Sunday, December 29, 2013

Even More Holiday Hours

Bangers & Lace is doing business as usual for New Year’s Eve. This means we’re serving our regular awesome menu and regular stellar beer and spirits offerings, all during the regular hours of 2pm-2am. Call it low-key, call it last minute, just call us — wait, don’t call us, because that’s the point: you just show up and have a great time, just like any other night. No reservations, no tickets and no hassle.

We haven’t forgotten that Tuesday is, in fact, a holiday, so we’ll be doing a New Year’s Eve High Life (the Champagne of Beers, wise guys) toast at midnight. And the lucky sons of guns that pay their tabs get a special party favor: an official ticket (pictured above) for a free Bloody Mary at our New Year’s Day brunch service.

Which leads us to our next piece of exciting New Year’s News: We’re open for brunch on New Year’s Day! Meet us at 11am when our brunch and regular menus will be available to cure the first hangovers of 2014.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Hours

We’re in the business of making sure you get everything on your list, every time you visit us. And we don’t think that the holidays should be any different. We’re doing business as usual on December 24, and Eric — your own personal Santa — will open up shop just in time on December 25th.

Tuesday, December 24  2pm-2am (last minute gifts available at the bar)
Wednesday, December 25 7pm-2am

Monday, December 16, 2013

Give Beer, Spread Cheer

We’ve all been there: What do you get the beer lover in your life? We’ve put this question through focus groups, scientifically tested all possibilities (yes, it was a double blind), and came to this groundbreaking conclusion:  Get them some beer.

But, shipping booze can be tricky — like, it’s illegal. And it’s hard to buy in advance — what are you supposed to do, not drink it before gifting? And it’s difficult to anticipate what particular brew is catching their particular fancy at any given time.

What if this beer lover could choose their own beer from a carefully curated list that’s up to date with the most sought after beers available? That’s where the Bangers & Lace gift card comes into play. It’s available at the bar in any denomination. And it’s perfectly legit to send through the postal service.

But wait, there’s more!

Even beer lovers — especially beer lovers — need tshirts and bandanas, especially ones from one of Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars. We’ve got those, too!

Last minute gift buying should never be done at CVS, so stop on by this week to check another couple names off your list.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Drink Up For Good

*Made possible by donations from: Breckenridge Brewery, Five Rabbit, Great Lakes, Lagunitas, Perennial Ales, Revolution, Solemn Oath, Stillwater, Virtue Cider, Glunz, River North, 12 Percent Imports, Vanberg & Dewulf, Windy City.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Someone's Having a Birthday...

Surprise! It's us! Bangers & Lace turns three years old and we're celebrating by throwing a joint birthday party with Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon. This special bourbon, released annually since 2002 to celebrate the birthday of the distillery’s founder, arrived at Bangers & Lace via caseload — when most bars in Chicago only received one or two bottles. The 2013 edition of Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon is receiving extremely positive reviews, so we expect it to move quickly. What we mean is, get in here and drink it up!

Complimentary passed appetizers, provided by yours truly, and bourbon-infused cookies are all we need to make this a real party!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's A Sour Batch, Kids

We’re not normally into name dropping, but we’ve got some bold names coming by on Thursday night when we feature New Belgium’s exceptional Sours. New Belgium’s Lauren Salazar and Eric Salazar, two of the finest palates in the brewing world, stop by to sip by your side and answer your funkiest questions.

We’ll feature the sours we’re sweet on: La Folie, La Terroir, Tart Lychee, Eric’s Ale and NBB Loves Leopold. Not familiar? Here’s the rundown on two of our favorites:

Eric’s Ale: Named for longtime New Belgium brewer Eric Salazar — yes! that same Eric Salazar that will be at Bangers & Lace on Thursday, and points to you for close reading! — combines a dry, sour beer aged up to three years in oak foeders with a semi sweet, higher alcohol base beer. The resulting blend is re-fermented with peach juice, creating a smooth ale with subtle peach tones and a warm, spicy finish. The aroma has pleasant hints of vanilla and tropical fruit, the wood characteristics are present but nicely muted. A sour beer for those who don’t like sour beers. And a fruit beer for those who don’t like fruit beers.

