News & Events
August 03, 2022
FEATURED: Oliver McCrum Spirits Tour 2022
The Oliver McCrum botanical bus is in Chicago!
On, Wednesday, September 14, Cream and Oliver McCrum are hosting an Amaro + Italian Spirits education salon and tasting at Billy Sunday from 12-3pm. This is a trade only event.
Vermouth, amari, gin and liqueurs from the Piedmontese Alps since 1888. Bordiga makes all their own individual infusions, and many of the wild plants used, such as gentian, juniper and chamomile, are still picked by hand in the Alps nearby. Everything they do is made in-house using old recipes written by founder Pietro Bordiga himself.
FRED JERBIS @opificiofred
Fred, aka Federico Cremasco, is a bartender who studied profumeria (the distilling of herbs) and is an avid herbalist. His family grows classic cooking herbs, and for his spirits he farms most herbs himself and either purchases or forages the rest from within a 50km radius. Because he purchases everything fresh, and dries them himself, the herbs can change a bit from year to year and each harvest and batch yields a slightly different result.
IL MALLO @ilmallo_official
Il Mallo is a small producer of Nocino, an Italian walnut liqueur, dating back three generations and now passed from mother to daughter. They are recognized in Emilia Romagna, a region famous for its Nocino, as the creme de la creme. Making the best Nocino requires generations of knowledge, at least 11 months infusion followed by a further 18 months of aging, and the right blend of botanicals to bring the final product into harmony.
LIQUORE DELLE SIRENE @liquoridellesirene
The name Sirene is a tribute to one of the most beautiful bays in Lake Garda, Baia delle Sirene (Bay of the Sirens), where Elisa Carta crafts her unique bitter herbal liqueurs and where she grew up learning to grow herbs with her grandmother. Elisa has masterfully reworked old family recipes, sourcing almost all the botanicals locally from nearby organic farmers, infusing all her botanicals separately, and using strictly natural ingredients.
Seating for the salon portion (12-1pm) is limited. Please contact your Cream sales rep to reserve your seat and RSVP to the event.
January 24, 2022
FEATURED: What is Maduro?
Mi Casa is one of the only Tequila producers you’ll find in Chicago that grow/produce in Michoacán and have glass-aged (maduro) Tequilas. Such a rarity in mezcal production and even more so for Tequila. Once our stock is sold out, we will never see these estate grown 10-year+ maduros again.
Puntamanguera mezcals are from Guerrero, a very hard to find mezcal region to enjoy in the U.S. Puntamanguera is women-owned and represents several producers in Guerrero that not only use the capón* method but also age in the classic maduro tradition. These mezcals are something to behold; made only in small batches.
Puntamanguera Mezcal Cupreata 3-Year Maduro (Pink Label)
Puntamanguera Mezcal Espadin 3-Year Maduro (Gold Label)
Puntamanguera Mezcal Cupreata Capón 6-Year Maduro (Aqua Label)
Puntamanguera Mezcal Cupreata Capón 6-Year Maduro (Silver Label)
Puntamanguera Mezcal Cupreata Capón 7-Year Maduro (Dark Blue Label)
*Capón: It is normal practice for mezcal agave farmers to cut off an emerging quiote (flowering stalk) in order to keep all the energy in the piñas. Once cut, the plant can be harvested. Capón agaves are left in the ground months or even years after the quiote has been cut. They acquire loads of sugar and complexity; when finally harvested, they’re at their ripest.
La Venenosa Azul (Blue Weber) is a 20-year glass-rested, single distilled raicilla made from Blue Weber agave. It is truly a rare opportunity and very limited.
October 12, 2021
FEATURED: Partida Creus
photos and words by Oscar Salinas of Los Naturales
I was in Spain sitting at the counter of a bar drinking wine alone. It wasn’t long ‘til two American backpackers also sat down. They were traveling across Europe, working on farms and vineyards along their route in exchange for housing and food. It was then that one of them told me, “Whenever you see the bottles with stencil-logo labels, order them. Try ‘em all, that stuff is really, really good.” Thanks for the sound advice, Adam from Kansas City.
It’s easy to get hooked on Massimo and Antonella’s wines. It’s a labor of love, something that began when the former architects packed their bags and left their home in Piedmont to create a new one in Spain. After some time in Barcelona, they fled to the countryside of Baix Penedès. The wine they were drinking at the time wasn’t up to par, already farming food of their own they decided to try their hand at wine too. This spurred a passion for reviving old vines of local varietals, the result was the birth of Partida Creus as we know it.
