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Drillaud Recipe: Top Shelf Margarita


Here is another classic cocktail recipe featuring the Binny’s exclusive Drillaud French liqueurs. Use Drillaud for timeless cocktails with all the horsepower of famous brands without the extra cost.

Sorry if it seems like an obvious choice, but the Margarita is a quintessential cocktail. It is often misunderstood and happens to be one of our favorites. Skip the salted rim, the sugary syrups and the blending (we’re getting too old for ice cream headaches) and you have a crisp and balanced cocktail that can feature the flavors of your favorite tequila.

Rocks GlassTop Shelf Margarita

   2 oz tequila
1 oz Drillaud Orange Brandy
1/2 oz fresh lime juice

   Mix ingredients in a rocks glass over ice, stir. Garnish with a lime wedge. For a good time, double the recipe and serve in a mason jar.

You might notice that, much like the Sidecar, we prefer to mix a little in favor of tequila. After all, we like tequila. Why mask it behind too much citrus flavor? Again, for this cocktail, some bartenders prefer the 3:2:1 ratio, meaning 1 1/2 oz tequila.

If you want a boost of orange flavor and a sweeter Margarita, substitute Drillaud Triple Sec in for the Orange Brandy. And if you want to make it electric, use the Drillaud Blue Curacao. That will give your Margarita a little less orange (the fruit) and a ton more blue (the color).

The real joy in a good Margarita is the ability to appreciate the flavors of your favorite tequila while still enjoying a sweeter, balanced cocktail. So pick a tequila with some flavors – something you wouldn’t mind drinking on its own. We really like El Jimador Reposado. It might be the best $20 tequila we have – very flavorful, smooth and mixable.

Here’s a tip from Joe M: for an extra kick, give your Margarita a “Smoky Floater” by adding a touch of mezcal after mixing. We’ve tried mezcalritas – that would be a Margarita with mezcal in place of the tequila – but they’re a bit too hammy, funky and smoky for our tastes. Add just a touch of mezcal to the top, though, to get the aromatic complexity of mezcal without overpowering the entire cocktail.

Drillaud Recipe: Pear Gin & Tonic


When we found Drillaud French liqueurs, we knew we had something special. A collection of mixable spirits that rival famous brands in terms of taste while saving you money? Awesome. After all, why buy a Cadillac when you can get the same features and horsepower in a Ford?

Remember that resale value doesn’t count in spirits.

Be sure to give Drillaud – a Binny’s exclusive – a try. To spark your mixing imagination, we’re going to post some cocktail ideas featuring Drillaud liqueurs here on the Binny’s Spirits Blog. Have some cocktail ideas of your own? Share them down there in the comments.


Rocks GlassPear Gin & Tonic


2 oz gin
1 oz Drillaud Pear
3 parts tonic water


   Mix ingredients in a rocks glass over ice, stir. Garnish with a pear slice for a softly sweetened Gin & Tonic with a cool twist.


We prefer a dry, crisp, and aromatic gin such as the new Caorunn Gin from Scotland’s Balmenach distillery. The breadth and sweetness of the Drillaud Pear balances out with the sharp botanicals of the gin. This makes for a sweeter, broader G&T with more weight than usual.

You know that one Gin & Tonic that comes in a flimsy plastic cup, with one little bitter lime triangle floating in there, and it costs like twelve bucks when you go to a concert? You know what we’re talking about. This is better than that.

Read more

Brophy’s Barrel


Pat Brophy, spirits specialist at The Whiskey Hotline, has a one-liter wood barrel for aging spirits and beers. Follow Pat as he experiments with wood barrel on the Binny’s Blog. -ed.

JUST FINISHED: 1997 Laphroaig
GOING IN: Casa Noble Reposado

   Continuing the experiments with the 1 liter oak barrel that I use for aging spirits and beer. This tiny barrel imparts flavors to spirits as they age. As last week’s experiment showed, the wood is still very young and fresh, imparting a lot of character over a week.

    This week I pulled the 1997 Laphroaig – an old Binny’s Handpicked bottling – out of the barrel, and compared the barrel sample with some right out of the bottle.

