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Mozer Morsels for the Home

For years, most fans of Chicago-based international artist/designer Jordan Mozer’s work could only enjoy his curvaceous chairs, sculptures, droplet-footed tables, and whimsical lamps by visiting the hotels, restaurants and entertainment spaces for which the pieces were commissioned. That just changed. Responding to customer interest, Mozer is making morsels of his vast collection—sculptures, lighting fixtures & furniture, available to the public. He’s got several groupings of the first flush of these items, and artwork on exhibit for purchase at three Chicago galleries and an auction-house now through May.


The Golden Triangle

Whole Melk Bottles at Golden Triangle - photo by Eliza Mozer

Whole Melk Bottles at Golden Triangle – photo by Eliza Mozer

Anna Mae Bronze Candlesticks, East Tall Table, Eliza's Big Shiny Question Lamp at Golden Triangle - photo Tom Rossiter

Anna Mae Bronze Candlesticks, East Tall Table, Eliza’s Big Shiny Question Lamp at Golden Triangle –  photo  by Tom Rossiter

Mozer’s made-in-Chicago “Twig” chair for example, first designed for Steve Wynn’s Bellagio Resort hotel in Las Vegas, and newly swathed in more-residentially-compatible leather, is available along with matching love-seat, side chair, lounge chair and coat rack, plus 12 more items, April 2 through May 15 at The Golden Triangle gallery’s “Made in Chicago” exhibit, 330 N. Clark, 312-755-1266. Opening reception April 2 .info@goldentriangle.biz


Hilton-Asmus Contemporary Gallery

xox hugs and kisses sculpture photo by Chloe Mozer

xox hugs and kisses sculpture –  photo by Chloe Mozer

Sexy sculptures, paintings and new jewelry drawn from Mozer’s work on sets for the Rolling Stones, and at East Hotel in Hamburg, Germany are on display for purchase at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary Gallery through May as part of the “Herzblut XXX…O” exhibit, 716 N. Wells, 313.475.1788. Gallery talk March 26info@hilton-asmus.com



Jazz Riff sculpture in bronze and Azobe

Jazz Riff sculpture in bronze and Azobe

jazz painting

jazz painting

Jazz-inspired sculpture and painting, long foundational in Mozer design work, is currently featured in the upstairs gallery at Blackbird restaurant through April 12, 619 W. Randolph, 312.715.0708.










Wright Modern & Contemporary Design Auction House

Frankie Chair, Bronze Goose Guss Table and Pushmepullyou Table at Wright Auction

Frankie Chair, Bronze Goose Guss Table and Pushmepullyou Table at Wright Auction

And for the collector, rare studio furnishings from the Mozer private collection will be available for auction at the Wright modern & contemporary design auction house, Thursday, March 26 at noon.

Mozer, Chicago-based since the launch of architecture and design firm Jordan Mozer & Associates, Ltd., 30 years ago, is one of few international designers who create project-specific narratives and then personally work in multiple mediums (sculpture, painting, lighting, textile & furniture design) to express that story in one-of-a-kind hotel, restaurant, retail, and entertainment environments. “It all starts with the story and proceeds from there,” says Mozer. “By making everything from scratch we ensure that every element of the project relates and supports the story we create, and, that it’s something you’ve never seen before. Ultimate escapism.” Supporting each dream-world locally, Mozer has cultivated a network of hundreds of Chicago craftsmen, artists, and small-scale manufacturers who each touch some element of every piece Mozer makes.


Wine Country Tripping – An Easy-Planning Primer


Vineyard in Napa Valley, California

It’s happening—you’ve saved up the money and moment and are going on a wine country trip, but (you worry) you’re no wine expert and have no idea how to plan it. Where to go? When to go? What should your visit include, and how do you prep for it?

Here’s help! First, there’s much more potential adventure linked to wine country travel than your original “lets go drink some wine” inklings may have suggested. Inspired terroir-linked dining, incredible vistas, imaginative fitted-to-landscape lodging, shopping, museums and galleries—it’s all part of the experience. But the best bit? Tasting wine at its source, you’ll get to talk to people with personal ties to wines and wineries who can tell you detailed stories, giving you your own connection to and appreciation for the wine you drink from here on out.


