We love gin. And we love to drink local spirits. So when we didn't know which local gins were the best, we decided to find out by rounding up all the gins we could get our hands on and drinking them all over two epic evenings. We tried 22 gins made across the Midwest, from Ohio to Iowa (and a dozen from the Chicago area), to decide which made the best martinis, dirty martinis, and gin and tonics, as well as which were best for sipping and the very best (and worst) overall. Here's the whole story.
Garfunkel & Oates Beneath the sugary goodness of comedic songwriting duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are sly, hilarious songs that point out the awkward and uncomfortable in life. The pair's IFC pilot was recently picked up to series, bowing in 2014. Abbey Pub. 7:30pm. $25–$35, VIP $100–$150.
Giordano Dance Chicago: Fall Home Season The jazz dance company founded in 1963 by Gus Giordano celebrates its 2013–2014 season, "Escape Ordinary," with electrifying world premieres from Roni Koresh, artistic director of Koresh Dance Company, and resident choreographer Autumn Eckman. Expect some audience favorites, too. Harris Theater. 7:30pm. $15–$60.
The beer deities must be smiling at the timing: This week, Goose Island released a series of beers heretofore known as the Sisters (one of those beers hasn’t been seen since 2011, the year Goose was sold to Anheuser-Busch/InBev). In this same week, one of the country’s major independent craft breweries, Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing, was sold to Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat for the tidy sum of $100 million, prompting a mixed response (to put it mildly) that was perhaps familiar to a Goose Island employee around in the days of its 2011 sale.
Brewer and Head Cellar guy Brian Taylor is just that Goose Island employee. In fact, get this—he’s actually worked for both breweries.
Taylor was a part of Goose when they were sold to Budweiser. “As far as I’m concerned, it was great for everyone except the outsiders,” he told me. “There are plus sides to [the sale] that people will never know.”
Having seen firsthand how A-B stayed hands-off with Goose, he’s unconcerned about this week’s news, saying, “What people don’t realize is that it’s the same brewers, making the same recipes,” noting also that the unpopular Goose/AB deal had some pretty serious benefits. “We brew [Bourbon County Stout] every week. Now, we’re nonstop BCS. Before, we were nonstop 312.”
ART & DESIGN
"The American Dream: The (W)holy Grail" Housed in a former bank, this multimedia art exhibition presented by 6018NORTH riffs on ideas of the American Dream reflecting the diversity of Uptown and Edgewater. Artists include Christine Tarkowski, Jason Reblando, LaMont Hamilton, Kirsten Leenaars, Lise Haller Baggesen Ross, Vincent Tiley, Erol Scot Harris II, Macon Reed and others. 1050 W Wilson Ave. 2pm–7pm.
Messing With A Friend Each week, legendary improviser Susan Messing and a different friend segue from scene to scene, creating characters and situations along the way that are weird, wild and wonderful. Annoyance Theatre. 10:30pm. $5.
The story of the 1893 World's Fair is also the story of the Field Museum. Were it not for the Columbian Exposition 120 years ago, we would not have the world-class natural history institution that's now an inextricable part Chicago's identity, a top tourist draw and a valuable research resource. Local civic leaders, among the 25 million attendees (then 37 percent of the U.S. population) drawn to the fair over its six-month run, decided to acquire items displayed in some of the 65,000 exhibits. To commemorate the fair, which itself was honoring the 400th anniverary of Columbus's arrival, those businessmen and scientists established a museum in the building that now houses the Museum of Science and Industry. It was originally called the Columbian Museum of Chicago, and in 1894, the name was changed to the Field Columbian Museum, a nod to department store magnate Marshall Field's generous early contribution of $1 million.
This is the Field's genesis story, which is literally laid out in "Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair." Starting Friday and running through September 2014, the exhibit is essentially the Field conducting an anthropological survey of itself. To rediscover its roots, the museum has dug deep into its collection to show items rarely, if ever, on public view.
Ben & Jerry’s has a history of immortalizing TV and movie characters in ice cream form—there’s been Liz Lemon Greek Frozen Yogurt with a Blueberry Lavender Swirl, Neapolitan Dynamite and Schweddy Balls. The latest to join them in the freezer case is Scotchy Scotch Scotch, a Ron Burgundy-inspired ice cream flavor.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues comes out December 20, so Ben & Jerry made a pint for the occasion. Scotchy Scotch Scotch features butterscotch ice cream laced with buttery, crunchy ribbons of butterscotch (three fingers worth). It’s really sweet and tastes like the butterscotch hard candies your grandmother keeps in a jar, but unlike some other Ben & Jerry flavors, it’s simple and delicious. And thankfully, it’s way, way better than the sour mess that’s Liz Lemon Greek Yogurt.
