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Wednesday, December 8

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Drink Mon Dec 12 2011

Holiday Cocktails with Paul McGee

During the month of December, Gapers Block will be featuring a weekly holiday drink column with a different guest bartender/mixologist. Today's drink comes from Paul McGee of the Whistler.

pmcgee.jpgChicago is lucky to have someone of this caliber slinging our drinks. McGee is a veteran of the Venetian, Bellagio and MGM Grand hotels in Las Vegas and was the Corporate Mixologist for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. Since 2008, Paul has been a partner in the Whistler (my favorite drinking den) and was named TimeOut Chicago's Best Bartender 2010. The Whistler was also included in GQ's list of The 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America last year.

While playing culinary sherpa to a group of 12 visiting chefs during last May's National Restaurant Association show at McCormick Place, our first stop was the Whistler for an example of what I consider to be the leader of the craft cocktail movement in Chicago; they left duly blown away.

McGee prides himself on the Whistler's approachable and affordable cocktail menu. It doesn't take a chef to appreciate the nuances of Paul's cocktails. His palate is remarkable; his drinks, sublime. If you haven't experienced his prowess, I couldn't think of a better holiday gift to give yourself.

Mulled Apple Cider, a la Paul McGee
1 quart apple cider (McGee uses Seedling Farms Classic Apple Cider)
10 cloves, whole
10 cinnamon sticks, broken
2 pods star anise, whole
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
The peel of one orange

Heat all ingredients to a simmer, strain out solids. Add one ounce spirit of choice to five ounces of cider.

"Starting with Michigan's own Seedling Classic Cider, I add cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, brown sugar, and orange peel and stir over heat until the entire room smells like inside of an apple pie shop. This year I made a slight recipe update to include star anise; I wanted a little bit more depth and complexity, and the herb's flavors add that perfect extra layer.

At The Whistler, we serve the cider with your spirit of choice: scotch, bourbon, rum or apple brandy. When I'm in the mood for something on the sweet side, I sip mine with rum, while a nice smoky scotch is perfect when I'm looking for something more savory. However, my go-to spiking agent is bourbon -- the booze's vanilla notes go so well with the mulling spices in the cider. Complete with a cinnamon stick garnish."

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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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