10 Surprising Health Benefits of Drinking Whiskey

By Elizabeth Abrahamsen

There's no doubt that whiskey is country music's favorite drink. Believe it or not, consuming whiskey in the right dosage may have a positive effect on your health and not just a hangover the next morning. 

Whiskey gets its name from the Gaelic word "uisge beatha," meaning "water of life," so raise your glass and toast to these 10 potential health benefits of drinking whiskey.

10. Weight loss aid
Yes, you read that right. Because whiskey is a low-carb drink, it makes it the perfect choice for anyone who is watching their weight. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition published a study in 1991 that suggested that moderate intake increases energy and decreases the desire for sugar (sucrose) intake. If you're counting your calories, a shot of whiskey is 64. So put down that beer and have a shot of Wild Turkey instead.

9. Cancer Prevention
Another great health benefit of whiskey is its high concentration of ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize cancer-causing free radicals in the human body. Single malt whiskey is said to contain more antioxidants than red wine. So she can be his glass of wine, and he can be her shot of whiskey, and they'll both reap the health benefits.

8. Stroke Prevention
As with all the health benefits of whiskey, the key is to consume in moderation. Because of its blood-thinning properties, a daily shot of whiskey can lower a person's risk of ischemic (clot-caused) stroke.

7. Whiskey treats the common cold
You probably grew up hearing that drinking a Hot Toddy is a great palliative for a cold. Unlike other home remedies, this one has its basis in science. The ingredients of this favorite winter beverage have many of the same properties as a dose of Nyquil. Whiskey acts as a decongestant by dilating your blood vessels, while the honey, lemon, and herbal tea have anesthetic properties and can loosen mucus.

6. It's a stress destroyer
You've probably headed to the bar after a bad week at work to try to erase your troubles, but you may not know that a shot of whiskey can actually help you relax. The barbiturate effect of the alcohol can reduce stress, and also has sedative properties to help you sleep if you're experiencing anxiety. This is why whiskey is a classic choice of nightcap for badasses the world over.

5. Lowers the risk of dementia
If you've ever woken up from an evening of heavy drinking unable to remember what you did the night before you may not believe it, but a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that drinking one to six drinks weekly could lower your risk of dementia over and above avoiding alcohol completely.

4. It aids digestion
Whiskey has historically been used as a digestif in many cultures throughout the ages. If you've had a heavy meal, an after-dinner shot of Maker's may be just what you need to finish it off properly.

3. Helps prevent diabetes
Whereas consuming alcohol is not recommended for patients with diabetes, studies have shown that long-term moderate alcohol intake can help the body regulate insulin, which could potentially reduce your risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. However, heavy drinking can increase your risk.

2. Can soothe a sore throat
Maybe it's the whiskey river that gave Willie his sweet voice because it's certainly good for a sore throat. Mix whiskey, warm water, and honey to make a delicious cure for a sore throat. The alcohol in the whiskey acts as an antiseptic and numbing agent on aching tonsils and the honey creates a thick coating that will help the healing effects last longer. You can gargle it, sip it or both if you like.

1. Prolong Your Life
A 2010 study released by the Research Society on Alcoholism found that middle-aged and older adult moderate drinkers had a lower overall mortality rate than heavy drinkers or even non-drinkers. So raise a glass of your favorite uisge beatha and toast to long(er) life!

One for me, one for you.

This post was originally published in 2019 for Wide Open Country

Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky
Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky

Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky


Just the tip of the iceberg of our collection of rare Japanese whiskeys. Meticulously made in Japan in a half century old copper Coffey Still from Scotland.

Black Thoughts by Phyllis Jones

It’s Black History Month. February - the shortest, coldest month of the year - and we celebrate. We share stories of Martin & Ida & Frederick & Malcom and feel a sense of “unity” because for 28 (sometimes 29), days out of 365 we cheer all things Black. 2021 is a new day. So, many find themselves wondering “how can I show my allyship for Black & Brown people (I am NOT a fan of all of the letter jumbles - say what you mean. It will not kill you)?” When it comes to booze, wine and the finer adult beverages, the most obvious option would be “support Black owned and operated wineries” - this is a task that takes some effort, especially in the middle of the country.

