Whatever their current drink of choice may be, guests can find it at Flight 112 Wine House—but they shouldn't be surprised if they leave with a new favorite. The bar, restaurant, and boutique revels in the unexpected. When Time Out Chicago's 2010 list of Top 50 Bars reported that patrons "get crunk, cultured and coiffed all at the same place," it was in reference to the Thursday-night haircuts Flight offered at the time. The Daily Herald describes Flight 112 as an "outstanding wine bar equally attractive to beer lovers." It's this dual-focused identity that keeps regulars returning. Daily specials, such as Whiskey Wednesdays and ladies' nights, make average evenings special. A full menu of tapas, gourmet entrees, and artisan cheese makes the location an appetite-annihilating hangout and a great place for your pet fork to meet other, likeminded forks.
But Flight 112 is far more than a bar and restaurant. It's also a wine shop manned by sommeliers who love to share their passion with others. Its specialty here is organic wines, and the sustainable commitment that steers that specialty is also what guides the store's recycled bottles, corks, and packaging. (Flight 112's community awareness doesn't end there—it also helps many local organizations' fundraising efforts.) Monthly wine socials pair palates with five to six tastings, a couple full glasses, and a slew of new friends, and each wine-club member receives two bottles of wine each month. Flight 112's social, approachable atmosphere and full food and drink menu make it the chosen venue for many a birthday and bachelor party, too.
• For $15, you get $30 to use at the wine bar or toward bottles to take home. • For $32, you get an evening of wine and cheese for four, including four flights of wine (up to a $14.50 value each) and two sample platters of gourmet cheeses to share (an $8 value each; up to a $74 total value).
Local artwork garnishes the walls inside Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant as tastefully as the international vintages decorating the wine list. Under the guidance of three resident sommeliers, the staff carefully curates a collection of more than 70 wines by the bottle and glass, sourced from locales such as New Zealand, Argentina, France, and California. They summon their vast viticultural knowledge and ability to speak with grapes to help patrons complement the flavors of executive chef Ted Stay's elegant cuisine. Blending traditional European cooking techniques with contemporary methods, Ted whips up small plates, flatbreads, steaks, and seafood with a locally sourced arsenal of seasonal, sustainable ingredients.
Towering wine racks flank a curved bar, and glowing swaths of blue and purple light line exposed-brick walls inside the renovated historic building. The lights also illuminate the immense stash of wine bottles, craft beers, and top-notch liquors—all available for take-home purposes as well as sipping onsite. Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant also frequently hosts events, including live music and tastings.
It’s a scene you’d expect to find in a quiet alpine town: inside a charming, half-timbered lodge, lamps of stained glass cast a warm glow on diners as they fill up on German dishes such as Bavarian pretzels and mini pierogis. But this is The Bavarian Lodge, where chefs craft wiener schnitzels from farm-raised, antibiotic-free pork cutlets and bake Bavarian roulade—a beefsteak stuffed with veggies, egg, and sausage—in rich peppercorn gravy. As with any German restaurant, however, the beer menu takes precedence. Here it deserves to, with 35 taps and more than 160 bottled brews lined up in tidy rows. This fine collection of suds won The Bavarian Lodge the title of world-class site from BeerAdvocate, which also gave the Hoover Dam that honor before learning that it was not, in fact, built to stockpile beer.
Hillgrove Wine Cellars and Bistro combines tastings of fine, international wines and craft brews with equally well-crafted appetizers. Danny Parrott curates the medley of food and drinks, relying on his sensitive palate developed over years in the restaurant industry to lead him to the finest flavors. His stock of wine bottles and beers blend with the seasons and are chosen based on his particular leanings. His menu, however, remains anchored in specific flavors meant to offset the dryness of a fine white or the rich tannins of a red.
Organic and small-batch wines fill swirling glasses beneath the soaring ceilings of House Red Vinoteca. At a rustic, reclaimed-wood bar, discerning staff members subject new elixirs to tastings and credit checks, and the chef makes changes to a rotating menu of vino-enhancing fare made from scratch. Plates bearing crispy flatbreads and desserts inspired by international culinary traditions glide back and forth between duos chattering beneath exposed-brick walls. The warm sway of live jazz rolls across wine-tasting events and bottle-laden shelves, and patrons sipping through tasting flights from Croatia, Lebanon, Morocco, Serbia, and Slovenia add delicate treble notes with clinking glasses.