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Chicago’s Coziest Hot Cocoas  SEE FULL STORY

Chicago's Coziest Hot Cocoas (Katherine Anne Confections)

Chicago’s Coziest Hot Cocoas (Katherine Anne Confections)

 

The best, most delicious way to ward off frigid winter temps in Chicago is with a rich-as-cake drinkable dessert that is hot chocolate. Fortunately, Chicago is a city brimming with decadent hot chocolates in many forms, from the classic to the boozy dessert. Here are some of the best hot chocolates in Chicago you need in your lives:

 

When it comes to hot chocolate, it doesn’t get any more decadent than the incomparable drinking chocolate at Katherine Anne Confections. This stuff is intense, more akin to a melted chocolate bar than your typical cocoa. As thick and hefty as it is, you’ll have a hard time restraining yourself from gulping down an entire cup, especially when options like pumpkin hot chocolate and white chocolate-chai hot chocolate are on hand. Each one comes outfitted with a duo of pillowy housemade marshmallows in flavors like peppermint and cinnamon sugar. There’s even a slightly meta hot chocolate marshmallow made with cayenne, habanero, and cocoa powder.

 

Coziest Hot Cocoas

Coziest Hot Cocoas

Another place that should come as no surprise is the aptly dubbed HotChocolate. Bucktown’s iconic, enduring dessert destination peddles an incredible roster of flavors such as chai, Mexican hot chocolate, old fashioned made with milk chocolate, a hint of caramel, and milk chocolate cocoa nib whipped ganache, and black and tan made with hot fudge. They’re all served with housemade marshmallows, available for dine-in dessert or in to-go cups. I recently took one to-go and walked along SEE FULL STORY

Booze Up Your Brunch

Six Great Places to Booze Up Your Brunch

Booze Up Your Brunch (Lillie Q)

Booze Up Your Brunch (Lillie Q)

 

What is brunch without a little booze? Sure, there’s coffee and orange juice, but the lazy weekend repast is just so much more satisfying adjoined by a brunch cocktail or two. From crafty Bloody Marys to coffee cocktails, here are our picks for Chicago’s most essential boozy brunch beverages.

SEE FULL STORY

The Promontory: This sprawling Hyde Park Mecca certainly has a way with warming cocktails. Two of their standout drinks off the brunch cocktail list offer novel twists on classic hot cocktails, including a riff on Irish coffee and hot buttered rum. The former features Tullamore Dew, La Colombe coffee, maple whipped cream, and nutmeg, while the latter contains brown butter-infused rum, maple syrup, cinnamon stick, and “winter magic.”

Lillie’s Q: The Bloody Mary is a great drink to riff off of, considering the sheer blank-canvas versatility of tomato juice + liquor. At Lillie’s Q, they raise the bar by using moonshine as the spirit of choice, served in a mason jar with spicy housemade Bloody Mary mix and a stick of housemade beef jerky.

Dove’s Luncheonette: The entire cocktail menu at Dove’s Luncheonette is a dreamy, inventive, and refreshing twist on the brunch norm. Of the many tempting options, there’s La Hora made with Tromba Blanco, Aperol, orange cordial, spiced grenadine, lime, and JP Chenet Brut; a mezcal old fashioned made with Besk, cinnamon, and grapefruit bitters; and a coffee cocktail featuring Dark Matter coffee, Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Hacienda Vieja Reposado, Amaro di Angostura, and housemade almond milk.

The Radler: For something bright, floral, and life-affirming, try the Glass Coffin at The Radler. The German restaurant combines gin with elderflower, allspice dram, pear syrup, lime, and egg white for this refreshing brunch option.

mfk: Bourbon gets creamy (and it works!) at mfk, where the Soco Leite cocktail is just one of a handful of inventive brunch cocktails on hand. The Spanish-leaning restaurant makes this cocktail with Portuguese brandy, bourbon, half and half, and nutmeg.

Flo: “Brunch” and “shots” don’t usually go together, unless you’re a real party animal. But at this Mexican-accented West Town staple, you’d be wise to think twice. The restaurant does a nice “breakfast shot” by mixing house bacon-infused bourbon with butterscotch Schnapps. It’s served with an orange juice chase.