VN - The epitome of easy drinking. Young, light, fresh, and crunchy the VN Blanco is everything you’d want in a daily sipper. Lightly aromatic, its floral notes are reminiscent of being in someone’s backyard once spring has fully sprung. The wine has an element of salinity that feels familiar in most of their wines, something that Partida Creus gets right time and time again.
SK - A cloudy Muscat Blanc from Catalonia, this aromatic wine transports you to Hawaiian beaches via the countryside of Spain. Pineapple rind announces itself as you take the first whiff and sip, followed by orange peel and grapefruit - immediately taking you on a tropical vacation. Flowers from a rainforest garden fill each pour with love.
SP - Clean, crisp, yellow hues captivate the eyes before your nose is treated to fruits from the tropics. A welcomed mix of citrus lead by lemon and orange that meet juicy grapefruit. Sharp minerality presents itself with a tinge of yeast, making this a wine that packs much more complexity than you’d initially expect.
MUZ - Right off the bat, whoa - holy botanicals! This natural vermouth oozes with herbal notes and spice. It’s the alcoholic equivalent to a traditional Mexican Ponche Navideño. Packed with depth and complexity, yet still light with lingering citrus. Sip it chilled, over ice, or use it in your favorite vermouth-based cocktail. Someone said you could make a boozy olive-oil milkshake with this, the possibilities endless.
GT Ancestral - Twins aren’t always identical, sometimes one is more mischievous than the other. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Such is the case with GT Ancestral. Sharing the same Garrut grape base as its sibling, this pet-nat has loads of character. The effervescence starts off strong, creating purple bubbles and an equally ruby foam. Eventually the bubbles subside, and tannins appear - evolving into a bolder wine, with earthy notes of candied mushroom and red fruits screaming for something spicy. Good for day drinking and even better for a hip dinner party.
GT - The more classic of the two siblings, but by no means any less fun. Boasting similar notes to GT Ancestral, yet still different in their respective ways. The wine expresses earthy, red fruit notes with soulful depth. The purple-ruby color is deep and ripe, with candy berries inviting your senses to some sweetness. If its mischievous sibling begs to be taken to a hip dinner party, you can find this one eating out at a respected bistro likely smoking a cigar after dinner.
XL Ancestral - Another prime example of why bubbles rock. Imagine combining lemons, pears and apples in a bottle with salt and minerals, then adding palate-tickling effervescence and some ginger right before mixing everything together… you know what you’re gonna get? A wine that is extremely drinkable. Chill this down to the bone and enjoy every drop.
XL - Much like its bubbly counterpart, this bottle is packed with minerality, salinity and citrus. There’s a soft, creamy texture that accompanies every sip, singing at a volume that brings forth a vibrant freshness you can’t help but want more of. The kind of wine you want to share with friends over laughs and a home cooked meal as the sun sets next to the Mediterranean Sea. Or in a bustling city patio, it’s really your choice.
July 01, 2021
FEATURED: Gin & Elephants
We couldn’t be more excited to announce our partnership with Trinity Beverage Group. Trinity Beverage Group works with passionate producers crafting the highest quality wines and spirits from around the world. Check out these three new distillers available now in Chicago!
Elephant Gin produces award-winning handcrafted premium gin products made with rare African botanicals. While its story started in South Africa, Elephant Gin is handmade in Germany with a focus on the highest quality production standards. All ingredients are hand-selected, bottles custom-made, labels hand-written and production-controlled by small batches.
The founders were inspired to create Elephant Gin following their own adventures in Africa. They strongly believe that this generation has a responsibility to support the African wildlife today, so others can continue to enjoy it in the future. With every bottle sold, Elephant Gin contributes 15% of bottle profits to Big Life Foundation and Space For Elephants Foundation that are devoted to the conservation of the African elephant.
Don Ciccio & Figli:
The tale of Don Ciccio began in the late 1800s on the Amalfi Coast, when Vincenzo Amodeo began crafting liqueurs. The family business thrived until WW1, when they had to halt production in the great effort to rebuild. In 1951, Francesco Amodeo, aka Don Ciccio, revived the family legacy and got production flowing again until a crippling earthquake in 1980 brought the distillery to rubbles.
Jump forward to 2012 and about 5,000 miles from Italy, Francesco “Don Ciccio Jr” Amodeo has brought family tradition back to life at his distillery in Washington DC. Francesco uses his family’s treasured recipes and intentionally sourced ingredients to craft his liqueurs - passion fruit from local farmers in DC, prickly pears from the southwest, cherries from Michigan and barrels from Italian winemakers.