Writing this is a bit odd. I came into wine almost by happenstance - well, no…actual happenstance. It was wine or eyewear (don’t ask). Wine won. I did not know SHIT about wine (except that I liked to drink it), but I saw a post; I needed a job and I wrote one helluva cover letter (which I would come to find is a big deal since most people cannot follow the most basic of directions). I interview with a man who introduces himself as BOY…BOY? As a black woman, from Iowa, calling a white man BOY held a certain amount of irony & discomfort. We had a nice rapport - I answered questions honestly & figured, welp, if i get the job great. if not - I now know a cool, new place to buy booze

Second interview with the owner. It was clear he thought I was a hot mess (“Why is Beefeater your favorite gin?” “I like the little white palace guard on the label & it’s what my Dad drank when I was little”). I told him that if he hired me that by the end of the year he would want a tee shirt with my face on it…I still owe him that tee shirt - 10+ years later. His parting words that day “You wanna hire her…good luck.” I worked for him for ten years & would do so again. Why? Because he gave me the chance -a Black woman…from IOWA…with little to no wine background - to learn the best way imaginable and that’s drink a lot of wine, ask questions, read and then taste even more wine (and booze, and beer and sake, etc.).

I share this story to highlight that the fact that a woman - a Black woman - from Iowa with no discernible wine knowledge; fucked up olfactory but enough sass to get shit done could get a man to invest his time, money & years later, his retail shoppes to a person that he thought was, on first impression, not the best choice but might work out. I think (hope), he would tell you that my apprenticeship created a “Little Black Mitch”, with a palate that likes high acid & hates crappy, oaky chardonnay (I have the tee shirt to prove it).

He asked me to write about black winemakers - well, I have to admit that I only knew of a handful & after reading an NYT article about Black folks in the wine industry, I realized, my doing what I did for so long was kind of rare. Representation in the wine world for Black & Brown folks is minimal. Far too often, people (customers, shop owners), could not wrap their heads around the dark face talking to them about the finer points and joy of wines from Portugal; or a 5-minute tirade on why I HATE Bordeaux (sorry, I do. it’s nothing personal- I just do not like it- not as much as I dislike pie of any kind, but definitely top 5). In those instances, they would seek out any other face to assist them & it was in those moments that I remembered “OH, yeah…cannot believe that THIS person would know jack about wine” - the slow burning rage would usually go away but it always remained right there, just beneath the surface.

Google “Black winemakers”. You will find, comparatively speaking, a minuscule list of winemakers and wineries founded, owned and operated by men and women of color. Some you may have heard of: Charles Wine Company, Maison Noir Wines (gets bonus points for great packaging and killer merch), Bodkin Wines (made by a Black dude from Iowa, no less!), or the McBride Sisters (“Black Girl Magic” is damn good name for a wine). You will also find a lot of stars of the sports world, rappers and the occasional actor. Name goes a long way - doesn’t always make for a good bottle of juice.

If you go to seek out sommeliers of color….you will find them few and far between. While I am not a som, by any stretch of the imagination, just being a woman of color in wine retail is, well, not all that common. Finding your way to anything wine related, as a Black person, is not the most obvious option and the “role models” that look like you- pretty small pool.

So, in this month of errrrthng Black, I challenge you to do this: look to support minority owned businesses; support those that look to hire the best crew of folks regardless of their skin tone; support the local bottle shop, especially in the time of the ‘rona, because those shoppes are what make a neighborhood & they might, just MIGHT, be training the next minority business owner or female chef or helping launch one of the few Black sommeliers in the world…you just never know. While I would love to write all about the myriad black owned wineries, the fact is, there are not a lot & access to the wines they produce, in the middle of the country at the store down the block, not simple or easy. BUT, the fact that there are some and that more and more women and men of all hues are making wine all over the world is a reason to have hope when it comes to wine and so much more. SOME is a beginning and not the end. Do the research & tell your local businesses about gems you have come across (you can start with the Association of African American Vintners ), read, ask for suggestions. Create the demand; follow through; buy early & often…and do it all 12 months of the year - not just in February.


