Friday, February 4, 2011

The Buzz Is Hot On This One!

(Photo via Metromix)

"You are going to love Hubbard Inn if you have not checked it out," writes an Ultimate Insider who got a chance to attend a preview party at the upcoming River North venue Thursday night.

But this made me even more excited:

"They are having their own house bourbon made."


It's set to open Feb. 7.


KLDAVIS said...

Well, unless you're keen to wait at least 4 years to try that bourbon, I expect they aren't having it "made". They're purchasing barrels for use at their location only, which is something many places in Chicago have been doing for years.

312 Dining Diva said...


Please name some of those so many places around town that are already doing this. I know that Stephanie Izard is planning on having house-made bourbon at Girl & The Goat, but she won't have it until about March or so. She''s been working on this project for quite awhile. Other than her, I've not heard of others, so please enlighten me.

KLDAVIS said...

The Violet Hour and BigStar both have custom bottlings from hand-picked barrels of several types of bourbon. Sable, West Lakeview Liquors, Girl & the Goat are in the same boat. Binny's (and before them Sam's) have been picking barrels for their stores for years. Bourbon is aged for at least 4 years, and usually much, much longer (8-15, 20+ in rare cases). That's longer than the lifespan of your average restaurant. Having a bourbon "made" for your restaurant would be a fool's errand. What they do is go down to the distillery and sample a dozen barrels and pick the one they like best and have it put in bottles with a sticker that has the name of the establishment on it. That particular barrel is only served at that place. It wasn't made for the place, it was made at least 8 years before the place even existed in most instances. Unless Izard had the product put into production before Top Chef was even a twinkle in her eye, what she's serving wasn't "made" for Girl & the Goat.

TODD APPEL said...

All these places do is go buy a barrel..i think that is great if they get great bourbon, which I am sure they will do but it doesnt add any value to your sipping pleasure at is nothing more than a gimmick...Bars/taverns do that with beer and ale too...have their name put on the tap...but they dont have anything to do with making it..

312 Dining Diva said...

All right. I stand corrected and thanks for clearing it up--both of you. :)

KLDAVIS said...

The question is, as Todd implies, is the result a better product? And, that's far from guaranteed.

There are a few issues I've seen with this process:

1) It takes so long to go from barrel selection to bottles received that often the people that picked the barrel (with a particular set of drinks or philosophy in mind) are no longer even with the bar.

2) The product that they end up getting isn't exactly what they had in mind, because it needs to be watered down to a standard proof (usually 90), and that necessarily changes the flavor.

3) The booze selected just isn't that great. The master distillers and blenders have their jobs for a reason. It's the rare chef or bartender who can pick a better bourbon than the one that's in the bottles already on the market. And, even the best can't pick a winner every time. The Violet Hour's 1st barrel of Buffalo Trace was really quite bad (they're now on their 2nd or 3rd), while Big Star's 1st (they're now on their 2nd) was one of the best bourbons I've ever tasted...they were both picked by the same crew.