Posts Tagged ‘bourbon’

School of LUSH: Summer courses

Friday, July 23rd, 2010


Class is in session. Get schooled, LUSH style. Our classes are firing up, so check out our course offerings below for a good schoolin’. Plaid skirts are NOT required, but an open mind and palate is. Stay after class for extra tutoring and chat with the geeky squad of Lush lecturers. Come on in to see how Lush does school, a no-nonsense, down to earth wine course that is perfect for those who enjoy drinking wine, eating delicious food, and talking about it. We will taste through a carefully chosen selection of hand-crafted wines designed to demonstrate the simplicity of understanding vino while breaking it down Lush style. Come to our class and find out what wine is all about! Please email or call Kelly (, 312.666.6900) to ask questions or reserve your seat in class by credit card. All classes are 6:30-8pm, unless otherwise noted. All classes will be taught at our WEST TOWN location (1412 W. Chicago), unless otherwise noted. *Read the fine type or suffer the consequences! The class in non-refundable, so go all in or not at all. CLASS costs $35. MINIMUM of 10 students.

THE WIDE WORLD OF SAKE — rescheduled, stay tuned!
We are excited to welcome guest lecturer Mason Horowitz to LUSH to talk about all things sake! Mason works for Joto Sake, one of the premier sake importers to the United States. Joto is Japanese for ‘highest level’ and it quite aptly describes Joto’s producers as well as their aspirations as their importer. Joto’s breweries could also be described as jizake, or ‘local.’ They are located in different regions of Japan, produce their sake in small batches and primarily use locally raised rice. They have unique stories and contrasting flavors and styles. Joto makes a point to not only select the finest breweries, but also put an emphasis on educating the public on the oft-misunderstood sake. Join us as Mason takes us through the ins and outs of this delicious rice beverage and snag a bottle or two for your next BYO sushi excursion.

AUSTRALIAN WINE 101 — Sunday, August 1st

There is more to Australian wine than meets the eye. Between the mass-produced world of Yellow Tail and the cult-status stylings of Penfolds and Ben Glaetzer lies a whole world of terroir-specific, hand-crafted, artisinal wines that you don’t hear much about. Shiraz is the big name grape, but Australia also puts out some of the finest New World riesling, cabernet, chardonnay, grenache, and semillon. Australia is also a treasure-trove of experimentation: you’ll find such grapes as zinfandel, albarino, verdelho, pinot gris, and gamay being planted. There is much to know in terms of regions too: Barossa Valley might be the most famous, but the regions of Australia offer a case study in different climates and landscapes. From Hunter Valley to Margaret River, Adelaide to McClaren Vale, there are distinct regional differences around the country. The wines of Australia have gotten a reputation as being flashy and chock full of alcohol and fruit, but they can also display finesse, elegance, and a distinct expression of place and variety.

AMERICAN WHISKEY — Sunday, August 22nd
Scotch has certainly earned its spot at the top of the whisk(e)y hierarchy, with centuries of distillation and tradition, but American whiskey is nipping at its heels. Right now, if you haven’t noticed, there is a bit of an aged American whiskey shortage. No one knew ten — or even five — years ago that these spirits would be so popular! Bourbon and Rye are taking center stage in the American cocktail Renaissance, along with being many connoisseurs’ sippers of choice. We are also seeing incredible innovation — ‘single malts’ from Oregon and Colorado, wheat whiskey from Kentucky, and small batch ‘four grain’ bourbon from upstate New York, among others. It is an exciting time to be making and drinking American Whiskey, and there is much to know. We’ll go through the history of our homegrown spirits, how they’re made, and how best to drink them (this will be the most fun part!). Jump on the bandwagon, and discover what all the fuss is about.

VINOS DE JEREZ — Thursday, August 26th
The ultimate wine geek wine, Sherry — aka ‘Vinos de Jerez’ — is one of the most (if not THE most) misunderstood beverages on the planet. When I say Sherry, you think of something that Grandma drank or Mom added to her cooking. But there’s another side to these wines that the Spanish cognoscenti has been trying to tell us about for years. In the multitude of sherry types and styles lays a plethora of mind-blowing, meal-matching, and palate-pleasing wines. Slightly fortified, with varying degrees of oxidation caused by the mysterious and elusive yeast film called flor, vinos de Jerez are perhaps the most unique and site-specific wines made. Trust us on this one. This class will open you up to a whole world of wines you never knew existed.