A few years ago when I was an intern at a different men’s publication, I shared my intern corner with a champagne saber left over from a photo shoot. This wasn’t the kind of work environment where anyone was regularly decapitating bottles of the bubbly at the office, so the saber had largely outlived its purpose post-shoot and was just large enough to be an inconvenient piece of clutter that the editors were eager to pawn off on anyone who would take it. I was asked multiple times if I had any interest in giving the saber a home, and while the answer was yes, I ultimately declined to do so, primarily because the logistical hurdle of bringing a sword on the subway outweighed any actual need I had for a champagne saber. 

This decision is among my biggest regrets. There are a lot of things I should probably regret more, but I don’t because I’m too busy regretting not taking that champagne saber back to Queens with me when I had the chance. 

Here’s the thing: no one actually needs a champagne saber, and that’s the point. Its appeal rests almost entirely on the luxury of functionally useless things. The champagne saber is an object that serves one purpose and one purpose only, and that purpose is largely unnecessary. There are obviously much simpler, more efficient ways of uncorking a bottle of sparkling wine that don’t require the use of any extraneous accessories at all. In short, the champagne saber is an almost entirely needless extravagance — and what’s more fun than a needless extravagance?

In defense of everyday extravagance

“Champagne sabers elevate an occasion of celebrating to another level,” says Arthur Morgan, founder of the San Francisco-based California Champagne Sabers. “Every birthday toast, graduation or marriage feels more special when a bottle is popped with a sword.”

However, as we’ve previously established, there’s absolutely no reason the celebratory qualities of sparkling wine should be limited to actual celebrations. As “Champagne Empress” and author of Better With Bubbles, Ariel Arce, told InsideHook last month, “Champagne is a legal drug … something that just makes you feel better when drinking it.” That, according to Arce, is all the more reason sparkling wine should be enjoyed as often and ubiquitously as its still counterparts, despite a long stigma linking champagne consumption exclusively to New Year’s Eve and wedding toasts. Essentially, life is short and often devoid of joy. Why sit around waiting for it to hand you an occasion worth celebrating when you can simply grab life by the bubbles and make your own evening worthy of celebration by simply popping open a bottle? For those who aren’t afraid to treat every day like a celebration, the question isn’t, “Is champagne appropriate for tonight,” but rather, “How can I make this night worthy of drinking champagne?”

And if you can enjoy a bottle of bubbly whenever you damn well please, why shouldn’t you also go ahead and elevate that experience further by uncorking that bottle in dramatic fashion?

“Anyone who likes to celebrate and drink champagne should own a saber,” says Frank Morgan King, proprietor of Sonoma Champagne Sabres and a longtime “sabrage enthusiast.” According to King, champagne sabers are simply for those who “enjoy the finer things in life.”

In a world of practicality, champagne sabrage is purely about aesthetics and experience — about elevating an ordinary means to an end to an event in and of itself. 

According to Morgan, while a bottle of bubbly opened by any other means will still taste the same, sabrage can often provide “a placebo effect of sorts,” leaving drinkers riding “the endorphins and serotonin boost” while they sip the spoils of a recent beheading. 

“Sabering has no effect on the flavor of the wine, but it has a huge effect on the drinking experience,” echoes King. “There is just no substitute for the exhilarating pleasure of sabering a bottle of champagne.”

You can saber a bottle of champagne with almost anything, but should you?

A favorite Snapple fact among those educated in the art of sabrage is that you don’t actually need a saber to do the job. The internet is home to many videos of people sabering bottles with unconventional items from wine glasses to credit cards, and most how-to guides online remind sabrage novices that any old knife should do the trick.

While this is technically true — sabrage is accomplished by snapping the neck of the bottle via pressure on a cold bottle seam; it has nothing to do with the blade itself — Morgan isn’t particularly impressed by the supposed novelty of sabering sans saber. 