Where & When to go

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley.  Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley. Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

In the States, say you’re heading to the “wine country” and it’s generally accepted you mean you’ll be heading north of San Francisco to the 100-mile long, 50-mile wide key wine-growing region in California. Known as the North Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) this 3 million acre chunk of land includes Sonoma, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties, with bits of Marin and Solano thrown in. Throughout, most of the grapes are grown in valleys (Napa, Sonoma, Alexander, Dry Creek, Bennett, Russian River) and processed in 800+ wineries. If you have some flexibility, wine tripping here in the spring, when the vines are coming back to life and the fields of mustard are prettily in bloom, will also give you a better chance to chat with the winemakers who aren’t as busy. (Summer’s crowded with vacationers and harvest happens in the fall.) Winter is also a good option.

To hone in on one wine-country town as home base for your explorations, think about the wines you already love, and chose a town near the wineries that produce those. Or—as we did—choose a town (www.healdsburg.com ) offering the lodging/dining/gallery experiences you desire that is also close enough by car to allow visits to two or three wineries per day.

Go online to wine-country sites http://www.discovercaliforniawines.com/ ,regional visitor centers http://www.visitcalifornia.com/destination/california-welcome-centers-north-coast, and chambers of commerce http://www.northcoastca.com/ and you’ll find plenty of starting-point info, including links to individual wineries and some sample itineraries.

Ask around, too. Next time you’re at your local wine shop, ask the owner for recommendations. They’ll know people at wineries and will probably have their own list of best-places to visit. Do the same with friends and co-workers.


Where to Stay & Scheduling

Once you’ve figured out which town, be sure to check with the chamber of commerce and hotels in the area for special packages that may include passes to winery tastings or wine events. At the h2hotel in Healdsburg, for example, marketing director Circe Sher says there are frequently special deals tied to wine happenings in the area

At h2hotel we often feature packages that have special tasting experiences for our guests.  The Healdsburg for Two package is a great intro to wine country with a lot of added value as it includes complimentary tasting passes to some of our favorite wineries, use of our bicycles and dinner for two at our restaurant Spoonbar.


H2Hotel in Healdsburg.  Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

H2Hotel in Healdsburg. Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Then it’s time to drill down to scheduling. Jaclyn Stuart, award-winning sommelier, co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine & Food Pairing,” and owner of Vintage, a top Midwest wine shop located in Elkhart Lake, WI points out, “Many wineries require reservations, or may have a wait,” so be sure to call well in advance of your trip. “It’s also a good idea to arrange for a driver or shuttle/chauffeur service if you plan to make a lot of stops.”

On her wine-country exploration trips, Stuart plans to visit 2-3 wineries per day.

“I make those arrangements and if I happen to have gaps in between, I roll the dice and try out a new winery along the way or ask the previous winery where they would go if they had the afternoon off. That way, I have a rough plan in place and get to be sure I see some of my favorites.”

Most wineries have streamlined the tasting process and offer specific options. Some have wine-with-food pairings (tasting bites, locally made chocolates & cheeses, etc.) Others just do a simple 1-ounce pour for a flat fee that can range from “free” to $50. (most are between $5 and $20.) And some wineries will waive the fee if you buy bottled wine to take with you.

Packing for your trip, it’s good to know that wine country attire is casual. Choose darker colors, so if there’s a wine mishap, you won’t be wearing red for the rest of the day. And leave the stilettos at home—wineries that do tours of production facilities like you to wear comfortable, close-toed shoes.


No Dumb Questions

There is no shame in being a wine “newbie.” Keeping it open, you’ll learn a lot. And there are no dumb questions. As Stuart puts it, “The people working there have heard it all. Seriously.” She suggests some savvy/helpful questions to ask might be, “How long has the winery been open?” And, “How old are the vines?” Those are usually two different things and are a good way to open up a backstory about the winery. Mostly—just be yourself, have fun, soak in everything about the experience.