*CUSTOMIZE your own class. Bring some friends…pick a date and a course topic. Email to find out more details.

Pappy Van Winkle Cocktail Dinner & Pairing

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon

Whiskey Dinner

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

hosted by LUSH

with Julian Van Winkle


Assorted charcuterie, craft cheeses, olives, pickled vegetables, jams, crusty bread

Cocktail: Americana

1 oz. Pappy Van Winkle 10 year 90 proof

½ oz. Campari

¾ oz. Punt e Mes Sweet Vermouth

Regan’s Orange bitters

Topped with bubbly & orange oil


Standing Ovation

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

In honor of the Oscars, I would like to make a recommendation for a whiskey that deserves a standing ovation – the 2009 bottling of Eagle Rare 17 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. (Round of applause). This is part of the Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Antique Collection, which was introduced about 10 years ago. The other 4 super limited whiskeys included in this collection are: Sazerac Rye 18 year old, George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac.

The Eagle Rare 17 is a mash of corn, barely and rye and was distilled in the spring of 1992. What else was going on in 1992? Well, Silence of the Lambs won an Academy Award for Best Picture, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show for the very last time, and I was just getting over my Paula Abdul phase. Hard to imagine at the same time, these folks were distilling and beginning to age a bourbon that wouldn’t be released for almost another 20 years! I had the pleasure of trying the 2009 release of Eagle Rare 17 year just the other night. Because they are such a limited release, we rarely have them open for tasting at LUSH (if we do, don’t miss the chance to give it a try!). Maybe it was the drink or two I had before (whiskey and amaro cocktail and a glass of the Eagle Rare Single Barrel), but I thought this bourbon was pretty darn tasty. Carmel and toffee with a hint of fruit on the nose, while the palate was smooth with a little more spice and a hint of vanilla. (And the crowd goes wild).

Bourbon Heritage Month

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

As we move into October, we say good-bye to Bourbon Heritage Month. On August 29, 2007 the Kentucky Board of Tourism announced that the US Senate had approved the measure to designate September ‘Bourbon Heritage Month.’ Well, what exactly does this mean? Basically, it is a month long celebration of ‘America’s Native Spirit’, culminating in the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown. It’s also a damn good excuse to drink bourbon, talk about bourbon, and learn about all the culture, people, and history that surround the spirit.

So, what is bourbon? In order to be called bourbon, a spirit has to meet the following requirements:
(1) The primary ingredient must be corn (at least 51%)
(2) Must be distilled at no greater than 160 Proof
(3) Only new, charred, white oak barrels should be used for aging
(4) Be aged at least two years to be called a straight bourbon whiskey
(5) The spirit must go into the barrel at no more than 125 Proof
(6) Only water can be added to adjust the Bourbon to the appropriate bottling strength…nothing else.

Also, while bourbon is a distinctly American spirit, it is not necessarily strictly Kentuckian. (Is that a real word?) Although most bourbon is made at one of the few active distilleries in Kentucky, it doesn’t HAVE to be in order to be called bourbon. So what really makes bourbon distinctive from other types of whiskies — say Rye, Scotch, or Irish Whiskey — is the mash bill (i.e. a majority corn, with a proportion of malted barley and wheat OR rye), and the barreling (new, charred white oak barrels). Kentucky bourbon also traditionally uses column stills versus pot stills (with the exception of Woodford Reserve), and this contributes to the flavor as well.

But, what makes one bourbon unique from another? There are a number of factors that will contribute to a different taste, feel, and smell from one bourbon to the next. Here is a — by no means comprehensive — list of some of the factors that differentiate bourbons. It is helpful to know, if only to pinpoint why you like a particular bourbon, and help you to find other bourbons that you will like!

(1) The proof. Bourbons will run the gamut from 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume) to 140+ proof. Find out what proof you like. You can always add a bit of water or an ice cube to get down to a desired proof, but you can’t boost one that’s too low.

