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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.

Filtering by Tag: cocktail classes Chicago

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."

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!

5 Easy Cocktail Gifts that Impress

Devin Kidner

Tis the season to be busy, and we're in holiday crunch time! So when it comes time to gift-giving, take it easy on yourself and give a simple gift that will delight any cocktail lover (or anyone, really!).

The following gifts are easy to create and customise:

1. Rosemary-Honey Simple Syrup. A staple in cocktails, but also great in tea, drizzled over ice cream, or added into club soda for a naturally sweet and herbal taste, this syrup is luxe without putting a dent in your wallet.

What you'll need: 

  • 8 oz. Ball Jar
  • 1/2 cup raw honey (raw and local are ideal - check out Chicago Honey Co-Op)
  • just over 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary (dried or fresh)
honeyrosemaryingredients

How to make it: Combine the raw honey and water into a pan. Heat slowly, allowing honey and water to combine, and then increase to a boil.

Once boiling add rosemary and reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes.

At boil: Notice the foam!

At boil: Notice the foam!

At simmer.

At simmer.

Remove from heat and let cool for 2-3 minutes, transfer into Ball Jar.

Make it pretty: Suspend a sprig of rosemary inside the Ball Jar (just be aware that the rosemary will infuse more, intensifying the taste). Use twine to wrap around where the bottom of the metal lid and the top of the glass bottle meet. Tie simple short bows (I tied two on top of each other), and call it a day. 

You can make the top pretty by following the below pics:

After you tie the twine&nbsp;bows around the jar, then work on the top. This will make designing the top easier. Fill in any gaps by wrapping more twine around the jar and knot.

After you tie the twine bows around the jar, then work on the top. This will make designing the top easier. Fill in any gaps by wrapping more twine around the jar and knot.

3. Apply more hot glue to the top of the cap, and proceed to step 4&nbsp;quickly!

3. Apply more hot glue to the top of the cap, and proceed to step 4 quickly!

1. Spiral&nbsp;the twine. &nbsp;Leave space in the middle and&nbsp;don't use glue yet. Just spiral&nbsp;and&nbsp;secure&nbsp;with&nbsp;your fingers until you cover the whole&nbsp;lid.

1. Spiral the twine.  Leave space in the middle and don't use glue yet. Just spiral and secure with your fingers until you cover the whole lid.

4. Secure the spiral onto the glue.&nbsp;

4. Secure the spiral onto the glue. 

2. Use a touch of glue from a hot glue gun&nbsp;to secure the loose end over top of the spiral. Carefully remove spiral off of top and place aside until step 4.

2. Use a touch of glue from a hot glue gun to secure the loose end over top of the spiral. Carefully remove spiral off of top and place aside until step 4.

5. Tie a double knotted bow and secure to the middle with glue. If you'd like to get precise,&nbsp;attach one of the bow tails to the spiral tail and secure with glue. It will look like th&nbsp;

5. Tie a double knotted bow and secure to the middle with glue. If you'd like to get precise, attach one of the bow tails to the spiral tail and secure with glue. It will look like th 

Final product:

Pretty, rustic, and delicious!

Pretty, rustic, and delicious!

2. Quick Cherry Bitters. It’s no secret that bitters add complexity and flavour that is unrivaled. The biggest problem is that in a time crunch, they’re hard to create. Some bitters take up to three weeks to cure! Since we’re already elbow deep in the holidays, here’s a quick way to get great bitters into the hands of friends and family (and let’s face it: your own).

This is a HOLLOW LEG original quick bitters recipe for ya bad self:

What you'll need: 

  • 1 oz bitter bottle with dropper (can be found at The Container Store or in bulk online)

    For the cherry base:
  • 1/2 cup packed dried cherries - I use Montmorency cherries from Michigan
  • just over 1 cup water

    For the bitters base:
  • 2 oz above 50% ABV liquor (i.e. vodka or Everclear or whiskey that is ABOVE 100 proof!)
  • 2 oz water
  • A combination of bittering agents (see below).
Almost all of the above&nbsp;can be sourced locally. In the bowls, from top, clockwise: black fennel seed, coriander seed, black walnut leaves, and chicory root. On the board, from top, star anise and dehydrated ginger.

Almost all of the above can be sourced locally. In the bowls, from top, clockwise: black fennel seed, coriander seed, black walnut leaves, and chicory root. On the board, from top, star anise and dehydrated ginger.

Now, here's the thing. You can use any of the combination above to create some amazing bitters. For this particular recipe, which strives to be as local as possible, I used a few teaspoons of black fennel, a heaping teaspoon of coriander, a big chunk of ginger, and a teaspoon of chicory root. I like the earthiness/smokiness of the chicory, the pungency of the ginger, the licorice flavour of the fennel, and the bright, floral notes of the coriander.

Montmorency Cherries

Montmorency Cherries

How to make the cherry base: Combine the cherries and water into a pan. Heat slowly, stirring several times, and then increase to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Using a sieve, strain off the cherry juice and let cool while making the bitters.

Bitters in the pot!

Bitters in the pot!

How to make the bitters base: Combine the alcohol, water, and bittering agents into the same pan you cooked the cherries in. Toss in cooked cherries you just separated from the juice. Again, bring the pot to a boil while stirring often.

Cut the heat, place a cover on top and let the spices steep in the liquid. for 20 minutes, or for several hours, just depending on how much time you have.

Strain the liquid into a separate bowl.

How to create the final product: It's simple. How do you like your bitters? I like to add 3/4 oz of cherry juice in with 1/4 oz of bitters, but it's up to you! Play around by doing a 1:1 ratio, then taste a little. Too bitter? Add more cherry juice. Not bitter enough? Add more bittering solution. Once you've got it the way you like it, use a funnel to put it in the amber bottle.

I made it pretty by writing with permanent marker on a mini ornament!

3. Local Booze. It's as simple as simple can be, Local distillers work hard to create craft spirits that are different from the mass-produced stuff on the market.  

Brews from: 5 Rabbit, Pipeworks, Forbidden Root, Upland, and Chicago Distilling Company's Ceres vodka

Brews from: 5 Rabbit, Pipeworks, Forbidden Root, Upland, and Chicago Distilling Company's Ceres vodka

Surprise and delight your alcohol-loving friends and family by presenting them with craft beer and spirits. You can discover all of the local Midwest Micro Breweries here! The two spirits below are new releases from Rhine Hall Distillery and KOVAL Distillery.

Rhine Hall Distillery's Plum Brandy

Rhine Hall Distillery's Plum Brandy

KOVAL Distillery's Dry Gin

KOVAL Distillery's Dry Gin

4. Customised Cocktails. It's not as hard as it sounds. Creating a cocktail that speaks to the unique taste buds of someone on your list is fun and easy. All you need is to know their favourite poison, and then play around with flavour combos.

I suggest that you present this gift in person, and pair it with homemade dinner. It's great to work together to create something delicious, and laugh if you create something horrible. Whether it's a smashing success the very first time or not, you're sure to impress someone with your Julia Child-like conviction!

5. Teach them how to drink for life. Buy your friends a gift that will keep on giving and send them to a cocktail class! Keep checking out HOLLOW LEG's Upcoming Events page for classes, or secure one through KOVAL or Rhine Hall!

See?! Gift giving for the cocktail lovers in your life can be as easy as 1...2...drink! (I had to do it.)

Happy Holidays, y'all!

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