Dining, Shopping, Exploring

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley.  Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley. Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Balance winery visits with shopping, outdoor adventure local culture and dining for a fuller experience. Choosing restaurants, go to places known for exceptional food—such as Chef Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen http://www.charliepalmer.com/dry-creek-kitchen/ or Spoonbar www.spoonbar.com in Healdsburg, It’s a given the wine on offer will also be good. One insider tip? Many wine country restaurants will charge a very low corkage fee because they know people are buying and tasting wine all day. Ask the restaurants you’re thinking about if they offer this—it’s a nice bonus if you have the ability to BYO. For a night or two during your stay, you may wish to step away from wine and visit a local brewery or cocktail bar for a change of pace. Adventure-wise–Some towns offer biking/tasting (www.winecountrybikes.com ) and hiking/tasting tours ( www.savorhealdsburgfoodtours.com ) And if your never been, the redwood forests of the northern coast are a must. (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id+450 )


What to Bring Home

Alexander Valley: Photo courtesy of Monica Kass Rogers

Alexander Valley, Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

The best place to buy wine during your trip is at wineries that offer tastings. We had a great experience of this at family-owned wineries in Healdsburg such as Dry Creek Vineyard (www.drycreekvineyard.com), Soda Rock Winery (www.sodarockwinery.com) Alexander Valley Winery (www.avvwine.com) and the estate vineyards of Trattore Farms, which—unusually—is also home to the Dry Creek Olive Company (www.drycreekolivecompany.com) producing gourmet oils. Secondary to that, wine co-ops or retailers located near your hotel also offer wines from wineries that don’t have a tasting room. Stop in at these wine-bar settings after 5 p.m. and you may discover a label you’ve never seen before. And don’t hesitate to ask your hotel concierge or manager for recommendations to off-the-beaten-path wineries they’d recommend. If you’re able, bring an empty bag along on your trip to check wine in for your return. While most wineries are happy to ship, at $30 per case plus packaging, shipping wine is not cheap. (You’ll also need someone over 21 at home to receive the shipment.) One more tip for best flavor when you get the wine home: The wine will taste best if you let it “settle” post-travel for at least a week before drinking.




Feast and Fête – It’s Spring Gala Season

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Gents, dust off your tuxes, and ladies, it’s time to get svelte to slip into those gala gowns – Spring time has arrived so let the soirées begin. High on our list (no pun intended) is the 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction “Uncork A Southern Tradition.” Wine Spectator magazine named this the fifth largest, charity wine auction in the US. Events start on Wednesday, March 25th and run through the weekend.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’re most exited about the Industry Tasting on Thursday, March 27th and the Vintners’ Reception and Live Auction on Saturday, March 28th. The Industry Tasting was ranked the most prestigious tasting in the Southeast. Here, we’ll meet guest vintners educating and introducing us to their choice selections. We’ll mingle with over 900 wine-trade attendees at this premiere tasting.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’ve left our schedule open on Friday evening and may pass on the Friday Fête. This event is for the gourmand and party-goer. James Beard chefs will feature their succulent selections, guests can bid on silent auction items, and attendees will shake their groove thing to sounds of a live band. We may save ourselves for Saturday when the grand finale happens at the Vinters’ Reception and Live Auction. Top-notch chefs and winemakers will showcase their finest savories and sips and the highly-anticipated 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction will feature rare and fine wines, art, trips, and dining experiences. Uncork A Southern Tradition benefits the High Museum in Atlanta. Let the bidding begin!

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

For more information, please visit call Carole Ashworth at 404-733-4543 or carole.ashworth@woodruffcenter.org


A Saint Patrick’s Day Tradition in Chicago, The Dyeing of the Chicago River

Credit Choose Chicago_St Patricks Greening River Outside HRD 533

Dyeing of the Chicago River: Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us and all over the city of Chicago, local Irish-Americans and even”Irish for a Day” party-goers are gearing up for the festivities.

Irish Americans have very deep roots in Chicago.  In the history of our city over a dozen mayors have been of Irish descent.   Our south side major league ball park (Comiskey Park – Home of the Chicago White Sox) was named after its founding owner Charles Comiskey, son of Irish Immigrants. Even the cow, and suspected arsonistwho singlehandedly (single-hoofed?) was responsible for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which then ushered in the rebirth of the city into the world-class metropolis it is today was an O’Leary.    Indeed the Irish have played a huge part in shaping the culture of the city, including how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

March 14th in addition to the usual suspects: green beer, corned-beef and cabbage,  pints of Guinness and shots of Irish whiskey, we also have the strange custom of Dyeing the Chicago River green.  This started somewhat unintentionally in the early 1960’s when local plumbers used a chemical dye called fluorescein to look for signs of pollution.  The whole thing looked pretty festive and has been a yearly tradition ever since…though the local plumbers union have long since switched to something a little more environmentally friendly.