(2) The distillery. You will certainly get general deviations from one distillery to the next (type of still, location of warehouses, etc.), though people are always surprised by how many different expressions of bourbon can come out of the one distillery as well. Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace are both distilled at the Trace distillery; Four Roses distills Bulleit bourbon; Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden all come out of the Jim Beam distillery. More important than the actual distillery are the choices that the distiller is making…

(3) The small grain. Bourbon is made of a majority corn, a percentage of malted barley, and then either rye OR wheat. The rye or wheat in a bourbon is referred to as the ‘small grain’, and whether a bourbon has wheat or rye for its small grain often makes a big difference in terms of flavor profile. Bourbons with rye as the small grain (the more common variation) tend to be spicier and more robust, while ‘wheated bourbons’ (as bourbons with wheat as the small grain are called) tend to be sweeter and softer. These are, of course, generalizations that don’t always hold true, but a good jumping off point. Some of the most famous wheated bourbons are Maker’s Mark, Pappy Van Winkle, and Weller.

(4) The mashbill. Each distillery has its own unique mashbill, which is the percentage of the corn, malted barley, and small grain in the mash. The proportion of the grains will make a difference in the flavor profile: a high percentage of corn tends to make a bourbon sweet and round; rye can add spice and body; wheat can add softness and delicacy; and malted barley has its own unique grain flavor profile that can take center stage or fade in the background. Bulleit, for example, proudly markets itself as having the most amount of rye of any bourbon on the market.

(5) The age. It is an interesting (and fun!) experiment to run through the different age statements of the same bourbon. Take Pappy Van Winkle, for example. If you wanted to, you could taste the 10 year (at two different proofs), the 12 year, the 15 year, the 20 year, and the 23 year all right next to each other. You will see, as a bourbon ages, it softens out a bit. The edges round, the spice recedes, and secondary nuances and flavors emerge in their place. Dried fruit. Tobacco. Leather. Most people find that they like bourbon around a certain age. For some people, the older the better. Others might like a bit younger bourbon.

Stop by your local LUSH and taste some bourbons with us. Find a new favorite. We celebrate bourbon every month of the year.

Posted by Jane.

ReCap: Whiskey Week, Night 1

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Mr. Julian Van Winkle arrived promptly at 5:30pm, a full half hour before expected, minus his signature mustache.  In true Lush style, a few die hard Pappy Van Winkle drinkers waltzed in minutes later to grab a few bottles and a signature before the tasting began.  Whirlwind of bourbon drinking begins!


Chicagoist Podcast: LUSH and WhiskeyFest

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Our very own Ms. Rachel Driver, manager of LUSH, was live online this afternoon chatting about WhiskeyFest, and the LUSH Week of Whiskey. Check it out…

But, the lineup of events is also posted below, so you can be in the know about all the FREE Lush tastings. It’s all whiskey all week…and whiskey barrel aged beer, and cocktails, and whiskey barrel aged rum…can you tell we are EXCITED?!


Restocking my cabinet.

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I have been thinking a lot lately about something very, very sad: my liquor cabinet. I have fallen into a rut, and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve made some hefty purchases to keep myself in good spirits [tee hee!] back at the ol’ apartment. Now, I know that I spend most of my days in the world’s best walk-in wine cave [aka 1257 South Halsted], but when I need a glass of Nero d’Avola at two in the morning, I can’t full well come to LUSH and get my fix. Not without getting stopped by the police for trespassing, anyway.


PIG Roast: the aftermath

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

What up, yo? I am incredibly excited and still dizzy from the rush of the pig roast on Wednesday night with Freddy Noe of Jim Beam, one handsome and tasty pig, a foot stompin’ band, and plenty of lushes. The three classic bourbon and rye cocktails were delicious…I must admit it was tough to resist drinking the entire pitcher of maple julep that I was continuously refilling with fresh mint, maple syrup, and Beam Rye. Yum! We had a great crowd and a wildly good time! JOIN us next time…

Was BEAM your first taste or whiskey?! While Jim Beam remains madly popular, the Beam family has taken their love for making great bourbon to the next level…crafting a line of spectacular bourbons that make up the Small Batch Collection. As the 7th in a generation of bourbon distillers, Fred Noe is now in charge of carrying on the Beam family legacy and oversees the making of not only the Jim Beam bourbons, but Knob Creek, Booker’s, Basil Hayden’s and Bakers. LUSH has signed bottles available…and even a couple of the Master’s Collection, as well.

I won’t bury you in words…just wanted to share the pictures from the knee slappin’ good time at the Beam PIG ROAST. (more…)

The Perfect Raincoat

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

The Raincoat is a cocktail made with walnut liqueur, bourbon, almond syrup, and cinnamon. The recipe comes from Haus Alpenz, who imports the Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur that we carry. They, in turn, credit Absinthe, a restaurant in San Francisco, for the creation of the drink.