“You could brush your teeth with a mop or get to work on a horse, but a toothbrush and a car are far more enjoyable modes of oral hygiene and transport. The same goes for sabrage,” he says. “If you want to open a bottle with a shoe go for it. For the more sophisticated, a saber is a better choice.”

KIng expresses similar sentiments. Sabrage, he says, “has more to do with the spirit than the functionality,” and much of the spirit is lost without the saber itself. 

“Would you serve a four-course epicurean delight on a paper plate? Of course not. Sabering a fine bottle of champagne is no different,” says King. “You can open a bottle of champagne with a butcher knife, but you will lose the effect. Sabrage is a time honored tradition going back to the days of Napoleon — and he did not use a butcher knife.”

Selecting the perfect saber 

As far as needless extravagances go, a champagne saber isn’t actually going to set you back too much. A wide array of quality sabers can be purchased for somewhere in the $100 to $300 range, and King recommends sticking to reputable dealers rather than trying to sniff out cheaper options on Amazon.

“You may get a dirty, uneven finish on the blade” if you decide to risk cheaping out, he explains, adding that most Amazon retailers also won’t include information about the country of origin, which can be an important indicator of steel and finish quality.  

“Major cutlery centers like Maniago Italy, the Laguiole region of France or Germany produce the best quality products,” says King. 

Strong steel matters, adds Morgan, “as a champagne saber blade can take a beating over the course of many sabrages.”

King also recommends sabrage novices stick to shorter sabers, while the “experienced showman tout the longer swords.” So do you need a champagne saber? Probably not. But in a world obsessed with functionality and efficiency, there’s an art to appreciating the purely aesthetic. Sabrage, like champagne itself, offers an experience of elegance and effervescence, reminding us the power to make our lives worth celebrating is literally in our own hands.

Life’s short. Decapitate some champagne — and for god’s sake do it in style.

Care Guide for Truffle

  • Keep your truffle dry, you may do this with a white napkin or paper towel.
  • If there is any moisture or mold forming, gently wipe off with a paper towel.
  • Keep your truffle refrigerated – they do not do well at either room temperature or below freezing – you want to mimic its habitat in the cool soil in France in December.
  • We pack our Truffles in imported Arborio Rice from Piedmont, Italy, grown in the foothills of the Alps. This rice can be added to your rice measurements for your favorite Risotto Dish as it does absorb some flavor.
  • Keep your container tightly sealed when not shaving your truffle to keep the aroma impact high.
  • Each Extra Grade Black Winter Perigord has a small slice out of it. This is done in Europe as a quality and authenticity check and to inspect the marbling.
  • Shave your Truffle from its 1st cut when starting and then always from the same place if you have a partial truffle. This will help maintain its highest Natural flavor and aroma.
  • Slice as thinly as possible for maximum impact. This can be best done with a Truffle Shaver or fine microplane or fine grade on a cheese grater.
  • Do not cook with Fresh Truffles unless adding to fat as the aroma will cook away.
  • Truffles are best enjoyed shaved on HOT food at the last moment before eating. This is best done over the dish with the lucky person who will be eating it seeing and smelling. Food Foreplay at its best!
  • Figure 5-6g per main dish, 2-3 grams per small dish per person for planning purposes. To put in perspective, a gold ball sized Truffle is about 28g or 1oz.

