before tasted dishes from Chef Gresh every week.

The Al Greshco Feast begins at 7 pm every Wednesday and is hosted at the communal table on the al fresco patio at David Burke’s Primehouse. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating the night I attended so we dined indoors, amidst the well-heeled first-daters and businessmen.

Chef Gresh personally served all of the courses and provided interesting information and stories on all of the market dishes throughout the course of the evening.

We started with epi and roasted garlic with a side of mixed greens and homemade salami, paired with Mionetto Prosecco. Then it was on to my favorite dish of the night: fresh scallop and porcini mushroom fritters with grilled zucchini ribbons and red wine beets. With the second course came the most delicious wine of the night, the Marti Fabra Garnacha from Costa Brava, Spain. Tender foie gras and baby goat ravioli closed out the main dish courses and vanilla Bavarian mousee with strawberry filling and lady fingers topped off the meal.

One of the more intriguing drinks of the evening was the Amaretto Black Tea with a large whiskey soaked strawberry floating in the middle. I took one bite of the strawberry and was in heaven.

When Chef Gresh came out to say his goodbyes and thanked us for joining him, he slipped me a white paper bag. Pour moi? A to-go bag filled with a dry-aged Porterhouse? A fresh Caeser salad (which they make tableside by the way)? I glanced inside the bag and saw an old-fashioned Ball jar with a silver cap and a piece of faded yellow masking tape on the lid labeled, “berry jam.”

“It’s homemade berry jam that I made. It’s from the fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries that I picked up at Green City Market,” Chef Gresh said.

My night was complete. I will now dine Al GRESHco every morning with my toast.


Chef Gresh is embracing the social media phenomenon. Signing up for Al Greshco reservations are available exclusively through Chef Rick Gresh on Facebook or Twitter. Guests must friend Chef Gresh and simply inquire about Al Greshco to get added to the list. For all of you Rick Gresh fans out there, here are his social media links:

Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Martini & Rossi Monviso Sangria

Martini & Rossi Monviso Sangria

1 (750 ml.) bottle of Martini & Rossi® Rosso vermouth

1 cup (8 oz.) pomegranate juice

1 cup (8 oz.) cranberry juice

½ cup (4 oz.) Disaronno® Originale Liqueur

½ cup (4 oz.) simple syrup

2 apples, cubed

2 lemons, thinly sliced into wheels

20 cherries, whole

1 cup (8 oz.) lemon-lime soda

Combine first five ingredients in a large pitcher, and stir in fruit. Chill until ready to serve (24 hours, if possible). Just prior to serving, stir in lemon-lime soda. Pour over ice in tall glasses. Makes 8-10 servings.

Cheeky Chicago 6/12 My New BFF

On the eve of my best friend’s birthday, I was toying with the idea of hosting a dinner at some “totally hot, so right now” restaurant. But I took a step back and realized that sometimes the birthday dinner at a restaurant is just too much. Don’t get me wrong. I love dining out. I would put it in one of my top ten favorite things to do in life. But it’s a bit presumptuous for me, the party planner, to expect everyone to pay about $80 per person to go to a sit-down dinner where they are seated at the far end of the table away from the birthday girl and stuck next to me, the lame BFF.

So in an effort to save a little moolah for all involved parties (the boyfriend, the sister, the sister’s boyfriend, the work friends, etc.), I thought I’d order out a main dish like fajitas from a local West Loop Mexican joint and then I’d take care of the chips and guac, apps and, obviously, the cocktails.

Ohhh, the cocktails. When I thought about what I would make for this smallish get-together at our West Loop loft, my wheels started turning. Do I create a do-it-yourself margarita bar? What about muddle-your-own, fruit-inspired mojitos? After all, if you Cheeky readers could see my bar, it’s over-stocked, so the possibilities are endless. The amount of full bottles of booze that I have resting on my mahogany bar would put established places to shame. I have no qualms with speaking to its opulence ($800 Glenlivet, rare vodka, JT’s new tequila). That baby is my pride and joy.

And here comes the inspiration for this post. I settled on the latest cocktail trend to hit Chicago: the communal drink.


I would only have to run to Dominick’s to get a few items, but by gosh, this could work.

So what cocktail concoction do you make for the BFF who runs marathons (think: low cal), wants to be a beach bum (think: relaxed), but is also a closeted party-girl (secretly, I know she likes something spicy, something sexy)?

I checked in with my Martini & Rossi peeps (love Asti) and sought their inspiration. Tonight I will be making the Martini & Rossi Monviso Sangria and Martini & Rossi Torino Sangria. Two potent punches that will be crowd pleasers. The first will appeal to those who like a sweeter, less intimidating drink while the latter will appease my personal craving for anything dirty and dry.

