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Binny’s Taste at the Track


Don’t miss our first annual Binny’s Taste at the Track on Saturday, Sept 10th at Arlington Park. This unique event will combine a top notch Binny’s wine event with the excitement of live horse racing.

Saturday, September 10th
1:00 – 5:30 pm
Arlington Park


The quick rundown:

– Taste more than 200 wines from Bordeaux, California, and all around the world.- Sample signature dishes from top restaurants.- Enjoy guest speakers and live music.- Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door. Parking is free.
– Your ticket includes park admittance – $8 by itself.
– Plus, get a 10% discount for wine orders placed at the event for pick up at any Binny’s Beverage Depot location.


For more info and to order tickets, check out this page on the Arlington Park Website.

Affordable 2008 Bordeaux and Some Great ’06


You know the story with Bordeaux investors and new Asian markets are driving first growths to comically unattainable prices, even for collectors, while “super-seconds” are pricing themselves out of the game because they don’t carry the cachet to support inflated retails. We on the Binny’s Wine Blog have pointed out great values, and have remindied you not to forget the less hyped 2008 vintage.

Don’t think that Bordeaux is only ultra-luxury blue chips or cheap everyday drinkers; there are a bunch of really great, classy wines that fall into an affordable price range. We recently tasted a sizable lineup of well priced Bordeaux that still offer world-class style. My notes, tasted in flights of three:

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Binny’s in Bloomingdale: Beer Department Report


About a week from today, one of the biggest beer departments in the Midwest will open its doors.  Mixed in with the over 1,500 different beers at our Bloomingdale location will be some rarities.  Available from Stone Brewing Co. will be 2007 Double Bastard, 2008 Imperial Russian Stout, 2010 Old Guardian, 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA, and the 2008 Vintage of their holiday collaboration with Nogne O and Jolly Pumpkin.  Look for these vintage Stone Brewing Co. ales in the single serve section of the beer cooler.  Did we mention that the beer cooler at this Binny’s location has 28 doors?

Other gems and hard to find beers will be mixed in the beer set here, including but not limited to beers from breweries like De Molen, Brewdog, Nogne O, and HaandBryggeriet.

Of course all of the everyday favorites will be available too.

Binny’s in Bloomingdale: More Progress


What a difference two days can make! Compare these pictures, taken yesterday afternoon, to those from the morning before, and you’ll get a peek at how fast things things are moving as we rush toward opening the newest Binny’s Bevearge Depot. Everybody is doing great, but we have a lot more work to do before we’re ready for our early September opening.

Wine Department

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Binny’s in Bloomingdale: Progress Report


Binny's in Bloomingdale Store Sign

Employees from Binny’s Beverage Depots from all over Chicagoland came together to stock shelves at the upcoming Bloomingdale location today. Distributor trucks have been delivering wine, spirits, beer and cigar favorites, and it takes work to get everything onto shelves and ready to go.

The new Bloomingdale Binny's Beverage Depot

How is the new store coming along? This morning, most of the shelves, gondolas and bins were set up and ready for stock. Now it’s up to the workers to get everything into shoppable shelf sets and impressive displays. More stock is rolling in all week. It’s going to be huge. Then there’s staff training and signage and all the tiny details that make everything work.

Expect the new store to open in early September. Very early September. That’s just a couple weeks away. For more details about the new store, check out this blog post. Otherwise, we hope to see you in Bloomingdale in September.

Biggest Beer Cooler in the Area?

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Roundup: Everyday Chardonnay

Chardonnay is just fantastic. It has amazingly versatility and is produced in a kaleidoscope of styles from regions all over the globe. Plus it’s easy to pronounce and people generally know what it is. The grape especially from California has taken some heat for being too manipulated and sweet, gooey and oakey. This led to a moderately successful explosion of un- and lightly-wooded examples of the varietal, and a stylistic shift away from techniques such as heavy oak aging and malolactic fermentation, a shift we’re still seeing now.

Anyway, despite catchy slogans like “ABC” (Anything But Chardonnay) and sour faces from snobby types, Chardonnay from all over the world is selling as well as ever. Not that popularity is an indicator of quality, of course, but it is a sign of relevancy.