The Bitters (listed from sweet to driest:
Amaro della Sirene
Donna Rossa Rabarbaro
Amaro Tonico Ferro-Kina
Fico d’India Prickly Pear
Alex, Ben and Josh met while working together in Aberdeen, Scotland. Wanting to create light, refined gin recipes, they worked with scientists from Aberdeen University to create a cold vacuum still in the basement of a cocktail bar.
By distilling gently at cold temperatures, botanicals avoid getting “cooked.” It also means they could rapidly create distillates from anything - experimenting with traditional gin botanicals like juniper, to battered Mars bars, Harris tweed and leeks.
Their Modern Classic Gin is made using Buddha’s Hand, a citrus mostly grown in China. Half lemon, half squid with no juice, but with heaps of aromatic floral and citrus oils.
Modern Classic Gin
Tropical Old Tom Gin
Olé & Obrigado and Cream invite the Chicagoland wine community to participate in El Camino del Albariño this June.
Founded by Olé & Obrigado and Yannick Benjamin in 2019, El Camino is a month-long celebration of the diversity and versatility of the Albariño grape which also raises awareness and funds for Wheeling Forward, whose mission is to help people with disabilities experience life to the fullest. This year is the first time cities outside of NYC can participate; Chicago will join Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, and NYC in El Camino del Albariño 2021.
Restaurants and retailers can participate in El Camino del Albariño by featuring any Albariño in a special way. That said, Olé & Obrigado will be donating 10% of all its Albariño sales during the month of June to Wheeling Forward.
• Albariño BTG: Choose 1, 2, or more for the month or a rotating selection
• Special Menu Section: Design menu with a special box around the Albariños that informs patrons about raising funds for Wheeling Forward
• Albariño Flight: Feature an Albariño flight
• Food Pairing: Highlight or feature an Albariño pairing
• Display or Endcap
• Olé & Obrigado Paella & Albariño Experience Wine Package: Sunday, June 13th, Chef Marcos Campos (Bonhomme Group, Chicago) is hosting a zoom webinar at 12pm CST on how to make paella. The paella is being paired with 3 Albariños (Leirana, Nortico and Columna). 100% of ticket sales go to Wheeling Forward. Tickets are $10. Wine packages can include one, two, or all three of the event Albariños.
PROMOTION: Olé & Obrigado has planned a large marketing campaign to encourage consumers to imbibe Albariño in the participating cities. They want consumers to follow the road to Albariño! They will feature all account participants on the event landing page. They are also working with some of the best chefs in the world on an Albariño pairing cookbook that will be released on August 2nd, International Albariño Day. This cookbook will thank all participants by name. @Albarino_Alvarinho #CaminoAlbarino
March 30, 2021
FEATURED: New Spirit Alert! PlayPen Vodka
Pour then Play.
Founded by lifelong Chicagoans, PlayPen Vodka is a jovial spirit that conveys Joe and Ted’s love for Chicago and good times.
In 2020 during the pandemic, Chicago native Joe Morton began rethinking his life. With extensive hospitality experience, Joe wanted to create a vodka spirit that captured the vibrancy of Chicago. It was on a boat during the summer while enjoying the sun when he had his AHA moment. Why not name the vodka after the iconic Playpen of Lake Michigan?
Joe soon partnered with his brother Ted Robinson who, having worked corporate jobs his whole life, brought both finances and skills to the table. Together, Joe and Ted have not only created a smooth-tasting vodka (carbon filtered 6 times!) that shines love on their home Chicago, but they have also created the first 100% Black-owned spirit company in Illinois, bottled and produced in Melrose Park, Illinois.
Joe and Ted have kept production and ingredients local. While 100% owned by them, PlayPen Vodka is vacuum distilled by Karl Loepke of Skeptic Distillery. The vodka is made in small batches using local, gluten-free, Midwest corn. It is cold vacuum distilled at temperatures lower than 50 degrees and carbon filtered 6 times. The result is an exceptionally clean and smooth vodka that can be enjoyed on the rocks, neat or in a mixed cocktail. Enjoy this premium spirit wherever your “playpen” is located.
January 15, 2021
FEATURED: New Cream Imports: Domaine Milan
From the moment Henri Milan planted his first vine at just 8 years old, he knew viticulture would be his life’s passion. Today, with the help of his son Théophile and daughter Emmanuelle, Domaine Henri Milan is now considered one of the finest producers in Provence. The wines are full of energy and flavor with complexity that rivals producers all across France.
Domaine Milan is located in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence near the northern foothills of the Alpilles Mountains. Like much of Provence, Domaine Milan’s terroir is marked by the push-and-pull forces of its warm Mediterranean climate and the influence of the powerful local wind known as “Le Mistral,” which serves as a natural air conditioner and protects vines from insects, mildew, and other possible afflictions. The vineyard’s geographical situation near the Alpilles shelters it further from the elements and contributes to its unique soil makeup.