The Monviso Sangria is made with a combination of one whole bottle of Martini & Rossi® Rosso vermouth, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice (opt for one made with 50% less sugar so it’s not too sweet), Disaronno liqueur, cubed apples, cherries, lemons and some Sprite or Fresca. The recipe calls for simple syrup but you can do without it if you don’t like cocktails too sweet. Although the syrup does add a layer of connectivity. Make it without it, taste it, and if it seems like it might need a little something extra, add a couple of splashes into the punch bowl. See the full recipes for both Martini & Rossi Sangrias below. They are simple, tasty, and very on-trend.

And for those of you who would rather have all of this prepared for you at an uber cool place, head to my first choice, The Drawing Room, on Rush and ask Charles Joly to whip you up a punch with whatever flavors, spirits and liquors you like.

Looking for a group cocktail for your BFF? Opt for these…

Martini & Rossi Monviso Sangria

1 (750 ml.) bottle of Martini & Rossi® Rosso vermouth

1 cup (8 oz.) pomegranate juice

1 cup (8 oz.) cranberry juice

½ cup (4 oz.) Disaronno® Originale Liqueur

½ cup (4 oz.) simple syrup

2 apples, cubed

2 lemons, thinly sliced into wheels

20 cherries, whole

1 cup (8 oz.) lemon-lime soda

Combine first five ingredients in a large pitcher, and stir in fruit. Chill until ready to serve (24 hours, if possible). Just prior to serving, stir in lemon-lime soda. Pour over ice in tall glasses. Makes 8-10 servings.

Martini & Rossi Torino Sangria

1 (750 ml.) bottle of Martini & Rossi® Extra Dry vermouth

2 cups (16 oz.) cranberry juice cocktail

½ cup (4 oz.) brandy (optional)

½ cup sugar

2 cups (16 oz.) sparkling water

2 oranges, thinly sliced into wheels

1 lemon, thinly sliced into wheels

1 lime, thinly sliced into wheels

Combine Martini & Rossi Extra Dry vermouth, cranberry juice, brandy and sugar in a large pitcher; stir until sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve

June 2009 Drink Report: Rum Revolution!

June 2009 Chicago Scene

Looking for a Rum Revolution? Check out June's Drink Report which highlights cocktails from Roof at the Wit, NoMi and more.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One SixtyBlue: Burgers, Beers & Beats

Throw your preconceived notions out the door. This West Loop hot spot may be decked out with white table clothes and outfitted with an award winning chef (that would be Executive Chef Michael McDonald to be exact), but with the introduction of two new relaxed chic nights- Burgers, Beer and Beats on Thursdays and Play Dough on Fridays-you’ll put the kibosh on those reso’s and pop in for some casual and tasty fare.

My culinary cohort and I ventured into one sixtyblue around Happy Hour last Friday. We were met with smiles and whisked to two strategically placed corner seats at the end of the bar. It was our people watching perch. As I stared at the glass bar shelving (I analyze every bar) I smiled because it was refreshing to see understated small batch, hand-crafted beers sitting along side flashy bottles of Patron and Grey Goose. The bar and lounge areas are sophisticated but with the addition of a lower priced bar menu with feel good food that’s always in style (read: hand packed MJ burgers and Neapolitan-style pizzas), one sixtyblue exudes a welcoming, come-as-you-are vibe.

The deal of the summer takes place on Thursday nights at Blue Bar where they offer $4 craft beers and $4 burgers to complement the smooth beats that bounce slowly around the room. Can’t make it on a Thursday? Pop in on Friday for $5 wood-fired pizzas and $4 Prosecco cocktails. If you’re looking for a sweet addition to your bubbly, ask for a splash of one of their fresh-squeezed juices such as rhubarb, green apple or blueberry. And you can’t go wrong with their yummy pizzas like Blue Cheese & Spring Onion, Mozzarella & Ramps (a unique vegetable similar to a wild leek) and White Pizza with Zucchini Blossoms.

We split an MJ burger, topped with sweet barbeque sauce, scallions, thick cheddar cheese and a hefty piece of smoked bacon then segued into a blistering moderately sized spicy sausage pizza. True to our foodie form, we didn’t stop there.

A couple of deep fried pickles here. Some shoe string French fries there. We may or may not have dabbled in a special order of Hawaiian Yellowfin and it has been said that pastry chef, Stephanie “I need no last name” Prida, prepared two remarkable desserts that left me, quite literally, speechless.