The View from the Hyatt Regency Chicago.  Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

The View from the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

Each year thousands will line up along the river the event.  A great vantage point to see the river dyeing is at the  Hyatt Regency Chicago .    This year the Hyatt Regency has The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band’s performing traditional Irish music in the lobby throughout the day to get you into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.  Of course while you’re there you could go upstairs to BIG Bar and order Corned Beef Flatbread Pizzas along with Irish Mules and Irish Car Bombs; The view from up there is pretty good.  If you want to go traditional, head back downstairs to American Craft Kitchen & Bar and order the Oxtail Soup or Corned Beef and Cabbage; a pint obviously.  You can’t go wrong with way.

Corned Beef and Cabbage at American-Craft Kitchen Bar.  Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

Corned Beef and Cabbage at American-Craft Kitchen Bar. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago






Are Stem Cells the Next Big Thing in Skincare?

It’s been about a month and a half and I’m scraping the nearly empty jar of CellEssence Cream. I have a feeling it normally lasts longer; although I caught my significant other dipping into it a few times and emerging from his daily routine with strikingly radiant skin. In an ever-ending effort to fight the signs of aging without needles or going under the knife, and also to bring our readers the best hidden gems out there, we introduce you to CellEssence skincare. I heard of this line, based in Newport Beach, from Twitter, of all places. I was eager to try it to see if it would ease those fine lines and dark circles around my eyes and expression lines that have made a home for themselves on my face.


My sample package arrived in the mail and included the NuvaCell Wrinkle Repair Eye Serum and CellEssence Anti-Aging Face Cream. The eye cream comes in an ample-sized container with an easy-to-use-pump that with just one push dispenses a dab plentiful enough to use on both eyes. Both initially went on rich and noticeable concentrated. I applied them at night and was wondering if they were light enough to apply under makeup in the daytime. Within minutes they absorbed into my skin seamlessly leaving behind a smooth and almost velvety feel! The next morning (even with less than eight hours of sleep) I emerged from my slumber with a glow about my skin and the lines around my eyes softened.  My skin look hydrated, more even-toned, and felt smooth to the touch. I was intrigued and was excited to see how this worked during daytime with a full schedule ahead. One word, awesome. No added oiliness and my makeup seemed to like it too.


I sampled this product in the midst of winter and what I noticed throughout the season was that my skin gave off this radiant glow, did not once get dried out even during the cold, dry winter we experienced where I was stuck indoors through most of it with dry heat blaring in our home and car to keep the winter chill at bay. The lines around my eyes were non-existent. The line promised to deliver “potent DNA repair activity” that helps to repair DNA and activate the skin’s stem cells which result in less sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, and under-eye dark circles and bags.

Key ingredients in the CellEssence line responsible for these noticeable results include DMAE; Alpha Lipoic Acid; Licorice Root Extract; Renovage ™; Vitasource; and Synovea  HR. While I’m not too familiar with all of these wonder components listed above; I do know I’m a fan and can’t wait to get my hands on more CellEssence skincare.


Amaro Di Angostura, the next logical step

Angostura Amaro Bottle HIlight_FINALThe House of Angostura is known for their Aromatic Bitters and can be found in almost every bar across the world.  For well over 150 years they have been making their signature bitters.  Now after 7 years in development, the House of Angostura has released Amaro Di Angostura.  Inspired by old-world Italian traditions but with a Caribbean soul; exotic and unique to Trinidad.

Before setting up shop in Port of Spain, Trinidad (1875), House of Angostura started making their aromatic bitters in 1824 in the town of Angostura, Venezuela now known as Cuidad Bolivar.  It was originally created by a german doctor in Simon Bolivar’s army and used to help soldier’s upset stomachs.  Eventually someone came up with the idea to use it as a flavor additive and since then has been a staple in bars and kitchens everywhere.

House of Angostura has also produced a line of award winning rums (if you’re keeping score, they racked up over 60 medals and countless accolades in the last 5 years alone)… so why get into the Amaro business?  Amaro, as everyone will tell you, literally means “Bitter” in Italian

I’ll pause here while you connect the dots

It is the logical next step for the House of Angostura.

Creating a classic amaro with a flavor profile that is distinctly Angostura was not too difficult.  All the ingredients for all their products from the rums and even their super-secret aromatic bitters (seriously, only 5 people on the planet know the whole recipe and they’re not telling), are sourced locally.  Each sip you are experiencing the flavors of Trinidad. It took years of tinkering however to get Amaro Di Angostura from good to great.