Henri’s father Robert Milan bought the property in 1956. He planted grapes in 1958 and primarily sold the fruit to local co-ops. Henri’s story starts in 1986 when he took over the property with the grand intention and ambition of growing the best, most characterful fruit and bottling as a true domaine.
The first thing Milan changed was the farming; he began working organically as early as 1988. Tragically, many of the vines weren’t hardy enough to survive the conversion from conventional farming. Searching for help, Henri hired the famous microbiologist Claude Bourgignon to map his soil, which would then serve as a guide for how to replant. The duo identified zones of blue marl laced with limestone (same as some Chablis grand crus) and other zones characterized by Quaternary-based gravel and yellow sandstone (not dissimilar from that found at Château Rayas in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). Focusing on grape varieties best adapted to the individual soil types and producing site-specific wines, they felt, was the way forward. However, the best suited varieties were not necessarily those prescribed by the Baux de Provence AOP. Milan withdrew from the appellation system in 2007, declassifying his wines to Vin de France and cementing his reputation as the region’s rebel.
Today, the domaine has 20 hectares of vines, all certified organic since 2002. In addition to organics, Milan is also committed to biodynamics and uses the lunar calendar to guide their farming. A horse named Mistral is used to work the land. Milan and his children subscribe to the natural wine camp and work minimally in the cellar. Only native yeast fermentations take place. Bottling occurs with low additions of sulfites and some cuvees are completely SO2 free (1st bottling in 2000 well before it was fashionable). The wines are not fined or filtered.
November 10, 2020
WFH Cocktail Break with Ransom Sweet Vermouth
Ransom Wines & Spirits, founded by Tad Seestedt in 1997, is an artisan winery and distillery located in McMinnville, Oregon. Tad named the operation Ransom to represent the debt incurred to start the business; Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream.
Ransom Sweet Vermouth harkens back to the flourishing cocktail culture of the Belle Époque, when joie de vivre filled the air, and vermouth made the evolutionary leap from charlatan snake oil and disguised refuse to a distinguished mainstay of the era’s most popular drinks: the Martinez, the Martini, the Marguerite, and the Manhattan. As a revival in the mixing of these classic cocktails encouraged us to bring such endangered spirits as Old Tom Gin back into production, we yearned for an aperitif with the aromatic complexity and grace to complement our spirits. So began the era of vermouth at Ransom.
Ransom’s production of vermouth is the great bridge between their winemaking and distilling trades. Beginning in the winery with small lots of aromatic white grapes, Tad Seestedt carefully ferments and blends wines of elegance and character. Tad employs traditional techniques to maximize varietal expression, such as fermenting Gewurztraminer on the skins, making botrytised Riesling and employing carefully controlled oxidation of wine in barrel. Taking a cue from classic European vermouth houses, they employ a solera system, which allows consistency and complexity to maintain similar across vintages.
In the distillery, he alambically distills and barrel ages brandy from the house-made base wine for fortification. Next, the vermouth is infused with a blend of aromatic botanicals divined through five years of trials. Sweetened ever so slightly with a blend of Muscat grape juice, maple syrup and turbinado sugar and gently filtered before bottling. While this is an original recipe, the Ransom Sweet Vermouth is based on the classic formula that is rooted in flavors of wormwood and quinate bark. It lends depth, complexity and elegance to cocktails both classic and modern.
Voted Top 100 Spirits for 2020 by Wine Enthusiast
The Tasting Panel - 92pts (3/1/2015)
“With a list of 24 “home-grown” and imported botanicals on its label, the dream sequence of flavors skips across the tongue. Some standout notes include sarsaparilla, cinnamon bark, black mission figs and cacao nibs. You won’t want to wake up.”
Wine Enthusiast - 90pts (11/1/2016)
“Packed with citrus and dried fruit, this bold, tawny-orange vermouth has a scent that suggests dried orange peel and dried fig, while the palate mixes grapefruit, orange and honey. The herbal finish is redolent of warm chamomile, cardamom and baking spice.”
Try it in a cocktail!
1.5 oz Ransom Whipper Snapper Whiskey
1 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Bordiga Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake ‘till chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a twist of orange rind, enjoy!
October 21, 2020
Happy BOO-zy Halloween!
Though this year’s Halloween looks a little different from those of years’ passed — that’s no reason to completely give up on the holiday and on enjoying a fun adult beverage.
From a severed hand to some sparkling skulls & roses, we carry some spooky labels that are sure to make it a boozy-tiful Halloween!
