Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vera, octopus and sherry pairing!

Two very special friends, who's 13th anniversary is today, once confirmed for me, what I suspected to be true: this spot Vera in a building I once visited for a sports bar experience, is a legit booze and food experience. Vera is a place that simultaneously makes you feel at home and neighborly (I will claim this hood as one of mine until I've live away from it the 7 years I lived around the corner from it). You actually KNOW a comfortable yet elegant dining experience is awaiting you just from the energy of the place.

Sherry, for me, is new, very new. I started learning about it about nine months ago, while making cocktails for a social media and advertising company's event, paired up with a much more experienced bartender. They made a sherry aperitif cocktail that though delicious, didn't really sink in with our crowd (in hindsight, people should have picked cocktails by name, given the point of the event). I went home with a bottle of amontillado sherry, and then along the way, while playing with a different sherry cocktail for another event, ended up with an oloroso bottle. Both were from the Lustau house, which from what I understand, makes very good sherry, but is also one of the larger sherry houses (someone correct me if I get this wrong, please). Anyway, point being, I knew a few cocktails with sherry, and knew a little bit about the characteristics of a small part of the range that is sherry. I'm not going to jump into sherry as a whole here, for that, you should read this:

So my plan for Vera was really simple. Say hi, and ask if they could pair one of their dishes with anything on the beverage list. I didn't actually specify sherry, or wine, as far as I recall.

What I got though, was an amazing amontillado sherry: Valdespino Tio Diego Amontillado, with an earthy/nutty and briny quality that paired beautifully with their grilled octopus with pimenton and olive oil dish. The interplay between the smokiness of the pimenton, the octopus, and the nutty and raisin brine of the sherry made for a lot of overlap in each bite. Some pairings end up being about how each piece stands out while enlightening its partner, where here, the two elements were like a Venn Diagram of flavors, with the center part being "awesome" and the other non-overlapping parts being "other reasons this is awesome." Guess what...that made it...awesome.

Summer isn't over fools! Corn n oil recipe on the blog tomorrow, plus a falernum recipe too. And if anyone can tell me who carries a blackstrap rum, free cocktail for them. - Boozy Beggar Pic of the Day. #boozybeggarPOTD #chicagolandbooze #boozypics

via Instagram

The Final Four Craft Beer Boat Events this week!

The final four Craft Beer Boat Ticket giveaways.
Here's a link to the original post, with all the ways to get a ticket: buying the below beers, sticking around for the raffles, and the twitter/instagram competition as well (not sure if those were picked online after each night, or the day after, etc).

See ya on the boat!

Monk's Pub - 8/20, 5-8 PM

This is my favorite Loop spot for a beer, as noted in my first ever Recommended! post about the Loop.

  • De Proef Fifth Star Raspberry Rye Saison - made with Windy City (who distributes all three companies)
  • La Trappe Trappist Tripel (first time ever on tap in the US!)
  • Seefbier (summer is here friends, it's going to be over 80 again)
  • Allagash White 
  • Allagash Confluence (can't believe how awesomely this is drinking right now)
  • Allagash Curieux
  • Allagash Odyssey (oak aged dark wheat, 10.4% ABV, yum)
  • Surly Mild
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Bitter Brewer
  • Surly Pentagram (6.66% ABV, obviously, and a WILD ale)

Rockwell's Neighborhood - 8/21, 6-10 PM

I haven't posted my Recommended! Lincoln Square/Ravenswood one yet, but this on the list. Great neighborhood spot doing its part to elevate craft beer and cocktails in a classy, comfortable bar and restaurant environment.

  • Urthel Hop-It
  • St Feuillien Saison (believe it or not, I've never had this beer on tap!)
  • Tripel Karmeliet
  • De Proef Fifth Star Raspberry Rye Saison
  • Seefbier
  • Allagash White 
  • Allagash Confluence
  • Allagash Odyssey
  • Allagash Bourbon Black
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Bender
  • Surly Hell
  • Surly Schadenfreude (munich dunkel lagers aren't dead)
  • Surly 2012 Darkness (don't be dumb guys, get this one)

