There are worse things than judging a cocktail-making contest—say, waiting 30 minutes to get a drink last night at Bella Lounge before said contest began. I'll excuse the mishap since the bartenders—not the ones competing, thank goodness—were only allowed to serve specialty cocktails and thus had to read recipes while slinging drinks for 300 or so invited guests. Talk. About. Slow. Service...

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There are worse things than judging a cocktail-making contest—say, waiting 30 minutes to get a drink last night at Bella Lounge before said contest began. I'll excuse the mishap since the bartenders—not the ones competing, thank goodness—were only allowed to serve specialty cocktails and thus had to read recipes while slinging drinks for 300 or so invited guests. Talk. About. Slow. Service...

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Stiff Competition, Stiff Drinks

There are worse things than judging a cocktail-making contest—say, waiting 30 minutes to get a drink last night at Bella Lounge before said contest began. I’ll excuse the mishap since the bartenders—not the ones competing, thank goodness—were only allowed to serve specialty cocktails and thus had to read recipes while slinging drinks for 300 or so invited guests. Talk. About. Slow. Service…

Behind the (Curtain) Wall: the New Spertus

In Chicago, a city with major architectural chops, it’s pretty bold to say that one building "catalyzes the renewal of the Chicago school of architecture." But, hey, the new Spertus Institute is one bold building, so its president Howard Sulkin (who said that), isn’t far off the mark.

If you want to check it out, it’s at 610 S. Michigan Ave. Doors won’t open to the public until November 30th, but everybody is already talking about it. Consider that it landed on Chicago‘s list of the top 10 masterpieces before construction was even completed; when we did a companion online survey, readers voted…

Week 28: Privacy Act

If our baby were born now, there is a chance it could survive, though its lungs may not be developed enough for it to breathe properly. If it stays put, its lungs will begin to produce something called surfactant, which is a lipoprotein that keeps the air sacs in there from collapsing or sticking together when we breathe. Kind of important. Babu is still floating around in the amniotic sac, but now it can tell when it’s upside-down or right-side-up, and it may have something to say about that.

My parents are back for another visit, and I keep waiting for Sarah and me to ring in the occasion with our usual Argument About Nothing. This time: nothing…

A Greener Gift in River North

Have a Heart
Just in time for the holiday season, the gift store Greenheart (746 N. LaSalle St.; 312-264-1625944-2544, greenheartshop.org) has opened its doors inside the Center for Cultural Interchange in River North. The Chicago store, the only location inside the United States (there is another one in Ibiza, Spain), carries fair-trade and eco-friendly products from local and international artisans. Store manager Katherine Bissell Córdova says the store is a way to use consumer power for good. “People are becoming more aware of what they’re buying and shopping is an easy way to effect positive change,” she says. You’ll find home accents like vases ($39) and bowls, fair-trade chocolates and teas, and bath and body products. The store also sells totes created from recycled rice bags made by women in Cambodia, purses made from…

To Market, To Market

This week is the official kickoff to holiday shopping season. Chain stores on the Boul Mich? Yawn. Indie markets with booze? Yay! Here are the ones on my list; if you have a tip for others, drop me a note.

1. The Merchandise Mart’s One of a Kind Show and Sale from Dec. 6 to 9. Yes, it costs money to get in ($10), and, yes, there are an abhorrent number of people selling kitten-themed potholders. But because there are literally hundreds of indie designers who attend, you’re bound to find a few whose wares jibe with your taste…

Coming Tuesday: Mixmaster Revealed

Last Girl Standing will help judge the fourth annual Finlandia Vodka Cup, a mixology competition featuring some of the city’s best bartenders, tonight at Bella Lounge. Check back tomorrow for a full report. The winning drink slinger goes on to compete in the finals in Lapland, Finland.

Sale of the Week—Oak Brook

List Price: $949,000
Sale Price: $830,600

The Property: Built in 1968, this 12-room brick French-styled home on a one-acre lot left the hands of its original owners for the first time in November. Set on a hilltop cul-de-sac in an Oak Brook neighborhood of mostly bolder architectural homes—some outrageously so—this relatively reserved home has five bedrooms, hardwood floors in most rooms, and a big lawn. The kitchen and five baths (three full, two partial) are all original and need

Week 28: Pathetic or Sympathetic?

You may have heard that certain men develop “sympathetic pregnancies.” Some of us take on the physical characteristics of our pregnant wives—cravings, nausea, weight gain, insomnia, et cetera. Sounds freaky, but it really happens. These are called Couvade symptoms, derived from the French word “couver,” which means “to hatch.”

Does Couvade really exist? Whether it’s psychosomatic, spiritual, or other, the quick answer is yes. The chemical changes that happen inside a man have been scientifically proven…

Love and Warhol

Straight from the Factory
Andy Warhol’s contribution to the art world is undisputed, but his films have always occupied a more dubious position in mainstream public opinion. Facets is here to convince you there’s more to those factory flicks than Edie Sedgwick’s pretty face. The cinémathèque’s Warhol and the Film Factory festival kicks off Friday the 16th with Night at the Factory, one of the city’s more imaginative fetes. The gala, which runs from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Warehouse (1747 W. Hubbard St.; 773-281-9075), includes a DIY false-eyelash station and…

Simpatico with Nigella

Brit cookbook author Nigella Lawson dropped by the Ritz-Carlton yesterday for a spot of tea and conversation. (She was in town promoting her new cookbook, Nigella Express.) She’s an incredibly well-spoken and compelling person to meet in person; in fact, when it’s all said and done, it may be Nigella who’s responsible for getting me out of my pre-winter funk.

The thrust of her remarks: intellect and cooking utensils can go hand in hand. “It doesn’t lower my I.Q. when I bake a cake,” said Lawson, whose first husband died of cancer…