 

Painting at the Top of the Hancock: Weekday Planner

Painting at the Top of the Hancock: Weekday Planner

Painting at the Top of the Hancock

Painting at the Top of the Hancock

 

 

Painting is more enjoyable when you’re sky-high. Particularly, it’s not very often you get the opportunity to paint at The Signature Room, 95 stories up in the Hancock Tower. By partnering with Bottle & Bottega, the restaurant is set to host a night to remember with painting, eating, and drinking on February 11. From 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., guests will line up to paint the city skyline while enjoying drinks, hors d’oeuvres, a buffet, dessert, and coffee. The event is designed as an ideal Valentine’s date or a girls’ night out. The opening reception starts off the night at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person and include three drink tickets and a take-home canvas.

 

Painting at the Top of the Hancock     SEE FULL STORY

 

Bear Your Heart at Atwood

Here’s an event sure to put a smile on your face: Atwood has partnered with Bear Necessities Pediatric Foundation for “Bear Your Heart” month throughout February. In support of the organization, which strives to grant wishes and gifts to children with cancer, Atwood’s chef Brian Millman is making heart-shaped pretzels and donating 100% of proceeds from the snacks to Bear Necessities. To kick off the month, Atwood is hosting a special launch party February 9 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. With the $5 suggested donation, guests receive one raffle ticket, passed appetizers, beer, and wine.

 

Two of Chicago’s most perpetually packed, cultishly adored restaurants are teaming up for the love of beer. Kuma’s Corner and Big Star join forces February 8 for a special beer party with 21 Amendment Brewing. The San Francisco brewery takes the stage with extensive tap selections at Big Star, along with numerous Baja-inspired dishes conceived by the two restaurants. Beers to be poured include Toaster Pastry Red Ale, Sneak Attack Saison, Down to Earth Session IPA, Rare Hog Island Oyster Stout, and Brew Free! Or Die IPA. It all starts at 6:00 p.m.

World Nutella Day; Weekend Planner: Pisco Sour Month, Catalina Wine Mixer Finale

World Nutella Day; Weekend Planner: Pisco Sour Month, Catalina Wine Mixer Finale

Pisco Sour Month at Tanta

Pisco Sour Month at Tanta

 

Pisco Sour Day All Month Long at Tanta                                                            SEE FULL STORY

Why confine National Pisco Sour Day (February 7) to one little day when you can make a month-long celebration of it? That’s the smart thinking by Tanta, which is highlighting this South American staple throughout February with a few limited-time cocktail specials designed to showcase Peru’s signature spirit. There’s the Chica Pisco Sour made with chica morada, the Rocoto Pisco Sour with rocoto chile pasta, and the Maracuya Pisco Sour with passion fruit puree. Each one is $10. Additionally, on February 7 this weekend, brunch diners get 50% off brunch cocktails and specials on select bottles of wine. Happy drinking!

     SEE FULL STORY

 

Catalina Wine Mixer Finale

If beer is more your preference, Local Option has a whole slew of rare ones on hand for their Catalina Wine Mixer Finale this Friday, February 5. Starting at noon, the Lincoln Park bar will tap 30 hard-to-find beers as a lead-up to a guitar competition at 10:00 p.m., featuring the three winners from previous legs of Local Option’s Catalina Wine Mixer series. Each guitarist gets two minutes to perform, for the chance to win a guitar. And glory. Beers to be tapped for the occasion include Ale Smith Hawaiian Speedway, Boon Kriek, Maine Lunch, Pipeworks Lil Citra, Central State House of Blue Lights, De Dolle Oerbier, Local Option Bierwerker Exorcist, Almanac Truthful Statement, Surly Damien, The Bruery Rueuze, Three Floyds Zombie Dust, and more.

World Nutella Day at Osteria Langhe

In other offbeat food holiday news, February 5 just so happens to be World Nutella Day. To mark the holiday,

Best Wings For Superbowl

Best Wings For Superbowl

Best Wings For Superbowl @ Barn & Co.

Best Wings For Superbowl @ Barn & Co.

 

Best Wings For Superbowl: Craft beer, Bourbon, BBQ and the Superbowl!

 

Pitmaster Gary Wiviott’s Wings are given an overnight buttermilk brine then hickory smoked with dry rub followed by a 60-second spin in the deep fryer to crisp the skin before tossing in one of ten house-made sauces and rubs plus a Special Sweet with Heat wing sauce for Superbowl.

 

Pitmaster/BBQ authority/author Gary Wiviott oversees food operations at this DePaul-area barbecue-focused eatery, where baby back ribs, brisket, pulled pork, free-range chicken and Texas-style sausage vie with large beer and bourbon selections. The space is cavernous and full of flatscreen TVs. The patio seats 75. The kitchen stays open until midnight for late-night ‘cue cravings.

