Lush Island Cocktail

We are dreaming of sandy beaches and warm weather. Here’s a recipe for a cocktail to take you there too.

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Ingredients

  • Ice cubes
  • 6 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup Malibu rum or other coconut-flavored rum
  • 2 tablespoons light rum
  • 2 tablespoons gold rum
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 pineapple wedges
  • 2 orange slices

Directions

  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add pineapple juice, orange juice, and all three types of rum.
  2. Cover and shake until very cold.
  3. Fill 2 short glasses with ice.
  4. Strain cocktail mixture over, dividing equally.
  5. Garnish with pineapple wedges and orange slices.
Here’s a glass to enjoy your Lush Island cocktail in.
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Blizzard – Creamy Cocktail

A deliciously warm cocktail to keep you toasty in chilly weather. Recipe is for one mug.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey or rum

1/2 ounce hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico

1/2 ounce Irish cream liqueur, such as Bailey’s

Hot coffee

Dollop of whipped cream

Directions

In a glass coffee mug, stir together whiskey, hazelnut liqueur, and Irish cream. Top with coffee. And finish it off by garnishing the cocktail with whipped cream. Serve immediately in a mug.

Here is a mug that looks just as comfortable as the cocktail:

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Meet our friends at FIG Catering

Molly (picture by Steve Garret)

As you know we love local but that is not the only reason we like FIG Catering, there food is absolutely FANTASTIC,  and we are thrilled to have had the opportunity  to interview Molly Schemperl. Find out about the FIG Catering team and get some inspiration for your wedding catering needs.

For people who may not be familiar with FIG Catering, can you share a bit on how you got started in the wedding industry?

When we first started our business (my husband and me) we wanted to focus on smaller events and we handled mostly in-home parties including showers, dinners, and holiday cocktail parties. We eventually started doing in-home weddings and when we began catering full time and got our own kitchen (before we were working in a shared kitchen) we started reaching out to venues and expanding to do more weddings. This year (2012) we catered almost 50 weddings. We still stay on the smaller side of the catering industry and only handle 1 wedding per day and only up to 150 guests.

What services do you offer?

Drop-off (casual) and full service catering for groups from 2-150 guests. Full service includes bar, staff, and rental procurement.

Jamie Kelter/Greenhouse Loft

FIG Team (photo by Jamie Kelter/Greenhouse Loft)

Tell us  about the FIG Catering team:

Justin, my husband, and I are the owners. Justin is our head chef and oversees everything in the kitchen (in addition to being on-site at almost all of our weddings). I’m the head pastry chef, but also handle some wedding sales and marketing. Elyse Moore is our dedicated Wedding and Special Event Coordinator and handles almost 75% of FIG weddings. In addition to customizing proposals for couples, meeting for tasting and walk-throughs, she is on-site from the start to the end of your wedding.

What is the biggest lesson you learned working as a caterer ?

Take time to get to know your client and listen to what they want. Customized service makes us unique and allows us to be flexible with couples needs.

Is there a particular couple style you feel you cater to best?

Laid back couples who are primarily concerned with the quality of the food at their wedding and are willing to spend a little more on it (versus spending on décor, music, or other items). People who cook for themselves and understand/appreciate hand crafted food. Also, people looking for less traditional food like vegan/vegetarian or ethnic cuisines.
What is the first thing a couple do when thinking about catering?

They should think about the style of wedding they want and how they/their families and friend eat: Do you tend to be big eaters who like options? Then a family-style or buffet dinner may be better than a plated meal. Do you tend to be picky and/or want to socialize during a meal then an hors d’oeuvres stations menu may work better. Any option can be cheaper or more expensive due to the menu options and rentals you choose; you should rather think about what will work for you and your crowd the best and figure out how to make that work within your budget.

Due to the fact that at FIG we use seasonal produce, they should think about the season they are getting married in and what is available then. If you’re favorite foods are corn, melon, and tomatoes, you should not be getting married in April or May.

Picture credit 1-5 Jamie Kelter/Greenhouse Loft, 6 Brian Kinyon, 7 FIG, 8, Alix Klingenberg Photograph

What are some of your favorite location for weddings?

Greenhouse Loft, Floating World Gallery, Pleasant Home in Oak Park, Kitchen Chicago, Salvage One, outdoors in your backyard (keep in mind – this is probably not going to be less expensive than a venue with tent rental, kitchen set-up, etc.)
Can you tell me about 1-2 of your favorite requests/ ideas that a bride has come to you with?

To accommodate a large percentage of non-drinkers at a fall wedding, offer hot chocolate, coffee, and hot apple cider with toppings and cordials (for those that do drink).
Fresh nectarines or other fresh, locally grown produce as favors
Cheese tasting bar for dessert – Someone who wasn’t that into sweets got a small cutting cake, but then had a wide variety (10-12) types of cheese paired with wine, mini cocktails, and liqueurs for the main dessert.

