Naturally, the chefs at Cooper’s Hawk have a sharp eye when it comes to wine pairings. Each of the restaurant’s contemporary dishes is crafted with a particular wine in mind, which makes plenty of sense given the fact that there’s a winery located just next door. Surrounded by oaken barrels and racks lined with glistening bottles, diners may be forgiven for thinking that they made a wrong turn and ended up in the winery itself. After your meal, see the real thing in the Napa–style tasting room, where you can sample up to eight different wines. The selection includes something for everyone, including graceful blush wines and cabernets whose flavors unfold like a novel scribbled on the wings of an origami crane.
When he wasn’t piloting a plane, Toby Beall spent time with his bare feet in the Caribbean sand and a cocktail mellowing in his hand. Looking to share that laid-back lifestyle, Beall, his wife Jillian and brother Jamey founded Tailwinds Distilling Company. Today, the Plainfield-based specialists blend premium ingredients such as organic molasses and 100% blue agave, and carefully age them in french-oak barrels to create their tropically-inspired amber rum. After the signature, small-batch distilling process—which avoids the use of carbon filters so as to leave the flavors intact—each bottle is individually signed. That attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed: their Taildragger white rum earned a silver medal at the 2012 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition, and their 100% blue agave spirit was featured in Chicago Magazine's Holiday 2012 Gift Guide: For Imbibers.
Visitors can take a jetlag-free trip to the tropics during tours of the facility, learning about distillation and sampling sips in a tiki-bar-themed tasting room. Merchandise such as T-shirts, snifters, and flasks provide more lasting souvenirs than the imaginary tan the island vibe might inspire.
Michael Dorf stood with his brother Josh, smiling over the barrel filled with wine from grapes they'd just crushed, fermented, and pressed. He claims that despite tastings and classes, he'd never begun to understand wine until this moment. As his understanding grew, he laid the foundations for City Winery: a full winery facility, restaurant, and concert venue inside urban Chicago. He now watches over more than 400 international wines and 20 house wines. Inside the winery, these wines—made from nine US and international varietals—age inside stainless steel tanks and American and French oak barrels. Here, staffers lead winemaking classes, letting visitors join the crushing and fermenting process, and showing them how make private barrels and fill custom juice boxes or bottles pasted with labels of their own design.
These monolithic tanks and barrels can be seen through floor-to-ceiling windows from most of the restaurant's rooms, where servers ferry Executive Chef Andres Barrera's dishes, each a blend of Italian, French, Spanish, and Middle-Eastern flavors. The culinary team crafts small and large plates of artisanal cheeses, seafood, and flatbreads—which they make using the winery's own wine lees as yeast. In the restaurant and Barrel Room tasting bar, staffers pour housemade wines piped fresh from the cellar through 14 taps, while visitors bask in the glow from hard wood and floor to ceiling windows. Patrons dine on a ground floor lit by soft blue lights and hanging lamps fashioned from old wine bottles, as well as a mezzanine level looking out on the city skyline. Private dining rooms gather guests around long communal tables, stretched between exposed brick walls. In the show venue, comedians, live musicians, and slapstick-prone stage crew members entertain audiences under the glow of tabletop candles.
From September 13 to 16, Camera Park’s emerald expanse of grass and wooden gazebos braces itself for a lively celebration of German culture as the first annual Oktoberfest in Glendale Heights gets underway. The festival’s spacious tent ensures a full weekend of merriment, whether the sky rains, shines, or finally spills its Big Dipper. As brass-laden live bands lay down rhythms with their oompahs, waitresses clad in dirndl skirts serve up authentic German cuisine prepared by Chef Wolfgang of Schnitzel Platz Restaurant, in addition to Austrian and German pastries and frosty beers imported from Hofbräu Brewery in Munich.
Aside from the festival’s palate-pleasing foods, revelers can work off hearty meals by participating in a strong-arm contest, dancing from noon to midnight, and erupting into a round of applause after an inspiring vocal performance by a German American choir group of children. Youngsters can also meet their daily quotas for fun with a pumpkin patch, pony rides, and huts filled with an array of souvenirs, such as hats, German flags, and apple-juice steins.
Cab's Wine Bar Bistro brings global tastes to downtown Glen Ellyn. Husband-and-wife Chef Luis Ayllon and general manager Lisa Ayllon oversee a diverse menu, which draws on Luis's training in France while nodding to Spanish, Asian, and Cajun cuisine. His worldly experience adds a unique touch to dishes ranging from paella to cassoulet, a hearty, slow-cooked casserole that proves especially enjoyable during colder months or whenever you find yourself trapped in a meat locker. Chef Ayllon also specializes in wine pairings, and invites diners to complement their meals with selections from the bistro's wine list, or purchase a bottle to take home.
It's more than just the retro, 1960s-style sign that nods to a bygone era at Malloy's Finest Wine & Spirits. The huge maroon marquee pointing to the Glen Ellyn location on Roosevelt Road invokes a pleasant feeling of nostalgia, but so does the friendly, attentive service of the resident beverage experts. The company has been around since the repeal of Prohibition and continually updates its international display of wine and spirits to meet customers' changing needs. Wine and beer connoisseurs host free tastings every Saturday and guide patrons through highly rated vintage varietals that are tucked safely in a cellar.