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Blog

Liquor reviews, cocktail recipes, mixology trends, and seasonal ingredients. Includes cocktail tips and info on local whiskey, gin, vodka, beer, and liqueur.

Gross Halloween Candy = Delicious Cocktails

Devin Kidner

Halloween candy has long been a fave of mine. I’m a HUGE fan of anything chocolate (duh), but I even like things like SweeTARTS, those caramel coated apple lollipops (LOVEEEEE), and the often dreaded Mary Janes.

 Candy Corn has never looked more elegant in this CB2 bowl

Candy Corn has never looked more elegant in this CB2 bowl

There are two candies I could never get behind: Licorice in any form (you ain’t foolin’ me, Good & Plenty), and Candy Corn. I don’t know why but the flavour of licorice makes me recoil and candy corn…it’s just blandly sweet to me!

But I’m a trooper and I like experimenting with interesting creations, so I decided to give these two another chance…in cocktail form. BONUS: They are super easy to make, so not crazy weird ingredients here!

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The first cocktail I took a crack at was the one flavoured with licorice. I grabbed licorice Twizzlers at the store and took them home. I decided to infuse vodka with them, so grabbed my absolute favourite bottle of the season, the Potion Elixir bottle from CB2 (made in Italy!!) which can hold just over 3 oz, or with 2 large Twizzlers cut up and placed inside, with vodka poured over, 2 ounces of liquid - PERFECT for a cocktail!

And the bottle is perfect for Halloween, too, because it looks like a magic potion!

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After allowing the licorice to steep for a day in the bottle, I was able to easily pour out the contents into a shaker when I was ready to shake. Here’s the recipe:

The Black Widow

2 oz. licorice-infused vodka
1 oz. cherry juice
1/2 oz. 100% cranberry juice
1/4 - 1/2 oz (to taste) Demerara simple syrup
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
1 - 2 drops of Clove Bitters (for aromatics)

Shake above everything but the Clove Bitters) vigorously with ice, and strain into a glass. Mine came out quite dark, but if you want yours to be more black, add some black food-grade dye. Dot with the Clove Bitters. I garnished mine with an orange round piped with a chocolate Jack O’ Lantern pumpkin face using these pens!

The result is something rich, only slightly licorice-y, and surprisingly refreshing! I think the Clove adds a little depth on the nose!

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But the fun didn’t stop there, because I had candy corn staring me down. I took a nibble of one and bleeech, so cloyingly sweet with such little flavour. I do like the buttery mouthfeel they have, so I decided to play with that, using dry ingredients to offset the sweetness. Here’s the recipe:

Devil’s Trident

2 oz. Dry Gin (nothing too botanical, so no Bombay Sapphire here!)
1/2 oz (to taste) Candy Corn Simple Syrup (easy to make: slowly melt 6 pieces of candy corn with 2 Tbsp of water in the microwave).
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Dry Bubbly (think cheap Champagne) to top

Shake all but the Champagne with ice, vigorously, for 12 seconds. If you find that your cocktail is too syrupy, no worries, as you will be topping with Bubbly). Strain into a glass lined with licorice (it keeps it’s shape and can easily line most glasses) and a square ice cube. Fill with bubbly and top the ice with a few candy corn.

The resulting cocktail has a brightness from the gin and lemon, but is nicely contoured with the candy corn. The bubbles make for an extra kick, and I served it in a metal cup to keep super cold!

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And that’s it! Keeping it simple, because between the Trick-or-Treaters and the scary treats you’re baking, and the decorations, the costumes…lawdy, you just need a simple cocktail.

Happy Haunting!

Happy #Mocktober!

Devin Kidner

It might sound completely crazy, given that I’m a mixologist whose whole business is centered around making cocktails, but I have some breaking news for you:

The art of mixology is about more than just alcoholic cocktails.

In fact, it covers any kind of mixed drink, and there is some cool science surrounding no-proof (read: non-alcoholic) cocktails. I’d like to touch on a piece of science in honour of #Mocktober, (hosted by The Mocktail Project), a week of empowering folks with more mindful drinking.

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Yeah, yeah, go ahead and make a joke about needing booze,

but what you might really need is something comforting that tastes great and feels like there’s a party in your mouth (and everyone’s invited).

The base of a great no-proof cocktail is going to be high-quality mixers that pack a punch.

And that “punch” is in the form of Trigeminal Effects

I could talk forrrreeevver about trigeminal effects, but because the topic is vast, I’ll get down to the brass tacks. In normal cocktails, the liquor creates “sting.” This sting is a chemical sensation in your mouth that is caused by the alcohol. When you talk about the burn in the back of your mouth and throat when you drink liquor, you are talking about that trigeminal sting.

And while that sting is essential to making a fantastic cocktail, there are other trigeminal effects that exist that you can use to make interesting no-proof cocktails.

Case in point: The “heat” of peppers, the pungency of ginger, the burn of cinnamon, and the bubbles in carbon dioxide (like the bubbles in soda), are all trigeminal effects (there are sooo many more!). They are picked up by your nervous system and really add to the mouthfeel, the complexity, and the taste of a drink.