And this ice cream has earned an important distinction—it’s the first taste test in my three months at TOC in which we’ve all actually liked something. If that’s not an endorsement, then I don’t know what is.
The Annoyance Theatre owners Mick Napier and Jennifer Estlin, who signed a lease last spring on a new space for the comedy theater at 851 W Belmont Ave in Lakeview (pictured above), revealed in a statement today that they've been unable to secure a Small Business Administration loan to cover the build-out of the venue—a situation they say has been exacerbated by the recent government shutdown.
With a looming contractual deadline to begin construction, the Annoyance team reached out to family and friends for funding help. At the suggestion of Second City owner Andrew Alexander, Napier says, the Annoyance today launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover construction costs, with Alexander offering a matching loan of up to $50,000. Pledges are being accepted through November 22. One hour in, pledges have already topped $2000.
The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation named Court Theatre artistic director Charles Newell the recipient of its 2013 Zelda Fichandler Award in an announcement this afternoon. The honor, which comes with a $5000 prize, "recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in theater," according to a statement. Newell will be presented with the award at a November 4 reception at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park.
Newell has served as artistic director of Hyde Park's Court Theatre since 1994. The award's namesake, Zelda Fichandler, is the founder of Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage and was a key figure in the nascent regional theater movement. The selection committee for this year's award, chaired by Victory Gardens Theater artistic director Chay Yew, focused on candidates from the central U.S.; the committee also named four finalists, including Peter Brosius of Minneapolis, Jeff Church of Kansas City, Rebecca Holderness of Milwaukee, and Chicago's Kimberly Senior.
No Tell Motel Deb hosts the weekly sex-capades of Chicago's sleaziest and sexiest performers on the main-floor stage, er, room No. 13 of No Tell Motel. Rockers from local bands are scheduled to drop in for sets alongside burlesque regulars and resident DJ Andrew Vonn. Performances take place at midnight. Debonair Social Club. 10pm.
Nosferatu Dir. F.W. Murnau. 1922. 81mins. There were many gems in the German Expressionism era, but few have surpassed the brilliance of Nosferatu. Max Schreck stars as the titular vampire who lusts for blood from the hopeful new tenants of Nosferatu's mansion. Just in time for Halloween, the Silent Film Society of Chicago presents this still-haunting classic. Carl Schurz High School. 7:30pm. $10 (regular advance online), $9 (senior/student advance online).
The final bell might ring this weekend for Facets Multimedia's Night School, according to a coproducer of the midnight film screening and lecture series, which has been running at the Lincoln Park cinematheque since 2009. After the latest session—the Halloween-friendly Fright School, which finishes this weekend with James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) and the video-game-influenced animated film We are the Strange (2007) on Saturday—the future of the event is uncertain.
"This upcoming weekend we will host our LAST TWO screenings of Night School at Facets Multimedia," Joseph Lewis, cofounder of the Underground Multiplex, an organization of cinephiles that partners with Facets to produce and promote the offbeat program, wrote in an e-mail this morning.
Facets' Chris Damen, head programmer of Night School, emphasizes that there hasn't been an official decision to end Night School. As a Facets property, the event could carry on without the participation of the Underground Multiplex. However, motivated by sparse attendance at recent sessions, Facets brass are reevaluating whether to bring back the off-the-wall supplement to its Film School curriculum in the spring of 2014, Damen says.
Hybrid Forms: Creative Nonfiction Week 2013 The annual fest at Columbia College Chicago celebrates the sometimes nebulous genre known as "creative nonfiction." Continuing through October 24, the schedule includes panels, classes and readings with local publishers, teachers, and masters of the form. Check out the full fest schedule. Columbia College Chicago, Stage Two. Oct 21–24. Free.
Bill Savage and Paul Durica Chicago By Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker's Guide to the Paris of America was an unofficial guide distributed during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that told visitors where to go and what to do in the White City—kind of like a 19th-century Time Out Chicago, except it went beyond the traditional park, theater and music recs to include details on where to find gambling joints, brothels and other illicit entertainment. (So maybe TOC with a touch of Vice.) Durica and Savage edited this newly annotated version of the guide, which they'll discuss as part of the annual Despres Family Memorial Lecture Series. Chicago Public Library, Blackstone Branch. Oct 23 at 6pm. Free.
