Thursday, September 19, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

North Shore Distillery photo via Chicago Sun-Times

Next week is all about local pride.

Of course there's the Bearsand Blackhawks—but officially it's the second-annual Chicago Craft Spirits Week, which takes place Sept. 23-28.

Logan Square's Maza Azul hosts a mezcal-focused event during Chicago Craft Spirits Week. (Photo: Masa Azul)

Launched in 2012 by North Shore and KOVAL distilleries, Chicago Craft Spirits Week showcases local products at a number of venues around town. We're looking forward to events ranging from Bring Your Weird cocktail competition at Watershed to the Midwest Gin Smackdown at Farmhouse. See all the details right here.

Wine, cheese and salumi selections at 694 Wine And Spirits (Photo: 694 Wine And Spirits)

Here's a temporary solution until Mario Batali's Eataly debuts in River North later this fall. Armandino Batali—Mario's dad—is apparently a master when it comes to salumi and you can only find his artisan-cured meats at one place in Chicago: 694 Wine And Spirits. His Seattle-based operation chose this low-key River West spot to carry 10 of his best products, which includes salumi salumi (garlic and ginger salt pork), lomo (wine-washed loin meat), coppa (pork shoulder with salt, sugar and red pepper), mole (cured with cinnamon, chocolate and Ancho peppers) and hot sopressata (hot peppers and garlic). They're $8 each and nicely complement 694's grand selection of craft beer and wine.

A recent cooking demo at Mercadito (Photo: Mercadito Chicago)

National Hispanic Heritage Month started Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15, and Mercadito chef/partner Patricio Sandoval shows pride for his native Mexico with a special dinner happening Sept. 23-24. The interactive event is entertaining and educational and consists of five courses paired with five cocktails. He'll feature all types of Mexican chiles, ranging from a fried Ancho chile stuffed with shrimp to his version of the Chile en Nogada, a stuffed Poblano pepper with ground pork, green apple, plantains, raisins and topped with a creamy walnut-cinnamon sauce and pomegranate. Head bartender Paul Sauter's cocktail pairings should be quite the crowd pleasers. He's featuring all tequila drinks, including El Mariachi (Tanteo jalapeƱo, cucumber puree, lemon juice, agave and a watermelon-infused cube). It's $55 per person and reservations are highly recommended by calling the restaurant.

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