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Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest
Drink, Food,

Bruz Beers’ First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest

Anyone who knows anything about Denver knows that it’s a craft beer capital in the United States. For the uninitiated, craft beers combined with 5280 feet of altitude can mean a swift end to your day and a cab ride home, but for the experienced aficionado, it’s just another day in the Mile High City.

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

If you can handle your booze, you should consider checking out Bruz Beers’ first inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest. To be clear, the beers are belgian style, but brewed right here in Denver.  If you’re not familiar (you’re missing out!), Belgian style beers tend to be ales (not lagers), that have a heavy focus on malts and lots of fruity yeast flavors. In other words, a style both myself and my boyfriend can enjoy without having to compromise for each other.

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

Participating breweries at Bruz Beers’ Belgian Brew Fest include:

I could drink beer all day and be entertained by the calamities that ensue, but that’s not all the Belgian Brew Fest has to offer patrons. In addition to UNLIMITED four ounce pours from 10 excellent Denver breweries, you’ll also be treated to the musical stylings of Velvet Compass and The Goonies. And fear not – 4 tasty food trucks will be in attendance so you can chase heavy drinking with heavy eating:

Can you think of a better end to the work week?

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

If you’re seriously a trooper, your Belgian Brew Fest wristband gets you happy hour pricing in Bruz Beers’ taproom once the festivities are over.

Belgian Brew Fest 2017 happens Saturday, April 29, from 1-5pm. Tickets are $48 (purchase in advance on Eventbrite) and grant you access to everything you need for an awesome Saturday in Denver.

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

Will you be attending Belgian Brew Fest this year? Let me know in the comments below, and look for a drunk girl snapping pictures for Instagram – that could be me (or any other girl at the festival).

How to Drink Glendalough Whiskey (1)
Drink, Food,

How to Drink Glendalough Whiskey 6 Ways for St. Patrick’s Day

You might not be a whiskey drinker for 99% of the year, but come St. Patrick’s day, everyone is Irish for the day (or week as it may in fact be). In order to honor this special designation, it’s necessary to chase every Guinness with a drink made from fine Irish whiskey.

Glendalough Distillery is Ireland’s first craft distillery. So no, it’s not as old as the beautiful castles in the countryside, but what it lacks in age, it makes up in flavor.

Glendalough Irish Whiskey is available at bars in major cities around the US. If you’re looking for a special St. Patrick’s Day treat (instead of moumtains of cheap beer), here are 6 ways you can drink Glendalough Whiskey – at a bar near you, or even at home if you’re feeling like a mixologist.


Cocktail: Interdimensional Crossrip
Personality/Venue: Sean Gleason from the Biltong Bar
2 oz. chai-infused Glendalough Double Barrel
0.75 oz. Vin Picon
0.75 oz. Sorghum pecan syrup
0.5 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. of egg white
Method: Shaken up in a cocktail glass and garnished with crushed chai tea 


Cocktail: Irish Spiced Sour
Personality/Venue: Carley Noel Gaskin from Bad Hunter in Chicago
Glass: Coupe
1 ½ oz. Glendalough Double Barrel
¾ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Banana Chestnut Puree*
½ oz. honey
½ oz. Don Ciccio walnut liqueur
1 egg white
Ground cinnamon to garnish

*Banana Chestnut Puree
1 C chestnut puree
2 bananas peeled and chopped
1 C coconut milk
Add all ingredients to a blender or VitaMix and pulse into smooth.
Method: Dry shake all ingredients and then shake hard with ice. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with ground cinnamon to taste.

Chicago Tasting Events

  • Bernie’s Lunch and Supper: St. Patrick’s Day Special featuring Glendalough Pop-Up cocktails from March 11th-18th
  • The Drifter Bar: Featuring Glendalough cocktails throughout the month of March and hosting a Glendalough Night on March 16th
  • Bangers and Lace: Glendalough whiskey flights and St. Patrick’s Day cocktail running throughout the month of March
  • East Room Chicago: Jams & Jammers featuring Glendalough Irish whiskey sampling and cocktail specials on March15th


Cocktail: Red Legs
Personality/Venue: Jace Sheehan from Citizen Public House in Boston
Glass: Rocks
1 ½ oz. Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey
¾ oz. Pineapple Juice
¾ oz. Lime Juice
½ oz. Ango Amaro
Roasted pineapple wedge garnish
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a wedge of roasted pineapple.

