Sunday, April 29, 2018

Herb & Lou's Infused Cubes

Wisconsin’s spring will be dramatically short this season, since we are only a week out from a huge snowfall here and it’s already April 28th. So we quickly hightailed it to the liquor store for gin, our spring go-to. We settled on a new gin to the area, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. The gin is beautifully presented in an azure-ribbed squat bottle adorned with a metallic-blue jackalope, the brand’s inspiration. The gin’s name comes from its signature botanicals- gunpowder tea; it’s also infused with a variety of citrus such as lemon, lime, and grapefruit. On the palate, this gin comes out powerfully with juniper, citrus, spice and then warms over with green tea, leaving tea and piney notes on the tongue.

Now the Drumshanbo is completely fine over ice but we modified
our tasting with one of Herb & Lou’s infused cubes. The cube we added was Herb & Lou’s Cecile cube, a frozen combination of cucumber, watermelon, clove, and honey. Adding a Cecile to the Gunpowder gin made an already complex gin impossibly interesting. The bite of the alcohol dimmed and the sours of the gin itself was tamed by the sweetness of the honey, which allowed fuller expression of the tea, cucumber and watermelon. If you are new to gin, a Cecile cube is the way to go. Other recommendations for a Cecile cube would be tequila, chilled vodka, triple sec, or limoncello.

Here’s our recommend pour-

Gunpowder Gin with a Cecile

1 ½ ounce Gunpowder Gin
1 Cecile ice cube from Herb & Lou

Place a Cecile cube in a coupe or Nick and Nora glass. Slowly pour gin over the cube. Sip. If you prefer to garnish, a cucumber rind would be excellent.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Chicago, The Loop, part 3

After our nightcap at Potter’s, Cindy and I thought that we ought to take in a bit of the blues, so we sauntered down to Buddy Guy’s Legends nightclub to see who was playing in the Jimmy Burns-hosted Jam. Buddy Guy’s no-frills atmosphere sports a wide-open warehouse of a room cluttered with tables and chairs around a broad stage in the center of its south wall and a shot-and-a-beer bar tightly cloistered into a back corner. The people come to Buddy’s for the music, not the drinks and, despite the weekday’s late night, the musicians put on a helluva show, gutting it out for the half-filled venue on their mics, guitars, and washboards.

As we do for all bars of this nature, I ordered double Seven and Sevens, relishing the sweet whiskey as an afterthought between and during sets. Buddy’s servers are as no-frill as the atmosphere and the Sevens came large, cheap and quick by Chicago standards. The Sevens were so good with the blues that I had to order another round.

For those of you that are too young to drink in Wisconsin, here’s how to pour the immortal Seven and Seven-

Drink: Double Seven and Seven 
Establishment: Buddy Guy’s Legends
Location: Chicago, Illinois
First Connoisseur: Every Midwestern ever

4 ounces Seagram’s Seven Crown Whiskey
8 ounces 7up

Get a solo cup. Fill with ice. Put in 7. Put in 7. Drink. Repeat.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Chicago, The Loop, part 2

The Palmer House has a long history. A originally lavish wedding gift of Potter Palmer to his wife Bertha, the Palmer House is so huge that it takes up the larger part of a city block, contains a small mall on its ground floor, and rises 25 floors to house more than 1600 guest rooms. Unfortunately for Potter Palmer, his wedding gift burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, just 13 days after its grand opening. Palmer was determined to rebuild; his business magnate reputation guaranteed a quick $1.7 million loan to do it. For the next 140 years, the Palmer House became the longest continually operating hotel in the nation. In the late 2000s, the Palmer House went through another $170 million renovation, just completed prior to our visit.

Beyond the open-room bar in the Palmer’s opulent lobby, the hotel also features a swanky Vegas-like cocktail lounge named Potter’s downstairs. Cindy and I dropped in for a quick round. A smartly-vested barkeep served us up a pair of Potter specialties: for me a Manhattan made from Potter’s own select barrel of Woodford and, for Cindy, Potter’s acclaimed Martinez crafted with the classic Old Tom gin that made this 1800s cocktail stand the test of time.

Drink: Martinez
Establishment: Potter’s at the Palmer House
Location: Chicago, Illinois
First Connoisseur: Cindy

1 ounce Old Tom gin
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Small barspoon of Maraschino
Dash orange bitters

The 1880s Martinez was made with Booker’s bitters which has just appeared on the market once again. Likely the Palmer House had long substituted the Booker’s with orange bitters because of its universal availability. In addition, the Martinez is usually stirred and served up in a coupe or Nick and Nora glass. However, Potter’s builds theirs over ice in an old-fashioned glass- no fuss, Midwestern style.