Rock Island Public House - 8/22, Blue Island, 7-10 PM

  • Allagash White
  • Allagash Golden Brett (mildly tart and fruity, dark golden in color, AND DRAFT ONLY)
  • Allagash Confluence
  • Allagash Odyssey
  • Allagash Bourbon Black 
  • De Proef Sour Barrel #1
  • La Trappe Trappist Tripel (probably only the 2nd ever keg of this stuff in the US)
  • Seefbier
  • BOM Triporteur Wild & Funky #2 (I don't even know what this is and I work for Artisanal Imports!)
  • St Feuillien Belgian Coast IPA (special stuff, rarely on tap)
  • Surly 2012 Darkness (see what I wrote above, put it in your facehole)
  • Surly Pentagram
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Overrated
  • Surly 2011 Smoke
Bigby's Pour House, Addison, 7-10 PM
  • De Proef/Surly Long Of Tooth - Had this at the Fountainhead event, and there's a WHOLE lot of awesome going on in here. Mega-complex, holds its own from start to finish.
  • Aspall Dry - fantastic cider, so easy drinking and dry, you can wrack up your tickets with this guy in between all this amazing beer
  • Tripel Karmeliet
  • La Trappe Trappist Tripel
  • St Feuillien Belgian Coast IPA
  • Iron Maiden TROOPER - this beer is so metal, they're actually going to fuel the Beer Boat with it
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Coffee Bender - the rare coffee bender, I've asked they rename this The Beggar Bender for all the coffee I drink
  • Surly Cynic - one of my favorite beers of all time, actually
  • Surly Schadenfreude
  • Surly Bitter Brewer
  • Surly Asator - something to do with Vikings and hops.
  • Allagash White
  • Allagash Saison - is this the best beer released this year?
  • Allagash Fluxus '14
  • Allagash Odyssey
  • Allagash Confluence
  • Allagash James Bean - I think you can figure this one out on your own...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We got a little silly with some of the test bottles of the first round of hot sauce. - Boozy Beggar Pic of the Day. #boozybeggarPOTD #chicagolandbooze #boozypics

via Instagram

Fermented #28 - more beers (for our weird summer)

Orval, Belgian Pale Ale, 6.2 (6.9%?) ABV - a classic, one of the original Trappist beers. Some say the recipe dates back to the 1100s, though the current recipe, says their website, comes from the 30s. Triple fermented beer, they should make a video satirizing Miller Lite. They basically ferment the wort, then add a 2nd yeast (something funky) and hops for dry-hopping, then they run that through a centrifuge to remove any material, add a 3rd yeast for re-fermentation in the bottle. Only thing they make, but it is so damn good. This is one of the world's best beers, and one of my all-time favorites. It's a wonder I've never talked about it before (though I always planned to do a Trappist article on the old blog, and never did, etc).

Ale Asylum Unshadowed, Hefeweizen, 5.5% ABV - delicious, like banana cream pie with a hint of spice. Great creamy body, sweet fruity finish, and very thirst-quenching. Hard to believe this beer does all those things and stands out as a Hefeweizen (especially after having 5 of the originals just a month or so ago, plus other great American versions). Got so into it, I picked up a six pack yesterday for future summer hefeweizening.

Two dark beers for our unusually cool summer nights (and days apparently):

Sierra Nevada Maillard's Odyssey, American Porter, 8.5 % ABV - Maillard is a tribute/reference to the name of the reaction that occurs that darkens sugars and amino acids, causing caramelization and other such delicious things to occur. This beer really deserves the name with a delicious molasses-driven bready body that is balanced with some bracing hop additions. Enough carbonation and zip to drink like a porter, while being 8.5 % ABV.

Left Hand Brewing Black Jack Porter, 6.8% ABV - Another porter that drinks like a porter. If you've heard/read me complain about porters built like stouts, you know this is a big issue for me. Porters are what got me into the nuances of dark malts, and also, I burn out on hopcentric, bitter bombs very quickly these days. A proper porter, lighter in body than a stout, balanced but often with some hop character and bitterness, and a little more effervescent (the American version - the British should be softer, creamier but still not heavy as heavy in body and residual sugar). There's less ROAST in a porter, more hints of chocolate and dessert notes (some roast and coffee is good but in balance). Black Jack is an old favorite, a porter that occupied
my fridge often years ago, and that should find its way back in there as summer wraps up or we keep getting these 70 degree highs...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Underground Dining Event at Bow & Stern Oyster Bar - 8/14

Looks like a delightful way to spend a Thursday night.
Was $90, now, $45, including tax and gratuity.
This is one of those times I'm living up to the second part of the blog name.

