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.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Table Kits at the Underground

Bottle service is SO last year. Why don’t you forget it and opt for a table kit instead? What’s a table kit, you ask? Well, I headed to the Underground to find out what Benjamin Newby, GM and cocktail creator, had concocted.

The latest offering is a cocktail experience, where well-trained servers in Cold War Era booty shorts take an artisan approach to pouring a drink.

Seeing that I had just come from Rockit (where I had my first Kobe beef with brie burger, followed by a couple of vodka martinis with three bleu cheese olives - more on that obsession later), I could really only handle two of the kits. I was already familiar with Cosmos and Mojitos, so I settled on the Absinthe and the St. Germain table kits.

And out they came.

The Absinthe Table Kit was served on a silver platter with glasses reminiscent of Waterford crystal. It was as if we were about to enjoy tea at the Dorchester, except Absinthe had taken the place of Earl Gray (okay, okay, it was dark and I may or may not have had a couple of martinis, but hey, they looked beautiful). As I took my quick drink of Absinthe (you drink it as you would a shot, but with more revere - you’re drinking Pernod Absinthe, the oldest Absinthe brand in the world - show some respect, people!). I couldn’t help but feel as if I were entering a forbidden world. A round of Absinthe drinks are made in the traditional way with sugar and fire and served per person ($15 each). Each table is limited to one round and this particular kit is only available until midnight.

Next was the St. Germain Table Kit. For those yet to experience the lovely nuances of the French elderflower liqueur, I encourage you to try it as a secondary flavor with your next cocktail (Champagne, sparkling water, St. G). It offers a fantastic flavor - one of my favorites. St. Germain naturally enhances the flavors of Champagne (or sparkling wine) and brings out notes that you may not normally pick up. Add a dash of St. Germain to your Champagne flute and suddenly peach, pear and citrus flavors can be detected. At UG, the St. Germain cocktails are served on the rocks with a silver straw spoon. A carafe serves about six for $75 and you have the option of adding on a bottle of Champagne for $50.

I didn’t have a chance to try the Cosmo Kit or the Mojito Kit, but you can imagine that high attention to detail is provided to ensure the ultimate cocktail experience.

And for those who like to detox to retox, Sunday brunch at Rockit can either be the perfect hangover cure or just another excuse to keep the party going. Rockit has one of the best gourmet Bloody Mary bars in the city and they’re channeling UG with their Mimosa Kits. The Sunday Funday Kits feature an assortment of fresh fruits and seasonal juices, including orange, pineapple, mango and pomegranate, served in carafes and accompanied by a bottle of Champagne: $50 for Veuve Cliquot, $30 for Domaine Chandon or $5 per glass.

Absinthe Kit at the Underground

Cosmo Kit at the Underground

Mimosa Kit at Rockit

Friday, February 13, 2009

First Look, Chicago Auto Show 2009

Just got back from the First Look for Charity at the Chicago Auto Show.  The champagne was flowing and the cars were gorg.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Original Black & Tan

For an upcoming Chicago Scene article I was looking into the latest and greatest in the beer world. When I connected with my guy at A-B, he sent me this great invention: the Bass Brolly.

The authentic Black & Tan has been made with Bass Pale Ale and Guinness stout since the 1800s and for nearly as long, adults have attempted to pour their Black & Tan by placing a bar spoon over the lid of their pint glass. The bar spoon is an easy tool to use, but it often results in something closer to a caramel than a Black & Tan. To help beer drinkers pour the perfect Black & Tan, Bass created the Bass Brolly, which sits atop the pint glass and allows the stout beer to flow through slowly, resulting in the desired layered effect.

Chicagoans can head to to pick up their own brolly, or swing by your local Binny’s to grab a case of the regular, English Pale Ale.

Bass Pale Ale

I'm competing in a Cocktail Competition (Scary)

I'm competing in a charity cocktail competition (Yikes!). See details on this invite.

 I would LOVE to see you all there. 

I've judged many but have never actually participated. It's Thursday, Feb. 19th at Texas de Brazil and they've asked the Wine & Spirits Editors from the Sun-Times, Chicago Social, PLATE Magazine, Chicago Scene (me, obviously) and the Chicagoist to create a recipe incorporating Cachaca (National spirit of Brazil, it's like white Rum) in honor of Carnivale.

All proceeds go to Meals on Wheels. Whether you come for the good food/drinks or to see me crumble under pressure, it's going to be a good time.


Bourbon Tasting

Last Saturday I headed to 5 Star (1424 W. Chicago) in West Town to attend one of their monthly Whiskey University sessions. Chicago’s own Whiskey Professor, Steve Cole (yes, that’s his official title, I even checked his business card), who works on behalf of Beam Global Spirits, chatted with a hefty group of dedicated bourbon drinkers.

Cole unveiled the rich history and heritage of bourbon through a fun but informative, in-depth tasting of Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, Baker’s and Booker’s bourbons, all from the Beam family.

Professor Cole channeled the great Greek thinkers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. I knew they were smiling down on Cole, their proud eyes locked in on the teacher, as he taught and expanded the minds of his meager students with bourbon basics.

It was beautiful.

It was enlightening.

It must have been divine intervention.

All bourbons are whiskies, but not all whiskies can be bourbons. Whiskey is the umbrella and falling under the umbrella are several varieties: Scotch (whiskey made in Scotland), Irish Whiskey (can you guess where that’s made?), Tennessee Whiskey (think Jack Daniels) and Bourbon.

Technically, bourbon can be produced anywhere in the U.S. It doesn’t have to come from Kentucky. That’s a myth. But, only bourbon made from Kentucky can label itself as such. The limestone from that great Southern state produces a fine, unfiltered water that makes bourbon production in Kentucky unlike any other region in the U.S.

We sampled the bourbons according to alcohol proof - lowest (Basil Hayden’s) to highest (Booker’s). This girls favorite? Booker’s was the winner. Sure, it had the highest alcohol proof, but what did it for me was the syrupy texture, the spicy notes that hit mid-palate and the slow, warm sensation that I got as it went down my throat and warmed my soul.

Mmmm, it’s the Drink of the Gods.