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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, November 29

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Drink Mon Nov 15 2010

Advice from a Vodka Tasting Dinner

"Never press 'send' on an email after going to a vodka tasting": words of wisdom from my date to last Wednesday's Moon Mountain vodka launch at Acre (5308 N. Clark St.). An organic, locally produced spirit, the vodka and its master distiller, Gerry Webb, passed through Chicago on a media tour of six cities. Inspired by the winemaking at Moon Mountain Vineyard in Sonoma, CA, Webb mimicked that process in developing the small-batch vodka (using corn instead of grapes) and during distillation -- the bottle is shaped like a wine glass to reflect its conception. Acre (formerly Charlie's Ale's House) created Moon Mountain-inspired dishes and cocktails, and the 15 or so guests took it from there.

For those of you thinking about going to vodka tasting dinners in the future, I wanted to offer a few other tips for getting the best experience:


  • Get there early -- you don't want to miss the passed appetizers. As some of the first people there, we tried fois gras on brioche, a spoonful of beet tartar, and a spicy oyster shooter. This was all paired with the Squinty Cobbler, which mixed the vodka with muddled honey tangerine, simple syrup, soda, and cinnamon, with fresh cranberries floating on top.

  • Swirl, sniff, and then sip. Before tasting the straight vodka, Webb suggested taking three deep sniffs first to "smell the sweetness."
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  • Forget your training of finishing everything in your glass. With a full drink at every course, consuming all of them completely might kill you. I started off strong, drinking all of the Squinty Cobbler and the adult raspberry smoothie in a martini glass we got with the salad course. But by the time I got to course two, I slowed down, drinking about half of the lemongrass-heavy, milky-looking Luna Et Coco. And I only took a few sips of the three drinks after that. Given the fact that I had already had 2.5 drinks, plus a shot of pure vodka, by that point, I barely remember what they tasted like.

  • And, related to that last one, make sure you eat. We were served four courses (including a squash soup with lobster tempura and a pork-belly confit), so our stomachs were prepped for booze. But, since Acre's seasonal, locally grown ingredients weren't really center stage, I think I need to go back to Acre another time to focus on the food.

Photos by Heather Wick.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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