FUN Things to upgrade your lifestyle with your truffle

  • Shave on Hot Pizza just before eating.
  • Get a Deli of Hot Wonton Soup. Open the container, shave in truffles, close the lid and let steep for 15-20 minutes. The aroma will explode when you open the container. Eat out of the container with a plastic spoon so as to not be pretentious and to not have the metallic taste of a metal spoon with your 1st taste. We in LUSH LUSH LAND call this ‘Haute White Trash’. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.
  • It is difficult to find a pasta dish that is not improved with fresh truffles.
  • Killer on a HOT Chicago Dog.
  • Korean Fried Chicken + Fresh Truffles + Grower Champagne Yoh. You have not truly lived until you have done this.
  • Put inside your grilled cheese before grilling or broiling. The fat in the cheese will absorb the truffle flavor and aroma.
  • Truffle Frites – yes Please. Splash of Regalis Truffle Oil + a few slices of fresh truffle. If on the patio at LUSH, our Deep Butter Kennebec Frites and fresh truffles are a patio fireside treat.
  • Place a slice inside a hot soup dumpling just before eating. Then channel Meg Ryan’s moan in When Harry Met Sally.  We recommend Hing Kee for authentic, handmade Shanghai style soup dumplings in Chinatown. BYOB so stop by LUSH before going. They have heated patios so bundle up, grab your social bubble homies, bring some Champagne, Riesling and Pinot Noir (bring your own wine glasses - theirs are awful). fill your face with hot dumplings and truffles and live large, safely and affordably.
  • Try your truffles shaved on a lightly warmed dark chocolate bar.
  • Shave onto Consommé, a Grilled Steak, Roast Chicken or Grilled Fish to take your dish to a new level.
  • Order Coq-Au-Vin Grand-Mere https://www.lushwineandspirits.com/products/coq-au-vin-grand-mere or Shortrib Beef Bourguignon https://www.lushwineandspirits.com/products/18-hour-braised-shortrib-beef-bourguignon either hot from LUSH or prepared from our cooler to warm up at home and then Make it Rain all over them just before eating. ‘Make it Rain’ aka shave truffles until you cannot see the dish below.

Ideas? Questions? Concerns? Text our truffle HOTLINE at 312.213.4878
Great Food Porn Pics? Hit us up on Instagram @LUSHwine or tag #LUSHtruffles


LUSH Pasta fit for the Gods


  • 6oz Fresh LUSH Tagliatelle
  • 100ml Bottle Regalis Truffle Oil, you will use just over half a bottle
  • 4oz+ Fresh Bellwether Farm Ricotta
  • 4oz Shaved 24 Month Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 Pinches LUSH Italian Herb Salt/Pepper Blend
  • 14g Fresh Winter Black Perigord Truffles
  • Finely Chopped Chives (optional)


  • Bring 4 Quarts COLD well-salted water to a rapid, vibrant boil
  • Warm your plates for this dish
  • Have your truffle and shaver on standby and wine open. Champagne or Barbaresco are our favorites. Brunello, Chianti Classico, Amarone, Barbera and funky Pinot Noir work as well. Belgian Ale does not suck with this dish either. If you have not had a glass yet, pre-game a little to work up an appetite.
  • NOTE: This dish is meant to be devoured as soon as it is made, so have EVERYTHING else ready.
  • Play some Italian Opera LOUD, it’s time to get real.


  • Add 6oz LUSH Tagliatelle, Hand Made with Yuppie Hill Eggs and Bob’s Red Mill Semolina, to water. Boil 7-8 minutes, a touch more if not yet tender. You want it to be al dente, but not too toothsome. It should wiggle when you pull out a test strand.
  • Set aside an ounce of the pasta water, drain the rest.
  • In a Saute pan, add 50ml, just short of 2oz, of Regalis Truffle Oil and all the pasta plus the ounce of reserved pasta water ‘to marry the pasta’ (Italian Grandma Karma is a good thing here). If you were too buzzed and dumped all the pasta water, substitute with a splash of whatever wine you are drinking.
  • Add 3 pinches of our herb salt and pepper blend.
  • Stir to warm the oil and pasta and combine. Add 2oz Shaved Parmesan (half of the container if you got our kit) and combine. Have a taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Plate your pasta on a HOT plate (90 seconds in the microwave or 5 minutes in the oven – this will keep your pasta hot and truffles aromatized.
  • Add two generous quenelles (big fancy spoonfuls) of Fresh Ricotta to your pasta.
  • Drizzle a touch more truffle oil over the Ricotta, crack on fresh pepper and add the rest of the Parmesan. Add Finely Chopped Chives (optional).
  • Make it rain truffles and eat.

Truffled Eggs – Good any time of the day or night


  • 3 Yuppie Hill Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Bellwether Farms Crème Fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Nonstick pan
  • 1 slice Hewn Country loaf – toasted
  • Fresh Truffles
  • 1 or 2 glasses of Palo Cortado or Amontillado Sherry

Heat your plate in the microwave for a minute or two (or micro-wah-vay if you are Nigella Lawson), this is one of the best uses of a microwave.