So yeah, I mean, you could just sip on a soda, but boooorrrring. Instead here’s a cool recipe for you that will get your senses going (and while it might not make you forget about booze altogether, will definitely make you think twice that booze-free is “blah”):

  • 4 oz. pomegranate juice (this stuff is rich! It’s basically the Duchess of juices)

  • 1.5 oz. grapefruit juice (make your drink bitter, astringent, and add some depth of flavour)

  • Muddle a slice of jalapeño (start with a small piece at first; you can always add more, but you can’t take heat away.)

  • Muddle a large piece of fresh ginger (leave the peel on, mash it really well)

  • Add a sugar, like a simple syrup, to taste. I personally don’t think this drink needs it, but a dab of agave or honey (think 1/4 oz - 1/2 oz) would be really nice.

    Shake the ingredients dry (without ice) first, then add a generous amount of ice and shake for 12 seconds. Really add oxygen and try to get a head of bubbles on your NPC (no-proof cocktail). Strain into a glass. Don’t get fussy with the garnish (unless you’re posting on Insta, I guess. Just drink!).

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When making no-proof cocktails you need to go heavier on the other trigeminal effects. Really boost up the flavour by adding a lot. You can always dilute it down, but you want to feel the drink when it hits your mouth! Bonus points if you get a bit of burn on your lips from the pepper.

So go make a no-proof cocktail! And go check out Better Drinking Culture and this XChrome Collective piece I wrote back in January talking about my view on “Democratic Drinking” with (bonus!) another amazing recipe.

Cheers,

Dev ;o)

"Knowing is Half the Battle"

Devin Kidner

Today I read an article that made my heart leap for joy. A short, seemingly benign piece (the title is all but inspiring) on the need for “brand neutral knowledge” in the spirits industry.

The long and short of it is a call to action from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust that there needs to be more education around “how base materials and production techniques impact the quality and style of a broad spectrum of spirits,” because focusing on the branding of products only makes it more difficult tell the difference between products.

Basically, there is a gap in education.

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This, in my world, is a small step in acknowledging that cocktail-making has become a braggatory, elusive, and confusing place for consumers. The proverbial spotlight has been largely focused on the bartender and Instagram-impossible drinks, when we should be focusing on people making incredible cocktails at home using science.

Learning more about your own palate and how to scientifically concoct a cocktail makes you less reliant on Googling recipes and also allows you the freedom to know what you like and why! 

HOLLOW LEG is committed to empowering folks with Julia Child-like conviction in this space, which sets us apart from the bars, restaurants, and cooking schools that promote recipes over real education. It would be my pleasure and honour to have you in a class.

- Devin x

3 Cost Saving Tips for Chicago Wedding Transportation

Devin Kidner

When you're planning an event like a Chicago wedding, a budget isn't just a suggestion, and more like a strict guideline that must be followed! Of course, we all wish we had unlimited cash flow so we wouldn't have to stress over any details on making our wedding as perfect as the life long vision we've had in our heads. However, that isn't usually the case! So, when you have a budget to stick to, it's important to comb through all of your resources. Thankfully, there's a lot of specific information available to you via the internet. Here are some tips to follow!

Book as early as you can

One important vendor to lock down early happens to be your mode of transportation. Once you figure out your venue, jump into securing transportation! Wedding season is the busiest time of the year for limousine and party bus companies in Chicago. Like many companies, their prices fluctuate with demand. When you book well in advance, you will lock in the rate that's currently set. Plus, you will know you're getting the best possible selection out of their vehicles before all of the other couples decide to begin their search!

Check out wedding packages

Another way to save money on your wedding transportation is to inquire with potential companies about their wedding packages, if they have any. When you're simply providing transportation for the wedding party to get to the different wedding destinations like the ceremony, pictures, and to the reception, you really don't need a full six hour rental like some companies offer. Wedding packages are smart because they're often cheaper than a standard rental and offer extras like champagne toasts and optional personalized decorations.

Review the contract

Checking over the contract is the best way to make sure you're getting a good deal on your price! We say this because there are a lot of potential fees you could be dealing with if you don't book with an honest Chicago limo service. If you aren't careful, you could be charged for things like gas and tip to the driver on top of the advertised price. This is why it's a good idea to make sure the advertised price includes everything up front!

Night Out Drinking: To Uber or Not?

Devin Kidner

Enjoying drinks with friends in the Chicago area is easy to do, especially with the fantastic night life scene here. There are so many different opportunities for having fun in the city and surrounding areas. And when you're adding HOLLOW LEG mixology classes into your events, we want to make sure you arrive and leave safely, and enjoy your best night out!

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Any time alcohol is going to be a part of your event, celebration, or get together, it's important that you imbibe responsibly. This means you should be mindful of your body's limits and organize how you'll get from one destination to the next in the safest fashion.

To Uber or Not?

It's easier than ever to procure a transport service with a simple swipe through your cell phone. There are always choices out there for you when it comes to finding a ride in Chicago, so there's no excuse to make an irresponsible decision regarding your transportation.