St. Kevin Sling
Personality/Venue: Ezra Star from Drink Fort Point in Boston. (voted Best Bar at Tales of the Cocktail among many other accolades.
Glass: Highball
1 ½ oz Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
¼ oz Grenadine
4 dashes Orange Bitters
Soda Water
Garnish Long Lemon Swirl
Method: Add your whiskey, juice, Dry Curaçao, Grenadine and bitters to a shaker with ice, and shake up a storm. Then strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top it up with soda water. For full effect, your lemon swirl should wrap the whole way around the inside of the glass.

Cocktail: Carmilla
Personality/Venue: Lead Bartender/Partner Mick Perrigo from The Left Door
1 1/2 oz. Glendalough Double Barrel
3/4 oz. Yzaguirre Vermouth
¼ oz. Benedictine
2 dashes of star anise tincture
Method: Pour on the rocks and stir

DC Tasting Events

  • Whiskey Seminar at James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant & Bar (3/14)
  • Glendalough Takeover at  The Left Door (3/15) – On Wednesday, March 15th at 8 p.m., guests are invited to The Left Door for a special Gothic St. Patrick’s Day Party hosted by Glendalough Distillery, Ireland’s first craft distillery.
  • Glendalough Pop-Up Cocktail Night at Granville Moores (3/16)
  • St. Patrick’s Day Party Bar Deco (3/17)
  • Glendalough Pop-Up Cocktail Night at  Kingfisher (3/18)
  • Glendalough Pop-Up Cocktail Night at RiRa in Georgetown (3/24)

Cocktail: In the Navy
Personality/Venue: Aaron Hayden of Peruke & Periwig in Dublin. This is a twist on the classic Navy Grog and was voted best cocktail during the Dublin Cocktail Festival.
Glass: Rocks Glass
1 ⅓ ounces of Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey
⅓ ounce Amaretto
1 ounce grapefruit juice
⅔ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce caramel liqueur such as Giffard’s Caramel Toffee
2 drops Peychaud’s bitters
Method: Shake and strain into rocks glass, garnish with grapefruit and mint sprig.

The good news? You have options.

What’s your favorite thing to consume on St. Patrick’s Day? Corned beef and cabbage is a perfectly acceptable answer. Share your preferences in the comments below!

Why You Should Eat Purely (I Did)

Why You Should Eat Purely (I Did)

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It was a cold, rainy day in Chicago when I received an email that simply read, ‘Don’t go out in the cold tonight – dinner is on us’ from Eat Purely.

Immediately I assumed there was a catch but there wasn’t one at all, like a good first date they just wanted to treat me to dinner.  A complimentary organic, fresh to order dinner delivered to my door as I fought the wind and cold to get home.

Why You Should Eat Purely (I Did)

The dinner was perfectly balanced and filling.  I chose the Venetian Chicken which had tender, juicy white meat chicken atop a bed of polenta surrounded by roasted tomatoes and a light relish. There was a light but flavorful sauce to accompany the dish before cooking and one again after topped with crispy prosciutto.

As if the dinner itself wasn’t good enough the complete process was so simple, right down to the container that is both microwaveable and oven safe (it’s all about the details!).  Dinner was delivered promptly with a handwritten note from founder Julia, and a chocolate treat with walnuts and some heat for dessert.

Why You Should Eat Purely (I Did)

Typically, I’m hesitant with made to order meals, but Eat Purely is honestly carry out’s biggest nightmare. It’s affordable, healthy and filling, with only the best quality ingredients. Options change on a daily basis, so check the app regularly to see what Eat Purely’s chefs have cooked up.

When you’re exhausted from a long day or want a quick meal without all the effort of cooking this will absolutely not break the bank and be scheduled to be delivered on your terms.

Eat Purely promises a delivery in just 20 minutes – GrubHub and Postmates don’t even get close to that delivery window. You have the option to order on demand or schedule a delivery – whatever suits your schedule and availability.

Here’s Eat Purely’s delivery area, with plans to expand as the service gains more popularity:

Try it, and enjoy $20 with the code PURELYCHICAGO.  No strings attached, just dinner on me.