From the bottle: Lots of seaweed, smoke and tar on the nose, with underlying hints of malt sweetness. The palate shows the expected flavors of smoke, tobacco and leather up front, evolving to mildly sweet with hints of fruit and honey, with a quick and soft finish.From the barrel: OAK!!!! Oak sweetness fighting with smoke in the nose. With a few minutes of aeration, it moves toward a faint caramel and cereal grain. The barrel sample is more round and full than from the bottle, and definitely sweeter without losing the classic Laphroaig flavors. The finish is more dry and subdued with mild smoke. Also of note: The barrel sample has a MUCH deeper color from just one week in the wood.

   You ready for the fun part?

   I just filled the barrel with Casa Noble Reposado. Will report back soon….

Galactic Double Daisy Cutter & More


   I spent a good chunk of the evening on Friday, August 19th waiting in line after work to get into Half Acre Beer Company. Why? That day saw the release of Galactic Double Daisy Cutter, a rarity from Half Acre. From the Half Acre blog:

Uber-hazy and jam packed with the sticky, Galaxy hops, this beer isn’t for the faint of heart. As if pulled from the core of a distant, inhospitable planet, The Galactic Double Daisy is juicy and dank, rough and tumble and beautifully ugly. Strap on your boots and pull down some of the ooze, Galactic Double Daisy is here.


   And then the beer sold out that night, much earlier than Half Acre expected. Was it worth it? Absolutely. This beer is awesome.

   The South Loop Tasting Room – our full-service bar located inside the South Loop Binny’s – got a keg of Galactic Double Daisy Cutter. It is probably one of the last kegs of the stuff in Chicago. We are going to tap this keg next Wednesday, October 26th. Details:


Wednesday, October 26, 6-8p
in the South Loop
Call 312.768.4400 for more info
RSVP Required


   This is amazing beer. This event will fill up quickly. RSVP right now.

   Along with the Galactic Double Daisy Cutter, we are also tapping a couple of other Half Acre favorites, including Daisy Cutter and Captain Fantasy, a summer-release saison made with Sorachi Ace hops and pear puree.


UPDATE 10/22/2011: We added a keg of recent Half Acre release Tasty Waves Pale Ale. This one tastes like summer in a bottle. See you at the tasting!


Tuck on a Truck


Hey foodies! This one’s for you.

Tuck Beckstoffer of Seventy Five Wine Company (and owner of some top-notch vineyards in Napa and Northern California that supply grapes to super sought after wineries) is coming to the Binny’s in Lincoln Park. Tuck’s focus has been on creating world-class wines at actually reasonable prices.

Here’s the cool thing, though:

He’s coming by food truck. Taco truck, to be exact. How cool is that? The truck will sell soft shell tacos for a buck each.

And there’s wine, too. Tuck is tasting out his wines, including 75 Wine Co’s The Sum and also his Melee Red, a wine that Binny’s is specially offering just for this event. Details:


Thursday, October 20, 6-7:30p
in Lincoln Park
Call 312.664.4394 for more info

This is an open house event

   Don’t miss this great event! And check out other cool tastings on the horizon on our Big Events Page.

Drillaud Recipe: Sidecar


Here’s another classic cocktail recipe featuring Drillaud Liqueur, the new Binny’s exclusive line that offers big savings on great French liqueurs. These flavors hold their own against famous brands. But they cost a lot less.

The Sidecar – a classic cocktail and a great choice for fall. The sidecar is round and easygoing with a little sweetness and plenty of warmth, a great balance of cognac and citrus. Here’s how we make it:


Cocktail GlassSidecar


2 oz Cognac
1 oz Drillaud Orange Brandy
1/2 oz lemon juice


   Shake ingredients with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge. For a sweeter sidecar with more orange flavor, use Triple Sec instead of Orange Brandy. 


We do not suggest substituting Blue Curacao. That would look gross.

A favorite Cognac of ours for the Sidecar is Jacques Arnoul. It’s great for mixing – easy drinking, inexpensive cognac with just enough cut for the Sidecar. Plus it’s at the right price: $20 for the VS, $30 for the VSOP.