Ride share services such as Uber and Lyft are usually the first options that come to mind when you're out and about, but is it the best option for a group of passengers?

Sure, ride share services offer larger vehicles like SUV options, but the price can add up if you want to visit multiple destinations through the evening. 

Professional transportation services such as limousine and party bus providers allow you to take advantage of spacious interiors that are easy to move around in and enjoy with a group of friends. When you split the cost between passengers, it's comparable to what you would have spent on a ride share service. During busy events, these types of services can be booked well in advance, so it may require some prior planning on your part if this is the way you want to go. 

Just one night of drinking irresponsibly can lead to consequences that last for years, for yourself and those around you. With all of the options for transportation available to you, it's easy to find an experienced driver to take you around Chicago so you can enjoy your experience without worry or incident. For more information, click here.

Science Corner: Do You Drink Too Much?

Devin Kidner

There are a million reasons to imbibe in alcoholic beverages: The taste, to celebrate a milestone, to get a fun buzz, for educational purposes (you know, like coming to a cocktail class!), and so on.

But in a recent study by the British charity Drinkaware, drinking to cope with stress topped the charts for half of British adults as to why they drink.

 
  • Almost three in five (58%) of all people (aged 18-75) who drink alcohol are doing so at least some of the time because it helps them to cope
  • 38% of men and women who said they had drunk alcohol in the last year had done so to forget their problems
  • 47% said they had done so to cheer themselves up when in a bad mood
  • 41% said that they had drunk alcohol because it helps when they feel depressed or nervous
  • People in lower social grades are drinking to forget their problems or when they are depressed or nervous at a significantly higher rate
 
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Listen, we're a mixology education company, but it's important to us that folks are just that - educated - about alcohol, how it can be mixed into drinks, and most importantly, how to drink it responsibly, so that you associate alcohol with good times, rather than times over the toilet.

And really, with all of the scary facts coming out about alcohol consumption in the United States, we consider it a mission that you are armed with the information you need to make responsible choices.

After all, how terrifying is it that a recent study by the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University (reported through the Telegraph) "has found that when the body processes alcohol it produces a chemical called acetaldehyde which is harmful to DNA."

This chemical can actually "snap" the DNA of stem cells, alter the genetic code permanently, and trigger cancer! Yikes! This means that there is real evidence that overconsumption of alcohol can raise the rick of cancer.

Or that overconsumption is no longer an issue that only men have to seriously consider. Nope, ladies are now closing the gap on overconsumption, according to a study published this month in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

NPR covered the reporting of this study, showing that ER visits for alcohol-related issues is increasing dramatically among women, and that "Nearly 88,129 deaths annually were caused by excess drinking in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Yeesh.

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What can you do to combat overconsumption? Never fear, HOLLOW LEG has your back.

We're going to have a series of No-Proof and Low-Proof Mixology Classes this year that will focus on making delicious drinks without over-pouring the booze (or not pouring the booze at all). And we've also got a new mission focused on Democratic Drinking, which you can find here, published on X Chrome Collective's site. 

We'll also be publishing a list of bars and restaurants that focus on Low-and-No-Proof Mixology so that you can make better informed decisions when going out with friends. It's not that you have to cut alcohol out completely, but taking a break to imbibe in a drink with less booze every now and again can never hurt!

Do you have ideas or suggestions on bars you've hit up that feature awesome booze-less drinks? Let us know by commenting and we can add to the list! Until then, take care of yourselves! Cheers!

Have a Say in the Next Big Thing!

Devin Kidner

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The world of cocktails is changing, and if you've ever taken a class with us, you'll know that while booze can be a fun part of mixology, it's not the only part (or even the most important!).

Flavour and taste are aspects of drinking that we shouldn't throw to the wayside, and we'd love to know what inspires you to sip!

Join HOLLOW LEG in the conversation and have a say in the next big trends and concepts of 2018! How? By signing up for one of the following events and get rewarded for your involvement (limited space available):

  1. #DrinkFocus - An exclusive focus group for new 2018 concepts in the beverage world,
    taking place on Wednesday 1 November from 5:30 to 7:00pm. 
     
  2. #DrinkForward - An immersive happy hour with drinks, light food, and new people on Thursday 2 November from 5.00 - 8.00pm (about one hour of time needed). It's going to be an awesome night!

We look forward to seeing you there, and keep drinking interestingly!

Welcome, Graham!

Devin Kidner

HOLLOW LEG is thrilled to announce that we have a new team member who will begin teaching classes in October 2017.

It is our pleasure to introduce y'all to Graham Essex.

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Graham is a bold and exciting young mixologist with a background in bartending and a passion for the science + art behind making cocktails delicious and interesting. He hails from Chicago and has bartended at several places including Bridge House Tavern.

Of course, besides being your next favourite "Cocktail Sherpa," Graham is also an incredible musician with a beautiful voice, and who knows, maybe he can be persuaded into serenading you at the next event you plan with us!

We're looking forward to you meeting our newest member!

Bitters + Tinctures

Devin Kidner

We're thrilled to announce that we sell our hand-crafted bitters and tinctures! 