NBB loves Leopold, aka, Oscar in Blackberry Whiskey Barrels: In the glass, this Oscar is molasses in color with a hint of haze in its dark depths. Like a vat used to crush berries, it smells like moist ripe oak and blackberry jam, while faint flaky crust aromas remind you of a berry pie. A whiff of chocolate and ginger add complexity. As expected, a brisk, puckering, enduring sourness is in the fore, offset somewhat by the slight berry sweetness in the background. The medium body finishes crisp, readying you for another sip of a complex sour berry journey.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Your Week, In Advance

Consider this your Save the Date for all the cool things we’ve got brewing at Bangers & Lace next week. You might as well just set up shop with us every school night, because we can’t think of one good reason to miss any of these events.

Tallgrass Beer Dinner
Tuesday, November 12

We're partnering up with Tallgrass Brewing next Tuesday to bring you five of their stellar beers paired with five amazing courses from Chef Adam Wendt. We'll be featuring Velvet Rooster + Zombie Monkie + 8-Bit Pale Ale w/ Cranberry + 100% Brett + Buffalo Sweat with Coconut & Mint from this Kansas brewing company.

Grab your tickets for this incredible event here

But wait, there's more! 

It’s a Sour Batch, Kids
Thursday, November 14

To (unofficially) kick off FOBAB (Festival of Barrel Aged Beers), Bangers & Lace will debut New Belgium's release of their upcoming sour line, with four unique barrels on draft! Lauren Salazar, “Sensory Specialist” for New Belgium, will be there to talk about their amazing sour line. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vote for George! On Tuesday, November 5th!

It’s almost Election Day! And yes, you’re still on the Bangers & Lace blog. We know that if you wanted politics, you’d definitely spend your time on a very different website, because as far as we’re concerned, bipartisan means you’re into beer and whisky. We don’t usually make a point of taking a stance on government, but we always make a point of using any excuse to throw a party.

So we’re putting forward our own candidate for you to party with on Election Day: George Dickel. You can’t technically vote for him, unfortunately, because George Dickel isn’t exactly alive. The real George Dickel died in 1894, but not before he put his stamp on a little distillery in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, which now produces his namesake whisky.

Absolutely unique to the Dickel distillery is the fact that they are the only distillery in the country to have its own working US Post Office branch on-site. If only we could mail ourselves home after a day spent tasting.

Notice the traditional Scottish ‘whisky’ spelling, as opposed to the American ‘whiskey’ option? That’s typical of Scotch whiskies, which Dickel always proclaimed his product was on par with.

You’ll have to come in and see if Dickel was right on Election Day (that’s Tuesday, November 5th), as we serve up $5 George Dickel #12 Tennessee Whisky pours — including rocks and highballs — and $7 George Dickel #12 Manhattans.

You’re in Chicago, so we say ‘vote drink early and often!’

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mr. Krafty Miracle Whip

We love keeping up with Chicago Reader's Cocktail Challenge series. Recently, our new dude Nick O. was challenged with Miracle Whip. You know a challenge like that is actually challenging when he begins by saying, "I've never bought a single jar of Hellman's or Miracle Whip, nor do I plan on it after this drink."

Read the full story here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunner Kellerbier Gravity Cask!

We’ve noticed a lot of folks are talking about gravity this week, and it’s probably because we’re tapping a gravity cask of Sunner Kellerbier on Thursday, November 17th at 7pm!

Up until now, these 15L gravity casks of Sunner Kellerbier have only been available at bars in Cologne.  We got our paws on one of only four casks that made it to Chicago, and we’re serving it straight from the cask, just like the Middle Ages, back when gravity was just a natural phenomenon by which all physical bodies attract each other, and not a Hollywood blockbuster.

Speaking of the Middle Ages, that’s the time period that Kellerbiers date back to. They’re unfiltered and unpasteurized lagers that are matured in deep vaults, and Kellerbier literally translates to ‘cellar beer.’ It’s smooth, cloudy and rich in vitamins and that translates to ‘get in here on Thursday night at 7pm when we tap this thing!’

