I had a mini-vacation this past week. Watching the Chicago episode of Anthony Bourdain's: "No Reservations" helped make my decision of where to go a lot easier. He visited with Chef Paul Kahan, the owner of Blackbird, Avec and The Publican. The Publican's menu was too good to pass up. Its tagline is The celebration of pork, oysters and beer. Done deal!

   The Publican's beer list is quite extensive, and all of the servers are well versed in beer. To start, I had an Avery IPA. It played nicely with the oysters my friends and I devoured. The Avery IPA is one of the most balanced IPA I've had. It's not overly hoppy or overpowering, and it's very food friendly. I helped a couple of my friends pick out a glass of wine as well. The Hermit Crab by d'Arenberg is a ripe, crisp and food friendly white. It played nicely with our Oysters as well.

   The five of us ordered a several things to share. Starters of homemade pork rinds and house cured duck proscuitto and beef fat fried French fries with a fried egg on top made us go gaga. After a mix of Belgian microbrews and unbelievable food, (Blood Sausage!!!) I saw a whisky I really wanted to try.

   They had the Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old Bourbon. It smells like maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, vanilla and caramel. It packs a punch, but a splash of water and a few swirls calmed it down. I really enjoyed it, and I am considering buying a bottle here at Binny's. It was a wonderful evening and I cannot wait to go back. Like all of our different versions of Pappy Van Winkle, the 20 year is highly limited. Please call your favorite Binny's for availability.