Kind of the ultimate in summer pairings - a strong belgian pale ale, a belgian-style farmhouse, and a belgian-style witte!

630 PM! Tickets here!

Three Course Prix-Fixe w/ Beer Pairings

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chicago Craft Beer Boat, More Chances to Get on the Boat!

The ticket raffle events for the Chicago Craft Beer Boat continue this week, with two events; one at Firkin in Libertyville, and one at R Public House in Jarvis Square (Jarvis Red Line stop) just north of Rogers Park.

Don't forget that besides the raffles, you can win tickets via Instagram. Rules at the bottom of this page:

Firkin, Libertyville, IL, August 6th, 7-10 PM

  • Tripel Karmeliet
  • Urthel Hop-It
  • La Trappe Trappist Isid'or
  • Iron Maiden TROOPER
  • Allagash Saison
  • Allagash Victor
  • Allagash Victoria
  • Allagash Odyssey- dark wheat with a portion aged on oak for 10 months.
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Overrated
  • Surly Coffee Bender
  • Surly Schadenfreude

R Public House, Jarvis/Greenview, August 7th 7-10pm 

  • Tripel Karmeliet
  • De Proef Fifth Star Raspberry Rye Saison - collaboration between Windy City Distributors and De Proef, exclusive to Chicago
  • Aspall Dry Cyder
  • Sünner Kölsch
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Bender
  • Surly Bitter Brewer
  • Allagash Confluence
  • Allagash Curieux
  • Allagash White
  • Allagash Odyssey 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recommended! Uptown

For my purposes, I'm counting Uptown as a sort of odd shape that goes up Clark and Broadway to Lawrence (I consider North of this intersection on Broadway to be Edgewater, and North of it on Clark to be Andersonville), starting at Irving Park, bordered to the West by North Center and Ravenswood, to the South by Wrigleyville/Lakeview.

What I'm going to do with this list is just regularly update it (as I discover more spots I love, OR, more spots I forgot to include the first time I posted).

Rayan's - reliable liquor stores at Clark/Wilson and Ashland/Montrose (is this east North Center or West Uptown?), owned by members of the same family or by the same family, I forget at the moment. One of these stores is where I often stop to pick up some limited releases from Revolution and Firestone-Walker, limited releases that come in cool boxed bottles. This is sort of that second tier of store where there's plenty of stuff for the average drinker, but impressive finds for those who in a rush, or when something's out at Bottles & Cans or In Fine Spirits, etc.

Demera Ethiopian - my favorite Ethiopian spot in Chicago. Barring someone telling me there's a hole in the wall still open with better food, this place nails it. Quality ingredients, a few wines and beers that work well with the food, and a nice environment. Staff is solid, and there's a lot of smiling and laughing here always. I highly recommend their beets, the red and yellow lentil dishes, and the Doro Wat with Dry Creek Chenin Blanc (a pairing they recommend as well). Their Kitfo, a classic ethiopian version of tartar heavy on herbed butter and chile powder, is a must-have.

Tweet Let's Eat -I'm not huge on brunch as a restaurant concept, but I will be honest and say that Chicago does it better than most cities, especially once you venture away from downtown and river north. Affordable, well-thought dishes with some creativity and solid execution aren't rare at northside brunch spots. Tweet's philosophy " is to prepare and serve, with love, the freshest, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic when possible: eggs, dairy, vegetables and fruit, subject to market availability. Pastured pork and beef also subject to availability." That resonates with me (I think some of my other favorite northside brunch spots work under the same umbrella).  You know what also resonates for me? Hollandaise needs execution, and Tweet's stands out.

The Bar on Buena - whiskey and whisky, a craft beer menu curated by people I know and love, silly events, solid food. If you live IN Uptown, you should be a regular here already. If you're visiting Uptown, you should stop here. The beer list balances classics and imports with national and local craft brands, a pretty cozy room. The food meanders down the bar food path with a BoB (as staff and regulars call it) twist, and the outdoor seating takes advantage of a Buena being a quieter street.

