News & Events


New Spirits Alert! Elephant Gin, Don Ciccio & Figli and Porter's Gin

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!

ElephantGin_Brand2.jpeg Elephant Gin:
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.

The Gins:
Elephant Strength
German Sloe
London Dry

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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:
Ambrosia
Amaro della Sirene
Donna Rossa Rabarbaro
C3 Carciofo
Luna Aperitivo
Amaro Tonico Ferro-Kina

The Cordials:
Limoncello
Finocchietto
Fico d’India Prickly Pear
Nocino



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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


FEATURED: El Camino del Albariño
is happening the whole month of JUNE in Chicago!

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.

VIEW OUR ALBARINO STOCK

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.

PARTICIPATION IDEAS:
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
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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

VIEW OUR ALBARINO STOCK


FEATURED: New Spirit Alert! PlayPen Vodka

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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.


FEATURED: New Cream Imports: Domaine Milan

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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.

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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.

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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.

CLICK TO VIEW DOMAIN MILAN INVENTORY

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WFH Cocktail Break with Ransom Sweet Vermouth

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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.

Critics Choice:
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!
Ingredients:
1.5 oz Ransom Whipper Snapper Whiskey
1 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Bordiga Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Directions:
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!


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!

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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

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HADEN FIG
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

MICROBIO
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]

OWEN ROE
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

DEL MONO
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

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GINQUILA
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)


Warehouse Tasting & Sale 2020

This October marks our 20th anniversary. What a long strange trip it’s been!

Thank you for being on this incredible ride with us. There will be more fanfare (and schwag) in the weeks and probably months to come.

A time-honored tradition of ours has been to host the Illinois beverage community at our Pilsen warehouse for the annual Cream Warehouse Tasting & Sale usually held around the last day of summer or first day of fall depending on your vibe. We grill encased meats, listen to music, and showcase new and upcoming releases, dust off some old favorites, and sharpen the pencil on some overall deliciousness that needs attention, fans and good homes. We skipped last year due to office renovations. For obvious reasons, we cannot have an in-person tasting this year.

Always meant to be a celebratory tasting—our thank you to the community—we have decided to try something new. Our Warehouse “Tasting” & Sale items are going virtual and will drop 9.21.2020 (trade only)! We hope you find many items that can continue to make you profitable this fall, winter and beyond.

We appreciate your business and support now more than ever. Stay safe. Stay strong.

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FEATURED: Skeptic Distillery



“I always thought most liquor tasted harsh, needing mixers or chasers to drink. I wanted fresher tasting and smoother spirits. As a homebrewer and craft beer lover, I saw that cold distillation would allow me to take the huge variety and creativity of craft beer into the whiskey and gin world, and create entirely new, fresh tasting spirits.” - Karl Loepke, President

Located in Melrose Park, Illinois, Skeptic Distillery is spearheading the future of spirits distilling. They are using a little known process called cold vacuum distillation, and are one of only a handful in the world using this cutting-edge technology.

Vacuum distillation is a process that distills spirits at cooler temperatures (around 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit), without applying high heat. High heat distillation can change the quality of many aromas. In this vacuum, ethanol distills at room temperature, allowing the delicate and otherwise unattainable botanical flavors to blossom, which then shine through in the finished spirit.

Founder Karl Loepke custom build Skeptic’s two vacuum distillation systems. One is used to craft their award-winning gin and vodka, and one is used to convert beer into whiskey. The resulting spirits are smooth, versatile, fresh, and flavorful. The vodka and gin are both corn based, naturally gluten free, and free of artificial additives or sugars.

Social Media
Instagram: @skepticdistillery
Facebook: @skepticchicago
Twitter: @skepticchicago


Happy Presidents' Day! Drink like George Washington

This fortified wine has a longevity that is simply remarkable. Plus, it doesn’t go bad once opened! The powerful aromas and vivid flavors last for centuries, and upon open, the wine can still last for years without losing character.