   We prefer a little more Cognac in our Sidecar, but a popular ratio for this type of cocktail is 3:2:1 – which would be 1 1/2 oz cognac, 1 oz Orange Brandy and 1/2 oz lemon juice. The lemon juice counters the round sweetness of the Orange Brandy or Triple Sec and the warm nuttiness of the Cognac.

   Also, some people sugar the rim of their cocktail glass for a sidecar. We do not prefer this. We are already sweet enough.

  Read more

Binny’s Next Hand Picked Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve


   You might remember the first Binny’s Hand Picked Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve selections. That first batch sold through way faster than we all expected. Between a mix-up at the distributor and the whiskey being wildly more popular than we expected, it didn’t last long. Now it’s time for another batch.

   Brett, Joe Maloney and I tasted through the Knob Creek barrels recently and finalized our selections. We tasted from nine samples that showed a surprising range in quality, and chose our favorite four that really stood out head and shoulders above the rest. We won’t waste your time with notes on those we didn’t pick. 

   Here are my tasting notes for the barrels we want:


02A15 P 6 23 1 – Nice spice, caramel, and oak on the nose, with a hint of cocoa. Medium-full body with a nice vanilla presence up front and a spicy, dry finish. (133.9 proof)


02D18 J 6 23 1 – Very spicy nose (white pepper?) with some background honey and vanilla. Full body, rich sweet corn flavor. Short, mildly dry anise and pepper finish. (132.9 proof)


02A17 G 5 42 3 – Great nose, lots of honey and caramel. Thinner body, but full of sweet caramel and vanilla flavors. Short and sweet finish. (129.9)

02D18 J 6 14 3 – Nice vanilla and toffee nose. Rich and oily palate with lots of corn and toffee. Very nice, warm, sweet finish. Almost tastes like bananas foster with some water added. (130.2 proof)


   We know that the labelling info is a lot to break down – check out the Binny’s Blog post on our last batch to see how to decode everything. 

   We’re still waiting to hear back on the time frame for the arrival of these picks. Be sure to check back on the Binny’s Blog and on The Whiskey Hotline for more details as they come. 

   Click on this pic for a bigger view: 

Binny’s Mailbag: Angels Envy


A timeless question from the Binny’s Mailbag:


Having a bit of a debate and hope you can help.

How is Angels Envy served best; neat, or with a cube or two of ice?

Tough question, thanks for your help.

– A.


Hi A,

   To water, or not to water, that is the question.

   And the answer to this age old debate, is that it is up to the individual.

   We drink our whiskey neat, or as is. We have friends that always drink whiskey with a splash of water, and others with a cube or two of ice. Some whiskies hold up well to water, while others weaken dramatically.

   That is the fun thing about whiskey. Drink your whiskey any way you like. Pour yourself another glass, and continue the debate.

   Thanks for the question.

 – Binny’s Mailbag

Binny’s to Open in Champaign


   This is exciting. This is big news.


   Binny’s Beverage Depot has announced that it will open its 28th store early next year in Champaign, Illinois. The store will fill a vacant space that was formerly a Borders bookstore.

   The store will be 25,000 square feet and will feature a wine cellar, humidor, and a tasting and events space, in addition to the best selection of wine, spirits, beer, and cigars in the area.

   The opening of the Champaign Binny’s location follows the recent opening of a new location in Bloomingdale, IL and the upcoming opening of a newer location in Arlington Heights. The Champaign store will be the first Binny’s Beverage Depot outside of the Chicagoland area.


   Now to work out a carpool system while we build the thing. Expect more on the Binny’s Blog.

Quick Flight, Small Pours


New Zealand worries about illegal substances occurring naturally in their wine.
We’re more worried about legal substances occuring unnaturally in our water.


Appellation labelling laws change in Burgundy, specifically in Beaujolais.
It doesn’t affect us much, but the politics are interesting.


Erik Lars Myers of thinks aggregate beer ratings are crap.
Conisder critical writing: beer is democratic while wine is autocratic. Usually.


Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge in an interview with
Discussed: the upcoming Johnnie Walker Double Black. Sounds exciting.
Also discussed: blends as expression v. single malts.


Wine Enthusiast Magazine releases their Top 100 Best Buys of 2011.
It may be early for year-end lists, but this isn’t a bad one.



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