Now the bitters and tinctures you experiment with during class are for sale on-site - and we're taking online orders. You can check out our current offerings + pricing here.

Scroll down for more information regarding the bitters + tinctures,  as well as a handy pairing guide to help you pick your perfect match!

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What are bitters and tinctures?

Simply put, bitters and tinctures are potent flavouring agents usually made from high volume alcohol that add complexity and nuance into cocktails.

We like to call them the "X factor" of cocktails because they usually supply the undercurrent of flavour that piques the nerves and tastebuds in your mouth. Bitters and tinctures are a crucial element to making interesting cocktails that are personalised to your palate!

How do I use bitters and tinctures in a cocktail?

The beautiful thing about bitters and tinctures is that you can use a variety of flavours to achieve your desired outcome.

Let's say you want to add a twist to an Old Fashioned: You can give your drink a bitter, nutty  twist by adding in HOLLOW LEG Black Walnut Bitters or you can make your Old Fashioned a fruity/spicy flavour by combining HOLLOW LEG Tart Montmorency Cherry Tinctures and Black Pepper Bitters. Simply add a couple capfuls of bitters and/or tinctures into your cocktail until you find the right combination for you!

How long do bitters and tinctures keep?

All of our bitters and tinctures are bottled above a 50% ABV (100 Proof), and most are bottled at 75.5% ABV (151 Proof) using grain alcohol. This means the shelf life is pretty indefinite (though we say 1 - 2 years) because ethanol is an antimicrobial agent and the microbes that produce toxins cannot grow!

The best way to store your bitters to ensure they stay the flavour your bought them as is to keep them tightly closed when not in use and out of direct sunlight/heat.

Which bitters + tinctures pair best with the liquor I love?

We're big fans of experimentation, and are always blown away by the curiosity and creativity of adventurous class-goers who throw caution to the wind and toss, say, HOLLOW LEG Coffee Bitters in a tequila cocktail, but as your Cocktail Sherpa, we want to direct you to some flavour pairings that are always solid. Here are our recommendations:
 

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Have any other questions? Ready to take your at-home bar to the next level and add bitters + tinctures to your cocktailing? Interested in sampling before you buy? Drop us a line at devin@hollowleg.com and let's find the bitters + tinctures that are best for you!

Cheers!

Magic + Cocktails

Devin Kidner

Need some magic in your life?

Revamp your spirits with an incredible show that's over at The Royal George Theatre until 12 February! The Rosenkranz Mysteries is presented by Ricardo Rosenkranz, a physician at Northwestern who is also a stunning magician, and who beautifully laces in his story into a magical journey. Tix and info here!

Extra boozy bonus? HOLLOW LEG created the custom cocktails for the show, so you can finally have one of our creations outside of the classroom.

5 Classes for Valentine's Day

Devin Kidner

Chocolate and roses are great, but cocktails are better. This V-Day, ring in the day of love with one of our 5 offerings.

1. Reveal your inner-Grumpy Cat with our Anti-Valentine's Day Mixology class on February 10th

Unlike our normal Mixology 101 class, this specific class will focus on making bitter drinks like Manhattans and Negronis and will feature spirits like Aperol, Besk, and Fernet. If you don't like bitter drinks, we're chill with that and will have plenty of mixers on hand to make whatever you like.

2. V-Day Themed Bloody Mary Class (+ Pierogis) on February 11th

In this Valentine's Day-edition Bloody Mary class, we're making sure all of your hearts desires are being met. We'll be featuring special garnishes like candied bacon and pierogies, beer chasers, and we'll have a bunch of pierogi (savoury and sweet) to chow down on during class!

3. Valentine's Day Mixology: Love at First Sip (+ Hors D'oeuvres + Cookie Decorating on February 11th

A Valentine's-themed class fit for the King or Queen in your life! We'll be using special mixers from hot cocoa and cognac, to homespun caramel, pomegranates, whipped cream, and local bubbly. In addition, we'll be featuring incredible hors d'oeuvres from the incomparable Pyrite Sun, who specialises in seasonal, beautiful food that will pair perfectly with your creations. Pyrite Sun will also be hosting a cookie decorating class with their heart pocket pies that you can take with you (or eat on-site).

4. Valentine's Day Bitters Making Workshop on February 12th

In this special format Valentine's Day class, we'll have bubbly and canapes for you as you make your bitters! What makes a cocktail ten times better? When it's made with handmade, customised bitters or tinctures!

5. Valentine's Day Mixology: Love at First Sip on February 14th

A Valentine's-themed class fit for the King or Queen in your life! We'll be using special mixers from hot cocoa and cognac, to homespun caramel, pomegranates, and whipped cream. We'll have special garnishes for drinks and free hors d'oeurves before your dinner reservations. 

We have dinner recommendations that are close to our venue, too! Check them out here.

HOLLOW LEG + Jack Daniels = <3

Devin Kidner

HOLLOW LEG is excited to announce that we were chosen by CUSP Magazine and Jack Daniels to be featured in a new video series entitled, The Process, and our episode drops in early February!