Amaro is generally a maceration of herbs, botanicals, roots, and citrus, mixed with a neutral spirit and aged.  Amaro Di Angostura uses cold percolation to extract the essential oils with none of the acidity or harsh bitterness.  The result is a well balanced herbal liquor that sits between sweet and bitter.  The flavors are well married and come forward together without one overpowering the others.  Spice forward with anise/licorice and citrus with a richness of toasted caramel and dark chocolate.  On the whole very pleasant with no heat or long aftertaste.  Restrained and elegant enough to enjoy on it’s own but can play in interesting part in cocktails.  Such as….

Gin Collins di Amaro

Gin Collins di Amaro


Gin Collins di Amaro

  •  2 oz. Amaro di Angostura
  • 1 oz. Ginger Syrup
  • .75 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 4 slips Fresh Ginger
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Lemon Wheel & Brandied Cherry

Muddle fresh ginger slips with ginger syrup in mixing glass.  Add remaining ingredients with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain over ice into Collins glass.  Top with club soda and garnish.


Angostura Amaro Side-Kick




  • 1 oz. Angostura 5yr Old (blended gold rum)
  • 1 oz. Amaro de Angostura
  • .5 oz. Dry Orange Curacao
  • .5 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters

Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with cubed ice.  Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe (cocktail)glass.



Amaro is generally a tricky proposition for the typical American drinker.  Cocktailians and Mixologists have generally accepted Amaro with open arms and have created some wonderful recipes with it.  Lately you can’t hit a single craft cocktail joint without running into a least a couple amaro drinks on the menu, it’s been really hot the last couple years.  Those guys get it, for the casual drinker it has been something of an acquired taste.  Amaro however has been catching on here in the US as it has years ago in Europe.  With time, patience, and increased market exposure, good taste will prevail.

Available:  Initial rollout in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.  We are seeing Amaro Di Angostura starting to arrive in finer restaurants, lounges, and retail stores.  If you see it, it’s definitely worth trying.  For the uninitiated it is a great introduction to Amaro … which eventually turns to Amore.


For more information check out www.angostura.com 




Pucker Up and Get Soft, Supple, and Ready for Valentine’s Day with Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

Here at VODA, you know we are big fans of the organic and luxurious line of skincare products by Amala. This winter, and right in time for Valentine’s Day, they offer two products that came just in the nick of time to soothe my moisture-deprived chapped lips and dry hands. I breathed a sigh of relief, finally products that feel good and you can feel good about using.  Amala does not test their products on animals and uses plant-derived ingredients that are grown responsibly and work with your skin to deliver noticeable results.

Photo courtesy of Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

The samples arrived in the minimal, yet elegant, signature Amala packaging. The Rejuvenating Hand Cream was in a tube with a cork-like top, the Soothing Lip Salve in an easy to squeeze, no-mess tube, both with elegant copper-toned caps.  Before bedtime I slathered on the velvety hand cream and applied the balm to my rough, dry lips.  The next morning I notice my lips felt softer and not as tight and dry. I felt my hands, it was like touching a baby’s bottom. They hadn’t been this soft in years, probably since I was a baby.

Photo courtesy of Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

The lip salve, labeled “soothe,” is made from desert fig seed, Moroccan chamomile, and shea butter. It goes on smooth and silky and leaves a subtle shine.  By day two, my lips were back to their plump, nourished self. I noticed they were incredibly soft too.  The Rejuvenating Hand Cream goes on silky smooth and absorbs quickly without a greasy feel.  It is made with cocoa beans, Inca inchi seed, and licorice root.  This dynamic duo was just what I needed to get ready for that silly, Hallmark holiday we can’t help but love!


Chicago 2015: The Resolution of Giving

Now that the new year is underway, everyone is looking to get a start on their resolutions.  The gyms across town are packed every night, for now.  Sales of healthy food at the supermarket is going up, for now.  You are probably even getting to work early every day, for now.  (just speculating)

If your resolution is to do some good in the world, the task of truly giving back can seem daunting.  The thing to remember is it is ok to start small, the little things add up.  The other thing to remember is that you don’t have to go it alone.  There following are just a few products/places that will donate proceeds of sales to charitable organizations both in town and across the world.  Who says you can’t enjoy a night out while making the world a better place?