It was a great evening and as a local West Looper, they’ll be seeing this face regularly. Hope they’re ready.

Both evenings officially kick off at 5:30pm and music is queued up at 6pm.

One SixtyBlue

One SixtyBlue

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cheeky Chicago Party at Nactional 27

It’s with the eternal words of the legendary group, Debarge, I open this oh-so-Cheeky, Cinco de Mayo Tribute.

Oh, to the beat of the rhythm of the night,
dance until the morning light.
Forget about the worries on your mind;
you can leave them all behind. To the beat of the rhythm of the night
Oh, the rhythm of the night
Oh yeah.

And that is exactly what we will be doing on Tuesday, May 5th at River North’s Nacional 27. Say buh-bye to sloppy tequila shots, greasy quesadillas and a-thousand-calories-a-pop Margaritas. This Tuesday is all about celebrating Cinco in style.
I’m convinced that the Skinny Girl Margarita is the best thing to have come from the Real Housewives of New York and I’m excited to say that Chicago has found the boyfriend to the infamous SGM: Adam Seger’s Look Better Naked Margarita which combines partida reposado, all organic açaí-agave-rosemary-egg white. It’s the perfect cocktail to kick-start the warm weather months.
For those of you that may have heard of Nacional 27, but are yet to pay homage to the Latin-American food Mecca, I may hit you.

No really. You need to go.

And with the inexpensive invite to join us next week, there really isn’t an excuse.
See all party details here:

Chicago Scene May 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chicago Scene on CBS

A couple of weeks ago, my home girl Rachel Gillman, Dining Writer for Chicago Scene, paid a little trip the new CBS studio in the Loop. Building off an April Splurge v. Save article in our print pub, she chatted on-air about the best places in the city to save a little coin, spend a little dough.

Stay tuned for our joint Drink-Dining Article coming out in May 2009's Chicago Scene. We embarked on a little Mexican roadtrip through the Chicago.

I'm a Lush. She's the Glutton. A match made in heaven

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Sox are Bringin' Sexy back at MARKET

Off the heels of a season opening the win against the K-C Royals, the Chicago White Sox were primed for good time.

And a good time it was.

There was Vueve. There was Patron. And there was birthday cake.

Earlier this week, Sox General Manager Kenny Williams hosted his birthday bash and introduced his new West Loop hot spot to the gliteratti of Chicago. The invite-only event was replete with a “who's who” of Chicago sports and entertainment media who rubbed elbows at the private party and took in the latest multi-faceted restaurant to hit the West Loop: Market.

Located in a non descript building on Randolph (I swear, I've jogged past this very space every day for the past two years and never knew it was under construction), Market at 1113 W. Randolph, is the brainchild of Karl Spektor (Mod Construction) and Kenny Williams. Market is a Chameleon. It can change colors and has the ability to wear many hats.

Looking for a Sports Bar? Check.

Want to sport your Gladiator heels in a lounge environment? Check

Stunning rooftop views of the Chicago Skyline? Check.

The space is versatile; but it doesn't have a confusing identity like so many restaurants that try to appeal to too many people. Market has character.

The first floor is referred to as Restaurant and Sports Bar at Market which has birch wood walls, a double sided glass-enclosed fire place, plush leather booths and accordion style doors to offer open-air dining. The dining room can also be curtained off from the bar area for private events.

What to wear: Floor-length casual summer dress with Tory Burch sandals.

The Sidewalk Café at Market is at the front of the building, ideal for casual outdoor dining and to the west of the building is the Beer Garden at Market, a 2,500 square foot area surrounded by trees. Six outdoor flat screens will allow guests to watch games and with a seating area that caters up to 200 people, there's no doubt that this will be a great area to host an outdoor private party.

What to wear: Acne skinny jeans, Tods flats, sleeveless white top.

The highlight of Market is the Rooftop Lounge. Casual dining may exist in the lower half of the venue, but once you escape to the 4th floor, it's nothing by sun, sky and skylines. There are plush cabanas draped in white lines, granite stadium seating so you can perch casually, sipping on a cocktail, people watching as you take in views of the Hancock, Trump and Sears Tower (forget the new name, it will always called the “Sears”). There will be Market bus on call, used to transport guests to sporting events like Sox games and Bulls game (ahem! No Cubs games).

With Executive Chef Joe Rosetti serving up classic American fare such as mini pulled pork sliders, baby lamb chops and popcorn shrimp (served in an old-fashioned popcorn box), Market practices what it preaches: yummy food for a delicious crowd.