 

Take out or delivery:

 

– 75 wings for $100 and 36 wings for $50. There’s also a $150 package that feeds 10: pulled pork sandwiches, wings, mac and cheese, cole slaw, veggie tray and soda. A $400 package that feeds 25 adds brisket to the previous one

Foods You Need to Eat This Super Bowl Sunday

Eat This Super Bowl Sunday

 

Eat This Super Bowl Sunday at Smoke Daddy

Eat This Super Bowl Sunday at Smoke Daddy

 

The Super Bowl is around the corner and restaurants are kicking off game day food and drink specials galore.

Foods You Need to Eat This Super Bowl Sunday                              SEE FULL STORY

 

The Smoke Daddy: When it comes to quintessential Super Bowl chow, you can’t watch football without at least a little barbecue. Or a lot of it, preferably. The Smoke Daddy has been a Chicago fixture for more than two decades, and this year the Wicker Park restaurant is once again featuring a catering menu like no other, ideal for all your Super Bowl shindigs. The menu contains all the requisites, from baby back ribs and pulled pork to cornbread stuffing, mac & cheese, cole slaw, and even Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. The full catering menu is available on The Smoke Daddy’s website, and pre-orders can be made by calling the restaurant or emailing catering@4srg.com.

County Barbeque: Another reliable barbecue favorite, County Barbeque is featuring the ultimate Super spread this year. Available for dine-in, takeout, and delivery, the restaurant’s glorious feast for the occasion will include a spread of 25 wings for $20, ranging in flavors from buffalo to Thai, along with whole roasted pork butts with half pans of two sides (corn pudding, mac & cheese, garlic fries) for $185. The latter meal comes with BBQ sauces, slider buns, napkins, and all the essentials, and it’s designed to feed eight to 12 people. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance and can be made by calling the restaurant or visiting their website.

Pleasant House Bakery:  Eat This Super Bowl Sunday Leave it to this crafty, British-accented eatery to up the ante on game day classics. For Super Bowl Sunday, Pleasant House Bakery is making Buffalo Hot Wing Royal Pies, which consists of hot wing stew in a flaky pie crust with blue cheese dressing. They’re available for dine-in or pick-up for orders placed by February 5. Email pleasanthousebakery@gmail.com to make it happen.

Buck’s: Another apt destination for your wing fix is Wicker Park newcomer Buck’s, which is cooking up buckets of wings in varying flavors for Super Bowl Sunday. To accompany the two-dozen wings, the game day special for $28 also includes four housemade biscuits. Guests can wash them down with buckets of Coors or Budweiser. The restaurant is also offering takeout fare via their “On the Run” menu. For $42, customers can order the “Meal Deal,” an eight-piece whole bird with one pint of mac & cheese, collard greens, broccoli slaw, and four biscuits.

Oyster Bah: This Lincoln Park seafood spot may be brand new, but it’s wasting no time getting in on the game day action. The restaurant is opening its doors for lunch starting at noon, affording ample opportunity to fuel up on lobster rolls, crispy clams, red snapper, oysters, and much more. In the future, Oyster Bah will continue lunch service every Saturday and Sunday at noon.

The Duck Inn: When it comes to Super Bowl poultry, go beyond chicken with duck wings and duck fat hot dogs. The Duck Inn is just the spot, what with their “Super Fowl Party Packs” this year. The Bridgeport restaurant is offering combo packs to-go with these novel takes on football fare. Package pricing ranges from $60 to $150, and orders can be placed by calling the restaurant.

The Whistler and Henry’s: Creative cocktail bars dressing up as sports bars is a thing this year, and you’ve got two options to satisfy this very niche itch. The first is The Whistler, one of Logan Square’s original craft cocktail bars, which is putting its own upbeat twist on the sports bar motif with a projector screen and neo versions of old-school “disco drinks.” Expect a riff on the Cosmopolitan, as well as the Logan Island Iced Tea. The event also entails a live halftime show and post-game entertainment courtesy of the band Whitney. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. Another option is Henry’s in River North, which is transforming into a sports bar for the Super Bowl with buckets of Schlitz and Shiner Bock, plus specialty games and prizes throughout the game. Table reservations can be made by calling the bar.