Ronald_McDonald_HouseBIG Bar & Brasserie at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, (151 East Upper Wacker Drive) is donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of their “Home Sweet Home” cocktail (Absolut Mango, St. Germain, Mango Puree and sour mix) to the Ronald McDonald House near the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.   The Ronald McDonald House  provides families a place to stay while their children are getting medical treatment.  You get a delicious cocktail and keep a family together at a time of need.  Cheers to that.


purple-asparagusDMK Burger Bar with locations downtown and in the suburbs is a mainstay of quality burgers and through their “365 Days of Giving” program, are also known for their big hearts.  Each month the DMK Burger Bar teams up with a different local non-profit organizations every month to help raise funds and awareness. In January they partner with Purple Asparagus,whose mission is to educate Chicago children, families, and communities about eating what is good for the body and the planet by bringing nutritious hands-on adventures to schools, community organizations, and farmers’ markets throughout Chicagoland.


lurie-childrens-hospitalLevel Two restaurant & lounge located on the second floor of the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile offers guest a chance to donate to the Lurie Children’s Hospital through their is running Change for Hope campaign.   Nothing complicated about this one, guests are simply encourged to round up the change on their bill at the end of the meal.  All extra “Change for Hope” is collected and donated directly to Lurie Children’s Hospital across the street from the restaurant as a greater Room for Hope hotel-wide campaign to support Lurie patients and their families.


World_Wildlife_FundBranded Spirits’ Ice Fox Vodka  profits from the sale go in part to the World Wildlife Fund protecting the shrinking population of Artic Foxes that inspired the product.  Founded in 1961, the WWF is now the largest conservation organizations in the world, working on the restoration and preservation of endangered species and the environment.  The next time you are sitting back and enjoying a glass of this triple distilled premium all-american vodka, know you had a hand in saving a species from extinction. Definitely worth raising a glass to that.



Coral_Reef_AllianceBranded Spirits’ Motu Rum is donating a portion of profits from its sale  to the Coral Reef Alliance to help preserve the pristine coral reefs of the South Pacific.   The Coral Reef Alliance started in 1994 in Berkeley California to get the diving community involved in coral reef conservation.  Since then it has grown to a  premiere global non-profit conservation organization with initiative in reef communities around the world.  With every purchase of Motu Rum you are helping preserve this delicate ecosystem that urgently needs our help.

These are only some of the ways you can begin 2015 as your year of giving.  Even if it is limited to ordering a cocktail or picking up a bottle at the store, you are making a difference.  You shouldn’t dismiss these as trivial because again, the little things really can add up to something wonderful.  Knowing you had a hand in helping a local family stay close to their loved one at a difficult time, help keep the school kids healthy, or prevented a species in another part of the world from becoming a footnote in history, should warm your heart.  A step no matter how small makes you a part of the solution and a better tomorrow.


A Chicago Foodie NYE

Chicago NYE 2014


New Years Eve in Chicago.  Time to celebrate another year in this great city.  There are the hotel parties and nightclubs which are always fun but may not be for everyone. For the gourmand/foodie in town and looking to do something a little different we have a few suggestions

 American Comfort Fare

DMK Burger Bar – Chicago and Lombard

DMK Burger Bar

DMK Burger Bar

At DMK Burger Bar, guests have a variety of packages to choose from to satisfy a range of party appetites – ranging from the single-admission ticket for draft beers, boozy punch, house cocktails, and passed Sliders (bite sized versions of DMK’s best burgers), Fries, and Shakes all night; to The King’s Table for you and up to 14 guests and including a Double Magnum bottle of Veuve Cliquot as well as two bottles of a liquor of choice and a classic breakfast served at 1 a.m. exclusively for their table.  Packages and pricing vary by location, see DMK NYE for more details.

Howells & Hood – 435 N. Michigan Ave.