CUSP Mag writes, "The Process looks at Chicago based entrepreneurs who are using their bartending & mixology experience to inspire their own business and brand."

Until our episode drops, check out the first video featuring Carlos Matias. "Carlos is a local mixologist who focuses on hospitality being a key component to the bar experience."

Where to Brunch Before/During/After Class

Devin Kidner

All of our Bloody Mary classes are BYOB (Bring Your Own Brunch), so whether you want to bring along or head out before or after class, we've got you covered. Ukrainian Village and our surrounding 'hoods have some awesome and unique spots for noshing, no matter what you crave.

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Bring to Class (Take Out or Delivery Options):

1. Shokolad - Our HQ is above Shokolad, and we can't say enough about their casual Ukrainian fare. They have awesome omelettes, pierogi, and crepes.
2. WHISK - Sweet tooth? You can't get more interesting pancakes and french toast than from WHISK. From Oreo Raspberry pancakes to Snickers stuffed french toast, you'll be in love. They also have awesome hashes!
3. Cafe Marie Jeanne - Take away some of the best pastries (good lord the doughnuts and croissants), or some smoked brisket.
4. Lockdown Bar and Grill - Not craving breakfast or brunch? Burgers also pair perfectly with Bloody Marys, and we think Lockdown has some of the best. 

Dine-In (Before or After Class):

1. Spinning J - Pies galore (S'mores Pie is ridiculous) and their sodas and shakes will have you drooling, but don't overlook their breakfast sandwiches and pot pies. Plus this place is just cool and vintage and unique.
2. Cafe Marie Jeanne - A rad a la carte brunch menu, the cheddar biscuits, lox, and cheddar grits are so so good.
3. BITE Cafe - Delivery available, too, though we prefer eating their food piping hot straight out of the kitchen, BITE offers some vegetarian dishes and they have poutine! We're huge fans of the grilled cheese and tomato fennel soup.
4. Hash - I think it goes without saying that you should be eating their hash here. The Pork Bubble & Squeak makes us happy.
5. FEED - One of our faves. Cash only. Go with the special of the day. Also, bring some quarters and try to win a golden egg! 

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Coffee:

A morning must. Our good friends from Dark Matter roast their beans just down the street from us, and you can grab an amazing coffee or latte across the street from us at Star Lounge, one of their rad coffee bars. 

5 Things To Do in Chicago THIS Week!

Devin Kidner

Another week, and more amazing things to do in Chicago - of course! Here are our top picks for a fantastic week, starting with...

  1.  Tiki Cooking Class @ The Chopping Block (Wednesday 14 December)

    In 2017, I’m making it my mission to cook and bake more, especially foods I don’t know how to cook. I love creating and drinking tiki cocktails (like this one), so am thrilled to be taking a class to teach me how to make food that pairs! More info here.

2. Adler After Dark (Thursday 15 December)

If you're looking for something different, and love museums but hate competing with kids to interact with the exhibits, Adler After Dark is for you. It's for 21+, you can buy some booze, and you can even go to the observatory to peer at the night sky! Info and tix here.

 Photo by Luke Golobitsh

Photo by Luke Golobitsh

3. Go caroling at The Bean (Friday 16 December)

It's the last day of caroling at Cloud Gate (aka The Bean), so take advantage of it! This is one of my favourite Chicago holiday traditions, and after you're done singing, you can grab a pair of skates and head to the ice rink, or grab a bite to eat at Park Grill! More info here!

4. Drink to benefit Chicago animals! (Saturday 17 December)

If you want to spread some Christmas cheer by donating to Chicago's neediest animals, join us for a holiday-themed cocktail class, in which all proceeds of your ticket benefit Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control. More info and tickets are available here.

5. Christmas Bingo (Sundays at 2 pm at The Royal George Theater)

Christmas + Bingo + Catholic comedy. What could be a better mix? You know you're sick of doing the same old, same old, so head over to The Royal George and get your laugh on (and get into some competitive bingo action), for this show. Info and tix here.

Enjoy the week! 

Tea-based Tiki Cocktail

Devin Kidner

Meet the "Teaki," our seasonal tiki drink. 

Despite folks crying out that tiki drinks are a passing fad, they remain popular, especially in the winter, when we're all desperately wanting to be whisked away to some Polynesian Island to where the air doesn't hurt our faces.

Our take doesn't use rum (which generally inspires the tropical feels), but rather mango brandy, which is juicy and sunny. We add complexity with generous amounts of Earl Grey tea bitters, which add astringency and depth, and then balance the sweet and tart with honey and cranberry juice.

Just to keep things light, we add a splash of Season's Soda's maple syrup demi-sec, which adds a zip of bubble along with the earthy, peppery notes of maple.

2 oz @RhineHall Mango Brandy
2 tsp. Earl Grey Tea Bitters
4 oz fresh cranberry juice
2 tsp raw honey
Generous splash of Seasons Soda's Maple Syrup soda 

Shake together first four ingredients without ice first (5-10 seconds), then with ice for another 10 seconds. Pour into a glass with crushed ice, then top with soda. Garnish with plum brandy soaked sour cherries and candied carrots. 