The Long Room - a classic chicago bar with a craft beer focus. Rumors have been swirling about some renovations coming up, or maybe they're done, though on my last visit in May, I was too hazy and too overwhelmed with pals to notice. The bar lives up to its name, with a long bar and single row of two-tops behind it, which opens in the front to the windows and some space, and in the back to a section with tables and booths. These folks always surprise me; there's always a beer on their list I've not had or never even heard of, or just recently heard whispered about in the dark corners of bars. I've had many firsts here, and I once turned down a date with someone because they didn't like this place and preferred a different bar in the immediate area.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Many jars of bitters being made with the guidance of @sofqueenie. Mine obviously had a hop addition. - Boozy Beggar Pic of the Day. #boozybeggarPOTD #chicagolandbooze #boozypics

via Instagram

The Northman Pop-Up Dinners, August 11th and 12th

I'll just answer the hashtag, in case you really don't know. The Northman is a cider bar/cidercentric concept from the folks behind Fountainhead and Bar on Buena. Cleetus Friedman and team went on a trip to Europe to research old world cider culture and cider pairings, and this is a glimpse of how that trip inspired their upcoming spot.

Something really cool (and well, not a surprise to me at all), these two dinners are hosted at Sunday Dinner Club. I love those people. I have to go to more of their dinners just to have an excuse to write about them more (I might make one of those nights sort of last minute, in case anyone's curious).

Tickets ($65) -
Intimate dinner too - only 28 tickets per night!

Location: 3361 N Elston (upstairs, above Honey Butter Fried Chicken)

(items are subject to change based on availability)

homemade charcuterie on the table
apple brandy sparkler cocktail

roasted artichoke, arugula, shaved parmesan, and lemon & fennel oil
uncle john's russet

escargots aux normande - cider butter, goat milk biscuit
tieton dry cider

rabbit & prosciutto roulade, corn grits, haricots verts
christian drouin poire

prairie fruits chevre, petite gres d'alsace, roncol d.o.p.
espanar, etienne dupont cidre bouché brut de normandie

milly fanilly, seasonal fruit, vanilla cream
christian drouin pommeau

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fermented #27 - I still drink a lot of beer

I've been too quiet on the beer recommendation front, mostly because I've been drinking things I've already talked about in the past, or hitting upon some very average beers. BUT, here's three recommendations and there's quite a few more coming soon.

Hitachino Nest Anbai Plum Wheat Ale, Kiuchi Brewery, Japan, 7.0% ABV - brewed with salt, a green, tart plum, and built on top of the classic Hitachino Nest White ale recipe, this is a beer for summer. It's like a gose-wit combo with a hint of sour fruit. The salt does wonders to the flavor, and the beer is nicely carbonated without being biting.

Begyle Hophazardly IPA, Chicago, 7.1% ABV - How have I never posted about this beer?! I'm sure I have somewhere, at
some point, but this is now a staple of my local drinking. I tend to think Begyle, along with a few other neighborhood/northside breweries, are all just hitting their stride, and nailing their beers left and right.  Nice orange, bordering on red beer, with an almost white, eggshell head. Floral and citrus, almost candy and perfumey aroma. This beer brings all the goodness of midwestern IPAs, with a mashbill that does some of the work to compliment a nice array of American hop varieties. I have mixed feelings on bombers, but this is the perfect amount of Hophazardly. Strangely, I've been drinking this one after a good run.

Gigantic IPA, Portland (OR), 7.3% ABV - Originally, I planned to start an IPA battle, between our Chicagoland breweries and the rest of the IPA-making world. But the beer world isn't really about competition (despite GABF and other "cups" and so on), it's about choice and stylistic differences, and so on. Gigantic isn't your typical West Coast IPA though. This has a rounded, creamier body (more so than Begyle above), and though it rides a hop wave of Cascade, Centennial, Crystal and Simcoe, there's a hefty amount of sweet bready malty goodness that lasts through to the off-dry finish. There's a lot of modern IPAs coming out like this, eschewing high carbonation and bitterness for a more balanced approach to hoppy beers (stemming from the success of sessionable IPAs and highly hopped but not highly bitter pale ales).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Homebrewing with Spices: Beer & BBQ

My pal Kim Leshinski, aka Hail to the Ale, hosts brewing related classes on a regular basis (you've seen some of them here on The Boozy Beggar), and this time around, she's focusing on brewing with spices, with BBQ in mind.