Howells & Hood is home to the largest draft beer selection in Chicago.  This year guests will get to enjoy a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve celebration, no ticket required. Newly appointed Executive Chef Brett Neubauer presents a four-course, prix-fixe menu for guests to enjoy gourmet twists on American classics and then stay for the celebration with a DJ at 10 p.m. Additionally, a Champagne toast is offered at midnight with complimentary late night snacks for all guests. Some notable menu items and beverage suggestions include: 

  • Australian Truffle & Foie Gras Bites featuring truffle foie gras mousse, port, and espelette pepper paired with Beer – Brasserie St. Feuillien Saison, Wine – Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, or Howells Royale cocktail (Huckleberry Jam, Rosemary Simple, Bubbles).
  • 12-oz Painted Hills 60 Day Dry-Aged Rib-Eye with Australian truffle, buttermilk mashed potatoes, charred rapini, and red wine reduction paired with Beer – Founder’s Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale,  Wine -Mitolo Shiraz Jester, or Hatting in the Hood cocktail (FEW Bourbon, House Brandied Cherries, Carpano Antica, Orange Bitters).
  • Butterscotch Bread Pudding made with Brioche bread, vanilla bean custard, rum raisin ice cream, butterscotch sauce paired with Beer –  Greenbush Distorter Porter,  Wine – Milbrandt Traditions Merlot, or a Butter Beer Cocktail (Root Beer, Butterscotch, Jameson, Horchata, Cinnamon, Egg White, Cherry)

The four-course prix-fixe menu is priced at $75 per person, or $100 with beverage pairing suggestions. Beverages served a la carte, if preferred. For more details see Howell and Hood NYE.  Reservations strongly encouraged, and can be made by calling 312.262.5310 or at www.howellsandhood.com.

Of course it doesn’t end there.  The next day Howells & Hood is hosting a New Year’s Day Hangover Brunch. guests can enjoy the following feel-good dishes:

  • Doritos Chilaquiles with short rib, nacho cheese Doritos, cotija cheese, and salsa roja
  • Doughnut French Toast with banana, caramelized pecans, and bourbon
  • Cheeseburger Strata with brioche, cheddar cheese, onion, and royale
  • Blackstrap Molasses Ham & Cheese Muffin with English muffin, Irish cheddar, and over-easy egg.

Brunch is offered from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Reservations strongly encouraged, and can be made by calling 312.262.5310 or atwww.howellsandhood.com.

Their sister location, the Old Town Pour House – 1419 N. Wells St. is also hosting a New Years Day Brunch; offered at 10:30 a.m., with similar recovery fare and some hair of the dog if so inclined.  For more information, please visit www.oldtownpourhouse.com or call 630.601.1440.

Italian Elegance

Filini Bar & Restaurant – 221 North Columbus Drive

Filini Bar and Restaurant

Filini Bar & Restaurant

Filini Bar & Restaurant you can party like Gatsby at this transformed 1920’s fete with pre-prohibition cocktails, music, and décor. Flappers and Dapper Don’s are encouraged to wear their best golden age attire and enjoy delectable Italian fare and a live DJ performance. Along with hors d’oeuvres from 9-11 p.m., open bar from 9 p.m.-midnight, and complimentary Prosecco, party favors, and dessert bar when the clock strikes midnight.


Peruvian Exotic 

Tanta – 118 W. Grand Ave.

Foodies looking to ring in the new year with more exotic fare we have Tanta,  a Chicago standout for Peruvian cuisine.  Chef Jesus Delgado present guests with à la carte menu items showcasing the flavors of the culture including:

Tanta Cebiche ValienteCebiche Valiente - Lobster, rocoto leche de tigre coral, and huacatay;





Tanta Scallops and Chupe

Chupe – Grilled jumbo sea scallops with organic quinoa chupe in a aji amarillo-crab broth and roasted sweet peppers, and quail egg;





Tanta CorderoEstofado Cordero – Grilled Australian rack of lamb with anticucho sauce, cannellini beans, cilantro, criolla salad, and aji amarillo (ingredients subject to change based upon seasonal availability).




Ring in the New Year with a champagne toast and an unforgettable meal. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 312.222.9700 or by visitingOpentable.com. For more information, please visit www.tantachicago.com.



TÊTE Charcuterie – 1114 West Randolph Street



This hot west loop Charcuterie on restaurant row is throwing an all-out NYE bash that is much a celebration of the good life inspired by their passion for good food and drink as it is a celebration of a new year with its endless possibilities.  As expected there will be an enormous buffet of appetizers and TÊTE’s out-of-this-world Charcuterie, a DJ and ice shot luge to keep the party going all night, and, at midnight, The Salsa Truck arrives on the scene to hand out tacos (included in the ticket) to satisfy those late night munchies.   For more info go to TETE or go to http://tetenye.bpt.me to get tickets.