As part of our monthly wine managers’ meeting, we tasted nine top-selling chardonnays. Nobody in the room was quivering with excitement at the chance to taste these inexpensive wines, but it’s always important to keep in touch with what people are actually drinking. A back to basics experience. You know what? There wasn’t anything wrong with any of them. All nine are easy-to-sip wines that deliver the fruit with no noticable flaws. None are blockbusters, none are mindblowing, but all are good wine for the price:.

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Binny’s Exclusive: Drillaud


They told me that Binny’s would be picking up an exclusive new line of liqueurs. They said they would come from a craft distillery in France – Burgundy, actually – that specializes in complex liqueurs to compete in flavor with big brands at a fraction of the price. My cynicism kicked in big time.

There’s a trend going on in mixable spirits; mixologists are moving from the neon colored corn syrup they poured in the 90’s to serious and unique flavors that give today’s cocktails their charm. Can Drillaud compete?

So when the boxes and boxes of Drillaud liqueur finally arrived, I met with Brett and we tasted all ten flavors. Yes, they are honest, thoughtful expressions of flavor that offer big savings compared to more well-known brands. My notes:

Beautiful Bottles

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Gemtree Vineyards


There hasn’t been much newor thrilling in Australia for a while. Bottles over twenty bucks havepretty much stopped selling. Despite the fact that one of the largestand most exciting Australian portfolios more or less imploded, nobody hasreally stepped up to fill the vacuum. As I’ve mentioned before, theestablished brands that were selling well before the bubble are stillmoving nicely now, but outside of that core, there just isn’t muchinterest in the category. Which all seems like a shame to me becauseI am still drawn to the area. I think Australia offers plenty ofpleasure, value, promise and an underreported level of variety.

With all that in mind, checkout these four new picks from Gemtree Vineyards, an Australianproducer who has been around for a while, but is new to Binny’sshelves. Value is key here. This is all McLaren Vale, a region knownfor intensity. Also, Gemtree uses 100% biodynamic farming, if that’syour thing. These Gemtree wines roll out at Binny’s stores thisafternoon:

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Tanteo Infused Tequila


   New to Binny’s, here is a line of infused tequilas that  that are actually pretty good: Tanteo.

   Tanteo starts with blanco tequila from 100% blue weber agave from Jalisco, which is “hand infused with fresh, all-natural ingredients.” The result is quality tequila that shines through the flavors instead of laying down to them.

   The market is pretty saturated with flavored vod… er … spirits right now, but it’s cool to see some with fresh flavors and actual spirit character that act as more than alcoholic flavores syrups. Tanteo comes in three flavors:


Tanteo Jalepeno

   This seems like the most intuitive of the Tanteo lineup. We’ve seen jalepeno tequila before, and it always adds an interesting kick to tequila-based cocktail recipes. This might be the best pepper tequila I’ve tasted. The Tanteo’s peppery heat doesn’t really kick in until the back of the spirit, and it’s more than just heat. There’s a really nice fresh jalepeno flavor all the way across.

   Cocktail ideas: Tanteo Jalepeno is great in a Bloody Maria, just use it instead of vodka in a bloody mary. Just don’t add the hot sauce until after yourfirst sip. Another slam-dunk is mixing up fresh margaritas (tequila, orange liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice over ice) with Tanteo Jalepeno to add a spicy heat behind the sweet liqueur and sour lime. Sounds weird, but it’s super good. Otherwise, use Tanteo Jalepeno any time you want to add a little spice to your tequila drink without that gross hazy red you get with hot sauce, and a little less heat.


Tanteo Tropical

   You know … “tropical.” All those weird fruits that you can’t really name (like guanabana) that add up to an immediately recognizeable “tropical” fruit flavor. It’s not all fruity and innocent, though. Tanteo Tropical includes some jalepeno in this mix to spice things up, and it’s noticable, especially toward the finish.

   Use this one when you need tropical fruit flavors, or to add a fun tequila dimension to “dirty up” drinks where you’d usually use citrus vodka. This would be great in margaritas as well.