Did that get your attention? (maybe I need a picture of some slathered up ribs and a cinnamon-infused, highly hopped brown ale right here, you know?)

Demos and Discussions with: Kim, plus David Trout, Savory Spice Shop General Manager, and Christian Burdulis, brewer at Lake Effect Brewing Company

There will be samples of spiced beers + grilled appetizers featuring rubs from Savory Spice Shop, the space hosting this class (great staff there, very informative about spices in my few visits, and they make an amazing Hot Cajun rub).

Tickets are here:

Homebrewing friendly event - BYO brew to share. I'll personally have some bottles of a Wit I made recently using sweet and bitter orange peel and coriander.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Make Your Own Bitters @ The Charleston with Annemarie Sagoi, August 3rd, 5pm

Bitters. The mysterious cocktail ingredient who's name implies so much while promising so little, yet charms us with suggestion. What are bitters? What is their role in the cocktail? Well, find out from one of the badasses of Chicago cocktail-making, Annemarie Sagoi (most recently of The Dawson, The Charleston, and written up too many times to link to for making craft cocktail jello shots). Annemarie's creativity fuels her work in all kinds of directions, and this is sure to be more than just standing around hearing some cocktail geeks talk about cocktail-making. The soundtrack alone might be worth the 20 dollars admission to this workshop. (At the Charleston, August 3rd, 5pm!)

In Annemarie's own words:
"While most people know that bitters and tinctures aren't difficult to make, it can be time consuming to amass all of the necessary ingredients and supplies, not to mention all the chopping and zesting involved. Here, everything will be provided (though you are welcome to bring ingredients as well), and you will end up with a bunch of other peoples' bitters too. Everyone can make one or two big batches, and after they are finished in a few weeks, they will get bottled and are ready to swap and take home.

This workshop is perfect for people who are beginners, as we can help answer questions, as well as those who have done it or want to do more but maybe need some encouragement on following through. No brands, no ego - I want passionate people to come together and make something they will share together. Let's get creative for the sake of that alone, with no one benefitting but our own education and our cocktails."
This Make Your Own Bitters Workshop ($20 dollars), Sunday, August 3rd, will let you get a chance to make your own and benefit from the creativity of others, all while learning about the basics of making bitters and tinctures, and their uses in cocktails.
RSVP and hold your spot via paypal:
For those of you without paypal, message me and I will get in touch with Annemarie about getting you into a spot (no promises though, folks).

Chicago's Craft Beer Boat - August 27th

The Craft Beer Boat is both a beginning and an end, a destination and an adventure. The night is a celebration, a collaboration, and a cruise. The Craft Beer Boat brings together Allagash Brewing, Surly Brewing, and Artisanal Imports (beer from 5+ countries including belgium and germany, cider from England and the U.S.), after a series of ticket giveaway events celebrating Craft Beer all over Chicagoland. From the burbs to various neighborhood spots, your chances to get on the Craft Beer Boat reflect your love of beer, meaning each event you attend, you'll have multiple chances to get tickets to the boat. All the details are below (with a list of ALL events for the tickets, etc, coming soon), and The Boozy Beggar is your one-stop blog for all things Craft Beer Boat.

August 27th
7-11 PM

Event attendees will be able to win tickets to The Craft Beer Boat by attending the ticket give-away events and buying the featured beers. Raffle tickets will be given for each beer purchased and tickets to The Craft Beer Boat will be raffled at the middle and end of each event. On the boat, the lucky winners will enjoy free beer, entertainment, good company from other craft beer folks and a fireworks display from Navy Pier. AND, we'll be eating Johnny Van's BBQ! Delicious texas style, dry-rubbed, smoked gold. Learn more about Johnny Van's here.

Check out the Event Brite page to read about how you can also WIN TICKETS via INSTAGRAM while attending the below events.

There's also an Uber Voucher - details on the Event Brite page as well.

There's an event list AND tap list for each event on the above Event Brite page. Much of that will appear here as well.

