Archive for September 2011

Home Bar Envy: Dovetail

Our friends at the local West Town Chicago vintage boutique Dovetail, have one of the coolest home bars we have ever laid eyes on.  Wood paneled mantel by day, fully equipped party bar with record player, lazy susan, and glowing fireplace by night.  Many a time, I have fantasized about buying this bar for my apartment.  Unfortunately, someone beat me to the punch.


We asked Jennifer Clower and Julie Ghatan, owner's of Dovetail, a few questions about their killer bar, what great bar paraphernalia they currently have in stock,  and where their favorite drinking spot is right now.

Where did you find this awesome bar?
We found this at a thrift shop in the suburbs and couldn't believe our eyes. We had to have it.

We heard you sold it recently, are you going to miss it?
Yes! It was actually really hard to part with. It's such a novelty at parties to bring our friends into the back room and show them the way it lights up and all the hidden compartments for stocking your favorite drinks and tunes.

What other cool bar paraphernalia do you have in your store right now?
We always have GREAT bar paraphernalia, but especially now. Two of my favorite pieces are these vintage clear glass decanters. One looks like a large scientific beaker and it has this incredibly substantial and heavy geometric glass stopper. I'm tempted to take it home. The other one is shaped like a narrow pitcher with an equally substantial glass stopper. Whiskey would look so good in both of them. we also have a ceramic decanter that looks like a Russian man. His hat is the stopper! And we just got a great shaker/stirrer set. The shaker has classic cocktail recipes written on it in cute vintage white and red font. It's really fun.

What is one of your favorite bars in Chicago?
Bar Deville is one of our favorite bars in West Town. They make one of the best and most well-balanced (and strongest, might we add) Manhattans in town. Aside from the amazing drinks, they have a great photobooth ($5 for 2 sets of photos! so you can share with friends) and fun dance parties on the weekends.

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Glossary: Gum Syrup

You may have seen the term " gum syrup" on cocktail lists at higher-end bars or in cocktail books and wondered, like I did, what it meant and why it's used.

Gum syrup (gomme in French) is a simple syrup with gum arabic added. Gum arabic is the hardened sap from the acacia tree - native to Africa and West Asia. Its uses are wide - cake decorating, watercolor painting, film processing, the glue on stamps!

In cocktails, a gum arabic adds thickness (often called viscosity or silkiness) and stops the sugar from crystallizing in simple syrups (especially in syrups that have a higher ratio of sugar to water). It's also said to add a richness (while a thickening agent like egg white can taste dry).

You can find food grade gum arabic in powder, flake or chunk form - check ethnic (like Indian), specialty, baking stores or online.

You can substitute gum arabic with other natural gums (like xanthan or guar gum - results might vary widely) or use egg whites (like in Pisco Punch vs. Pisco Sour). You can also buy gum syrup at Cask.

Gum Syrup
(adapted from Bunnyhugs Blog)
1/2 oz gum arabic
3 oz water
6 oz sugar

Make a paste with the gum arabic and 1 oz of the water. Let sit for a couple of hours. Heat the remaining sugar and water to a low boil. Add the gum paste and return to a boil. Let cool and store in a clean container.

Pisco Punch
(via the Bank Exchange, pre-Prohibition bar in San Francisco)
One Pineapple, cut in to 1" chunks
8oz Gum Syrup
16oz Water (still or sparkling)
10oz lemon juice
One 750ml bottle Pisco

Soak the pineapple in the gum syrup overnight. Add all ingredients to punch bowl next day with a block of ice. Add more lemon or gum syrup to taste. Garnish with reserved pineapple chunks.

Give it a try and let us know if you can taste the difference.

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