  • Beat the eggs with the Crème Fraiche until slightly frothy
  • Heat pan on high
  • Add the butter, melt
  • Turn pan down to low
  • Add the eggs, Stir constantly until soft curds form
  • Do not overcook the eggs
  • Place the eggs on the heated plate Finish with Malden salt (or Sel Gris or Fleur de Sel – any excellent finishing salt) and fresh ground black or white pepper
  • Now make it rain fresh truffles
  • Grab your toast, and Palo Cortado Savor your beautiful eggs.
  • Repeat all above – this is LIVING

Truffled Escargot

  • LUSH sells the same wild burgundy snails that Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller use – now there’s an endorsement
  • Place a snail in each shell or in an escargot broiling tin or on a broiler safe dish
  • Dollop with garlic herb butter and roast 10-15 minutes at 400F until hot and bubbly and the butter has begun to brown
  • Place on a warm serving dish, drizzle with truffle oil, squeeze on some fresh lemon and make it rain with fresh truffles
  • Serve with grilled bread to sop up every last morsel

Adopted from Kay Chun, NY Times

This easy baked risotto eliminates the constant stirring required in traditional risotto recipes. It’s laden with vegetables, namely kale and spinach, but other leafy greens like Swiss chard or collard greens would work equally well. If you happen to have some extra asparagus, sub it in for the peas. This risotto makes a great starter or side dish, but you can also turn it into a vegetarian main course by using vegetable or mushroom stock in place of the chicken broth, and topping it with sautéed mushrooms, a fried egg or crispy tofu slices. Leftovers can be refrigerated for two days and reheated with more broth, or repurposed into crunchy rice cakes or arancini. Simply form into patties or balls, coat in breadcrumbs and shallow-fry until golden and crunchy. LUSH Upgrade: just before serving HOT bowls of risotto, make it rain or drizzle with Regalis Truffle Oil


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice (about 7 ounces)
  • Kosher salt and back pepper
  • 4 ounces green or lacinato kale (about 1/3 bunch), stems separated and thinly sliced, leaves stacked and cut into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons (about 4 packed cups)
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 ounces baby spinach (about 4 packed cups)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3ounces), plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook, skirting occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add rice, season with salt and pepper and still until coated in oil and lightly toasted, 2 minutes.
  • Add kale, season with salt and pepper, and stir until wilted, 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Cover and bake until almost all of the liquid is absorbed and rice in tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in spinach and peas until spinach is wilted. Add parmesan, butter and lemon juice, and stir until well blended and saucy. (Liquid will continue to absorb as risotto sits.) Season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls and top with more parmesan.

"Lush Diaries of a Boulevardier"

by Shane McGoey

Chapter III. Quarantini

For my sixth week, I show up to the Roscoe Village LUSH to find owner Mitch, the man in black himself, in a tool belt building a patio by his lonesome. I am horrified to learn that I am to be a waiter for the first time in my thirty-three years. How does one do this? I'd never actually paid any attention to the ins and outs of the profession. Maggie, LUSH wine, beer, and cider guru, laughs when I drape a serviette over my arm: "This is what the somms teach, right?" I say.

Naturally the weather is perfect and we are slammed the entire weekend and unfortunately for everyone else they have me, the professional tourist, to rely on. Although most patrons are just happy to be outside their homes and are quick to excuse the missing menus and water carafes. Excepting me, the LUSH hospitality, service and kitchen staff are dialed in. Matt, Lush Roscoe Beverage Hospitality, and Adam are performing the perpetual maintenance and coding for the point-of-sale system in between drafting real-time menus, ringing up produce, boxing up wine and recommending spirits for Father's Day gifts. Maggie is making a Moscow Mule while chilling a rosé while washing dishes while sanitizing tables while charging $500 to a gift card. I used to believe multitasking was a myth but here it's an understatement.