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Elmer T. Lee, Limited Edition

Buffalo Trace Distillery is one of the (if not the) oldest continuously-operating distilleries in the United States. A must-stop on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, Buffalo Trace has been the home of some of the greatest bourbonaires (if that’s not a word, it is now) of all time. Most notably, Elmer T. Lee, the man who introduced the single-barrel bourbon to the world.

It was 1984 and the bourbon industry was suffering. Enter Elmer T. Lee, who’d been with the company since 1949 when he was hired on as a maintenance engineer. Now a master distiller, Lee was looking for an opportunity to elevate the bourbon market and revitalize his beloved Buffalo Trace distillery.

Lee and his staff tasted through every barrel of bourbon in their warehouse (nice work, if you can get it) and selected the crème de la bourbon and bottled it straight from the barrels, unblended, in decanters featuring horse-and-jockey bottle stoppers. And this of course, is the story of the now legendary Blanton’s Single Barrel.

Why are we telling you all this? Because: Lee named the world’s first single barrel bourbon after his mentor: Colonel Albert B. Blanton. Shortly thereafter, Elmer T. Lee namesake barrels were produced to honor his legacy and unparalleled palate.

And here at Bangers & Lace, we used our own palates (nice work, if you can get it) to select a single barrel of the Elmer T. Lee distinction to bottle and pour exclusively. So next time you’re in, order up a shot of our Elmer T. Lee Limited Edition. It’s always $6 and it’s always delicious. Salute Elmer T. Lee himself by ordering it in the legend’s preferred style: on the rocks with a splash of 7-Up.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Drinking Primer

Transitioning into autumnal weather means different things to different people. While you’re picking out your fantasy football team or searching out a perfect boot, we’re fall-ing up our booze and beer offerings.

You already know that our motto is, “Live every week like it’s Craft Beer Week,” but did you know a close runner up was, “Live every week like it’s Oktoberfest?” You’ll absolutely find some stellar Oktoberfests on our fall beer list, partly due to the season, but also because they’re a favorite of Ria’s, who sometimes waxes poetic about this particular brew style:

Aristotle once said, ‘Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.’ Oktoberfests and Marzens are beers made in the Spring that undergo patient cold-lagering for months -- a perfect transition from the crisp, golden lagers of Summer to the toasty, coppery hues of Autumn.

Fall drinking doesn’t mean you simply reach for a darker hued brew, we also take advantage of our Midwestern location by incorporating some amazing ciders, produced within a close radius, into our tap rotation. Instead of hauling your pals out to Michigan for a day spent apple picking, we suggest you make the short trip to Bangers & Lace to reap the rewards of other apple pickers. Because why do any of the work when you can have all the fun instead?

We’re pretty stoked on two local craft cider producers in particular right now: Prima Cider, located in Northwest Illinois and Vander Mill Ciders in Western Michigan. They’ve spent a few days on the board, so come in and sample these ciders before they’re gone!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Fall Cocktail List

Our new cocktail menu appropriately debuted on the Fall Equinox (which was yesterday, you hippy). Nick O.  mixed up six beautiful cocktails just for your autumnal tippling  Now that you've got some background on Nick, don't you think it's time you stopped by for a drink?

Mannheim Bottleneck - George Dickel Rye, Dolin Rouge, Cynar.
The Spruce Goose - Aviation American Gin, arugula juice, lime.
Stachiw Shrub - Death’s Door Vodka, cranberry shrub, lime.
Cactus Hugger - Herradura Reposado Tequila, accompanied by a wheat grass verdita.
B.A.D.A.S. (Barrel Aged Dark and Stormy) - Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Yellow Chartreuse, Cherry Herring, lime, ginger beer.
North by Southeast - Old Forester Signature Bourbon, walnut liqueur, ginger simple syrup, apple nectar.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Meet Our New General Manager: Nick O.

Over the past few months, you’ve probably seen Nick managing just about everything at Bangers & Lace, but maybe you felt like you needed a few more details — and that’s where our latest edition of ‘Get Ta Know Ya’ comes in. And actually, the details of Nick’s job are pretty simple: As General Manager, Nick does...well, just about everything.