All photos by Brett Calomino.

5 Things to Do in Chicago December 5th - 11th

Devin Kidner

Looking for something different to do this week in Chicago? Look no further than the five things listed below, which have all been tested and true by HOLLOW LEG itself!

1. Take afternoon tea at Brindille

Afternoon tea is a staple during the holiday season, and Brindille's is the best. With Chef Carrie Nahabedian at the helm, you'll be delighted with traditional English crumpets, finger sandwiches with seasonal ingredients, and a whole world of pastries that are executed perfectly (the Sacher torte is to die for!). Make it a Royal Tea with a glass of bubbly.

$60/person. Reservations required. More information here.

 The Spirit Artist, a blend of Bourbon, cherry juice, orange peel, Demerara simple syrup, and chocolate bitters - magically delicious!

The Spirit Artist, a blend of Bourbon, cherry juice, orange peel, Demerara simple syrup, and chocolate bitters - magically delicious!

2. Take in a magic show at Royal George Theatre

Tired of holiday music already? Revamp your spirits with magic! The Rosenkranz Mysteries are running now through December 24 and it's incredible. Ricardo Rosenkranz, a physician at Northwestern, beautifully laces in his story into a magical journey, and the tricks will leave you wanting more. Tix and info here!

Extra boozy bonus? HOLLOW LEG created the custom cocktails for the show, so you can finally have one of our creations outside of the classroom.

3. Get some shopping done at Revolution Craft Show

If you're like us, the majority of holiday shopping is done at small businesses and craft fairs. You can't beat the uniqueness, the quality, and the good feels of helping small businesses! On Sunday 11 December,  Revolution Craft Show will be showcasing some of Chicago's finest, along with beer and food!

4. Immerse yourself in the Golden Age of Radio

If you're looking for something different to do, look no further than the Chicago Cultural Center. Most exhibitions and events are free, including this fun and festive recreation of Meet Me in St. Louis performed live on stage!

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5. Shop and walk through a winter wonderland during West Town Winterfest

Dying to put those snow boots to work? This Saturday, a bunch of West Town businesses will be open so you can peruse, grab a cuppa, and stroll through snow-laden streets. There's a trolley and an after-party, too! More details here.

Enjoy the week!

Kimchi Cocktail Recipe: An In-Class Creation

Devin Kidner

In our cocktail classes, we don't like putting Baby in a corner. That's why we don't centre our classes around recipes for certain cocktails.

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We know that what makes a good drink isn't a stuffy bar director or bartender or anyone else telling you that a drink is good. Nope. It's about your palate and your preferences!

In our classes, we give you the tools you need to succeed: Not just the muddlers and the mixers, but the science of how we taste and how to think about creating your perfect drink from the chemical effects to troubleshooting a finished product that doesn't make the cut.

With that, we're stoked when class-goers come up with interesting, creative creations that stem from their own imagination, and even more joyous when they share their recipes for others to enjoy.

Here's the cocktail we're sharing this week:

Just Add Noodles - a bright, spicy, and tangy drink that's both savoury and a little sweet. It's the fermented flavour of a Bloody Mary with the sweetness of orange, like a Mimosa! 

  • 2 oz. dry gin
  • 1 forkful of kimchi and a splash of the juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • ½ fresh cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Muddle the kimchi and cayenne into the gin. Add orange juice, then shake vigorously over ice. Serve cold in a small Ball Jar. Garnish with kimchi, a cayenne pepper, and an orange peel on a skewer.

Meet Our Farmers & Producers

Devin Kidner

Our Holiday Mixology, Bitters, and Bloody Mary Classes are up and running (with more to be posted soon!), and we’re so psyched to be featuring local farmers and producers in our classes.

Supporting local folks has been one of HOLLOW LEG’s main missions, and we're excited to be showcasing their produce and products in our classes. After all, the best cocktails are made from the best ingredients, and we want everyone coming to a class to taste the best the Midwest has to offer.

To us, cocktails are more than a drink, they're a glass of stories, passion, and an honest day's work. Please take a moment to meet the people who make (and will make!) your in-class creations possible.


Why they're amazing: I've personally known René (the lady half of this farming duo, Bruce is her husband) for years and have had the pleasure of seeing her at Green City Farmers Market. She and her husband are dedicated to sustainable farming, and, according to their website, is "verified in MAEAP for all crops produced. MAEAP stands for Michigan’s Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and certifies environmentally sustainable agricultural practices." 

 The Ellis Family on the farm 2015, picture courtesy of Ellis Family Farm

The Ellis Family on the farm 2015, picture courtesy of Ellis Family Farm

 Peter and me (Devin) modelling for Crain's Business, photo courtesy of Crain's, photo by Lisa Predko

Peter and me (Devin) modelling for Crain's Business, photo courtesy of Crain's, photo by Lisa Predko

  • Eggs from Meadow Haven Farm (Sheffield, Illinois)

    Jeremy and Cherie House are some of my favourite humans, as well as some of the most incredible stewards of the land they work and the animals they raise. In any egg-based drinks we make (egg white drinks will be featured in our holiday classes), we exclusively use their eggs - read why here.
 Jeremy and Cherie House of Meadow Haven Farm feeding their healthy, happy chickens

Jeremy and Cherie House of Meadow Haven Farm feeding their healthy, happy chickens

Savoury cocktails are both complex and interesting, and whether you're creating a Bloody Mary in our Bloody Bar Workshop, or inventing a new creation, this kimchi is the best. Bushel & Peck preserves everything by hand using produce from their certified organic farm.