Why You Should Eat Purely (I Did)

Have you tried Eat Purely yet? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Food, Life, Shopping,

3 Ways to Grocery Shop in Chicago without Leaving the House

3 or 4 months out of the year, grocery becomes a chore in every sense of the word due to the cold, seemingly insurmountable walking and bag transporting conditions. But even in good weather, sometimes the grocery store is too far away to be plausible if you don’t have a car, or to be honest, maybe you’re just feeling lazy.

But regardless of why you can’t leave the house to go grocery shopping, you’re in luck, because you have options. Here are 3 ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house.


Promo code: Use “fggx” to get $20 worth of delivery credits (can be spread over multiple orders)
Delivery charge: Start at $5, and go up depending on how far you are from the city center + 9% service fee on groceries + tip

Postmates is very similar to Grubhub, in that you can order our favorite restaurant food for delivery. Where it’s different is in its integration to shop basic groceries. With this in mind, and as many Postmates ride bikes, you should use Postmates mostly for small orders of necessities and popular items. You can usually expect Postmates to deliver in about an hour or less.

If your exact desired item isn’t in stock, Postmates gives you the option to substitute the order, take an in-store recommendation, or cancel the order completely.


Promo code: Use ‘MOSMAN11 for $10 off your first order
Delivery charge: Various. Depends on your delivery timeframe and order size.

Instacart is a lot like Postmates, although they specialize much more in groceries and have a much better selection of products. The best part? You can shop favorites from grocery stores instead of accepting products stockpiled in a warehouse (which is how Peapod operates).

Delivery charges are quite minimal compared to Postmates and Peapod, ranging from $3.99-$5.99, depending on how quickly you need your groceries. They also have a yearly membership program that’s worth every penny if you end up using Instacart on the regular. The only downside is their pricing – sometimes up to 20% marked up from retail prices.

Bonus: You don’t need a Costco membership to order from Costco with Costco products.


Promo code: 60 days of free delivery + $20 off first order with code 60DAYSFREE
Delivery charge: Flat rate around $5-7 per delivery + tip

Peapod is the best ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house. They’re pretty flexible in terms of when you want your groceries, but should expect as long as a 4 hour delivery time block. Make sure someone’s home to accept the delivery!

They run several promotions throughout the year, so when used strategically, it’s one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to grocery shop, without, ya know, doing it yourself.

Downside: Peapod doesn’t always let you know when your exact desired item isn’t in stock so you may find yourself surprised when an item you were counting on doesn’t come with your delivery.

A note on produce

I try to avoid buying fresh produce through any of these ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house. Stock up on frozen and canned vegetables, but save produce shopping for when you can pick it out yourself, whenever possible. A personal shopper isn’t ever going to be as choosy as you are.

A note on the shopping experience

It can be kind of annoying to buy individual grocery items on a screen, but all the above ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house try to make the experience as painless as possible. They have an ordering solution that’s suitable for those who like desktops and an app for those who prefer mobile ordering.

From a spending standpoint, grocery shopping online is a great way to check yourself again a monthly grocery budget without having to calculate things out by hand. For someone trying to avoid impulse shopping by educating themselves with in-your-face pricing, these grocery shopping solutions could have additional benefits for users.

Now that you know how to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house, what will you be using these services for?

  • A late night snack ingredient run?
  • Something you forgot to make food for a party you’re hosting?
  • Everything if it’s too cold out or you’re too far away from a grocery store, without a car?

Let us know in the comments!

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At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

Please note: a free meal was provided in exchange for this review.

I think I found my new favorite spot.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-Housev

Last week, I finally gave Meatball Hero & Pasta a try. If you’re keeping track, it’s the second Chicago restaurant to have a meatball theme. However, the other meatball restaurant in question, Mondo Meatball, didn’t stand the test of time. It seems like a lot of restaurants and bars in Wicker Park (like one of my favorites, Bom Bolla) are experiencing this quick turnover. Restauranteurs – take note.

But on to more positive things.

Chef Atif Ali is the mastermind behind this meatball masterpiece. His chef resume includes a stint at Bombay Wraps and even Balena. Ali picked the perfect spot to set up shop (3037 N Clark St) – at an intersection near Boystown, Wrigleyville, and Lakeview. If you can’t make it in – no problem. Meatball Hero and Pasta also offers delivery!