Nick found his way into the hospitality industry after a ten year stint in construction and carpentry. When the market went belly up, Nick was looking for a way to pay the rent and got hooked up with a job at a sports bar, fell in love with the industry, and the rest is history.

It was during his tenure at The Drawing Room during The Charles Joly Era that Nick’s interest in cocktails was piqued, and Joly’s culinary approach to the craft still informs Nick’s creations. In fact, his new fall cocktail menu for Bangers & Lace includes a cocktail featuring arugula (and it’s tasty)!

But Nick’s interest in hospitality doesn’t stop at jigger and glass; like most folks on the Bangers & Lace team, if you inquire about their relationship with beer, they’ll often fess up to a past life of homebrewing. And homebrewing is code for Beer Geek. As a professional Beer Geek, Nick strove to elevate the beer list at his last spot, the non-sports-bar-sports-bar The Anthem. And when we were looking for a new Beer Geek-cum-GM, he was obviously at the top of our list.

Stop by and introduce yourself, grab a beer recommendation and sample the new autumn cocktail list (launching next week, so stay tuned for details). If you catch him on the other side of the stick, he’ll likely be enjoying a Duck BLT and sipping whiskey (George Dickel, Rittenhouse Rye or Templeton Rye are his go-to’s) or a nice Sour.

Monday, September 9, 2013

10,000 Bloody Marys and Counting: Jonny C.

Meet Jonny C., our faithful brunch-time bartender. Maybe you tied one on the night before? This is the guy who saves your weekend by serving up that medicinal Bloody Mary.  And you’re not alone, he reckons he’s served at least 10,000 over the course of his tenure with Bangers & Lace!

Jonny’s our weekend warrior, but you can catch him during the week at our nation’s favorite organic food retailer. If you’ve found this blog post by way of your Kingsbury Whole Foods google alert, Jonny just confirmed to us that yes, there will be a fancy cocktail spot joining the existing beer and wine bars you love so much. Featuring 22 taps (10 devoted to beer, six to wine and six to pre-batched cocktails), Jonny will be one of fine folks pouring them for you. 

And on that same cocktail tip, we left our fall cocktail menu in the hands of the very capable Nick O. (our trusty GM) and Jonny’s “very stoked to see what ideas he has created in his twisted mind.” He played it close to the vest and refused to name a favorite before it’s made public, so you’ll have to stop in and ask for recommendations after the menu debuts on September 22nd. He’s a whiskey drinker, usually ordering a Manhattan or Old Fashioned when he’s out, so it’s our best guess that Jonny will favor a very autumnal brown and stirred. 

Beer-wise, he’s more than likely to suggest a sour or an IPA. On the chance you stop in during the week, just look to line #19 on the chalkboard to find out which brew he’s hyping during your visit. Of course, it’ll probably pair well with his favorite menu item: the Slawdog.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

End of Summer Checklist

Labor Day officially marks the end of Summer, right? If you said ‘yes,’ you’d be wrong. Because we’ve got nearly 90 degree days in the forecast this weekend, plus a big dose of sunshine, and that means we’ve got at least one more shot at completing our Summer Checklist.

We bet you made it to the beach a few times and at least one street festival (we hope it was our Block Party). Great job! Go ahead and cross those off your list. And you were never actually going to go to the Bristol Rennaissance Faire, even though you put that on your list every year. So, yep, now’s the time to cross that one off, too.

But here are a few things you can accomplish this weekend to make your Summer complete:

So you didn’t make it to Europe over the past few months. Neither did we (well, except for Auggie). But you can still spend tonight drinking unending 7oz. pours of this classic summer brew.

2. Order an enormous pitcher of delicious booze for you and a few friends.

Your buds and their taste buds will thank you.

3. Bloodies and Micheladas on the patio.

Because here at Bangers & Lace, a balanced meal is one that includes a pint glass.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Un86'd Block Party Recap: Success!

Chicago Magazine came by this weekend's block party! Check out the full story (and maybe even find a new profile pic) right here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our 3rd Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest!