First Event:

The Globe Pub
7-10 PM

  • Tripel Karmeliet
  • Kwak
  • Aspall Dry Cyder
  • Meantime IPA
  • Allagash White
  • Allagash Confluence
  • Allagash Odyssey
  • Allagash Golden Brett
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Bkakkr
  • Surly Cynic
  • Surly Hell

  • This Surly Brewing - De Proef collaboration will be released ON THE BOAT!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Auchentoshan: American Oak

    Please pardon me while I talk about myself for a paragraph, before I go into the spirit reference in the title of these post (i.e., skip a paragraph if you don't care). Scotch, of the single malt variety, became my first true, adult booze love, just before my 21st birthday (Auchentoshan being a Scotch distiller, by the way). While abroad in England, I happened to be at a dinner where someone handed me a glass of scotch before the dessert course. I didn't dare refuse it, so I decided to sip it slowly and see if I could handle it (at that time, I had almost zero ability to do shots). Halfway through my glass of what I later learned to be The Balvenie (the Doublewood version), I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. I probably had three or fourth other cheaper single-malts and blended scotches while abroad and during the final year of college. I stepped up my Scotch game in law school, eventually becoming Chairman of the Single Malt Scotch Society. That launched me into the booze world without even realizing it, and as you can read on the About page, I eventually found my way back to it via other non-Scotch pursuits. Up until about a year ago, I barely had time for Scotch, as I dove into American whiskey and a lot of the craft movement there, into beer, into cocktails, into non-whiskey spirits. But, just this last month, I got pulled back into the Scotch world, by Auchentoshan.

    Auchentoshan comes with two distinctions, somewhat related. First, it is one of the few remaining Lowland distilleries (there's something like 4 remaining total), one of the regional distinctions used in single-malt Scotch. Taking this denotation very seriously, Auchentoshan is also the only distillery to triple distill every drop of their whisky, something once traditional in the Lowlands. This produces a lighter and obviously stronger ABV product, which changes (many would say deepens) the relationship between the spirit and the barrel in which it ages (more alcohol, more reactions between wood and spirit, more extraction of flavors from the wood). About all I knew about Auchentoshan before last month, was that they were a lowland single malt scotch distillery (they were used in a single malt scotch tasting we did in something like 2002, 2003).

    The newest, permanent edition to the Auchentoshan portfolio brings together Auchentoshan's triple distilled spirit with first-fill bourbon barrels (meaning all they've contained so far is bourbon). The light yet powerful Auchentoshan spirit pulls delicious caramelized sugar and oaky spice notes from the ex bourbon barrels, and in doing so also evokes coconut and vanilla. Some of the barrels aged in lower parts of the Auchentoshan warehouse promote softer peach and citrus notes on top of that coconut hint, something I distinctly notice in both neat pours of the American Oak, and in cocktails (and we'll discuss cocktails both with Auchentoshan and other scotches soon!). Kind of comes as no surprise to me, there's a real versatility to Auchentoshan, in that it has characteristics similar to Irish Whiskey and Bourbon, while still being distinctly a Scotch. A fun spirit to try in cocktails, but this is also going to become a favorite neat pour at Boozy Beggar HQ. just put up a nice piece this week on the Auchentoshan American Oak as a gateway for new scotch drinkers - couldn't agree more.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Cabinet of Curiosities - Chef Cleetus Friedman, Two Brothers Brewing, and the Field Museum Collaboration - June 26th

    Chef Cleetus Friedman, of Fountainhead, once again brings his culinary background to a craft beer collaboration, this time pairing up with one of the Chicago craft originals, Two Brothers Brewing, and the Field Museum (hopefully no ancient artifacts were used to flavor this beer). The beer, named Cabinet of Curiosities - after the phrase associated with both museums and their precursors in the collections of the rich and powerful in Europe - is a White IPA, brewed with secret spices and hops. The White IPA style is a relative newcomer to the world, combining the Belgian White/Wit and the American West Coast IPA. The style adds fruit peels and spices and sometimes herbs to the bold, citrus and pine notes of classic American IPA hops.

    Tickets Here. $18 for Members, $20 for non-members.
    4 drink tickets, for Cabinet of Curiosities and 3 other Two Brothers beers.
    Cleetus will be there serving and pairing food on the Northwest Terrace.

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    The Moody Tongue Brewery's First Annual Pair-Up, 6/21

    One Brewmaster. Six Chefs. A specially paired afternoon.

    (Did you expect a Lord of the Rings joke?)