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

But what really sets this restaurant apart isn’t the meatball concept, it’s the fact that everything is made in-house, a concept known as a “scratch kitchen.” Every morning, Ali prepares his bread, pasta and meatballs fresh, from scratch. It may not be the lightest fare in the world, but you can take solace in the fact that nothing is pre-packaged or processed.

Recipes are simple and reminiscent of what and old Italian grandma would prepare.


The meatball subs come in a couple distinctive flavors.  The Red Hero is more or less what you’d expect – a classic meatball sub with beef meatballs, marinara sauce, and smoked mozzarella (also made in-house!). The Winged Hero is the chicken take on this classic, and there’s also a seafood and vegetarian option.

The subs are anything but standard with housemade bread, meatballs, and cheese, but what I really loved is how easy they were to hold without making a mess. Chef Atif Ali hollows out the inside and puts the ingredients directly inside, without cutting two halves.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

If you’d rather eat your meatballs and carbs in the form of a pasta meal, there’s an option for that too! I fell in love with the fettuccine alfredo – it was the perfect creamy texture.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

And if you still have room, I tried the polenta fries and mushroom risotto balls (like arancini). I can personally vouch for how satisfying they both were – ask for the chef’s homemade ranch sauce to go with the fries.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

Meatball Hero and Pasta also has salads, but c’mon… live a little. This is definitely your spot for a cheat day meal.

Come in for National Meatball Day on March 9th. There will be free meatball samples, and BOGO offers on all hero sandwiches. It’s the perfect time to give this place a try and max out on all the benefits! If you can’t make it, definitely stop by sometime soon for lunch – they have an awesome $2.99 special that will hit the spot. And if you’re in the mood for a dinner date, Meatball Hero & Pasta is BYOB!

Have you been to Meatball Hero and Pasta yet? Let me know what you think in the comments! Or better yet, invite me with for the next trip… I’m already salivating over the thought of a meatball sub and fettuccine alfredo meal.

chicago cheap ass
Drink, Food, Guides,

The Ultimate Chicago Brewery Bucket List

Have you been on a Chicago brewery tour? I’m convinced we play host to some of the best beer in the country. Check out my ultimate guide to Chicago brewery tours for dates, times, pricing and everything you need to know to have a great experience!

The Ultimate Chicago Brewery Bucket List

5 Rabbit Cerveceria

6398 W 74th Street, Bedford Park, Illinois (by Midway)

Come try 5 Rabbit Cerveceria‘s 5 Lizard, or 5 Vulture beer ,and take a tour or eat in the taproom (or both).

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 3pm. Buy tickets ahead of time.
$10 buys you the tour, beer, and a pint glass.

Ale Syndicate Brewers

2601 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL

Ale Syndicate is a Chicago brewery that recently ran a Groupon giving brewery tours, though they’re  not officially open to the public yet. You can find out where to buy their beers and official events on their website.

Brewery Tour:
Limited availability with the purchase of a $16 Groupon deal for two. Check with Ale Syndicate for updated information.

Argus Brewery

11314 S Front Ave, Chicago, IL

Argus Brewery is a Chicago brewery that’s a bit of a hike for city dwellers, but an excellent way to round out your experience with Chicago beers. They’re located in the old Schlitz distribution stables – this is a brewery with history! Their Oktoberfest celebration is not one to miss.

Brewery Tour:
(Most) Saturdays at 12:30pm, 2pm, and 3pm.
$15 buys you the tour, beer, and a pint glass.
There’s also a Groupon which gets you 1/2 off for two people.

Atlas Brewing Company

2747 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL

No tour at this Chicago brewery, but coming gives you the chance to drink Atlas Brewing Company’s own beer straight from the source.

Begyle Brewing Company

2747 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL

With tours and a taproom, Beygle Brewing Company is an underrated Chicago brewery really has it all. Serious fans may consider their beer subscription service.

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 12pm.
$10 buys you the tour, a beer and samples, and a tulip glass.

Breakroom Brewery

2925 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL

Breakroom Brewery is a relatively new Chicago brewery created by a bar concept company – so you know you’re in good hands. I visited and loved their diverse selection of draft beers and fun taproom space. Decide for yourself how you feel about their Scotch Eggs. Bring home your favorite beer in a sealed metal “Crowler.

