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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SAVOR Wines, Mezcalito, silent discos and more...
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-06-11

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Lounging at Mezcalito

Mercadito Chicago, 108 W. Kinzie St., recently opened a downstairs lounge called Mezcalito—and the colorful basement spot definitely has some attractive culinary features and drinks of its own.

Executive Chef Marissa Tunon has whipped up some intriguing delights, including esquites ( off-the-cob corn, lime mayo and chile pequin ); chicharrones ( pork rinds ) with avocado dip; chiles toreados ( blistered shishitos with maggi-lime dressing ); and guacamole, among other treats. ( Note: Mercadito dinner items are not available at Mezcalito, and vice versa. )

Bartender Dylan Stewart helps to set the mood as well. He led a class in making negronis and Scaredy Cats ( a cucumber-infused drink, so called because cats apparently jump if the vegetable is placed behind them ).

Chateau Montelena: Days of wine and roses

A couple of the people behind the Napa Valley-based Chateau Montelena winery visited Chicago recently—and impressed this writer by unveiling delicious white and red wines, including a 2016 cabernet sauvignon ( just out ) and a riesling, at a tasting at Gibson's Italia.

Considering the winery has been around for more than a century, it would seem that the folks behind the Chateau know what they're doing. Winemaker Matt Crafton unveiled a lot of facts about the winery, including its intriguing history—including the 1970s Paris tasting that put the vintage on the map.

See montelena.com/ for more information.

Treaty Oak's tasting

Treaty Oak Distillery ( advertised as the most awarded distillery in Texas ) held a tasting of its gin and whiskey expressions recently at the Chit Chat Lounge ( below The Swill Inn at 415 N. Milwaukee Ave. ).

Among the variations are Waterloo No. 9 ( named after the original name of Austin, Texas )—the first gin to be introduced in the state, and which has striking floral notes; Waterloo Old Yaupon, a unique take on an Old Tom Gin; and Ghost Hill Texas bourbon whiskey, named after the distillery's 28-acre ranch home in Dripping Springs.

Treaty Oak expressions are sold in retail facilities such as Binny's, Houdini's Spirits, Red Star Liquors, DWS and Village Wine Shop Provisions Uptown, as well as numerous restaurants/bars, including The Swill Inn, Billy Sunday, The Fifty/50 and Scofflaw.

See more at TreatyOakDistilling.com .

Floating on AIRE

AIRE, atop the Hyatt Centric at 100 W. Monroe St., launched its "rotating artist series" with a 3,800-square-foot mural, "Grounded." Designed and painted by Onur, this vintage inspired piece is meant to immerse viewers in a dream-like "vignette" thus evoking emotional and introspective feelings while drifting amongst the clouds.

There were bites and drinks served at the inaugural event—but another highlight was the silent disco, courtesy of QuietEvents. Wearing headphones, attendees could choose to listen and dance to songs from three DJs who played electronica, hip-hop or Top 40 music.

On Monday, June 10, guests are invited to witness local Chicago creative Tristan Hummel at work as he completes and displays "The Light Keeper's Looking Glass." Throughout the evening, guests may participate in a creative conversation about the new piece from 7:15 -7:45 p.m., tour AIRE to take in the collective works, and enjoy special $6 draft beers, a cocktail or light bite from AIRE.

Partying at Cerise

Thoughts of dayclubbing may evoke thoughts of manic energy, VIP champagne service and dancing on tables ( just like nightclubbing—except the sun can be seen from what is usually a hotel rooftop ).

Cerise—the rooftop bar on the 26th floor of Virgin Hotels, 203 N. Wabash St.—is a dayclub, but certainly has a more relaxed ( and mature ) feel. This past weekend, a friend and I checked out the space; we had a cool time, overall.

Servers were very attentive ( with other patrons as well as ourselves ) and, despite constant rain outside, the inside was cozy and fun. ( Three hours passed very quickly and the host—whose cool attire wouldn't look out of place in 1970s London—was engaging. )

There are Mediterranean-influenced bites available, such as Hot Chicks ( chickpea fries with yogurt-raisin tahini ), octopus ceviche and flatbreads. Overall, this restaurant profiler found the bites okay—and one flatbread had olives ( which my friend and I both hate ), although the menu didn't mention olives.

The drinks are more reliable, with a heady Next Episode ( sombra mezcal, grand marnier, pineapple and lemon ) and intriguing rose sangria. There are also several wines and beers ( with everything from Stone Tropic of Thunder to good ol' Pabst Blue Ribbon ) available.

Cerise offers various themed nights throughout the week, including Ladies Night on Tuesdays as well as Latin and house music on Fridays.

By the way, Cerise is named after a shade of red—but there's not too much of that color around ( except for the bar and the servers' attire ).

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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