Witty Women Writers The seventh installment of this annual writers' showcase features Stacy Ballis, Amy Guth, Jen Lancaster and Claire Zulkey. The "witty" in the title sets the stakes high; alas, the Book Cellar must've realized that Showcase of Writers Who Are Hilariously Clever and Happen to Be Women and Whom You Will Find Hilarious Too, Unless You're Jerry Lewis or a Little Bit Dead Inside doesn't have quite the same ring to it. The Book Cellar. Oct 23 at 7pm. Free.
Tessa Konkol, 23
Broadway and Winnemac Avenue
Your pants look like something that would be for sale at the "Body Worlds" exhibit gift shop. It's true! It's actually a whole pantsuit. Do you want me to just take my shirt off for the photo? I know that's a weird question. [Laughs]
1. Beth Stelling + Drew Michael Chicago favorite Beth Stelling, who made her TV debut on Conan not long after relocating to the West Coast last year, comes home for a week of double bills with Comedians You Should Know's Drew Michael. Zanies. Oct 23, 24 at 8:30pm; Oct 25 at 8:30, 10:30pm; Oct 26 at 7, 9, 11:15pm; Oct 27 at 8:30pm. $25 plus two-drink minimum.
2. Garfunkel & Oates Beneath the sugary goodness of comedic songwriting duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are sly, hilarious songs that point out the awkward and uncomfortable in life. The pair's IFC pilot was recently picked up to series, bowing in 2014. Abbey Pub. Oct 25 at 7:30pm. $25–$35, VIP $100–$150.
Black Dog Gelato/Glazed & Infused doughnut-gelato sandwich When Black Dog Gelato and Glazed & Infused made a doughnut-gelato sandwich earlier this year, it sold out in 90 minutes. Plan ahead this week by pre-ordering (email email@example.com) a red velvet doughnut with cajeta gelato or a pumpkin chocolate chip doughnut with rosemary Irish cream gelato. Black Dog Gelato, 859 N Damen. Oct 24, 12–11pm • 1955 W Belmont. Oct 24, 12-10pm. $6–$8.
Food Day Chicago Learn about sustainability and affordability at Food Day, which includes a farmers market, food vendors and educational activities. Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington St. Oct 24 at 8am–2pm. Free.
ART & DESIGN
"State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970" An extensive survey of avant-garde and conceptual art that emerged in California during the late 1960s and early '70s, this thematically organized exhibition features work by 60 artists and collectives, including Ant Farm, Bas Jan Ader, John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Lynn Hershman, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler and Ed Ruscha. Originally part of the Pacific Standard Time series, the show features more than 150 socially charged, experimental and pioneering works, including installations, video, films, photographs, artists' books and more. Smart Museum of Art. 10am–5pm.
StoryCorps@ Your Library StoryCorps teams up with the Chicago Public Library and One Book, One Chicago to further explore OBOC's year-long theme of migration. Know someone with a great migration story to tell? Chicagoans can stop by 14 library locations from May through October and interview a friend, family member or neighbor. The interview will be recorded by StoryCorps and archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Chicago Public Library, West Town Branch. 4:30pm–7:30pm.
Dario Argento's new Dracula 3D, which showed at the Chicago International Film Festival over the weekend, doesn't do a whole lot to freshen up Bram Stoker's classic, beyond making the scenery pop in three dimensions. But the Italian horror maestro says his intention was to tinker with new technology to tell an old tale. In town for the CIFF screening, the 73-year-old director—perhaps best known for his 1977 art nouveau nightmare Suspiria—sat down in a Mag Mile hotel's bland, very un-Argento conference room to talk about everything from his opinion of modern horror to his own worst fears.