J. Parker: Head up to the roof of the Hotel Lincoln to drink in the big game with gorgeous views as a backdrop at J. Parker. The bar will be featuring an expanded menu of football-friendly bites for the occasion, including chili, patty melts, pork sandwiches, chili cheese fries, and sliders, plus beer specials.

Mon Ami Gabi: When you think of the Super Bowl, you probably don’t think of pajamas and brunch, but Mon Ami Gabi is about to start a new tradition. The Lincoln Park mainstay kicks off Super Bowl Sunday with a special “Big Game PJ Brunch Party” from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., wherein guests are encouraged to dine in their pajamas and feast on blueberry French toast, waffle bananas Foster, quiche, and more. Guests who arrive in their PJs or their team’s jersey will receive Mon Ami Gabi gift certificates equal to the price of their meal for a future visit.

Acre: For a comfortable dine-in experience, Acre in Andersonville is your answer. All televisions will be attuned to the game, with several food and drink specials kicking off at 5:00 p.m. for the evening. These include $1 oysters, $2 sliders, $10 wood-fired pizzas, and $4 select drafts.

Chicago’s Finest Fireplace Destinations

Chicago’s Finest Fireplace Destinations

 

Chicago's Finest Fireplace Destinations (the Freehand Hotel)

Chicago’s Finest Fireplace Destinations (the Freehand Hotel)

 

As I write this, it’s about zero degrees outside in Chicago, and that’s not even factoring in the wind chill. Chicago winters are a brutal phase, and such frigid days necessitate the nourishing solace of fireside dining and drinking. Embrace the hearty vibes and fireside delights at one of these cozy Chicago spots.

 

SEE FULL STORY

 

Broken Shaker and Cafe Integral: At the risk of spoiling my cozy little secret, my favorite place to work remotely on my laptop is the fireplace nook in the lobby of the Freehand Hotel. It’s a secretive little area tucked alongside a small set of stairs in the back of Cafe Integral, and most people don’t seem to know it’s there. Along with a fireplace, the little corner also boasts comfy chairs, a small table, and knick knacks indicative of a Latin American cafe. In general, the whole lobby space between Cafe Integral and Broken Shaker is a dark, comfortable cottage-like motif perfect for relaxing with coffee or cocktails.

Hopleaf: When it comes to toasty bar comforts, it doesn’t get any better than Hopleaf. Chicago’s preeminent Belgian beer bar is an absolute winter essential. Because beer-steamed mussels, crispy aioli-dipped frites, and a fireplace situated in a dining room that looks like a ski lodge is the ideal definition of winter respite.

Allium: Tucked within the luxurious confines of the Four Seasons hotel, Allium is a lush, sprawling respite from the downtown bluster. And let’s not forget the fact that the restaurant is adorned with exceedingly comfortable couches, sofas, and other lounge ware befitting royalty. Allium also sports a fireplace to warm your soul while you tear into Burrata, Brussels sprouts, and Allium’s crowd-pleasing housemade Chicago-style hot dog.

Scofflaw: A gin-centric bar may not be the first place that comes to mind when craving cozy bars, but Scofflaw merits a visit this season thanks largely to its second room located around the corner from the main bar. Here you’ll find a parlor reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland tea party, complete with lavish, snug couches, chairs, and a roaring fireplace. It’s the perfect setting in which to enjoy hot buttered rum, exceptional bar food, and enough gin to make you forget about the temperature outside.

Cindy’s: Probably not a viable idea of the temperature is hovering around zero, but one chic spot for outdoor fire pits is Cindy’s. Beloved during the warmer months for its impressive vista of Millennium Park from the roof of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, Cindy’s proves its worth as a year-round al fresco destination with outdoor fireplaces and blankets for keeping toasty. It’s especially nice when enjoyed with a cocktail or two.

Chicago’s Finest Fireplace Destinations

 

Drumbar: Another stellar rooftop cocktail bar is this Streeterville stunner. The best part about this space is its ambience reminiscent of a Clue-like mansion, complete with an indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pits. Along with some of the most intricate and special craft cocktails in town, it makes for a wholly immersive drinking impressive to help you endure the winter months.

Old Town Social: Housemade charcuterie is especially tasty when eaten in close proximity to a bustling fire. Old Town Social is as close as you can get to fireside cured meats without actually immersing yourself in flames, so be sure to take advantage this season The Old Town stalwart is a go-to year-round for their impressive and unique in-house charcuterie program, complete with housemade hot dogs, but the space is especially alluring now that it’s fireplace area is full steam.