DryHop Brewers

3155 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL

Foodies will love DryHop Brewers, a Chicago brewery/restaurant concept. Come in and pick from one of their especially hoppy beers on draft, get a cheese plate, and pig out on gourmet comfort food. These guys offer crowlers, too.

Empirical Brewery

1801 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL

Brewery tours at Empirical Brewery are first-come, first-served and limited capacity. Get there at 12 to all but guarantee your spot.

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 1pm and 2:30pm. Check the website for “brewer-led” tours that go more in-depth on technical brewing topics.
$10 buys you the tour, beer samples, and a pint glass.

Exit Strategy Brewing Co.

7700 W. Madison St., Forest Park, IL

Exit Strategy Brewing is a relative newcomer to Forest Park, one of the closest Chicago suburbs (accessible via Blue Line). Skim through Exit Strategy Brewing’s beer list and multi-cuisine menu if you have a reason to come out to the suburbs.

Finch’s Beer Co.

4565 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL

Finch’s Beer Co has one of the best Chicago brewery tours, if only because they let you get absolutely loaded. You get a half can pour each time you go back or more, which means you’ll get a good taste of each of their beers (and then some). They’ve been known to run Groupon deals from time to time. Even the pickiest beer drinking can’t escape the lure of their colorful cans.

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
$10 buys you the tour, unlimited beer, and a pint glass.

Forbidden Root Brewpub

1746 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL

Botanic-flavored beers and food to compliment them. Take your favorite tastes home in steel growlers.

Brewery Tour:
Offered once a week. Call the restaurant at (312)929-2202 for details.

Gino’s brewing company

500 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL

Did you know? Gino’s East, one of Chicago’s best deep dish pizza makers now makes beer in-house at the River North location! I personally can’t wait to sample their Witte Chicks Dig Me, a Belgian Witbier). Growlers are available to-go.

Goose Island Clybourn

1800 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL

25 of your favorite Goose Island drafts (and likely some you’ve never tried) are available to pair with delicious bites at this Chicago brewery. They tap at least one new beer a week and you can give it a try at their Thursday Beer Premiere events.

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 12:30pm, 2pm, 3:30pm
Sundays at 1:30pm and 3pm
$10 buys you the tour, 6 beer samples and a branded pint glass.

Half Acre Taproom

4257 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL

I bet there’s at least one Half Acre beer that gets you excited when you see it on tap at a Chicago bar. This Chicago brewery has both tours and a taproom with enticing food options.

Brewery Tour:
Every Saturday (except major holidays) at 11am. Get there early – these tours sell out.
$10 (cash only) buys you the tour, 3 samples, and a branded pint glass.

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

737 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL

This Chicago brewery is home to the Drinking & Writing TheaterHaymarket Brewing is a brewpub with personality. They run free party shuttles (including beer) to and from every Blackhawks game.

Brewery Tour:
Sundays at 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm.
$15 buys you the tour and 28 total ounces of beer.

Hopewell brewing Co.

2760 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL

Hopewell Brewing Co. is a relative newcomer to the Chicago brewing scene, situated in Logan Square. They’re open for drinks everyday but Monday – check out their beers on tap.

Lagunitas Brewing Company

1843 S Washtenaw Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

Lagunitas is the only Chicago brewery that offers their beer and brewery tour absolutely free(besides Revolution). Visiting Lagunitas is an amazing experience that I once shared on this blog. They also have an excellent taproom “edibles“. Live music starts everyday at 4:20pm. Is it any surprise that this company originates from California?

Brewery Tour:
“Every freaking day” at multiple times – check the website.

Lake Effect Brewing Company

4727 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL

Nestled away in Jefferson Park, Lake Effect Brewing Company is just a hop, skip, and jump (approximately) from the Montrose Blue Line Stop. Homebrewers will appreciate that these Chicago brewery tours are always led by the brewer.

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 2pm, 3:30pm and 5pm.
The tour is free with samples available for purchase in a flight at a steps-away satellite bar. Must sign up on their website.

Motor Row Brewing

2337 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL

Motor Row Brewing is one of two breweries on Michigan Ave (the other is Vice District Brewing Company), with a focus on traditional European ales and lagers. Enjoy the warehouse-like space with an upstairs taproom and a downstairs tasting room.