We’ve got a busy couple of week/ends ahead of us, folks! We spilled the beans on our Sunday, August 25th Block Party (co-hosted by Carriage House and UN86D). And now we’re here to remind you that all of your hot dog-consumption over the past year has not been in vain. You see, Chicago is home to Vienna Beef and is literally a style of hot dog, so we think it’s basically your civic duty to participate in our 3rd Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest on Monday, September 2 (that’s Labor Day).

Need some persuading? Check out these photos from last year’s contest, captured by Chicago Magazine. Need some tips from the pros? Check out the 2013 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, where winner Joey Chestnut managed to eat 69 hot dog + buns, becoming the first seven-time consecutive champion. 

And even though we might come off as a little fast and loose, we do have some rules for you to follow if you want to be the lucky winner of two Bears tickets (and the most deserved tummy ache this side of Lake Michigan):

  • Sign up at Bangers & Lace in person, up to 2 hours before event.
  • Contestant check in at 2pm. Contest begins at 3pm.
  • Contest will last five minutes. The winner will have consumed the most hot dogs within that time. Go ahead and chase those franks with a cold pilsner!
  • Each participant receives a Bangers & Lace tshirt.
  • Winner receives an awesome set of Chicago Bears tickets!

Monday, August 12, 2013

(Block) Party On!

Let’s talk about Block Parties. You could make awkward small talk with the folks who live on your street, or, you could have a blast with your fellow Bangers & Lace patrons at our very own Block Party on Sunday, August 25 from noon - 10pm.

Forget the germ-infested bouncy house, this Block Party, co-hosted by Carriage House and UN86’D. has booze, games, killer food and a Dunk Tank! There is a $35.00 entry fee, which buys you four tickets to spend as your heart desires (and we know your heart desires food + drink from Bangers & Lace and Carriage House).

Proceeds to benefit UN86’D, a charity created to aid in monetary relief for restaurant professionals in need, including educating workers on how to utilize public and private health care for their own benefit. UN86’D strives to support an industry that is often overlooked.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ria's SOB Story

You’ve already met Ria, but have you really spent enough quality time together? Luckily for all of us, she sat down (at a computer and emailed) with Solemn Oath Brewery. She’s featured as the current SOB Story (get it?) on their blog, so we thought we’d share the love and give the interview a little face time on our blog.

Here’s just one sneak peak into what makes her beer-brain tick, as she relays which factors make a beer worth purchasing: 
An honestly-made beer dedicated to the artistry of the craft. A beer that pays homage to tradition–the classic and historical. It has to feed the senses, good or bad, as long as it stirs up conversation. Or what could be simply a nice, refreshing, flavorful beverage after a long day’s work. These all factor into what makes the list.
Not enough insight? It’s beer poetry and you want more? Here’s the full interview.

Monday, July 29, 2013

When Life Gives You Apples

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. It follows that if life gives you apples — like, your family has presided over an orchard empire since the 1700s — you make cider. It’s a maxim wholly embraced by Henry Chevallier Guild and his older brother, Barry. Lovers of great cider, the brothers saw an opportunity to move beyond their parents’ juice and vinegar business and create some really spectacular ciders — well, cyders if you’re talking about any of the Aspall catalog.

Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, July 30, at 7pm to learn about the core of the Aspall operation and enjoy some of his outstanding cyders. Don’t worry about bringing an apple for the teacher — he’s got plenty.

We’ll be featuring all their hits: Aspall Dry, Aspall Imperial Cyder, Aspall Peronnelle’s Blush, Aspall Cuvee Chevallier.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bottles Up!

Our ever-changing chalkboard is always front-and-center at Bangers & Lace. You can pick a line and find out what Ronnie or Eric thinks you should be drinking at any given moment. So, even though you know we’ve got you covered as far as a phenomenal pour goes, what you may not realize is that we’ve got some deep cuts (in the form of rare bottles).

Here are four rare bottles to get you started, but we encourage you to go digging in the crates on your next visit:

Fantôme Extra Sour Special Original Creation - Brasserie Fantôme

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bon Voyage and Sicheres Reisen, Augie!