As I wait for a computer to charge a table for their veal and pork grinder, Josh plates deviled eggs with and without lobster for table PE3, which I'd incorrectly charged to PW3. Maggie swoops in to refund and exchange—"Patio East, Shane, can't you tell which direction from the sunset?" "That keg is tapped; offer him this IPA, he'll never order the other one again." "That's a Last Word, right? Don't forget the Luxardo, it's the tall bottle braided with a picnic hamper." When Chef David emerges from the kitchen in his yellow kerchief to find me breathing into a paper bag, he phlegmatically clears one of my tables before serving a fromage plate to PE1 along with the cutlery I'd neglected to provide.

Despite my handiwork, we receive no complaints apart from the occasional reminder about that errant glass of Chateau Nomad rosé. I had seen how the sausage is made and I do not envy anyone making it. It is a hard, constant and frenetic business keeping a restaurant running with as many moving parts as a SpaceX launch. It's a small wonder why so many fail, and why the few succeed. There is a scrappy synergy at Lush to press on, weathering any storm, be it plague or revolution. It is an enterprise serving the needs of human decency in providing good food and wine, which are meant to bring us together and no less essential in times of uncertainty.

Chapter II. Hot ‘n Ready

“Just trying to keep these three rings in the air,” Adam, LUSH partner, tells me during my second week. From a safe distance, I observe the circus as Rosie, Chef de Cuisine at LUSH Evanston, and Inez, culinary team member, prepare and package duck confit-cassoulet and Beef Bourguignon to be delivered or put in coolers for in-store customers. I watch as Adam shakes up a Pisco Sour then steals entrées from the kitchen with an order of smoked Baby Back ribs for an impromptu photoshoot on the patio for LUSH's newsletter. Adam has a knack for ferreting out and utilizing the skills of his employees; Crystal and Jack of LUSH Evanston are now executing the many moving parts of holiday kits, Izzi, daughter of LUSH co-owner Cliff, is producing our biweekly LUSH newsletters, and Joey, culinary staff member at the Roscoe Village location, is producing LUSH YouTube videos. And then, of course, there is me and this charming little blog.

All day long Evanstonians come and go to replenish their proprietary LUSH growlers off the tap, or Uber Eats delivery people pick up orders of artisanal Belgian and Piedmontese beers out of the cooler. And then there are the inimitable LUSH to-go cocktails that Carlos, formerly the Evanston bartender, concocts hours before opening each day. LUSH was making to-go cocktails since before it was cool, and we simply cannot keep the Hellfire Margaritas and Old Fashioneds on the shelf. At the expense of his morning yoga routine, Carlos shows up to work earlier each proceeding day I’m in Evanston to exercise the alembics.

When I’m finally settled in at Evanston, Adam senses complacency and picks me up by a fin out of my bowl to drop me at the LUSH in West Town. Here, Melanie, Guest Service at LUSH West Town, placidly gift wraps a bottle of Champagne for a customer. The Twisted Spoke may have the most eclectic Bourbon and whiskey selection in the Midwest, but LUSH is no slouch either shelving everything from charred Tennessee whiskey to Japanese gin. (Be on the lookout for Inverroche, a floral gluten-free South African gin distilled from sugarcane— the distillery even has their own botanist!).

Chapter I. The Alarmist

The following is a record of the black swan event of 2020 and how we managed, adapted, and survived.

Definition of "boulevardier":
1: a frequenter of the Parisian boulevards (broadly): man-about-town

A vocation to schmoozing about wine coaxed me to Chicago to sell it rather than continue making it in Eastern Washington. Surely a provincial town in a desert with three restaurants and a state prison is no place for a boulevardier. It was rather the bustle of a cosmopolitan epicenter which flew my fancies. I dove into the vibrant atmosphere distributing wines and spirits from Portugal, South Africa, Spain, France, Morocco, Austria, and California for a small company with the desired latitude for autonomy and longitude for entrepreneurial growth. After several months of stalking buyers and calling on the multitudes of restaurants, hotels, bars, groceries, and retail outlets, I was about to make my mark on an industry oversaturated with food and beverage and fraught with competition in the hordes of longwinded sales reps with their tote bags and foldout widgets . . . before the bottom dropped out from under us, that is.

