Category Archives: boozeworthy

Lei lounge

Lei lounge in San Diego

Lei lounge in San Diego

More LA posts to come, but had to add a few posts from my San Diego adventures this week. The outdoor tiki-torch lit Lei lounge had heated lamps, but barely needed them last night as we dined on lobster mac and cheese and Cuban chicken with sticky rice. Besides Lei being a year-round outdoor bar, I actually loved it more for the exotic Tom Collins-inspired cocktails. I love a good Tom Collins, and rarely see it being tinkered with on the mixology front. Lei’s offered a slew of vodka versions in traditional tall glasses like the Lemongrass Collins; vodka, lemongrass, lemon juice, simple syrup and 7-Up, an Aloe Vera Collins with vodka, aloe vera juice, lemon, simple syrup and 7-Up, and a Strawberry version with fresh strawberry purée, vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice with echinecea of all things. Random but sort of genius for cold season. 4622 Park Blvd, San Diego, 619.813.2272

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Bar Tartine

Sunny, honey

Sunny, honey


Just when I finish gushing about how much I adore Chicago in October, I’ll actually be spending a few weeks of the month in California for work-related events. I was in San Francisco this weekend (LA and San Diego next) and finally got to check out Bar Tartine, after an amazing experience at Tartine Bakery last fall. I’ll write more posts later this week about Tartine’s awesome bread, sardine and citrus-beet appetizer and ridiculously good cod dish we had, but the Sunny, Honey cocktail deserves a post of its own. The name intrigued me at first, followed by the simple ingredients, Sonoma-based Sutton Cellars dry vermouth (made with a variety of botanicals and herbs) shaken with ruby grapefruit and star thistle honey. Like all the best pre-dinner cocktails, it’s simple yet complex, and not too sweet, with hints of herb, citrus, and sweet that subtly take turns on your palate rather than ruining it before dinner.

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New brews take 2

Rader blonde

Rader blonde


Last spring I did a post on Blanche de Bruxelles and Goose Island Pere Jacques, two new brews that had recently captured my palate and became my favorite food-pairing selections. This week, I’ve discovered two more to add to the list, Radermacher blonde (experienced at The Bluebird and Rootstock in the same weekend!) and an amazingly random and delicious brew called Coney Island Albino python. Spotted at Rodan, the name caught my eye first, followed by the description which included white ale lager with spices of orange, ginger and fennel, and six different types of malt. If that wasn’t intriguing enough, the menu also said that a portion of the profits go towards restoring Coney Island..cool but creepy? When our waitress informed us there was only one 22 Oz. bottle left, we had to have it. Where had it been all my life? The beer had all the light-yet-robust notes of a Belgian white ale, with a spicy finish and easy drinkability (although it poured on the foamy side). After the initial sip and a rest on your palate, the spices and herb flavors are subtle and slightly fragrant. Right along with it was the Radermacher blonde from one of Belgium’s oldest distilleries (founded 1836). With hints of gin (from the juniper berries) and lemon and a slightly tart and an almost effervescent mouthfeel, this would be amazing with spicy or greasy foods. Or, as I indulged, all on its own.
Coney Island Albino Python

Coney Island Albino Python

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Juicy Pug Chug

"Pugsley" upstairs at Juicy

"Pugsley" upstairs at Juicy


I realized that it’s been ages since I offered up any report from the local hot dog front, so I felt it only necessary to indulge in not one, but a record-breaking three hot dogs this weekend (oy), and attend a doggie-themed charity event to boot. I was so excited for Juicy Wine Co.’s first annual Pug Chug benefitting the Northern Illinois Pug Rescue and Adoption organization, not only to get to play with pugs, but for the hot dogs, hand-dipped corn dogs and summer-friendly wines selected by host Alpana Singh. When I got there, I discovered only one resident pooch, Pugsley, roaming around, and lots and lots of corn dogs for the taking. I’d been craving a sweet, cornmeal-crusted dog on a stick for what seems like years or at least since I’ve repeatedly seen them served up next to the elephant ears and funnel cakes at those colorfully headache-inducing street fair food stands. These were actually good, and spotted next to a Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir and a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.
Hand-dipped corn dogs on the patio at Juicy

Hand-dipped corn dogs on the patio at Juicy


And the wines, 16 to try and 1 sake. I love crisp, cool, apple-y Rieslings and couldn’t sip enough of the Charles Smith Kungfu Girl Riesling (and got a bottle for myself on the way out). The Sofia Riesling won out for prettiest bottle, but was bit too sweet. For reds, I also enjoyed La Posta Malbec, dry yet bursting with lush dark fruit flavors and slight bitterness. But the Murphy’s Law rosé was my favorite, light and fruity, a great wine for sipping on a sunny Saturday.
Rieslings ready to pour