You’ll be missing a familiar face at the bar over the next few weeks. Augie (you know, Augie) is leaving town to do some adventuring overseas and he’s bringing his bike. What you may not know about Augie is that he was an instrumental player in organizing last year’s Cycle Messenger World Championships at Soldier Field. This year, he’ll compete in 2013 Championships held in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In case you’re a friendly stalker, here’s his itinerary.

1st -  Germany
Augie’s catching up with friends and drinking some of his favorite beers - German pilsners, wheats and lagers.

2nd - France
They’re leaving Germany to drive into the mountains and catch a leg of the Tour (duh France)

3rd - Paris
Watch the Tour de France famously finish on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and party with a bunch of bike pals in the city of lights. He’ll participate in some alley cat races and check out the Parisian craft beer scene, courtesy of some suggestions from Ria.

4th - Switzerland
Instead of the traditional European train ride, Augie’s doing three day ride to get to Lausanne. It’s about a 300 mile ride thru the Alps. He rides all the time, upwards of 150 miles per week, and he’s biked much of the Northwest (his old stomping grounds), but it’s been a while and Augie says that “part of this will suck” Why? “It’s the Alps.”

He’ll participate in the Cycle Messenger World Championships. Unfortunately, he can’t win this particular race; it’s due to the technicality of a requirement that the winner be an active bike messenger, and not a reflection on his ability.

He might manage a trip to Belgium somewhere in there, then it’s back behind the stick at Bangers & Lace on August 6. Don’t worry - we’ll remind you to stop by and buy the man a much-deserved beer upon his return.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meet Ria!

What’s a cicerone? It’s a certified beer expert, and if you’re reading our blog, then you’re already an informal expert. We’ve got our own official cicerone at Bangers & Lace: Ria Neri has a handle on every beer we pour. Our motto is truly to live every week like it’s craft beer week, so we think Chicago Magazine’s profile on Ria is just as relevant today as it was during CCBW!
What To Drink at Craft Beer Week: Tips From a Certified Expert

To whet your appetite for the 11-day hop deluge that is Chicago Craft Beer Week, we chatted with Ria Neri, the cicerone for Wicker Park restaurant Bangers & Lace. Neri shares her current beer brand obsessions, her thoughts on the craft beer festival explosion, and explains how one becomes a cicerone in the first place.

So how did you break into the cicerone business?About six years ago, I worked for a design company in the hospitality industry. I was looking for a hobby and I enjoyed drinking beer, so I picked up homebrewing. I was reading up on a lot of beers and I heard about the cicerone program. It’s sort of like a sommelier but for beer, so I thought, why not get a certification? You take a written essay test. There are three tiers—a certified beer server, a certified cicerone, and a master of cicerone. I’m a certified cicerone. 
So what do you do at Bangers & Lace?I run the beer program here. I pick out what goes on draft, I do all the buying, and I collaborate with the chef. A few years ago, if you had beer on draft, you never really changed them. We have 32 lines and I change them daily. I'm also in constant communication with the chef. I tell him what the flavors are in this beer, he tastes it and makes a dish that goes with it. 
Why do you think craft beer is so hot right now?The rise of social media. The beer world got smaller. Beer went along with the whole gastronomy thing. Is it overkill?I think it’s starting to get saturated now, but by next year, it’ll start to dwindle. There’ll be a weeding out and the strong beer breweries will remain. You can only have so many IPAs. Also, you’ve got understand that some of these breweries, like Three Floyds, have been around for 15 years. They only really started getting popular 3 or 4 years ago. 
What Banger & Lace craft beer week event are you most excited about?On Monday [May 20], we’re doing a beer dinner with Perennial Artisan Ale, from St. Louis. It’s a sensory experience. [Pairings include Hommel Bier with kimichi sausage and house-made sriracha]. 
What beers and breweries are you really into right now?I like Saison beers, they’re very dry, refreshing and earthy. As far as American breweries to watch out for, there’s Solemn Oath [Bangers & Lace is throwing a one year anniversary for them on Saturday, May 18] and there’s a brewery out of Oregon right now called Gigantic, a great American brewery, all their beers are solid.