Bourbon Blitz – Week 6; October 2, 2023

Sunday night saw another Taylor Swift sighting, and a football game broke out around it. In case you live under a rock, the Kansas City Chiefs were in New Jersey playing the Jets – and Taylor showed up again, this time with an entourage. There was even a cringy pre-game bit with Carson Daly (who I did not know was still relevant post-TRL) and “The Voice” judges, who were trying to explain football to the Swifties tuning in for their first football game. This time, Swift was joined in a luxury box by a who’s who of big stars: Sophie Turner, Hugh Jackman, Blake Lively, and Welsh football club owner and gin aficionado Ryan Reynolds. 

Every other commercial break featured the upcoming “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Film”, so I am still in the camp that this Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce thing is more about PR hype than actual romance. I mean, Momma Kelce was spotted at Jason Kelce’s Philadelphia Eagles game with Jake from State Farm… so can I take that as irrefutable proof that Jason and Jake are now an item?

My Cleveland Browns lost decisively to the hated Baltimore Ravens. Going into the game, it was clear they were going to struggle on offense with starting quarterback out with an injury. This left rookie DTR (Dorian Thompson-Robinson if you must define something) with the start, and they only managed to put 3 points on the board. The defense, which had been dominant through the first three games, could not shut down the rat-birds and gave up 28. 

We also saw the Broncos get their first win against the Bears after losing 70-20 last week. This was a spectacular collapse by the Bears, who were leading 28-3 in the third quarter. Russell Wilson Jr the Third and the Broncos offense then scored 24 unanswered points to keep Chicago winless on the season. The Miami Dolphins, the winning team on the 70-20 affair could not continue their success and lost to the Buffalo Bills 48-20.

The biggest loser in the NFL might be the Claddagh Ring Pub in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. They took to social media and guaranteed a Bears victory – and they put their money where their mouth is by offering to pay the tab of all patrons who came out to watch the game if the Bears lost… and they were true to their word after the Bears blew a 21 point lead. 

College football was relatively ho-hum this week. Mostly because my Buckeyes were bye, and who wants a Saturday without the men of the scarlet and grey on the field? For those that do, I think the first question is how good are the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs? They are currently 5-0, but they have played (and struggled against) some bad competition. Saturday they played Auburn, and squeaked by with a 27-20 victory. As they get into the heart of SEC play, it will be interesting to see how they fair. 

Coach Prime and the Buffaloes played another difficult Pac-12 foe, University of Southern California Trojans, and fought to the very end, losing 48-41, making a strong push in the 4th quarter scoring 14 unanswered points. We also saw Notre Dame suffer an extended hangover from the last second loss to Ohio State last week, struggling to beat Duke 21-10.

The most exciting game on Saturday was LSU and Ole Miss. It was a game that spit in the face of great defense; seeing 1,343 yards of offense and 104 points in which Ole Miss came out on top of this 49-55 shootout. (It also happens to be the 10-year anniversary of Ole Miss coach, Lane Kiffin, being fired as USC’s head coach on the LAX tarmac.)

With no Buckeyes, Saturday became a relaxing day on the roof with the Traeger and some cocktails after. For dinner, it was a pork tenderloin with a mojo style marinade, brussels sprouts with bacon, and baked sweet potatoes. I love the fresh citrus that the mojo brings to pork, and it’s an easy enough marinade made with orange and lime juice, garlic, oregano, cumin, and olive oil. Let is marinate for 24 hours, insert your trusty Meater, fire up your Traeger.. and you are off to a great meal. The best part about this meal is that everything can be done on the grill, which means minimal prep and cleanup.

After dinner it was off to one of “Food and Wine” magazine’s 5 Most Creative Bars in the US: the Violet Hour. Violet Hour is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar with a very unassuming exterior in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. The interior is open with high ceilings, with heavy curtains creating a sense of rooms. We were seated in chairs with very high backs (think 6’ tall and throne line), with a small table between them. It’s a great relaxed and distinctive environment.

The first round of drinks consisted of some house inspired stirred cocktails. The “I Drink Alone” (left in the picture below) is made with Monkey Shoulder scotch, Wild Turkey bourbon, Byrrh, lemon, honey, and tobacco extract . The ”I Barely Know Her” (right in the image below) is made with Banhez mezcal, Ming River Baiju, CH Amargo de Chile, Combiar Crème de Pache, honey, lime, and Hellfire bitters. Both were great cocktails that I would happily order again.

Left: “I Drink Alone”; Right: “I Barely Know Her”

Round 2 consisted of more traditional cocktails: a Bobby Burns (left in the image below), a whisky cocktail composed of scotch, vermouth and Bénédictine liqueur, along with a variation of an espresso martini (right in the image below). Again, both were fantastic drinks. If you ever find yourself in Chicago, I cannot recommend the Violet Hour enough.

Left: Bobby Burns; Right: variation on an espresso martini

Next week finds the Buckeyes back at home in Ohio Stadium for Homecoming weekend against the Terrapins of Maryland. The Browns are bye next week, which hopefully allows their quarterback to rest and heal before the 49ers visit Cleveland the following week. 

We also saw the MLB regular season wrap up Sunday, meaning playoff baseball is upon us. While the Guardians did not make the playoffs, there is a reason to mention them here: Terry Francona, their manager for the past 11 seasons (in which he saw the team to 921 wins, 6 playoff appearances, and a rain delay in game 7 that cost them a World Series Championship that I still blame the Cubs for). Thank you Tito!

As we wrap up, remember to tune in every week to the Bourbon Blitz for your fix of football, food, and drinks. Cheers and see you soon.

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