First, there were cavemen. There they were, eating their mammoth burgers around a fire, getting super thirsty talking about making wheels and drinking lake water wishing they had something better, and then someone was like, “Hey, I left these grapes in this vat for a long time and wow, this weird liquid they turned into tastes great. Anyone want some?” And then everyone got super excited about the fermented grape juice, told their friends about it and eventually someone made a cave winery in Armenia in 4100 BCE. Original Napa.
Then there were the Babylonians, who were like, “If I leave this barley and yeast in this pot long enough, it turns to beer. Barley makes both bread and beer. Whoa.” Minds were blown, festivals were made, gods were named after different types of alcohol and people kept drinking booze with food because no one had Brita filters and alcohol was safer than water.
End result, food and alcohol have been around for a long time so people have had a long time to learn how to make them taste better, not get sick from them and enjoy them more; especially together. It’s an art, it’s a science and it’s part of human history.
Some people even spend a large portion of their lives studying how the two intertwine, including a couple of local wine and food experts: chef of Local 127 and master sommelier Steven Geddes and Laura Landoll, certified specialist of wine and advanced sommelier on her way to becoming a master.
In our feature on food and alcohol pairings, the two discuss the culinary balancing act of meshing your personal taste with science to create an elevated dining experience. We also have a list of local breweries and restaurants that focus on pairing craft beers with food, because it isn’t always about wine.
Then we talk to some local bakers and chefs who put booze directly into their desserts. A mouth-watering photo essay highlights some favorite sweets that blend the world’s two best ingredients: alcohol and sugar.
We also catch up with the local alcohol artisans behind Woodstone Creek. They’re relocating their microdistillery from Evanston’s Listermann Brewing Company building to their own space in Saint Bernard and moving all 50 aging barrels of spirits with them.
Finally, there’s a list of restaurants that focus on alcohol, whether that be through craft cocktails, fancy margaritas, extensive wine lists or locals-only beer taps, in case you want to get straight to the point and grab a brew and a bite.
Because what’s the point of eating if you aren’t drinking, too?
— Maija Zummo, project editor
Check out the entire Food + Drink Issue here.