The COVID-19 lockdown began in the vicinity of Saint Patrick's Day. I remember because I was trying to review an Austrian Riesling as the excessive vacuuming of the manic neighbor above drowned out the fiddles of The Chieftains in my garden apartment. Two months of house arrest ensued, fretting in petty isolation. I'd gone from boulevardier, the moveable feast of Chicago, to Howard Hughes with the beard sans the urine jars, disinfecting every foreign object. Human beings were no longer things to be trusted or interacted with but feared. All we had were ourselves, spun up like helpless flies in our webs of technology; consuming the endless speculation, sensationalism and fearmongering of the news, the claptrap of social media, the paroxysm of opportunistic pundits politicizing and exploiting the pandemic to further divide us.

On some unmarked quarantine date, LUSH owner Mitch Einhorn called to ask if I wouldn't be opposed to the idea of reestablishing a connection to the human race; that perhaps it would be good for me to brave the elements and immerse myself once more into the world of food and wine at any of his three LUSH Wine & Spirits. Thus, I struck out to the surface with my hazmat suit and Geiger counter. My first assignment was to make contact with a survivor named Adam (proverbially fitting I thought as well) stationed at the LUSH in Evanston. Adam is a one-man think tank, who sheds ideas and innovations for the LUSH brand like an auctioneer calls bids.

LUSH was originally envisioned by Mitch Einhorn (the same owner of the Chicago institution The Twisted Spoke) as a wine bar/retail outlet. Yet the LUSH in Evanston before the outbreak had been functioning as a wine cellar, retailer, cocktail bar, and full-service restaurant. In typical LUSH fashion, it underwent yet another quick-silver evolution in response to the mandated shuttering of restaurants in the country—as if there weren't enough labels and services before. As Adam on my first day put it, amid email alerts, phone calls and text notifications from both of his phones, "There isn't enough neon left to put under the LUSH sign for everything we are." Mitch has over fifty employees at four different businesses. Not one has been let go since the lockdown. Instead, everyone has padded their résumés by assuming roles they never imagined they'd have. Like me, for instance, and my baptism-by-fire in retail.

Picture, if you will, a boulevardier generally dressed like a cocaine cowboy from the 80s with paisley shirts, or a dubious Southern attorney in a linen jacket, thrust behind a register to ring up customers on an alien POS system, oiling wooden tables while staining navy Golas, or sorting produce. Yes, LUSH had become Evanston's own farmer's market with fresh produce displayed outside and festooning the shotgun layout like the Shops of the Colonnade in New Orleans. LUSH is supplied by Tom Cornille & Sons, the same fifth-generation supplier of Alinea, and it's a scene for Evanston locals out for a stroll, whose eyes are caught by a ripe peach, stalks of rhubarb, morel mushrooms and country loaves from Hewn. They wander into the store and avail their hands of Adam's proprietary rum sanitizer and decide a chilled Vinho Verde might not be such a bad idea to be enjoyed outside in the glorious weather. They will then notice the menu or Chef David's specials that day and decide to order a LUSH Burger (the best I've had in Chicago) to go. Or they will call a friend once they realize the back patio has just opened and politely impose on me to make them a reservation, which I invariably do not know how to do and must impose on Susan, LUSH hostess with the mostest, for employee/customer support.

The patrons, who can finally unburden themselves of their surgical masks outside, reconnect with their past as human beings in a civilized society as they order a French 75 and a Bourbon Mule from the friendliest server you'll ever meet in Tony. Then they'll order lobster bisque or a Chef's Choice charcuterie platter or any of the revolving French Bistro options that David and Mitch dream up. And if it rains they are cordially presented with a survival kit of ponchos, dry socks, rubber duckies, and "Raincheck Bubbles" guaranteeing a complimentary glass of sparkling wine for when they return. Meanwhile, I'm inside handselling for the first time in my career as a sommelier a Barolo, or a Sancerre, or two Provence rosés to curious and open-minded customers. Refreshing, I note to myself, in contrast to harassing tastings out of blasé restaurant general managers in the city.


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