Bob Curttright knew that wine tasted better when it's enjoyed in a scenic setting. That's why he set out on a search for the perfect setting before opening his winery, Whiskey Run Creek. He found the setting he dreamed of in a century-old barn owned by Julius Bergmann and moved the historic structure—which was built from oak and walnut beams without a single nail—more than 18 miles to a creekside property.
Now owned by Ron and Sherry Heskett, they fill visitors' glasses with wine made from Nebraska-grown ingredients. In addition to varietals, such as Chambourcin and Edelweiss, their winery produces seasonal fruit wines made with apples and cherries from local farms. Guests can relax with their wine on an expansive deck or explore renovated brick caves built in 1866.
Bottle12 Wine Bar's knowledgeable libation lecturers escort imbibers through an array of flavorful varietals. Assemble a band of wine-minded merrymakers or finally make use of at-home cloning kits to populate a Classes with Glasses course, which politely introduces pupils to three diverse wines. Each 90-minute class touches on essential vino factoids such as typical traits of specific regions, how to make effective food pairings, and more accurate methods of plotting future bottle purchases. Each pupil can complement leggy swigs with an expertly paired appetizer, chosen by the lecturer from the bar’s gourmet menu. Students enamored of a particular vintage need not adopt a glass-half-empty worldview, as additional pours of wine, beer, food, or merchandise are available for purchase. Tutorials are capped at 16 people or 32 sentient corks.
One autumn day, 13-year-old Shanita McAfee wandered through her local apple orchard, plucking the ripest, plumpest apples. She had done this for years with her dad and siblings, but this year was different. Instead of giving the apples to her mom for apple pies, Shanita decided to take on the challenge herself. She loved her mom's pies, but didn't understand why her mom would use a store-bought crust if she was going to put in the effort to make everything else from scratch. So, Shanita started experimenting with various homemade-crust recipes, and her passion for cooking was born.
Though Shanita’s repertoire has expanded to include savory dishes, such as New Orleans–style shrimp and pan-seared seafood, her cooking philosophy remains the same: fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with love. Magnolia’s chef has also made it her mission to challenge people to "experience traditional Southern ingredients and food in a different way." That's why she creates things such as braised oxtail lasagna and Grown Up grilled cheese—toasted farm-to-market challah bread with smoked gouda and Tillamook cheddar served with bacon horseradish dip and a 401K pamphlet.
Each of the wines on the shelf in Cellar Rat has been vetted by the staff—nothing is sold to the public unless the staff would drink it or use it as a substitute for milk in cereal. The resulting more than 800 wines, 70% of which are less than $20, make for tasty everyday and special-occasion beverages, as do the number of premium spirits and handcrafted brews stocked alongside the wine.
Cellar Rat’s vino experts do more than just discern the difference between good and bad wine; they also teach others how to do so during wine classes that delve into the intricacies of tasting. They even make pairing suggestions for the artisan cheeses, gourmet cured meats, and pate also sold in the boutique shop.
The Waldo district's 75th Street Brewery concocts unique beers best enjoyed while listening to the sounds of the local musicians who frequent its stage. As brewmasters labor to perfect the flavor of each keg, chefs craft an ever-growing menu of famous American eats, including burgers, ribs, pasta, and fresh vegetable salads. They call out daily specials on colorful, handwritten chalkboard menus suspended next to the high, exposed wooden rafters. For those who appreciate alfresco dining, a sunny beer garden lets in air and light through its slotted roof, while four solid walls block unpleasant noises, such as the squalls of wandering avant-garde jazzmen.
Nestled in the Crossroads Arts District, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen sates sophisticated palates with seasonal, contemporary-American cuisine and an eclectic selection of voluptuous vinos from around the world. Midday grape guzzlers can indulge taste buds with a lunch menu boasting a savory selection of gourmet portobello, pork, and strip-steak sandwiches ($8–$11). For dinner, indulge in a selection of pre-meal cheeses that include drunken goat, port-salut, and jokes told by the waiter's uncle on Christmas ($6/individual, $15/choice of three). Diners can savor the aromatics rising from a piping plate of seared ahi tuna served with wasabi mashed potatoes and tempura asparagus ($26), or sink knives into a grilled pork chop served with a three-veggie succotash and golden-potato hash ($23). A stalwart array of cutlery helps guests plot the epic four-course tasting menu that can be paired with a selection of wines or a tiny pair of wind-up chattering teeth ($38/person).