Booze Muse

The art and craft of liquid inspiration

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2015: Drinking

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Top 5 Cocktail Bars Where You Should Stay for Dinner
CH Distillery
The Betty
Billy Sunday
The Berkshire Room
—Amber Gibson

Top 5 Bars for a Tinder Date
The Charleston
Cindy’s Bar
Bar Marta
Kaiser Tiger
—Rosemary Lane Read the rest of this entry »

Cocktail and A Movie: The Music Box Theatre Gets Festive at Eighty-Six

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The Music Box Theater/Photo: Rosemary Lane

The Music Box Theater/Photo: Rosemary Lane

For eighty-six years this month, The Music Box Theatre (3733 North Southport) has been known for showing critically acclaimed independent and foreign films. As a kind of birthday exercise in renewal, the storied Lakeview movie palace has debuted a lounge and garden space that seeks to add some oomph to the movie-going experience.

Its cappuccino-and-cocktail-serving lounge opened in February, and the garden opened in July, part of a three-million-dollar addition to and renovation of the theater. Both have flown under-the-radar but are slowly growing into gathering spaces for young filmmakers, movie critics, moviegoers and neighbors. Read the rest of this entry »

The Week of Living Tiki: Eight Faux-Polynesian Establishments in Seven Days

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Vintage postcard of The Hawaiian Isle Hotel

Vintage postcard of The Hawaiian Isle Hotel

By John Greenfield

You might say that Mai Tais run in my blood. When I was a kid in the 1970s, my family used to hang out at a tiki hotel called the Hawaiian Isle, owned by my dad’s cousin Leo Frank. It was located at 17601 Collins Avenue in the Sunny Isles section of North Miami Beach. Don’t look for it; it’s not there anymore.

Images of Polynesian deities were plentiful at the inn, including a twelve-foot-tall, backlit mask by the front door, with eyes that alternately glowed green and pink. A talking parrot greeted guests in the lobby, and there was a floorshow featuring hula and other South Seas dance forms. The place was frequented by everyone from French-Canadian snowbirds to Jewish Mafia figures.

Those early days at the Hawaiian Isle must be a factor in why tiki culture resonates with me so much nowadays. Along with strolling through the steamy Garfield Park Conservatory and soaking in the hot tubs of King Spa in Niles, visiting faux-Polynesian lounges and restaurants is one of my favorite ways to take a brief vacation from the grim realities of a Chicago winter. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2014: Drinking

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Top 5 Local Chicago Craft Distilleries
Koval Distillery
Next Star Vodka
CH Distillery
Rhine Hall Distillery
Few Spirits Distillery
—Michael Workman

Top 5 Local Beers
Half Acre’s Pony Pilsner
Metropolitan’s Krankshaft
Goose Island’s The Illinois
Revolution’s Cross of Gold
Ale Syndicate’s Levee Belgo American Ale
—John Wawrzaszek

Hop Stop: Can Beermiscuous Be the Coffeehouse of Beer?

Beer Rhymes With Cheer, New bars and clubs, News and Dish No Comments »

unnamedBy Stefan Castellanos

A young man journeys to a faraway land, its culture sparking a passion deep within, one that would go on to shape the man’s life in ways unimaginable. This familiar story could involve all manner of discoveries—language, the arts, sport, siesta. But as it did many Americans in the early nineties, it was a fascination with beer that took hold of a young Paul Leamon during his travels through Europe. Aged for more than two decades now, during which craft brews have gradually achieved omnipresence in our taverns and liquor marts, Paul’s relationship with beer has deepened in complexity, spilling into new and unforeseen walks of his life. An avid home-brewer, a connoisseur of food-beer pairings, and now an entrepreneur, he seeks to further startup ventures and a greater appreciation for craft beer via his newest project, Beermiscuous. Read the rest of this entry »

#IBelieveThatWeWillWin: A World Cup Omen at Chicago’s Favorite Soccer Pub

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By Stefan Castellanos

On the evening before opening day of the 2014 World Cup, something strange occurred. I was sitting at North Center’s The Globe Pub enjoying my customary Guinness. They were playing highlights from past tournaments all night long—a perfect primer for the match in Sao Paulo the following day—and I wanted all of it in me in time for kickoff. The story of 2002 Korea-Japan was coming to a close, Brazil and Germany lining up for the final in Yokohama, and memories turned visceral.

