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All posts by Stefan Castellanos

House of Glunz – “The True Tavern Experience”


Nearly a decade ago, in the late afternoon, a brick came crashing through the front window of the House of Glunz, Chicago’s oldest purveyor of wine and spirits, and the damage was severe. I was in high school at the time at Walter Payton College Prep, a southbound stone’s throw from the Wells-Division intersection, and the misguided brick-tosser was a classmate of mine. Perhaps he was unaware of the shop’s history – that Westphalia, Germany native Louis Glunz had opened it in 1888; that since the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the family had supplied Chicago with Schlitz and other private-label beers and spirits. Or perhaps he was perfectly aware, sticking it to Old Man Glunz down the block in a calculated act of Millennial angst.

Whichever it was, my friends and I didn’t care. (We hardly cared that it happened at all, to be honest. We were just glad it didn’t happen to Quizno’s.) And from that day on, for us local students, a ho-hum mystique enveloped the House of Glunz. The Boo Radley to our Scout Finch, the Mr. Mertle to our Sandlot gang, except the Glunz name neither frightened nor tempted us with a lifetime supply of baseballs. We took twisted pleasure in being persona non grata because we were shy, studious kids and because they had nothing we wanted that our bum ally couldn’t purchase at the corner store. Not much changed even as we grew up. That is, until recently. Read more…


National Ceviche Day with Pisco Porton

Nacional pisco

For a spirit as historically rich and deep-rooted as Pisco Porton – meticulously made at the base of the Andes in Peru, each batch of the same pristine quality as the first ever produced three centuries ago – clinging to one’s past seems hardly a poor decision. That commitment to traditional techniques is largely responsible for the longevity of the Porton brand as well as its fiercely loyal following across South America (and rapidly spreading northward). Before the creation of vodka, rum or gin as we know them, there was pisco – a full-proof white spirit distilled from a blend of grapes. Since 1684, Porton has enchanted palates, its subtle sweet and spiciness giving way to a long, luxurious finish. Read more…


An Afternoon with Maker’s Mark’s Greg Davis

Greg Davis, Maker's Mark Director of Distillery Operations

Greg Davis is in the office by 6:45 every morning. Like many of us, he begins the day by switching on his computer and fixing himself a pick-me-up. He walks out into the distillery and takes small samples from stills #1 and #2 – “catching the high wine” (the finished product), he calls it. Back at his desk, he cuts them to 40-proof before smelling and tasting. It’s a cup of Kentucky Folgers, some real Morning Thunder. “It’s my morning coffee”, he says. It’s another day at Maker’s Mark.

Read more…


Owen & Engine: BYOFantasy

Owen & Engine Sign

A nice-looking woman sits opposite a nice-looking man at a table along the wall. She refills her teacup from a small pot every few minutes, never letting it get close to empty. She’s hardly looking when she does it. She’s an Earl Grey enthusiast, a Darjeeling dynamo. She gently clinks the china down on the saucer and leans forward like she’s got a secret to tell.

“I never drink tea.” Read more…




I sat and I sipped and I took it all in, at once enraptured and puzzled by the experience of the Whistler Read more…