Sable Kitchen & Bar: The fireplace at Sable Kitchen & Bar is electric, sure, but it’s just as comforting as the real deal. Plus it’s nice to have zero chance of accidentally burning alive. The makeshift fireplace provides a comforting backdrop for Sable’s bites and sips. Get cozy with one of Sable’s impeccable hot cocktails, and pair it with some steak tartare, some lobster rangoon, and some falafel sliders.

Coconut Cake at Oyster Bah: Sweet of the Week

Coconut Cake at Oyster Bah: Sweet of the Week

Coconut Cake at Oyster Bah

Coconut Cake at Oyster Bah

Coconut Cake at Oyster Bah:    SEE FULL STORY

 

As a New England expat, dining at Oyster Bah is an immersive stroll down Memory Lane. Almost everything about this nautical newcomer from Lettuce Entertain You and Shaw’s Crab House screams of East Coast beach culture, from the decor to the menu. But while much of Oyster Bah reminds me pointedly of my childhood and the food I was reared on, much of the restaurant actually improves upon that nostalgic template. The fried clams are better than any I’ve had back East, ditto the lobster roll. Perhaps nowhere is this improvement more evident than dessert, where a humble slice of coconut cake ends a memorable meal on an exceedingly high note. I can say, without debate, that this is the best way to end a meal of seafood comfort food.

Coconut Cake at Oyster Bah:    SEE FULL STORY

Although I didn’t regularly have coconut cake with my seafood growing up, it’s an innovation I’m quite smitten with and whole-heartedly approve of. Oyster Bah knows that a light-as-air piece of cake is the most apt way to cap off a meal of fryer-fresh seafood, buttery lobster rolls, chorizo-packed stuffed clams, and whole fish. The dessert excels by toeing the line between indulgent and light; almost like a richer rendition of angel food cake, with much improved flavor. Layers of fluffy vanilla cake are interspersed with coconut-laced frosting, building up to a hulking slice. One thing I especially loved was how the frosting layers tasted like a Boston cream pie custard, which is one of my all-time favorite desserts. The addition of shredded coconut flakes only ups the ante.

 

Adult Coloring at Pi Gallery Bar, Pig Dinner at Analogue

Weekday Planner: Adult Coloring at Pi Gallery Bar, Pig Dinner at Analogue, Paella Tuesdays, Mezcal Mondays at Presidio

Adult Coloring at Pi Gallery Bar

Adult Coloring at Pi Gallery Bar

Adult coloring books seem to be all the rage these days (who knew!), and Pi Gallery Bar is capitalizing on the fad with a special colorful event February 4. The River North bar hosts a PBR-sponsored coloring series that invites guests to color an original design by local artist Jay Ramirez. From 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m., colorers can illustrate their hearts out, while enjoying a complimentary PBR. The event is free to attend, and the most creative piece will win PBR swag. Additional PBR drafts will be $5, and Pi also has a new Simpsons-themed cocktail menu that should make for a fun night of drinking. Cocktails include The Spruce Moose made with Botanist Gin, Maraschino liqueur, creme de violette, and fresh lemon juice; the Pray for Mojo with Remy Martin VSOP, Remy Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and sugar rim; and Handsome Pete featuring Remy 1738, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe rinse, simple syrup, and…

 

Adult Coloring at Pi Gallery Bar    SEE FULL STORY

 

Pig Dinner at Analogue

Get ready to pig out, because Analogue‘s chef Alfredo Nogueira is teaming up with Pork Mafia’s Phil Wingo for a special five-course Mangalitsa pig dinner on February 3. The porcine Cajun affair showcases the coveted breed of pig in dishes like boudin beignets, gumbo with smoked pork shoulder, and glazed ham with collard greens and cornbread. Beverages can be ordered a la carte. The dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. and….

Six Desserts Worth Leaving Your Blankets For

Six Desserts Worth Leaving Your Blankets For-Dining Chicago

 

Six Desserts, S'mores at Prime & Provisions

Six Desserts, S’mores at Prime & Provisions

 

It’s cold outside. If you’re going to go out to eat, it had better be delicious. Here are six desserts that are delicious.
This time of year, it’s fine to be antisocial and picky about leaving your apartment. Netflix, pajamas, and delivery become the norm, and understandably so. If you’re to be persuaded to leave those cozy confines, it’s got to be for something extra delicious and comforting. This is a job for dessert! Here are six epic desserts in Chicago right now that make facing the cold entirely worthwhile: