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Posts posted by avant-garde

  1. My favorite size bottles are the 11.2 ounce bottles. I know it's not a great deal smaller than the 12oz, but I find it's the perfect amount of beer to fit in one glass. And some beers are so extreme that you really only need that much anyway. For example, I always opt for the small four packs of Duchess de Bourgogne instead of the large 750ml bottle. And I think it's easier to keep the beer fresher when you're drinking alone.

  2. Made a couple delicious little numbers last night:

    1 oz. Beefeater

    1 oz. Aperol

    1 oz. St. Germain

    Big Fat Orange Twist

    Stirred and served on the rocks.

    Followed by a similar (almost Negroni) drink.

    1 oz. Beefeater

    1 oz. Carpano Antica

    1 oz. Aperol

    Big Fat Orange Twist

    Stirred and served over ice.

  3. I just recently got back from Chicago and I can tell you the best pizza I had was Giordano's. That's because I'm a huge fan of cheese and they do it right there. Gino's East was also very good if you like really good sauce. Both will make you happy as can be.

  4. I finally made it to The Violet Hour last Saturday night after arriving in Chicago. I called Toby to let him know I’d made it to town and he graciously called in a reservation for me at the bar. I didn’t want to sit anywhere else – otherwise I wouldn’t get to see one of my favorite crafts done right in front of me. After eating the mushroom pasta at Francesca’s Forno (which Toby highly recommended), I arrived just moments before the doors opened. Making my way through the inconspicuous entry, I was led right to the bar where I was introduced to Troy, who would be my bartender for the evening. He was very cordial and had no problem walking me through some ideas for a first cocktail.

    Lit only by numerous candles and beautiful chandeliers, TVH felt like more like an opium den than a bar. Everything was meticulously placed, wonderfully laid out, and the bar was loaded with various bottles, shakers, and bitters. I’d also like to point out that they had some really great music playing: Bill Callahan, Radiohead, and several others I’ve since forgotten. It was at this point I knew I was in a place I’d love. AND I was in Chicago – so it doesn’t get any better than that.

    It was time to get some drinking done. Have you ever geeked out so much in a place like this that you didn’t even know where to begin when it came to ordering? Well I did. I wanted to say “just start at the top and make one of everything.” Troy, knowing that I was having some trouble deciding on a cocktail, poured me a small amount of Carpano Antica to whet my palate while I perused the amazing menu. That stuff alone is enough to make a person smile. After about five minutes of pondering I went with the Juliet & Romeo. I had read about this one previously and the components really interested me.

    At this point I was able to close the menu and just absorb everything around me. Of course, being the booze/cocktail geek I am I vigilantly inspected just about every bottle on display. Finding bottles of Chartreuse VEP, various high-end Amaros, and an almost endless amount of house-made bitters, it wasn’t very hard to get excited about this visit. Soon my Juliet & Romeo was placed in front of me. As quickly as it was placed on the napkin in front of me I could smell the mint and rose water. It was heavenly. But then I took a sip and it got even better. What a fantastic cocktail!

    After only twenty minutes I had pretty much inhaled the Juliet & Romeo and it was time to go for something a bit more strong and manly. With my mind on indecisive geeky overload, I decided on a simple old-fashioned cocktail with a big twist of orange. I lamented over this decision afterwards because I really should have gone with something I can’t make at home, but it was a very good cocktail nonetheless. It was a bit strong, which is good because it really made me slow down my drinking. And after spending eight hours in the car, I just wanted something to numb my body and put me in a tranquil state.

    By the time I was done with my old-fashioned I was pretty exhausted and it pushed me to the point of envisioning my nice hotel bed that awaited me. It was time to settle up and head out the door. I guess in retrospect I should have stayed a bit longer, but I truly enjoyed myself a lot and have the utmost respect for what this crew does on a daily basis. The next time I am in Chicago I will most definitely go back and do it all over again.

    Thank you Toby and Troy for a great experience. It was a very inspiring visit.

  5. Spring has sprung.

    Here is a preview of what might be close to what is in store.

    The Violet Hour

    Spring ’09 Cocktail List

    I'll be there in exactly one week. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to my visit here, Toby. If I had to guess now what I'll be ordering off this menu, I'd say:

    Juliet & Romeo Beefeater, Mint, Cucumber, Rose Water

    Eyes Wide Bulleit Bourbon , Grapefruit, House Made Raspberry Syrup, Hibiscus Syrup

    La Goutte d’Or Scarlett Ibis, Punt e Mes, Yellow Chartreuse, Spring Bitters

  6. Thank you everyone for the feedback - I'll hit Binny's and Sam's while I'm up there. I think ultimately I'm headed to Chicago looking for Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, and Allagash. I can get quite a bit of other great beers here in KC so I feel pretty fortunate. The only other strong brewery I'd like to find more of is Russian River, but I'll have to go to Colorado (I think) or (obviously) California. Does anyone know if you can find Lost Abbey in Chicago?

  7. Let me add Kalamazoo, MI's Bell's Brewery to that list, if you're not able to get Bell's beers where you live; Bell's makes a lot of different stouts, all of which are spectacular.  My favorite Bell's brew is their Two Hearted Ale.

    Yep, I can actually buy Bell's here. And thank god because I was able to buy two six-packs of the Hopslam when it came out. Also a really big fan of the Expedition Stout, which tastes exactly like Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout (minus the Bourbon). The Two Hearted Ale is also good -- you're right. Pound for pound, Bell's is one of the most solid breweries out there in my opinion.

  8. I'm taking a road trip to Chicago soon and am curious about a couple things:

    What are the top two or three places (locations please) to buy good (or rare) craft beers and what breweries are usually represented in them?

    I know you can purchase Three Floyds, Allagash, and Goose Island, but any other good ones so I can start making a list?

  9. I just drank a Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast last night and I can assure you that the next time I make breakfast for dinner I will certainly pair it with one of these. Tasted just like strong black coffee beer. All I needed was some bacon and waffles to enjoy it with.

  10. Finally!  I was at Crate and Barrel yesterday and stumbled on some very nice (and also very affordable) cocktail glasses.  If you live anywhere near a C&B, definitely stop by and grab a few...


    Great shape, but kinda big though, no? 8.5 oz is way bigger than I've grown accustomed to....


    i would guess that is how much the glass weighs rather than how much liquid it holds.

    I would guess, based on knowing (and owning some of) Crate and Barrel's other cocktail glasses, that it's volume and not weight. I don't recall ever seeing glassware listed by weight. But who knows?


    Regardless...I'm just happy with the shape and that they were affordable. And you don't have to fill it to the top if you don't wanna...obviously.

  11. Bell's Twohearted Ale to accompany homemade chana dal and naan.  It was excellent.

    Had one of these this week while waiting on my pizza at Waldo Pizza. Really enjoyed it.

    We don't get Bell's out here in California, but it is one of the things I look forward to when I travel back to Wisconsin.

    Yeah, well you have a great bar like Alembic and we don't. So we're even. Sorta.

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