What are the trends you are seeing for 2013

Ombre linens, Return of the plated dinner, Banquet style seating

Quick one sentence getting to know you questions:
- what is your rule of thumb you live by? Don’t be mean.
- what do you do in your free time? Eat out, swim (in a public pool)
- If you were to turn on the TV right now what would you choose to watch? Mad Men or PBS
- what book are you reading right now? or what is the last book you read? Just finished reading The 100 year old man who jumped out a window & disappeared. I usually read fiction when I read, but just picked up a client’s self-help book titled The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self which I’m looking forward to reading. I’ll have more time in January and February.
- what do you cook for yourself? Unfortunately I rarely do. When I do it’s usually something healthy soup, chili, or lentils.

Finally we have to ask but what is an item you would have on your wedding registry?

I had a very limited registry, but I’m a sucker for nice towels, sheets, and blankets.

Bamboo sheets

FROLIC – Pomegranate Martini

Two great ingredients for the season: Pomegranate and Cointreau

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Cointreau
lime slices, for garnish

 

Directions
Chill 4 martini glasses. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the sugar and ¼ cup water to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the vodka, juices, and Cointreau. Add 2 cups ice and stir until well chilled.
Strain the martinis into the chilled glasses; garnish each with a lime slice.

 

Here is a festive glass you can put your martini in:

Meet our friends at Soirée Weddings & Events

We recently got to chat with one of our favorite ladies: Tiffany from Soirée Weddings & Events.

Soiree Team

For people who may not be familiar with you or your work, can you share a bit on how you got started in the wedding industry? Before I got into weddings, I worked in Sales for a communications company. I was good at it, but I didn’t feel that I was using my skills to their full potential. When I began to plan my wedding I realized that I had a passion for the wedding industry. My wedding photographer, Cristina Giurgea, was the one that convinced me to start my own business as a wedding planner. It was an intimidating idea, but she made me realize that I could do it and that I had the talent to be successful. I have to say, my sales skills helped me along the way too. Some of the best business owners started as sale reps. We understand the importance of the sales process and customer service. I started the company almost 3 years ago – I am amazed by our growth and I am excited to see where we are headed in the future!

(picture courtesy of Anthony Yoon Photography)

What services do you offer? Everything from Full planning, Partial Planning, Event Design and Weekend of Coordinating.

Who are your team? Our team consists of myself, Owner and Senior Event Planner; and my two Associate Coordinators – Molly Blonn and Rebecca Niziol

What is the biggest lesson you learned working as a wedding planner? Well, I found that I am always learning. I learn something new at every wedding we do. It allows me to grow, change and adapt. But the biggest thing that I have learned it to always stay calm. I am the Director for the evening and everyone is relying on me. If I look stressed or frazzled, then everyone else will start to panic or lose confidence. I internalize any stress while maintaing my composure. As wedding planners, we just need to come up with the solution to any challenge!

Is there a particular bride style you feel you cater to best? I feel that I work best with urban brides with realistic budgets. I can design traditional weddings, glam weddings, contemporary weddings and even rustic weddings. However, all my clients have varying budgets – so it is my job to deliver a wedding that “wows” while staying within budget and complimenting their design style.

(Photography by left to right, top to bottom: Cristina G, Kristen Lynn, George Street Photo, George Street Photo, Carasco, Carasco, Nick Gerber, Nick Gerber, Cristina G)

What is the first thing a couple should do after getting engaged? First of all, they should try to enjoy the engagement a bit before jumping straight into wedding planning. Have an engagement party and enjoy the high you are still on from the proposal and the ring! Then…call me! I can give you a step by step timeline for the planning process. Chicago is very competitive when it comes to selecting a venue and date. Many popular Chicago venues book out 2 years in advance during the popular wedding season months. Venues have to be able to accommodate your guest count, fit in your budget and also your style. Those are important things to look for when choosing the venue for your wedding. After we have selected the perfect venue, then we can start the vendor selection process!

What are the best tools for a couple to use when planning for their wedding? I always recommend for my clients to join Pinterest. Pinning photos to your wedding inspiration boards is very helpful when shopping for a dress, meeting with florists, decor companies and even photographers. It helps those vendors visualize our design style. Another helpful tool are wedding websites. This allows you to relay important information about your wedding to your guests. Things like hotel rates and contact info, ceremony and reception location and fun facts can all be listed there.

What is your favorite part/moment of a wedding? Every wedding is different – but they all have moments that touch the heart. Sometimes it is when the bride is walking down the aisle, sometimes it is a heartfelt toast or a first dance. I love when there is something inserted into the wedding that is special to the couple – a fun song for the cake-cutting, a family tradition like the polka or the hora – I even had a bride get up on stage and sing Black Velvet with the band – she was amazing!!

Sami + Mike Wedding Trailer from NightOwls Media on Vimeo.

Can you give me 1-2 of your favorite requests/ ideas that a bride has come to you with? One of my couple’s asked me to do a Step and Repeat/Red Carpet for the entrance into the reception venue. The couple used to live in LA and they thought it was a fun way to incorporate a little bit of Hollywood into the wedding. The couple’s logo along with the logos from the venues printed on the back drop. The guests loved it! They all had their photos taken as they entered the venue. It was a cool and different take on a photo booth!

