Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Notes From . . .

(Photos: Susan Schmidt Donaldson)

. . . Hanzell Vineyards Wine Dinner at Bespoke Cuisine.

• The Sonoma, Calif.-based winery's been around since 1957, cranking out premium chardonnay and the nation's first-ever pinot noir.

• More than 20 members from Hanzell's Chicago Chapter Ambassador's Circle gathered for a multi-course, interactive dining event at the West Loop venue. 312DD was invited to participate.

• Bespoke Cuisine's Executive Chef/owner Kim Shambrook and chef de cuisine Calvin Roberson led the diners in creating each course. Teams broke into four groups and were paired with a chef to prepare a dish.

Exclusive Sneak Preview of Trump's Summer Cocktail Program

The "Magnificent" drink-for-two (left) and Mandarin Vanilla Float with Goose Island Vanilla Soda and a beaker of Combier Orange Liqueur. (Photos: Trump Chicago)

Leave it to The Terrace at Trump to take its summer cocktail menu to extravagant levels.

Executive Chef Michael Fiddler and Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Kosikowski get in on the action, adding culinary accents to a number of classic summer drinks ranging $18-$85.

$85 for a cocktail?!

Yeah, I thought that was nuts too, but they've commissioned local artist Eric Bladholm to create custom, blown-glass carafes for the Magnificent, a cocktail-for-two with Absolut Sweet Tea Vodka, white cranberry juice, sliced peaches, mint and a splash of elderflower.

Most cocktails will also include fresh juices and exotic ingredients, but what we're extremely excited about is the Secret Shake—an off-the-menu item that will only be available upon request. It's a concoction from Chef Kosikowski, with house-made caramel spiked ice cream and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey, served in a pint glass for $12.

Peep the entire menu below:

Rockit's Top Mixologist Moves On . . .

drumBAR's Benjamin Newby.

Let's just say he's going back to his roots.

Underground head mixologist and operator Benjamin Newby is more of a cocktail lounge specialist than nightlife impresario, so it's no surprise he leapt at the chance to become vice president of nightlife for Menin Hotels—which owns the forthcoming drumBAR.

But have no fear, he's not going totally corporate. Newby's infamous "cocktail kits," or "tableside mixology" that created more of a communal mixology experience at UG (as well as other Rockit Ranch Productions venues), will live on at drumBAR when the ultra-sexy lounge opens on the Raffaello Hotel's rooftop in June. And on those nights when the outdoor terrace isn't so favorable, the indoor "speakeasy-style" lounge includes a fireplace, sweeping bars and sky-high ceilings.