In order to manage a collection of almost 10,000 libations, the staff at Sal's Beverage World must know their stuff when it comes to wine, spirits, and beers. The massive shop stocks shelves with bottles of wine from popular labels such as The Naked Grape and Snap Dragon, as well as 90+ point wines from Chateau Angelus. The inventory also boast more than 2,000 beers artfully brewed by domestic and foreign companies including Hoppin' Frog and Bear Republic craft breweries, while down the liquor aisles shelves are lined with a hearty collection of whiskeys, cognacs, and aperitifs, such as the Italian Cynar and Pernod 80 Proof. Sal's drink specialists also provide party planning services, regular beverage tastings, and run the Bacchus Wine Club, which offers members access to exclusive tastings of wine and ambrosia.
In the city, coffee shops tend to thrive so much that guests often have to circle the seating area like airplanes until a seat opens up. Coffee Planet tries to bring the appeal of city cafes to its family-owned suburban location in Rolling Meadows, which features a fireplace, couches, and board games, but without the seating backlog. Even the name of its beans smack of urbanity: Metropolis Coffees get brewed in the traditional manner or poured over into cups, dripping slowly into a hot mug and thawing the palate after a stressful morning or a snowcone binge. The coffee comes in a variety of options, including a Guatemalan and Honduran mix. But the baristas can appeal to other tastes, too, by brewing Rishi Teas or hand-crafting espressos.
Vero's menu silences the chatters of sweet teeth with sugar-laced treats such as Venetian-style fried dough, decadent hot and cold specialty drinks, and more than 60 flavors of homemade gelato and sorbet. Dessert definitions are challenged with bowls of frosty spaghetti and meatballs ($4.99), which feature noodle-shaped vanilla gelato festooned with coconut shavings, a strawberry topping, and two spherical scoops of chocolate ice cream. Mouths can celebrate the union of divergent temperatures as they nibble through the warm fried-dough base and unwarm gelato ceiling of the hot-and-cold sundae dough ($5.99), or revel wholly in frozen flavors with a fresh-squeezed lemon shaky ($2.49), both refreshing and sweet, like a school teacher who dispenses discipline with a super soaker. Pep-deficient steps might opt for one of Vero’s coffee-based libations, such as a black eye ($2.49 for a single) that slugs exhaustion with a one-two punch of fresh coffee and two espresso shots.
Rather than cram its immense selection of libations into one storefront, Liquor 'N' Wine spreads it out among five Illinois locations. At each setting, the staff stocks shelves with wines from California and foreign regions such as France, Italy, and New Zealand—where winemakers settled after grapes went extinct in Old Zealand. The wine shares space with top-shelf brands of tequila, rum, gin, and vodka, as well as a generous assortment of whiskeys. Along with their namesake beverages, each Liquor 'N' Wine supplies bottles and kegs of domestic and imported beer and doubles as a Western Union station and propane exchange.
Grand Frame Inc, an Arlington Heights establishment since 1974, corrals more than 3,000 frames, posters, and display museum cases in its 8,000 square-foot space. Gary Grana, the framery's cofounder, holds two patents in framing technology and has passed his passion for the industry to several members of his family who now guide customers through framing options for sports memorabilia, wedding photos, and lovingly audited tax documents. In addition to carefully inspecting every project that goes through the shop, Gary's expert staff also doles out frame-hanging services to help complete customers' decor. Over the years, the store has continuously evolved its services by offering LCD TV framing and Grand Gone Green products, a signature line that embraces an eco-friendly approach to picture framing.
Paper Crown Gallery founders Dennis Quijano and Jay Turner wanted to establish a space where creativity—not expensive artwork—flourished. With the help of a roster of fellow local painters, photographers, and illustrators that wouldn't be out of place in Wicker Park or Pilsen, the duo set up shop in the northwest suburbs to prove that the city isn't the only place to find inspiration. Alongside a dizzying array of rotating artwork for purchase, they also set their energetic, multihued environs abuzz with classes in everything from drawing to spray painting to abstract website building.