Locally-Made Bathtub Gin Makes A Comeback For A Good Cause At SPEAKEASY THROWBACK

August 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

People packed the Palmer House Hilton’s opulent Empire Room to attend last night’s Speakeasy Throwback, which was organized by Lockwood chef, Phillip Foss, and raised money for the Shawn Koch Foundation. Much like in the Prohibition era that was the theme for this event, locally-made spirits were served by Chicagoland’s burgeoning cadre of high-quality, artisinal, and small-batch spirits producers, and were paired with dishes from some of Chicago’s best chefs. Although Prohibition may have quelled the making of local booze in this City for decades (much like it did for quality wine in California), local distilleries have multiplied in recent years, and prove that there’s absolutely no real need (pun intended) to buy vodka from Sweden when you can have gin from Illinois. Most local producers aim to put a unique spin on their products, but none more so than Adam Seger, with his one-of-a-kind Hum Botanical Spirits, which is organic rum infused with his special mix of fair-trade hibiscus, organic ginger, green cardamom, and kaffir lime.

In addition to Hum, last night’s event — complete with flappers, dancers, and a jazz band — featured cocktails made with gin from North Shore Distillery (Illinois) and Death’s Door (Wisconsin), rye from Templeton Rye (Iowa), and white whiskey from Koval Distillery (Chicago’s first post-Prohibition spirits producer). Each cocktail was tailored to pair with a specific chef’s dish — one such pairing was North Shore Distillery’s riff on a French 75 (with a pear puree) and Gulf oysters from Apalachicola, Florida, specially sourced by Kith & Kin’s David Carrier. Rodrick Markus of Rare Tea Cellar supplied tea from his collection for the event.

“Citro Matto” was paired with Cibo Matto’s crab and caviar dish and contained Hum, Yakami Orchard, Yuzu Pharoah’s Ancient Lemon, Lemongrass Syrup, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena & Lemon Basil

The centerpiece of the event was Chicago’s first-ever (since Prohibition, that is) bathtub of all-local spirits, which was helmed at varying times by Chef Foss himself or mixologist-extraordinaire, Peter Vestinos. Guests were welcomed as they walked in the door with a glass of this slightly sweet, but potent, elixir.

If you’d like to try your hand at making cocktails with these local spirits, most are widely available in Chicagoland liquor stores, such as Binny’s, as well as at Green Grocer.