Off Color Brewing

3925 W Dickens Ave, Chicago, IL

Did you know Chicago’s Off Color Brewing was open for tours? Come in on Fridays and you can make purchases (only on a debit or credit card) of their freshest beer batches.

Brewery Tour:
Saturdays at 2pm.
$10 buys you the tour, beer samples, and a branded pint glass.

Piece Pizzeria & Brewery

1927 W North Ave, Chicago, IL

Piece Pizzeria is a Wicker Park favorite. They’re known for their New Haven Style Pizza, especially when they collaborate with other beloved Chicago chefs and restaurants. They also brew their own unique styles of beer.

Revolution Brewing

Brewery: 3340 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL
Brewpub: 2323 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL

If you live in Chicago, there’s no way you haven’t tried beer from Revolution Brewing – its one of the most “Chicago” breweries that exist. Their Kedzie Street location offers tours and taproom, while the Milwaukee Avenue location offers no brewery tours, but an excellent brewpub experience.

Brewery Tour:
Wednesday – Friday at 6pm and 7pm.
Saturday – Sunday at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, and 6pm.
Tours are free and include beer samples.

Temperance Beer Company

2000 Dempster St, Evanston, IL

Yes, you can drink beer and do yoga, and Temperance Beer Company is proof of that fact. If you don’t have a car, Purple Line will get you most of the way there.

Brewery Tour:
The second Sunday of every month at 1pm.
$10 buys you the tour, beer samples, a pint glass and 10% off on merchandise the day of the tour.

Vice District Brewing Company

1454 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL

Vice District Brewing is a relatively new addition to the Chicago brewery scene in the unlikely South Loop area. It is the brainchild of two passionate brewers who were neighbors, first. They offer members several specials, and an interesting spectrum of beers.

There are so many amazing Chicago breweries with new ones opening on a regular basis. What’s on your Chicago brewery bucket list? Share your picks in the comments!

Download a printable Chicago Brewery checklist!

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Drink, Food, Reviews,

Delicious Italian Wines Don’t Have to be Expensive

A few weeks ago, I attended an event where I was introduced to the wonderful world of Sicilian wines.

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m no sommelier. I’ve been known to hit up Trader Joes for 2 buck chuck when the need for wine has arisen. But this year I’ve given wine another chance as not just a means to an end, but a tasty experience.

To be truthful, I’ve never really liked reds, but after attending an event earlier this year featuring wines from the Rioja region of Spain earlier in the year, I knew I needed to open up my mind. This was the beginning of my personal wine tasting transformation. I also took a trip the Bom Bolla, a new Cava bar in Wicker Park, from the people behind Pop’s for Champagne. Needless to say, I’ve since graduated from 2 buck chuck.

So my explorations into more sophisticated wine choices had already begun right before tasting delicious Sicilia DOC wines.


At the wine event I attended, I had an opportunity to talk to one of the Marketers, and also one of the family members behind the Sicilia DOC winery!

Between delicious sips of Sicilia DOC, we talked about how the winery has been in the family for many generations. The people representing the wineries had such an infectious passion for their wine. Italian wine is so good… It makes sense that Sicilian wine is some of the best of the country.


It’s easy to find Sicilian Wines in Chicago. They’re available at Binny’s and are under $20 a bottle. The ones I liked best were in the $13-$15 range. So whether you want to indulge for yourself, or give a gift that makes you look like a wine connoisseur, these wines are the perfect choice.

My recommendation? The Planeta Rosé was my favorite of the various sips I tried before or after the event. To me, most rosés taste like a haphazard attempt to marry what people like about whites to reds. But this rosé was balanced in a way that made it distinctly different from both.

When shopping for Sicilian wines, be sure to look for “Sicilia DOC” on the label to ensure quality and consistency!


What’s your favorite kind of wine that’s a little more complex than two buck chuck? Share your picks in the comments so we can all get one stop closer to sommelier status!


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Food, Reviews,

How to Make Easy & Delicious Meatballs

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It’s an old assumption that every Italian family has a sauce recipe and a meatball recipe.  I think my family lost both.  For years, I’ve been trying to make the perfect sauce and meatballs.  Recently, I came pretty close to the perfect meatball recipe.