This was the first World Cup match I’d ever tuned into live, and I recalled thirteen-year-old me creeping down the stairs before sunrise to watch alone. Lord knows why. Even as the Americans dos a cero’d Mexico on their way to the last eight, I was apathetic. But for whatever reason, I risked being given a proper chiding for dozing off in church later that morning and I watched from start to finish. God’s wrath was temporary, I figured, but the wrath of Kahn (legendary German keeper and most outstanding player of 2002 Oliver Kahn, that is) would haunt me forever. He and Ronaldo (Brazil’s superstar striker and top scorer of the tournament) were the only players I’d heard of, and I still knew virtually nothing of them. I watched in puzzled silence as the bucktoothed Brazilian notched the only two goals of the match, and I tried to make sense of this story’s impossibly foreign plot, its faraway setting, and its characters, unlike me in every way. Read the rest of this entry »

Far From Gin-eric: Half Acre Trots Out the Gin Pony

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Matt Young/Photo: Lilly Carey

It’s safe to say people are familiar with the pairing of gin and juice, but the pairing of gin and beer? In a bold, tasty experiment, Half Acre lead brewer Matt Young decided to couple Half Acre’s Pony Pilsner with gin barrels from Kentucky-founded micro distillery, Corsair. The concoction: a gin-barrel-aged beer entitled Gin Pony.

What sparked the experimentation?

“The idea for aging a beer in a gin barrel was mostly born from the opportunity to do so,” Young says. “Corsair had the barrels, and my good friend Steve Whitledge at Corsair was really talking them up. I think he even suggested aging a pilsner in the barrel.”

This suggestion became reality, leading Half Acre to age a small batch of their Pony Pilsner in Corsair barrels. Read the rest of this entry »

Cal’s: A Love Story

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cal'scrosswalkBy Keralee Froebel

Cal’s, arguably the world’s best—or worst, depending on who’s speaking—dive bar, has closed, and not because of economic pressure, but because the owners, the brothers Cal and Fred Feirstein, are heading into their long-anticipated retirement.

Open since 1947 at the corner of Wells and Van Buren, Cal’s thrived simply because it refused to change with the times. Painted baby-shit brown on the inside, with band posters and playlists for wall art, the decor was virtually nonexistent, the bathrooms didn’t function and no matter how many times the bartender mopped the inside of the bar it managed to always look filthy. And yet, Cal’s was beloved by the chosen few who either found it quite by accident, or heard strange murmurings of its mythical existence. “Two dollar PBRs in a downtown bar?  Real punk music after dark downtown?  Cheap drinks with no attitude?  Lawyers, traders, UIC hipsters, bike messengers and postal workers drinking side by side?”

The actual existence of Cal’s was a dream come true for the class-smashing flaneur and urban adventurer.  Where else could one go to get such a particular and delicious reduction of urban society? Coming to Cal’s was like tasting a fine, long-simmering bouillabaisse: it took time and patience to cultivate the contrasting flavors that co-existed there, and it rarely got as real and flavorful as it used to get at Cal’s on a random weeknight happy hour. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2012: Drink

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Top 5 New Local Brews in 2012
E. Normagene, Revolution Brewing
Van Horn English Bitter, Half Acre
Augustus IPA, Haymarket Pub & Brewery
Thunder & Son, Half Acre
Bourbon County Stout, Goose Island Brewery (Seasonal)
—Veronica Hinke

Top 5 New Cocktails in 2012
Tipsy Tortoise, The Tortoise Club
Oaxacan Sunset, Mezcalina
Clover Club, Maude’s Liquor Bar
Velero, Scofflaw
R. Franklin’s Original Recipe Malort, The Violet Hour
—Veronica Hinke  

Another Round? Highlights from the 2012 New York Bar Show

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At the 2012 edition of the New York Bar & Restaurant show at New York’s Jacob Javits center, countless brands old and new were vying for consumers’ attention. Not everything was specifically about booze, though—it was also about new ideas that might bring extra profit for bars and restaurants.

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