What are the trends you are seeing for 2013? I am seeing eclectic menus for food. More and more of my clients are “foodies” and want to wow their guests with an interesting dining experience. Also, Color for bridal gowns… and even no color for Bridesmaids – like ivory and white dresses. food trucks are a huge craze right now – why not have one pull up at the end of the reception so guests can grab some late night snacks to-go? Grooms are taking more of a role in wedding planning now too- If you have to room in your space think about adding a lounge area for the men : Whisky or bourbon tastings, flights of different craft beers, and your groom’s favorite sweets – even the men will appreciate the details!

Getting to know Tiffany 

- what is your rule of thumb you live by? Always be nice, respectful and professional. You can get further in life that way. Also, be proactive – not reactive.

- what do you do in your free time? I love to be outside (in the summer!) but spending time with my husband, dog and cat is one of my favorite things. Yoga, running and spin class is what I do to sweat. and I love to shop online!!

- If you were to turn on the TV right now what would you choose to watch? I love my reality tv! everything from Bravo to HGTV! But I love me some Dexter and Homeland!!

- what book are you reading right now? or what is the last book you read? The last book I read was The 19th Wife. It was pretty good. I don’t read the “fad” books that everyone is raves about – they are usually poorly written. I prefer the classics, like Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

Finally we have to ask but what is an item you would have on your wedding registry? Choose a china that you can use everyday. Even if it is fine china. Most people leave their china boxed up or locked away in a china cabinet – I think that is such a waste! I used my china every day, I want to enjoy it! Also – make sure to register for china that fits in your cabinets!! So many dinner plates are oversized now – and they don’t fit in standard “city” sized cabinets!

Basic dinnerware from Simon Pearce

Meet our friends at the Catalyst Ranch

Meet Lauren Smith the Branson Babe, Gala Girl, Marketing Manager of the Catalyst Ranch which happens to be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this Thursday (find out more about their event here )

Lauren (left) and the Catalyst Ranch team

 

 

For people who may not be familiar with Catalyst Ranch can you tell us a bit about the location?
Catalyst Ranch is Chicago’s creative meeting and event space. With bright, bold colors and nostalgic Americana furniture, our space invigorates meeting and events by constantly stimulating the senses.

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Tell us a bit about you and your team?
I started working at Catalyst Ranch in 2006 and have pretty much worked every position from the ground up, very happily moving into my current title of Special Events Manager in 2010. Our team is a wonderfully diverse, motley crew of artists and event industry hopefuls. Our staff isn’t your run-of-the-mill event staff that hover in the shadows. Our team is in the forefront with their engaging and endearing personalities, always at the ready to assist.

What services do you offer?
We have an extensive list of preferred caterers and vendors that are as passionate about making each event special and unique. We facilitate these relationships with our brides and planners. Because of our eclectic furnishings and décor, we are able to tailor a floor plan specifically for the bride and planner.

Is there a particular bride style you feel you cater to best?
A lot of our brides are very DIY and that’s great! The more you can tailor your wedding to your specific tastes and flair, the more special it’ll be when you look back on it. We’ve had some amazingly eclectic weddings in our history, including a recent cosplay wedding with a wedding cake straight out of the sci-fi show Dr. Who. Because we’re such a unique venue, the brides that come to us usually have a strong sense of self, who they are, what they like, and can also have fun with it.

Video by Sterling Wedding Cinema produced with Naturally Yours Events

What is the first thing a couple should do after getting engaged?
A wedding budget and guest list needs to be the first steps but another very important aspect to decide early on is the type of wedding the couple wants. It’s best to outline the most important elements of the wedding day that will help make the celebration special and unique.

What is your favorite part/moment of a wedding?
The “I Do’s,” plain and simple. There is a lot of stress associated with planning a wedding, especially the day of. No matter how much you plan, there are so many variables during the day of the event that the couple doesn’t truly relax until their standing in front of their friends and family. And the “I Do” is the culmination of the time this particular couple has spent together and all the hard work and planning we’ve all done to make their special day come true.

Can you give me 1-2 of your favorite requests/ ideas that a couple has come to you with?
One artistic couple created a collaborative art piece with their guests and it was a big hit. Everyone just grabbed a brush, found their paint preferences and went to town on a huge blank canvas. Definitely a memorable wedding moment and a fantastic piece the couple will have forever.

What are the trends you are seeing for 2013/14
Adding a unique local aspect to a wedding, such as food trucks and microbrew beers have been big this year and I think it will continue to get more popular in the next year.

Who is Lauren:
- what is your rule of thumb you live by?
It’s all in the details.

- what do you do in your free time?
Chill out! Painting my nails and play video games (sometimes simultaneously).

- If you were to turn on the TV right now what would you choose to watch?
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” – thank god for marathons on BBC America and Spike TV!

- what book are you reading right now? or what is the last book you read?
Just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicle and now I’m on to James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.

Finally we have to ask but what is an item you would have on your wedding registry?
I love to entertain so I would go with a some great bar equipment and glassware for fab cocktails.

 

Don’t forget their Fan event this Thursday Nov 15th 6pm-9pm