WINES OF ANARCHY
Did your candy plans get cancelled this year? Stay in and rock out with some punk rock sparklers from Azienda Agricola Cirelli. Nature sets the rules and dictates the rhythm of every activity at Francesco Cirelli’s organic farm in Abruzzo. The animals’ interaction with the land offers natural grazing and fertilization of the vines, which means there is no need to use harmful chemical substances. A nod to Guzzista Motorcycles and Sons of Anarchy, the Wines of Anarchy project is made with biodyncically farmed grapes purchased from Francesco’s friend and neighbor. The highly gulpable fizzy Trebbiano and juicy rosé of Montepulciano are fun and vibrant dry sparkling wines, with lively, energetic bubbles.
Cirelli NV ‘Wines of Anarchy’ Frizzante, Abruzzo
Cirelli NV ‘Wines of Anarchy’ Frizzante Rose, Abruzzo
They say at Halloween, a witch’s companions are the cat and the owl. Follow the night bird right to the wine aisle this Halloween. Haden Fig is Erin and Jordan Nuccio’s realization of a dream to produce exceptional wines from the Willamette valley. They secure the best fruit possible from organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed vineyards. During her work at the Portland Audubon Society as a volunteer veterinarian, Jordan was enamored with the Northern Saw-Whet owl. A natural predator for vineyard pests and an essential part of a healthy symbiotic vineyard and ecosystem, the Saw-Whet owl was chosen for the label as a symbol of their commitment to sustainable agriculture.
Haden Fig 2016 ‘Juliette’ Chardonnay, Willamette Valley [AG 94pts]
Haden Fig 2018 Pinot Gris Rose, Willamette Valley
Haden Fig 2018 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Haden Fig 2014 Pinot Noir, Le Puits Sec Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills
The tree is alive! Coined by some as “El Mago de las Verdejos” (Wizard of the Verdejos), winemaker Ismael Gozalo practices his sorcery in a medieval underground cellar located in his native town of Nieva. Barrels, fudres, anforas, demijohns, stainless steel…young, old, skin contact, sparkling, biological and oxidative aging…you name it, he’s got it. This 100% Verdejo has a beautiful nose that bursts with notes of white peach, orange peel and grapefruit. There is wonderful vibrancy and salinity on the palate, complemented by notes of stone fruit.
MicroBio Wines 2017 ‘Microbio’ Verdejo, Spain (Rueda) [WA 93+pts 2018 Vintage]
With a name like Sinister Hand, you know there’s got to be a haunting backstory. Back in the 17th century, two revolutionary Irish families, the O’Neills and O’Reillys, were battling over a particularly sought after plot of land. Legend has it that they turned to a rowing competition to settle their dispute; the first to touch the land would secure rule. When the O’Neill’s boat stared to fall behind, a member of the crew grabbed his own sword, cut off his hand and threw it ashore, winning his family the prize! Owen Roe’s Sinister Hand Rhone-inspired blend erupts with perfumed aromas of bright raspberry and herbal tea while the Mourvèdre brings a savory note to the nose. The palate is plush and textural with the perfect amount of tannins, acidity, and an upbeat, fruity finish that brings it all together.
Owen Roe 2019 ‘Sinister Hand’ Red Rhone Blend, Columbia Valley
This ‘see no evil’ monkey wine is the brainchild of winemaker Matias Michelini. Located in the Uco Valley of Tupungato, Mendoza, Matias strives to make experimental wines expressive of the region’s cool climate and high altitude terroir. His wines are extremely low production, drawn from multiple inspirations, regions, and styles. Equal parts Malbec and Syrah, Del Mono is crafted from village fruit sourced from sustainable, local growers in Tupungato and aged in concrete eggs. Brambly blackberry, dark raspberry and spice on the nose with a rich, broad and almost chocolaty palate; this wine is a stunning bargain.
Del Mono 2019 Tinto (Malbec/Syrah), Tupungato
We guarantee you’ve never tried anything like this. Are you brave enough to test it out? Skeptic Ginquila, made locally in Melrose Park, Illinois, is a specially infused cold vacuum distilled gin that is finished in tequila barrels. Ginquila is inspired by the cocktail called Cantarito, which is a paloma style cocktail served in a clay pot. Fusing this concept with the vibrant flavors of South America, Skeptic distillery infused a gin base with fresh tropical fruit and spices including papaya, grapefruit, orange, lime, cinnamon, thyme, and chipotle and arbol peppers. But why stop there? Just to make sure this spirit is like nothing you’ve ever seen, they finished it in tequila barrels for a few months.
Skeptic Ginquila (80 proof)