Rieslings ready to pour


Murphy's Law rosé and Tozia Junmai Living Jewel sake

Murphy's Law rosé and Tozia Junmai Living Jewel sake


After the corn dogs, Juicy owner Rodney Alex fired up the panini press for a few rounds of hot dogs, which paired surprisingly well with the Kungfu Girl.
Panini-pressed dogs

Panini-pressed dogs


All in all I left full of great vino, delicious hot dogs, my corn dog craving sated for at least another year, and my desire for an actual (non-hot) dog greater than ever. Juicy Wine Co., 694 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312.492.6620

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On the table: Juicy Wine Bar

Love going here to see what fab vino Rodney Alex has up his sleeve. Head there Aug. 22 from noon-3PM for the Pug Chug charity event hosted by Alpana Singh

Love dropping in to see what fab vino Rodney Alex has up his sleeve. Head over on Aug. 22 from noon-3PM for the Pug Chug charity event hosted by Alpana Singh

Single votive (lit). Juicy Wine Bar, 694 N. Milwaukee, 312.492.6620

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Clipper City Beer

A tasty beer with a pirate theme? Holy crap I'm in.

A tasty beer with a pirate theme? I'm in.

I spent the last couple of days in Baltimore covering the National Pork Board’s Taste of Elegance chef competition, and while I am very full of swine (pork belly, jowl, cheek, etc.) as well as soft and hard-shell crabs (post to come on Wednesday), I also indulged in a local brew called Clipper City. I was first drawn to the label of Clipper City Gold Ale, with a font that might as well be called “peg leg” and cool ship motif. Named for a ship historically built in Baltimore’s home port, I cracked open a Clipper and discovered a totally drinkable ale, with a slight hoppy taste and subtle fruity notes, like a cross between Bass and Sam Adams Summer Ale. An ice cold one would go great with said seafood or a spicy pork belly dish. Now I am in a mission to find it in Chicago, any tips? Oh, and when you log onto their site it tells you to “embrace your inner pyrate,” and later to grab one of their “extrAARGHdinary beers,” which only feeds into my pirate-imitating obsessions and makes me love this brew even more.

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Guest blog spot: The Bar on Buena

When my friend, fellow foodie, and blogger Jeff Kitler guessed the Naha mystery trees correctly I was happy for two reasons. First, because he tipped me off to a great “not-known-for” at Naha, fried calamari. The second because his guest post is on a bar/restaurant in Bueno Park, a ‘hood I have hardly explored. I am very intrigued by beer that flows out of a faucet, tequila-marinated steak tacos and a Big Sandwich with pancetta and a fried egg. I give you a Bar. That’s on Buena.

Abbey Ale Leffe Blonde

Abbey Ale Leffe Blonde


“I love The Bar on Buena for many reasons. First, and probably least importantly, it has a great name. The Bar on Buena lends to an incredibly lame joke, one I use over and over again and never grow tired of: “Where are you going for dinner Jeff? The Bar on Buena. What bar? The Bar on Buena! Duh, it’s on Buena. Yes I understand, but what bar?” And on and on. But seriously, The BOB is a sparkling gem stuffed with delicious food and intriguing beer. Hidden between Wrigleyville’s sport bars and Uptown’s pho shops, The BOB fills a void in Buena Park for those seeking quality food and an outstanding beer list. The BOB’s closet-sized kitchen sits behind the bar and offers a surprisingly large lineup of serious pub grub that includes pulled pork sandwiches, tequila-marinated steak tacos and the killer (literally?) B.O.B Burger topped with Red Dragon Cheddar, pancetta and a fried egg. And let’s not forget the brew! With more than 100 beers available by the bottle and 19 poured from the “faucet,” the beer selection alone is enough to please the biggest brew snobs. And don’t worry, the friendly staff is more than happy to help select a brew for those without their in-the-know enthusiast. The BOB is a great neighborhood bar located on one of Chicago’s most adorable tree-lined streets. With summer arriving soon (we hope!) The BOB’s sidewalk café is sure to be packed! Give The BOB a try…you can’t not find it.” The Bar on Buena, 910 W. Buena Ave., 773.525.8665.
Pulled pork with Carolina-style sauce with Cheddar cheese on Texas toast with red onion relish and sweet potato fries

Pulled pork with Carolina-style sauce with Cheddar cheese on Texas toast with red onion relish and sweet potato fries

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The Boundary ceiling

The Boundary

The Boundary

OK, while I don’t approve of the obscene number of flat screens at The Boundary sports bar/restaurant on Division Street, I’ve always loved the bow-truss ceiling, exposed brick and hanging wood-panel structures. They also make a mean buffalo chicken salad. 1932 W. Division St., 773.278.1919

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