Tanteo Cocoa

   Not the “chocolate cake frosting” that seems to be all the rage right now. Tanteo Cocoa actually smells and tastes like dry cocoa powder. The hook here is mole that delicious cocoa-based sauce that I get on enchiladas that make me feel guilty for eating dessert for dinner. And who wouldn’t want a mole cocktail?

   This flavor is sort of a catch-22: The cocoa is delicious and makes the most interesting of these offerings. It’s the best for sipping, but cocoa tequila just isn’t on the top of my list of sippables. It seems like the least intuitive to include in cocktails. The jalepeno is easy there are tons of drinks that could use a spice & tequila kick, but I can’t think of many where I’d add cocoa & tequila. Best mixing ideas: Mexican Mudslide or coffee-based drinks. Check out some crazy experimental cocktails in the links below. Be sure to at least try the cocoa flavor; it is a unique experience.


   You’ll find a ton of cocktail recipes featuring Tanteo here and here and here.

   The Tanteo lineup is currently only available at four Binny’s locations Lincoln Park, South Loop, Lakeview and Highland Park.

Kentucky Breakfast Stout vs. KBS

Well here we are in the Ides of March, and that means one thing for beer geeks: The latest batch of the most sought after bourbon barrel aged beer in the world hit our shelves early this week. Most Binny’s received a few cases of KBS, and if you don’t make an effort to get this beer in the next few days, you will be out of luck.

I had a chance to drink a new bottle of KBS alongside a 2008 vintage bottle of Kentucky Breakfast Stout that I saved from last year. Founders recommends cellaring KBS for 2 years, but sorry Founders, I just couldn’t wait any longer than a year. In fact I think it’s pretty amazing I waited this long.

The first thing that I noticed was the brand new packaging and label for KBS. This was expected though because all of Founders packaging has undergone a change in the past year, and rumor has it that Founders had to change the name of Kentucky Breakfast Stout to KBS because it is not actually made in Kentucky. I also noticed that the year old bottle of Kentucky Breakfast Stout is 10% ABV and 25 IBU’s, while the new batch claims 11.2% ABV and 70 IBU’s. This would lead me to believe that this years batch is more intense than ever, and maybe a different beer all together.


I will start with the new vintage, 2009 KBS. The nose is filled with massive amounts ofcoffee, roasted malts, and bitter sweet chocolate. KBS is as full bodied as a beer can get. The beer itself tastes of coffee up front followed by some sweet chocolate, to go along with a smooth and creamy mouth feel. As soon as you are done swallowing, an alcohol burn will take over your entire mouth and throat, almost like biting into a chocolate filled with bourbon. I can even feel the burn travel down my chest and into my stomach. This beer is extremely bitter compared to the 2008 vintage, leaving a lingering bitterness on either side of my tongue and the back of my throat. This beer is seventh heaven in a bottle, and it is worth every penny of the 20 plus dollar price tag it carries along with it.

The 2008 bottle of Kentucky Breakfast Stout has a lighter head; it is a deep leathery brown color. The body is medium to full, overall a bit lighter than the newer vintage. The first thing you will notice is how supple the 2008 vintage is compared to 2009. Aging Kentucky Breakfast Stout seems to have mellowed it out, but it was lower in ABV to start with, so that has to be taken to account too. The nose is filled with chocolate and alcohol, with a slight hint of coffee. Tastes like vanilla, bourbon, hint of chocolate. The 2008 vintage has almost no bitterness. Alcohol burn and coffee are detectable on the taste, but not nearly as intense of the newer vintage. I love how the flavors of the aged bottle are blended together in perfect harmony, whereas the dominant flavor of the 2009 vintage is dominated by a coffee flavor with an alcohol burn to boot.

The 2009 vintage earns top honors for me. It is almost like Founders upped the ante on a beer that was already considered one of the best in the world. Although I enjoyed the mellowness of the bottle I aged, I took more pleasure in the newer and more extreme version of this beer. I would love to hear how people who have had this beer in the past think it compares to the new vintage.

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