Mediterranean Sophisticate

Travelle – 330 North Wabash Ave.



Chef Tim Graham and Pastry Chef Scott Green at Travelle are offering a gourmet New Year’s Eve prix-fixe menu that is an exquisite way to bring 2014 to a close. There is a three-course menu from 5-7:30 p.m. and a five-course menu from 8-10:30 p.m.

The festivities begin with a Champagne cart at your table at the beginning of the meal.  Guest will enjoy live music along with diner.

Some of the featured dishes include:

  • Salad Lyonnaise, truffled frisee, fried egg, and bacon
  • Sunchoke Soup, hazelnut and black truffle
  • Risotto, white truffle and chive
  • Duck, crispy confit leg, truffled-potato rosti, and Cognac gastrique
  • Beef Tenderloin, with brioche, foie gras, and truffled sauce bordelaise
  • An assortment of Mini Desserts.

For reservations, please visit TravelleChicago.com or call 312.923.7705. Like Travelle on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

New Years day Travelle will be open providing hangover relief through their travel inspired eggs Benedicts menu. Guests can select any one of the Benedictine Traveler’s line-up of six selections including:

  • English Benedict with rasher of ham and hollandaise
  • Moroccan Benedict with Merguez sausage, mint, and piquillo sauce
  • Norwegian Benedict with smoked salmon, fennel, and sauce choron
  • Florentine Benedict with spinach, artichoke, and sauce béarnaise
  • Travelle Benedict with lobster, spinach and truffled hollandaise
  • Burgundian Benedict with red wine braised short rib, crispy shallot, and sauce Dijon.

Diners can pair their favorite benedict choice with a mimosa or Bloody Mary for $29/person from 11am-3pm. For reservations, please visit TravelleChicago.com or call 312.923.7705. Like Travelle on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.




Modern Metaphor: Park Hyatt Beijing

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

China Grill Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

During breakfast at Park Hyatt Beijing’s lofty China Grill nobody is talking. That’s because they’ve either been stunned to silence by the dramatic cityscape displayed like Park Avenue eye candy via wrap around panoramic windows. Or, they’re too busy relishing platters of assorted, abundant Chinese delights gleaned from the immense buffet. I think it’s a little bit of both. Certainly, the restaurant’s setting on the 66th floor ensures it’s the most high altitude eatery in the city and the hotel’s location, adjacent the CCTV Tower, opposite the World Trade Center, and amid the Central Business District, makes for a jaw dropping portrayal of new Beijing’s creative urbanity.  But it’s the food that ultimately steals the show, with chefs like Daisy Dong cooking up wok fried noodles, egg pancakes stuffed with coriander and chilies, steamed buns and pan fried dumplings—all before your eyes.

Lobby Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

Lobby Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

Breakfast alone is reason enough to check into to this luxury skyscraper style hotel, but its virtues abound. Smart, swanky and reveling in China’s new found modernity, it manages to meld Oriental motifs with futuristic aesthetics. Ensconced in a trio of towers, its meant to be a city within itself, so complete guests (and residents) can work, play, dine, shop—and well, never, ever leave.  That could be a problem if you hanker to see the Great Wall. Still, it’s this cool factor that intrigues—as if you’re entering a forbidden city of a more contemporary kind.

Executive Suite  Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

Executive Suite Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

An express elevator whisks guests to the hotel lobby, located on the 63rd floor. There, awash with water gardens and encased in glass walls, it induces tranquility of a chic sort. Clean lines abound here, as they do in the guestrooms which are ample and open. All suites and rooms include screens, enormous bathrooms (complete with high tech toilets), mood lighting and well conceived work stations. Perhaps the coup da gras (suite wise) can be found on the 60th floor where nine super tony suites and a bi-level Penthouse in minimalist style, bedecked with stirring art pieces, boast views like no other hotel in Beijing.

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

Though guests may never want to leave their rooms, they should—even if they intend to never exit the hotel. The Tian Spa awaits with Eastern nfluenced treatments, Private Room serves Cantonese cuisine in an evocative,–almost clandestine–spaces, and the fitness center has two pools, one enclosed by glass that seems to float in the sky. So popular that trendy locals stand in line for hours each night, XIU, the expansive rooftop bar (actually five themed bars in one) has a guest only, express entrance.  Now that’s what I call an amenity.

Xiu Bar Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing

Xiu Bar Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beijing