    Brewmaster Jared Rouben, Moody Tongue Brewery
    Chef Jared Wentworth, Dusek’s
    Chef Shae Daher, Nightwood
    Chef Paul Virant, Vie
    Three Local Pilsen Eateries yet named
    Music. Collectible posters. Trolley tours of Thalia Hall and Moody Tongue Brewery

    You might remember the name Jared Rouben. He pioneered a really interesting food and pairing program, and a very culinary driven beer menu at the Goose Island Clybourn location. His beers branched out to include Rick Bayless and other chef-driven beers, and added to the already burgeoning legend that is Goose Island (say what you will, barrel aging, culinary beer creations, giving Chicago craft beer in 1988, these are the things of legends). Now his own brewery, Moody Tongue, gets out of the new brewery starting gate with this first of what I suspect will be many amazing pairing events.

    June 21, 2014, 3-6pm, $25.
    Pair-Up Tickets here.
    Location: Thalia Hall


    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    The Toronto cocktail, Fernet, and Kinmont's Bridgetown Milano

    Let's get out of the way a bit of worthless history. The Toronto cocktail, says Imbibe, came about as a means of highlighting the mellow tones of Canadian whiskey. Eventually, Canadian whiskey became associated with rye (partially true, partially nonsense), and delicious and bold and spicy American rye replaced the Candian whiskey in this cocktail. Phew, good thing, because Fernet and mellow aren't often put in the same sentence anymore. The Imbibe version is a 1/4 ounce of fernet, a 1/4 ounce of simple syrup, and 2 ounces of rye, stirred with ice, strained, garnished with an orange peel.

    Let me tell you about The Boozy Beggar variation, which came about through experimentation without knowing about the Toronto cocktail at all. Then I'll also tell you about the delicious Bridgetown Milano cocktail from Chicago's sustainable seafood joint, Kinmont.

    The back of the bar at Kinmont - mix of delicious wood aroma and smokiness from the smokers in the kitchen. There's not a crappy bottle of anything on that shelf.
    I first heard about the Toronto cocktail a summer or two ago, from a friend also new-ish to the industry, who basically just described it as "all I remember is there's fernet and rye in it." I didn't really think much about it until last august, when I bought a bottle of Fernet Branca for my new apartment, and wrote this piece on the Old-Fashioned and Billy Sunday's variation. I mentioned Fernet, and someone told me it is called a Toronto. It became a house standard, though I use lemon peel and lemon oil more than orange. Occasionally, I'd make it a Toronto-Manhattan hybrid and use 3/4 oz vermouth as well 1/2 oz fernet, and no demerara sugar. One time I combined them all together and it was fantastic. Demerara syrup plus vermouth and fernet and a well-made rye end up contributing a lot of delicious and luxurious mouthfeel and subtle flavors, while a 2 oz rye base let's the spirit itself come through.

    2 oz Rittenhouse
    3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula
    1/2 oz Fernet Branca
    1/8 oz/barpsoon of demerara syrup (2:1 demerara to water)
    Lemon peel or Orange peel garnish, expressed over glass

    Served up.

    Then, just a couple of months ago (and again a couple of weeks ago), I stopped in at Kinmont on the way home from work. Great spot down Superior (hey a sustainable seafood restaurant on a street named after a lake), with a very woodsy interior (even aroma), a personable and knowledgeable staff, and a nice little corner dedicated to the bar, where it's easy to order a beer or wine or a cocktail without a lot of pretension. When I saw the Bridgetown Milano, something lit up in my work-addled brain. Woodford Reserve bourbon instead of rye, cinzano sweet vermouth, fernet branca, and Falernum! Falernum is a syrup, often boozy, with ginger, cloves, allspice, sometimes other spices, and lime zest/juice. A gorgeous lime zest spiral accompanied the cocktail after a spritz over the top (as seen below in my slightly fuzzy pic). This play on the Toronto (bridgetown = capital of bermuda, falernum is a caribbean thing, Toronto has a rather large jamaican/caribbean neighborhood or two, fernet is made in Milan) brings together all the things I love from my own version, with a new lime and spice element. The cocktail has a fantastic, decadent body, the lime does wonderful things with fernet, and incidentally, this went quite well with the Scallop Crudo I had as an appetizer (I'm a bit obsessed with crudos and carpacchios and so on, but rarely would I think to pair a whiskey cocktail with it). Probably would go nicely with mussels too.