Madeira has great acidity that makes it a wonderful accompaniment to any meal. Egg tarts (pasteis de nata) are a staple in any Portuguese bakery. Walk into a cafe on an afternoon, and you’ll certainly see people enjoying their custard tarts with a small glass of semi-dry madeira. (Guess what? You can try this combo at Fat Rice!) The harmony between the meal and the madeira will depend on the acidity, alcohol content, and degree of sweetness the madeira possesses, which brings us to the different kinds of madeira wine.

Madeira = The Everlasting Wine
This fortified wine has a longevity that is simply remarkable. Plus, it doesn’t go bad once opened! The powerful aromas and vivid flavors last for centuries, and upon open, the wine can still last for years without losing character.

Madeira has great acidity that makes it a wonderful accompaniment to any meal. Egg tarts (pasteis de nata) are a staple in any Portuguese bakery. Walk into a cafe on an afternoon, and you’ll certainly see people enjoying their custard tarts with a small glass of semi-dry madeira. (Guess what? You can try this combo at Fat Rice!) The harmony between the meal and the madeira will depend on the acidity, alcohol content, and degree of sweetness the madeira possesses, which brings us to the different kinds of madeira wine.

Vintage Madeira

Vintage madeira, or Frasqueira, produced by the solera system are the island of Madeira’s claim to greatness. These wines are not simply a selection of the best wines from the best years, but they are made from particular ‘noble’ grape varieties after which the wines are named. These names not only describe the grape variety, but also describe the style.

Sercial is the driest of the wines. It is light in color, full-bodied and refreshing. Try this wine with toasted almonds, smoked fish, sushi, or sheep cheese.

Verdelho is a medium dry wine. It is golden in color. Try this wine with dry fruits, fresh cream soups and mushroom dishes.

Boal is a medium rich wine. It is full-bodied and fruity. Try this wine with tropical fruits, fruit tarts, soft cheese, or with older Boal try mature cheese.

Malvasia is a rich and oily wine. It is dark in color, full-bodied and aromatic. Try with walnuts, hazelnuts, fruit tarts, dark chocolate, pralines, and blue cheese.

Two Rare Madeira Grapes

You can only find the grape Bastardo in old vintages and soleras. Many Madeira drinkers have never seen a bottle, owing to its miniscule yields and vulnerability to insects, little was ever planted and even less was ever bottled on its own. Even though Bastardo is a sweet grape, the style of the vintage wines is often on the dry side. But some glorious old vintages do exist.

The Terrantez grape is hardly grown anymore, and with many vines killed from phylloxera, the wine is also rare to come by. However, efforts are underway to replant the variety. This wine can produce two styles of Madeira - rich and sweet or dry with a certain bitterness at the end.

Madeira = A Versatile Ingredient
Madeira is a multifunctional fortified wine! It can be used in baking, similar to the use of dry sherry. We remember Fat Rice once using it to make jelly cubes for a chocolate mousse cake; we love how that restaurant experiments a lot with madeira. Similarly, the wine can be used for savory recipes like adding it to classic Beef Wellington gravy or marinating pork chops. Cocktails! If you don’t like drinking madeira neat, then try it in a cocktail. Madeira can create complex and delicious cocktails - sweet or savory.

History & Trade Winds
Were it not for the sailors traveling to the Americas, Africa, and India, this grand wine might have never been. Trade winds took their ships to the Portuguese island of Madeira along their voyage; this island did not tax wine like those levied on the French wines. The American colonies perhaps drank madeira to defy taxes! Sailors would fill their ship with wine in Madeira as well as add brandy to prevent spoilage on the long journeys. Fortification, oxidation, and something else, unknown at the time, were at work creating the madeira style we have today: the sun. The blazing heat of the sun during the voyage transformed the flavor. These wines began to be called vina da roda “wines of the round voyage” as producers sent casks of the wine on voyages around the world in order to develop greater character from heating.

Today, once fortified, the wines either go through estufagem or canteiro to become heated.


FEATURED: Unpasteurized Cream 2020: Pizza and Natural Wine

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Thank you for everyone who came out to the tasting. Much love to you all!

Invite artwork by our friend Catie Olson: http://www.catieolson.com/

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