Posts for February 11, 2013

Maker’s Mark Is Watering Down Its Bourbon

What can drinkers expect from the new, 84-proof Maker's?Photo: Courtesy Maker's Mark

There are more bourbon barrels than people in Kentucky at the moment, but the sharp uptick in demand is crushing supply, and now, as a means of staving off a bourbon shortage, the distillery that produces Maker's Mark announced it is taking the seemingly extraordinary measure of lowering the alcohol-by-volume content of its product. As you can imagine, some drinkers are going nuts over this.

The full statement. »

Farmhouse To Evanston; Guildhall, Ragano to Glencoe

Farmhouse, coming soon to Evanston, too.Photo: courtesy Farmhouse

Crain's had a pair of stories about interesting openings on the North Shore. Farmhouse, the craft beer and farm to table food tavern on Chicago Avenue downtown, is planning to open a second location near a different Chicago Avenue, the north-south-running one in Evanston. It will be joining Found as one of the few true farm-to-table spots in Evanston sometime in May at 703 Church Street. [Crain's]

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Listen Up You Starbuckaroos and Get Wise To Barista Lingo

Did diner cooks in the old days really call for "Adam and Eve on a raft— wreck 'em!" when they meant scrambled eggs on toast? Or was that some colorful newspaperman elaborating on reality back in the days when good copy and local color trumped accuracy? We don't know, and in the end history is whatever the guy who wrote it down says it was, so Ben Schott's piece in the New York Times about barista slang will be the truth from here on. A number of Chicago places figured in his research; we were most amused by the very bean-serious Asado Coffee calling people who ask for flavored coffees with lots of stuff on them "Starbuckaroos," Wormhole staff calling out a flirtatious customer by saying "We've got a fresh pot," which you could totally imagine Ann Sheridan saying about James Cagney in a 1930s movie, and Caffé Streets calling a skim milk latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup a "Sorority Special." As for the rest of the country, we pretty much snorted our latte through our nose at Blue Bottle's term "P.B.M." to refer to the type of coffee bar that has lame pastries... it stands for "Perfunctory Bran Muffin." Oh yeah, we've been to that place. Plenty of times. [NYT]

Ruth Reichl Calls the Star System ‘Stupid’

"As a critic, I really hated the star system. It’s stupid and insulting to readers. I’d sometimes give a restaurant a lower rating so people would leave a restaurant saying I wrote a three-star review, but only gave two stars. But as an editor, I would never get rid of it. When you run a four-star review, it gets talked about all over the world." —The former Times restaurant critic and Gourmet editor isn't a fan of New York bagels or Yelp, either. [Daily Front Row]

Our Ultra Mega Super Colossal Valentine's Day Roundup, Pt. 2

Here's part 2 of our roundup of press releases announcing V-Day specials, of which we got, let's count them real quick... a zillion bazillion. Of all of them, we liked the attitude displayed by Element Collective best: His & Her Cocktails at Nellcôte and RM Champagne Salon, described as "something sweet for her and something stiff for him"... while at Old Town Social, they'll be having Singles "Bitter" Cocktail Specials, including Malort shots for $5. They'll also be having a Singles Party just for you, while other people are enjoying RM's $95 "Champagne Is Made For Two" 8 course prix fixe menu. Now here come some more specials.

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Mountain Dew Introduces Kickstart, a Morning Soda

Officially endorsed by fedora-wearing, tattooed men.

For those of you who wake up and chug Red Bull (looking at you, Alex Stupak), PepsiCo's out to get you. The company is launching a new Mountain Dew drink that's intended for breakfast time. Kickstart is made with "real fruit juice" (read: 5 percent juice), "the right amount of kick" (a potentially lethal jolt of caffeine), and artificial sweeteners. Though Kickstart does have far less caffeine than energy drinks like Red Bell, PepsiCo's taken the liberty of labeling the two flavors "energizing orange citrus" and "energizing fruit punch," and has packaged it to look like Monster. Subtle. Maybe Taco Bell inspired this — in May, it introduced an awful "mixology" beverage called MTN DEW A.M., consisting of Mountain Dew and orange juice. Kickstart will be available nationwide starting February 25; it'll appear at college libraries and morning pregame parties on the 26th. [Earlier, Earlier, Earlier, AP]

Slideshow: The Jean Banchet Awards, Where Matthias Merges, Sepia, Acadia Won Big

The culinary scene is full of flashy personalities, and sometimes it seems like a chef can even rise to prominence without the pesky detail of actually feeding anyone, but at the Jean Banchet Awards on Friday night, there was a general feeling that they'd done a good job picking the hard workers and generous mentors on the Chicago restaurant scene who also know how to turn out great food. The list of such included Matthias Merges (Yusho), who won Best Chef, Andrew Zimmerman's Sepia which won Best Restaurant, Chris Nugent of Goosefoot and Ryan McCaskey's Acadia, among others. The awards, which drew a crowd of hundreds to the Fairmont Hotel to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, are named for the celebrated chef of Le Français in Wheeling in the 1970s and 1980s, which was considered possibly the best restaurant in America at the time— though unlike last year, Banchet himself did not travel from his current residence in Florida to attend personally. The complete list of winners is below, as is our man Huge Galdones' visual account of the starstudded night.

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Cantu Goes Down In Iron Chef Rematch; Plans iNG Pop-Up Swap With Bread & Wine

In 2006 Homaro Cantu of Moto and iNG was one of the few Chicago chefs to ever win on Iron Chef America, defeating Iron Chef Morimoto in Battle Beets. But like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid, Morimoto trained for a rematch. And last night, in an episode where the challenge ingredient was herring (and which was filmed long enough ago that Baume & Brix's Nate Parks was on Cantu's team), Morimoto won a convincing victory over Cantu, who included a Miracle Berry course among other exotica on his menu. Cantu was gracious about Morimoto's victory, saying on Facebook "He totally deserved the win. An amazing performance."

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