While there’s certainly plenty of options to choose from, one may make the argument that bourbon–the barrel-aged liquor that serves as the basis of many classic cocktails–is perhaps the cream of the crop for American drinking. With roots in Kentucky and other spots across the southern United States, the smooth oak flavor of bourbon is widely sought after for many high-society functions, offering both a taste of class and an element of history.
Now, one of those high-society functions comes to Chicago, as Navy Pier hot spot Lírica has announced an exciting event in partnership with Woodford Reserve, one of the most famous bourbon distilleries in the States.
Tickets are on sale now for a four-course, chef-crafted meal to be paired with various American cocktails, including the Old Fashioned and other staples alongside newer drinks like the Black Manhattan.
View this post on Instagram
For $85 a ticket, diners will be treated to Lírica’s private dining room with dazzling views of Lake Michigan. A Woodford ambassador will be on the scene to whisk them through a delicious meal and drinks.
Set for one night only on Friday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m., diners will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, due to local guidelines.
The four-course meal will begin with an amuse bouche hand-selected by the executive chef. The appetizer will be paired with a “Brooklyn” cocktail, a prohibition classic paired with maraschino liqueur, sending guests back in time to start the evening.
View this post on Instagram
Following the appetizer, the first course will be served: lobster ravioli. The savory staple will be paired with another classic bourbon cocktail, the old fashioned, giving diners the chance to fully dig in and enjoy some of the heights of luxurious dining. They should not, however, overeat and strain their appetites, for the next course is perhaps the most appealing: braised oxtail meat stew, slow-cooked to perfection with spiced rutabaga puree, broccolini and pan gravy. The main dish of the evening will be paired with a Black Manhattan, a modern twist on an old classic that replaces the “sweet” bitters with a kick of Averna amaro.
"Our inspiration for the pairing was to create a rich and inviting dining experience that allows guests to enjoy Woodford Reserve in several iterations of cocktails individually paired with the courses of the dinner," says Chef Cesar Reyes. "To highlight, the braised oxtail is an earthy and robust dish paired with the Black Manhattan which is an aromatic and complex style of a Manhattan. With these two, we chose to marry the earthy qualities of both and present a pairing that allows the Woodford to compliment the dish while still standing on its own."
Should diners have any room left, the event will offer one final dish to capitalize on the sweet flavors of its partners: molten chocolate cake with a bourbon caramel topping. The sweet treat will be paired with the savory Bourbon Alexander, an after-dinner surprise that combines the cream of the coffee with the kick of Woodford’s.
The event seeks to emphasize the traits both parties enjoy: classic cuisine, with a modern twist. Woodford Reserve was one of the top distilleries of the 2010s and has made quite the splash in the community, including its heavy involvement with the Kentucky Derby. Likewise, Lírica will wow with its open kitchen, spacious views, and food with both the finer ingredients and kicking flavor one might expect.
While Dry January may not be quite over by next Friday, this might be just the occasion to shake it off early. Tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite.
Photography by: Courtesy of Lírica