  • Spices – Epic Spices (Chicago, Illinois)

    Fresh and well-sourced spices are a must for making quality, potent bitters. Epic Spices is our go-to because Steven is incredibly knowledgeable and has a huge selection.

Holiday cocktails beg for some homespun caramel made from the best darn butter you've ever tasted. Enter Nordic Creamery. On top of being amazing folks, Al and Sarah Bekkum are award-winning cheese and butter makers. Their cows are pasture-raised and their butter never has chemicals or preservatives. 

 The adorable Bekkum Family on their farm in WIsconsin

The adorable Bekkum Family on their farm in WIsconsin

  • Tomatoes, Garlic, and Onions – Leaning Shed Farm (Berrien Springs, Michigan)

    Fresh tomato juice in Bloody Marys is only made better when sourcing locally grown tomatoes from Leaning Shed. Dave and Denise grow over 45 types of heirloom tomatoes, 5 varieties of garlic, and the best darn onions this side of the Mississippi!
 Dave showing off what he grew, picture courtesy of Leaning Shed

Dave showing off what he grew, picture courtesy of Leaning Shed

  • Cold Brew CoffeeDark Matter Coffee (Chicago, Illinois) or Printer's Row Coffee Co. (Chicago, Illinois)

    We're stoked that Dark Matter are our neighbours, and their philosophy is that they produce "quality coffees [that] are sourced based on traceability, innovation and social responsibility." You'll love their stuff.

Printer's Row Coffee Co. feature our friends Nick and Nicole, and their small batch coffee tastes as pure and fresh as their passion for the craft. They're always surprising us with brews that are unique and thoughtful, perfectly pairing with whatever cocktail we may have in mind!

 Nicole and Nick, the wife and husband team behind Printer's Row Coffee Co.

Nicole and Nick, the wife and husband team behind Printer's Row Coffee Co.

  • Soda - Seasons Soda (Chicago, Illinois)

    It's not often enough you get to see an amazing success story bloom before your eyes, but then again, most people haven't had the pleasure of meeting Bobby Chang. Bobby sold his handcrafted sodas at Green City Market before turning his tent into a full-fledged business sticking to the philosophy, "source responsibly, process minimally, and deliver a beverage that embodies the essence of its origins."

    His sodas are interesting and nuanced: Bitter Lemon Tonic, Ginger Demi-Sec, and Maple Demi-Sec, just to name a few.
 &nbsp;Bobby Chang of Seasons Soda, photo courtesy of Seasons Soda, photo by Amanda Jane Jones

 Bobby Chang of Seasons Soda, photo courtesy of Seasons Soda, photo by Amanda Jane Jones

  • Edible Flowers/Unique Herbs - Pyrite Sun (Chicago, Illinois)

    Sarah Mallin is a gem. By far one of the most knowledgeable and down-to-earth folks I've ever known, her garden bursts with the most interesting and coveted edible flowers and herbs. If ever someone has made our cocktails more beautiful, it's Sarah's expert gardening and keen eye for the uniquely beautiful. She's also an amazing pie-maker. For serious. Check her out on Instagram at @pyritesun.
 Sarah Mallin and her gorgeous pies, photo courtesy of Pyrite Sun

Sarah Mallin and her gorgeous pies, photo courtesy of Pyrite Sun

I doubt the Ball Jars company knows how grateful we are for their jars. We use them exclusively for all of our events to store our mixers and syrups, and as our cocktail shakers. Made in the USA and locally to boot, we're thrilled with the quality, the convenience of the measurements on the side of the jars, and the many accessories that have been designed to make pouring and sipping easier. Cheers, Ball Jars!

At HOLLOW LEG, cocktail-making is a community affair. We hope you enjoy the drinks you create in class with the world-class ingredients we've sourced for you!

Leftover Halloween Candy Cocktails

Devin Kidner

Face it: You can’t eat as much candy as you could when you were 10. But before you chuck the whole lot in the bin, think of transforming your candy into some fun cocktails, and check out our upcoming classes for more inspiration. Here are 5 popular candies and how you can incorporate them into cocktails this week:

Reese’s Black Russian: Ceres Vodka and a syrup made from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Dark Matter cold brew is simply to die for. Normally made with coffee liqueur, we opted for something…a little more interesting.

To make the syrup, add 2 oz Dark Matter cold brew, 2 Tblsp. Whole milk, and 2 tsp. powdered sugar into a saucepan. Heat on medium heat until the mixture steams. Chop up 3 Mini Reese’s (equivalent to about .75 oz, or 1 classic-sized Reese’s) and add into liquid. Stir until completely melted (this will take longer for the peanut butter, and we used a silicone spatula to break the candy apart). Pour into a shaker.

