Pick Your Poison

Whether your drink of choice is beer, wine or the hard stuff, events abound

Showcasing everything from vino to mojitos, several upcoming cocktail culture events celebrate the art of drinking well. In fact, you could spend the next three nights sipping and sampling. Don't say we didn't warn you; just blame it on the aaa-a-alcohol.

Grape expections: If wine is your thing, you won't want to miss "Casa de Vino," a new monthly event taking place at the recently opened Salute Wine Bar in the Gold Coast. The soiree kicks off tonight (Tuesday, June 9) from 6-8PM, where you'll get to try four Italian wines paired with artisanal cheeses for $15 per person. The premiere tasting will teach guests how to pair wines, such as a Michele Chiarlo Gavi Cortese from Piemonte or D'Angelo Sacravite Aglianico from Basilicata, with cheeses, including a piave vecchio and a gorgonzola dolce. Each month, the "House of Wine" tasting will take guests through a different region of Italian varietals.

Get yer beer here: There's a lot to learn about beer, as well, so if you're a card-carrying hop head, you'll want to check out the monthly "Beer 101 School" series at Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen in northwest suburban Crystal Lake. Belgian beers will be on the syllabus for the session on Wednesday, June 10 from 7-9PM. Participants will get to taste Belgium's top summer beers, such as Trappist Ale and Flanders Sour Ale, and compare them with American craft versions. The suds will be paired with dishes like Belgian-style mussels, frites, cheeses and dessert. The event is $35 per person, and reservations are required.

Rum runners: Mojitos are the unofficial cocktail of summer, so brush up on your skills at a hands-on class at River West's Carnivale (where they know a thing or two about making mojitos). The "Mojitos 101" instruction will take place Wednesday, June 10 from 6:30-8:30PM, when Carnivale mixologist Victor Beheza will lead guests through two mojito recipes (the classic mojito and a strawberry version) from the Latin American restaurant's signature cocktail menu. Of course, you'll get to sample your work, along with paired appetizers from Carnivale chef Mark Mendez. The class is $25 to attend.

Shaken and stirred: Learn how to craft a perfect martini at Chen's in Lakeview, where the Asian restaurant's "Martini Team" will take guests through several cocktail recipes on Wednesday, June 10 from 6:30-8PM. You'll get to mix up some of Chen's signature cocktails, such as a lychee martini, a classic cosmo, a key lime martini and a "student's choice" recipe. You'll also get to nibble on such Chen's dishes as spring rolls, crabmeat won tons, California maki rolls and spicy tuna maki rolls, because, you know, mixing drinks is hard work. The class is $10 per person, and each guest will receive a $20 gift certificate to use at Chen's on their next visit. 

Tequila, we feel ya: Try the tequilas of Don Fulano at a tasting event from 6-7:30PM on Thursday, June 11 at Nacional 27. The River North Latin American restaurant will host the esteemed tequila house, featuring five Don Fulano tequilas (Blanco Suave, Blanco Fuerte, Reposado, Anejo and Imperial). Nacional 27 mixologist Adam Seger will create a specialty cocktail for the evening: Five Citrus Cazuela with Don Fulano Blanco Suave, Fresca and Hawaiian pink salt. Tapas will also be served, including guacamole with chips and grilled tomato salsa, lamb taquitos with agave barbecue sauce, and sofrito bamboo chicken skewers with mango-tequila salsa. The event is priced at $27 per person.

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