Before October ends, do something sketchy: Participate in one of The Big Draw Chicago's free art-making programs. Inspired by the U.K.'s The Big Draw, the festival—which has been happening all month at various venues—is designed to engage your artistic side (however latent) through a series of informal, interactive drawing events. The Big Draw Chicago features partnerships with local businesses, cultural organizations and public sector agencies, and as producer Elory Rozner explained to TOC last year, it has the added benefit of getting residents "to cultural institutions that they haven’t been to in a really long time" for "a nonthreatening experience." Express yourself at these places below:
"The American Dream: The (W)holy Grail" Housed in a former bank, this multimedia art exhibition presented by 6018NORTH riffs on ideas of the American Dream reflecting the diversity of Uptown and Edgewater. Artists include Christine Tarkowski, Jason Reblando, LaMont Hamilton, Kirsten Leenaars, Lise Haller Baggesen Ross, Vincent Tiley, Erol Scot Harris II, Macon Reed and others. 1050 W Wilson Ave. Oct 24, 2–7pm; Oct 26, 27, 3–5pm.
Chicago International Children's Film Festival 2013 While aimed specifically at children—and also showcasing some films produced by kids—adults can usually find something to love at this weeklong festival going on at Facets and Music Box. For the full lineup, go to cicff.org. Facets Multi-Media and Music Box. Oct 25–Nov 3. $9, kids $6.
Freaky Deaky V: Griz, Danny Brown, Tokimonsta Zombies! Fake blood! Untz! It's the fifth annual Freaky Deaky, the loudest way to sweat through your Robin Thicke Beetlejuice suit for Halloween. The first night leans hip-hop, from the boom-bap dubstep of Griz to the split personalities of Detroit sex fiend Danny Brown. With a steamy blend of '80s R&B, tribal trip-hop and heady IDM, Tokimonsta is the gem of the evening. The second and final day brings the mammoth EDM boom with headliners Dada Life. Yes, you should wear a costume. The event is 18 and older, so expect a madhouse…and to feel old. Aragon. Oct 25 at 7pm, Oct 26 at 8:30pm. $29–$37.50.
Harry & the Thief Sigrid Gilmer's history-revising comedy follows a thief blackmailed into traveling back in time to deliver a cache of arms to Harriet Tubman. Krissy Vanderwarker directs the world premiere for Pavement Group. The Den Theatre. Oct 24–26 at 8pm; Oct 27 3pm. $15–$25.
For the first time in 20 years, Chipotle added a new protein to its menu—braised tofu sofritas. The Chipotle website says that it's made with organic tofu that's shredded and braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos and spices. The recipe is based on Latin American sofrito, a sauce and base for stews and meat dishes that's made by sauteeing garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes in olive oil.
So of course we were excited—it's no secret that we really like vegan food, plus Chipotle's meat-filled burritos can easily top out at more than 1,000 calories, even before you add $1.80 for guac. So tofu sounds like it would be somewhat healthier, right? Well not if you're watching your sodium intake—it turns out a serving of sofritos has 710 mg of sodium (compared to 370 for chicken, 320 for steak, 510 for barbacoa and 540 for carnitas).
We took a field trip to the Chipotle in our office building this afternoon and ordered tacos and burrito bowls to test:
"Roar" is a red herring. The chest-beating stomper is not indicative of the music on Prism, the fourth studio album from blow-up sweetheart Katy Perry. The bulk of the record is softer and more flowery on the senses than the goopy lavendar chemicals you pour into your washing machine. Much of the new music seems like atonement for her whipped-cream-tits era, as if those candy-porn tactics of Teenage Dream were only meant to rocket Ms. Perry to an unloseable level of success from which she can broadcast her true calling—mega-church balladry.
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A token track for strippers ("Dark Horse"), a trend-chasing disco cut ("Birthday") and a bubbly number for mall-haul videos ("This Is How We Do") populate the please-all Side A, before soft-focus schmaltz takes over the second half. "Ghost," "Double Rainbow," "By the Grace of God" and "Spiritual" are thinly veiled Christian pop, in case you couldn't tell. There remains plenty of room for real clunkers of lyrical couplets. For someone who hints at sex so much, Perry fails to grasp biology. (Hint, Katy: Birds do not levitate.) Which brings me to another reason for "Roar" being the one working digit amongst several sore thumbs. The lead single was written by Bonnie McKee, the svengali of California visual kei. McKee co-penned the chart toppers on Teenage Dream. She is sorely missed here.
RECOMMENDED: A classic TOC interview with Katy Perry
I'm not saying Katy Perry should always be a tart, but she should still be trying to have a good time, instead of wandering these sanitized hallways of superstardom. The peacock double entendres and leopard-print bikinis have been locked away like fire extinguishers, labeled "BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF LAGGING SALES."