Photo: Renata Baluk
By Ernest Barteldes
The New York Bar and Wine Show, an annual two-day convention that takes place at Midtown Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, showcases what’s new in the beverage industry, from special registers wirelessly attached to bottles (to better control the drinks sold) to novelties like a Russian roulette-style game wherein a plastic revolver has a chamber that releases a shot of liquor to the lucky ‘winner’—if the ‘loaded’ chamber ends up in his or her hand (think bachelor parties and dorm rooms, if you’re wondering who would do this).
But the greatest attraction is, of course, the booze, and this year’s event had plenty, ranging from new liquor brands, international beers and wines to the latest ideas in mixology presented by different bartenders from all over the world. Read the rest of this entry »
By Ernest Barteldes
While living in Brazil, I remember ordering caipirinhas (the famous national cocktail made with muddled lime, sugar and cachaça) at restaurants and bars, and I was hit with the inevitable question: “de cachaça ou de vodka” (“Do you want it made with cachaça or vodka?”).
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Although I did prefer the spiciness of the Brazilian national spirit, I also often recalled the hangovers I’d get from drinking the (mostly) mass-produced stuff they had there at the time, and most of the time ended up having the drink made from vodka.
The problem is that muddling lime and sugar and adding anything other than cachaça is not a caipirinha, but an imitation (some bars list the alternatives as caipiroska—with vodka—or caipirissima when made with rum). But since the general public was not complaining, they got away with it—until now. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Nagrant
“Second floor retail is murder,” says Kyle McHugh, aka “The Boozehound” and owner of boutique wine, beer and spirits retailer Drinks Over Dearborn (DOD). Though McHugh learned this truism in business school, he opened DOD on the second floor of an old office building called The Raleigh on Dearborn between Erie and Ontario anyway.
It wasn’t that he was the Evil Knievel of liquor retailers interested in spitting on MBA textbook theories. Rather, a greater truism trumped all: rent prices in the Gold Coast (an area he preferred for its affluent traffic) were a straight-up serial killing. McHugh figured he could better avoid the death of his business by executing his business plan the right way: get a bigger space to conduct classes, tastings and host a wide variety of interesting stock instead of compromising and blowing his life’s savings and small-business loan on a dinky little box on the first floor.
And in a business climate where faux anonymity and cloak and dagger is the new version of the Vegas-style blinking neon sign, who could discount McHugh’s decision? After all, the Lincoln Park restaurant Alinea doesn’t even have a sign and the popular Wicker Park cocktail lounge The Violet Hour looks like a graffiti-covered abandoned building.
If you build it, they will come, right? Read the rest of this entry »
We know, we hadn’t heard of it either. But when we did, we thought, brilliant! Then we thought, vodka.
Thanks to the folks at Luxbar for bringing this to our attention. You’ll find us there come August 20. (But if others are doing similar promotions, let us know and we’ll add them to the list.)
LUXBAR CELEBRATES NATIONAL LEMONADE DAY: $5 Signature Lemonhead Martinis
In celebration of National Lemonade Day, Luxbar is going grown-up by offering their signature Lemonhead Martini for only $5 (normally $11.50). The cocktail features Veev Açai Liqueur, Three Olives Vodka, Chambord, and of course, freshly squeezed Lemon Juice. Thursday, August 20
18 E Bellevue Place, 312.642.3400
CITIZEN BAR CELEBRATES LEMONADE DAY
Chicagoans can soak up the sun and take advantage of Citizen Bar’s huge outdoor patio while enjoying Citizen’s signature Blue Raspberry Lemonade in honor of National Lemonade Day on August 20th. For the entire month Citizen will offer this special cocktail for $7 a glass or $22 for a pitcher.
364 W. Erie St.
By Jonathan Silverstein
Somewhere along the line, I discovered that I had both a talent for mixing cocktails and a tragically low tolerance for alcohol. After a few regrettable experiments, which I cannot remember but my former friends cannot forget, I decided to devote myself to the pursuit of quality over quantity.
The big obstacle I kept running into was the poor state of commercially available liqueurs and flavoring agents. Most of them are packed with artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup, making them unfit for anything other than a Trixie’s candy martini, the kind garnished with lollipops and washed down with Diet Coke.
It turns out that it is ridiculously easy to infuse booze with flavors. Read the rest of this entry »
The new cocktail menu at Sepia, curated by Joshua Pearson & Peter Vestinos Read the rest of this entry »
Of all the celebrities who endorse a premium line of liquor, Dan Aykroyd isn’t usually the first that comes to mind. Yet that doesn’t keep a few hundred of his fans from zigzagging through the wine section at the South Loop Binny’s. The SNL alum is promoting his new premium vodka Crystal Head, which comes in a skull-shaped bottle.
“There he is!” someone at the end of the line shouts as the crowd bursts into applause. Aykroyd smiles and waves at nobody in particular as he is escorted through the crowd.
While one fan dresses like Aykroyd’s iconic Elwood character from “The Blues Brothers,” other fans best remember him from his “Ghostbusters” days. Bridget Barnett is so enamored by Aykroyd that she kisses his hand when she gets to the front of the line. He returns the favor while he autographs a photo from the film. Read the rest of this entry »
By Ernest Barteldes
While I was living in Brazil as an adult in the 1990s, the liquor known as cachaça was regarded as a poor man’s drink found only in corner botecos (dive bars) where a shot could be purchased for as little as fifty cents. Broke youngsters and college students would buy a cheap bottle in order to make homemade caipirinhas in spite of the horrible hangovers that would follow.
I remember that quite well—as a perennially broke student in my college years, I often found myself with an empty pocket. But only a few bucks were enough for the cheapest of poisons.
Today, however, cachaça is reaching a more refined audience thanks to the efforts of a handful of dedicated companies that have done a lot to bring the spirit to a higher level. “Cachaça is today in the same position that vodka, chianti and tequila were about fifteen years ago,” explains Steve Luttman, producer of Leblon, one of the more recent brands specially created for the international market. Read the rest of this entry »
The Product: Cointreau Noir
The Premise: A “society marriage:” Cointreau blended with Remy Martin cognac
The Tasters and their Qualifications: Erica, Debbie, Brent, Brian and Jan, the self-anointed “drinking lightweight who never gives up.” Total years of legal drinking experience: 101
The Packaging: A bright copper metallic bottle announces the product with stylish elegance. Read the rest of this entry »
The Product: Rubi Rey Reserve Rum
The Premise: A single barrel finished white rum that’s aged on the coast of northern Puerto Rico and then later filtered for “clarity.”
The Tasters and Their Qualifications: Emily (works at a nursing home, so drinks a lot), Megan (can’t stop drinking), Marcus (“I don’t drink swill, even if it’s free”), Lenny (“I don’t like being sober, I don’t like my life”), Phil (almost finished the “Century Club” once), Tom (“Booze has no memory, and neither do I”)
Total years of legal drinking: 30
The Packaging: An arresting red bottle invokes summertime recollection, but also that creepy kid from “The Shining” running around the hotel yelling “Red Rum!” over and over. Drink at your own risk!
Tasters rated the following on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “I wouldn’t take it if it was free” and 10 being “I’m heading to the liquor store right now to get my own!” Read the rest of this entry »