When we heard about Chicago’s latest weeklong celebration we were elated — effervescent, even. Champagne on a Tuesday night? Refined. Champagne on a Friday night? Jubilatory. Champagne for $15 a glass every night of the week for 10 days in a row? Sip, sip, hooray.
Steve Morgan and Garth Hodgdon host a monthly event in Chicago called Champagne Happy Hour, but last spring, after a lunch meeting saw them consume “the majority of seven bottles of champagne,” they decided to expand their offerings to a 10-day bacchanal across the city.
Chicago Champagne Week starts November 1 with the goal of converting more people into Champagne drinkers. The founders say the week is special because it will introduce intrepid tipplers to new and exciting Champagnes without the barrier of typical, higher prices.
Forty-four restaurants will have specials on bubbly from more than 50 producers. With a roster that deep, Morgan and Hodgdon believe they can expose Chicagoans to lesser known Champagnes and turn anyone into a fan. “Most people only drink Champagne on special occasions,” they said. “We started this week with the sole purpose of getting people to drink more Champagne.”
Twist my arm.
After speaking with the organizers, here are the best ways to take advantage of the festivities.
1. Attend the opening cork
Things kick off Friday, November 1 at Pops for Champagne. At 6 p.m. they will pop a 12-litre bottle of Drappier Carte d’Or, and a mere $15 gets you a glass (it typically retails for twice that in restaurants).
Here’s hoping they open it with a knife or pour it onto one of those champagne towers. Get there early if you want a glass, because the initial deal is only for that specific bottle. That said, a 12-litre – called a Balthazar – is equivalent to 16 regular champagne bottles.
2. Try 80 Champagnes for $15 at the Champagne Happy Hour
This one sounds a bit dangerous, but for those looking to spice up their Monday night (or anyone who just loves a good deal), buy a $15 ticket to the Champagne Happy Hour. Guests can try 80 Champagnes during the two-hour session. There’s one at 5p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Morgan and Hodgdon will be on hand to answer any of your questions. Says Morgan: “It’s really the best deal I’ve ever heard of, and it is unique to Chicago from really the entire country.”
3. Treat yourself to a restaurant that’s been on your radar and pair it with Champagne
Sure, the French classic has become synonymous with celebratory clinks, but if you only consider this lively wine for special occasions, you’re missing out on what is potentially the easiest-to-pair-with-food wine. Pick a restaurant from the CCW list, perhaps the one you’ve been meaning to try for a while and ask them to pair the right glass with your meal. We recommend Band of Bohemia in Ravenswood, the world’s first Michelin-Starred brewpub.
4. Create your own Champagne Crawl
Champagne is basically a breakfast drink, so you can start with brunch and meander around all day. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerland, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”
Use Saturday, November 9 to walk or rideshare from one stop to the next. We already laid out four itineraries for you in four Chicago neighborhoods. Choose your own adventure and pop to it.
- Downtown: Blackbird, Proxi, Sepia, Cherry Circle Room, Bar Ramone, Fisk & Co.
- Fulton Market: Bad Hunter, Aba, Roister, City Winery, Elske,
- Mag Mile: Gibson’s, Cafe Spiaggia, Spiaggia, Margeaux Brasserie, NoMI Kitchen, Pops for Champagne, Joe’s, Shaw’s Crab House
- Logan Square: Good Fortune, Webster’s Wine Bar, Giant, Table, Donkey and Stick, Osteria Langhe, Le Bouchon
5. Pizza and Champagne will never let you down
On Thursday November 7, attend award-winning Pizzeria Bebu for a prix fixe multi-course dinner featuring the Champagne of Bérêche et Fils and Jerome Prevost. Tickets are $179 per person and can be purchased online here.
6. Sip a $15 glass of Champagne any day of the week
Finally a chance to put the saying “champagne taste on a beer budget” to use … assuming you drink pretty nice beer. Each participating establishment will have at least one $15 glass all week long. If you already know something about Champagne, use this list on their website, which chronicles who is serving what.
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