Over the syrup, add the Ceres Vodka and dry shake your drink, completely combining all ingredients. Take a quick sip and, if you desire, add 1 extra teaspoon of powdered sugar. Stir, then pour over crushed ice into a glass, and garnish with a Mini Reese’s (or a Reese's Pumpkin!).

Skittles Cosmopolitan – Cosmos are a classic drink, made with Triple Sec (orange liqueur), tart cranberry juice and lime juice. In this recipe, however, you will forgo the Triple Sec and infuse the vodka with orange Skittles as a substitute – adding both a sweet orange flavour and cool colour!

  • 3 oz. orange Skittle-infused vodka (we’re using Chicago Distilling Co.’s Ceres vodka - recipe below)
  • 2 ½ tsp powdered sugar
  • 1 oz. fresh cranberry juice
  • 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

Separate out all of the orange Skittles from your candy bag - you'll need at least 15. Place them in a jar that has a top. Cover with 3 oz. vodka and 2 ½ tsp. powdered sugar (or more, to taste). Screw on the lid and shake vigorously. Let sit for 20 minutes, shaking intermittently.

While your vodka is infusing, pour cranberry juice and lime juice into a shaker.

Once vodka is infused (the colour should be opaque and very orange), pour into the shaker. Shake vigorously with ice for 12 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and serve with a shot of Skittles!

Breakfast Caffè Corretto With Almond Joy Bitters is the perfect way to wake up: Bitter, oaky, slightly sweet, and caffeinated, it's perfect for folks who need something a little less candy-like. 

  • 1 oz. Rhine Hall Oaked Grappa
  • 2 shots of Dark Matter Espresso, served in a cup large enough to add booze
  • 1 oz. Almond Joy Bitters (recipe follows) 

For the bitters: Chop up 2 Snack Size Almond Joys into small pieces (Mounds work, too, if you have nut allergies) and place into a jar. Cover with ¼ cup Everclear and ¼ cup Rhine Hall Oaked Grappa. Let sit for several days to a week in a cool dark place, shaking the contents of the jar every day. Strain.

For the cocktail: Head to Star Lounge (or your favourite coffee shop), and ask for a double shot of espresso in a small to-go cup (unless they allow drinking, in which case, ask for a small latte cup). 

Pour the oaked grappa and Almond Joy bitters in the cup. No need to stir. Sip and enjoy, while munching on Almond Joys in between. 

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Candy Corn Mimosas are surprisingly delicious, even if you don't like candy corn. We infused aged rum with the corn, creating more complexity and depth of flavour. The orange juice brightens the drink, and the bubbly, of course!

  • Rum (we used Grander Rum because it's been matured in Bourbon barrels which lend an oaky, spicy flavour that balances the sweetness of the candy corn)
  • Candy Corn (we used Brach's Autumn Mix because they use real honey and the pumpkins are adorable for garnishes. We used the traditional candy corn in the bag, not the chocolate ones.)
  • 1 oz OJ
  • Bubbly (any brand will do as long as it's a dry bubby, but we used Illinois Sparkling Company's Extra Brut because it's local and delish!)

To make the Candy Corn Syrup: Place 3 Tblsp. candy corn into a jar with lid. Cover with 4 ounces of rum. Let sit overnight, shaking intermittently. Strain.

To make the cocktail: Pour 2 oz. of candy corn syrup and 1 oz. of orange juice into a glass. To taste, add bubbly, adding more if you like a sweeter cocktail, and less if you want something a little less sweet).** Garnish with candy corn pumpkins on a skewer!

**PRO TIP: Mimosas are usually 1 part OJ to 1 part bubbly, but for this cocktail it's more like 1 part syrup and 1/2 parts OJ to 2 parts bubbly. This should make mixing fairly easy. (1 oz : 1/2 oz : 3 oz; or 2 oz. : 1 oz : 6 oz; and so on)  

York Peppermint Patty Brazilian Mojitos are as refreshing as they are decadent - and it's easy to interchange ingredients! You'll need:

3 oz Cachaça*
3 York Peppermint Patties, chopped
1 small wedge of lime
Mint for garnish (we used Chocolate Mint - an heirloom variety)
Splash of club soda

Melt the Cachaca and peppermint patties in a saucepan, stirring frequently, until completely melted and combined. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

In your coupe glass, squeeze in lime wedge and fill the glass halfway full with crushed ice. Pour the peppermint patty mixture over the ice and add a splash of club soda. Garnish with a peppermint patty and some mint. 

*You can use white rum, which is traditionally used in a mojito. White rum is a little richer in taste, as it's made from molasses, and not fresh sugarcane juice.

Cocktails are meant to be fun! Use the above recipes as guides to incorporate other candies in cocktails, and remember: It's okay to trick-or-treat at any age...especially in the name of cocktails!

We make fun, themed, and seasonal cocktails all year long! Check out our upcoming events and classes here!

Happy Halloween!!

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