Despite its rustic name, Liquor Barn purveys a wide array of sophisticated libations. Its shelves span continents with their stock—wines hail from Europe, South America, and Australia, and more than 2,000 domestic and imported beers appease hops aficionados. As for spirits, the store carries a mix of popular brands—Bacardi and Smirnoff among them—and exclusive collectibles, such as the cask-matured Auchentoshan 1975 limited-release bourbon, 1 of only 500 bottles ever produced. These coveted pieces display craftsmanship both inside and outside their containers. Tequila bottles, for example, might resemble painted skulls or ceramic cacti, instead of traditional flasks.
The staff facilitates purchases with onsite expertise. Each of the two Liquor Barn locations boasts specialists on certain types of drinks, from cognacs to craft beers. During social events, they showcase their know-how by leading pairing dinners, weekly free tastings, and cooking demonstrations along with special guests. Employees needn't be in the store to furnish parties, either: they can ferry drinks to nearby locales in a fleet of delivery trucks powered by popping champagne corks.
At Brooklyn Deli, owners Mark Anderson and Don Bothem slice premium meats and julienne subway passes for authentic New York-style sandwiches. Along with their menu of Brooklyn classics, the duo and their staff whip up custom creations, layering breads with meats, toppings, dressings, and cheeses. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in the fryer, and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies rise in the ovens. Out in the dining area, cheerful red booths and stools line up beneath photographs of New York.
In a two-performance exhibition of sweeping set pieces geared toward enchanting children and adults alike, Salt Creek Ballet presents selections from The Sleeping Beauty with special visits from characters such as Little Red Riding Hood and Puss 'n Boots. The folkloric superstars are attending the wedding of Princess Aurora, who has just emerged from her bed after years of attempting to follow up Pet Sounds. For these evenings of fantasy, the company does a pas de deux with guest artists Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov, principals of the Colorado Ballet. An all-ages academy of kinetics since 1985, Salt Creek Ballet's alums have gone on to grace the stages of the Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, and Cirque du Soleil.
Tommy Nevin's Pub was founded by Steven Prescott and christened for his grandfather Thomas Nevin, a WWI veteran. The flagship location in Evanston touts a bright red façade that pays homage to the renowned Temple Bar in Dublin, and the menus at all three locations likewise salute the culture of the Emerald Isle. Though it inhabits a decidedly Celtic corner of the pub world, Chicago Bar Project deemed the Evanston outpost “the best bar in the suburbs” for its “intriguing combination of country Irish pub, modern Chicago bar and cutting-edge alternative music venue.” Chefs whip up corned beef and shepherd's pie as bartenders handle taps and spirits. Friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.