Meatball Recipe:
Makes 8 meatballs
2 lbs. Ground Beef
1/3 cup breadcrumbs or panko
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 egg lightly beaten
8-10 oz. of pomodoro sauce
Fresh grated Parmesan, to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for pan
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together until just combined
3. Roll each meatball into a ball about 4 tablespoons large until all mixture has been used
4. Add oil to a heavy bottom skillet and place over med-high heat (this skillet will go into the oven as well)
5. Add meatballs to skillet and brown all sides, 3-4 minutes
6. Place the entire skillet of meatballs into the oven for 7-10 minutes
7. Remove skillet from oven and drain as much access oil out of the skillet as possible.
8. Pour your pomodoro sauce over meatballs and simmer 10-15 minutes until warm
Top with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, enjoy!
how to make meatballs
Drink, Events, Food,

Oktoberfest? Try Argtoberfest at Argus Brewery

Munich, Germany is the official start of and home to Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest has been officially underway since September 19 this year, and will continue through the first Sunday in October… which is coming up this weekend!

You don’t have to be in Munich to enjoy the festive feelings and Chicago’s own Oktoberfest events. One I’m particularly excited about is the first-ever Argtoberfest at Argus Brewery, and not just because of the play on words.

Argtoberfest is this Saturday, October 3rd – the day before the end of Oktoberfest! If you’re looking for an excuse to go out and celebrate, here’s what you can expect…

$20 gets you entry and includes 4 beer tokens, samples from guest breweries (Atlas, Ale Syndicate, One Trick Pony and many more), a take home stein, live music, food (for purchase), stable games and more. Speaking of stable games… did you know that Argus Brewery is located in a stable? According to the Groupon for the event (which gets you an extra $10 to spend on Argus Brewery merchandise), the stable used to be used to house the horses who helped distributed iconic Schlitz beer. The more you know.

Argtoberfest runs from 3 – 9pm, but get there before 3:30 if you’re interested in a brewery tour! According to Argus Brewery’s Facebook page, the 3:30 tour will be the only one on the day of the event. There’s a Groupon for that too, obviously subject to availability on what’s sure to be a busy day.

So what are you doing this weekend? Buy your tickets on Argus Brewery’s website before time runs out!

This review was written in exchange for free tickets to Argtoberfest. Hope to see you there!

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Drink, Food, Recipes,

How to Make the Perfect Sangria

A couple weeks ago, my company had a “Sangria Off,” where participants were charged with trying to create the best sangria amongst competitors. I studied abroad in Spain, and although I drink sangria whenever I have the chance, I’ve never actually tried to make it.

While doing some research, I came across an awesome infographic that breaks down the different steps and ingredients to creating the perfect sangria, with several options for each step.

How to Make the Perfect Sangria


Here are my suggestions for each step of the process:

How to Make the Perfect Sangria

Red Wine:

If you’re making real sangria, you’ve got to use red wine. From Spain. Suggestions are:

  • Tempranillo
  • Garnacha
  • Merlot

If you want to make a white wine sangria (aka, a totally different drink), I’d suggest Cava. It’s a mix between a champagne/non-bubbly white wine, and is made in Northern Spain. Also goes great in mimosas!


Brandy is the standard. Honestly, I didn’t want to have brandy sitting around after this contest, so I got light rum. I guess it depends on your tastes – and how committed you are to winning.


Sangria has a LOT of sugar. I used a mix of honey and sugar to get a more interesting taste.


I used tonic water with lime. I think seltzer or ginger ale would produce very similar effects, so go with what you like.


I added in fresh squeezed orange juice to my sangria. I think fresh squeezed lemon juice would play well with the refreshing nature of the drink as well. Depends on personal preference. Would’t hurt to add both!


The last but critical step – you can’t have an awesome sangria without fresh diced fruit. I added peaches, apples, and oranges. Berries would also make an excellent addition. Again – it’s all about what tastes good. The important thing to note is that you should dice the fruit up small for a visually-appealing effect.

How to Make the Perfect Sangria


I didn’t put any garnishes on my sangria, but I think putting mint leaves in each glass would’ve sealed a win for me. Definitely something to think about for next time!

Finally, if you want to win at sangria making – make sure you let the sangria sit overnight! Trying to make it the day you serve it will not give it enough time for the flavors to fuze together.

How to Make the Perfect Sangria


Have you made sangria before? What’s your favorite recipe?