Birthday Month

Just one of many Birthday Cocktails

I know, I know. This is supposed to be my second state bourbon post. I’m working on it, I swear. Finding local whiskeys is hard! I’ve already written about my own region and unless I’m traveling, it’s hard to find something from further away. Plus I’ve more research (read: drinking!) to do before I can actually finish the post. I still have one to open, and frankly I’m a little scared of it. Without giving away too much, I think this state has way better to offer, if I could just find it!

Bubbles at my favorite Chicago hotel

It’s birthday month around here – Husband, Pop, Twinnie and Me, all in less than 3 weeks, so bourbon has taken a bit of a back burner. In its place – prosecco, vinho verde, champagne and other bubbly cocktails. Oh, and cake. Loads of cake. The festivities begin right after New Year’s with the Husband and carrot cake.

Carrot cake prep with bubbles, berries and George the fish

What’s your stance on carrot cake? Me, I’m not a fan. I don’t hate it, it’s just never going to be my first choice. It’s the, ‘well it’s there so I may as well have a bite’ flavor in my book. But it’s his favorite so every year I make one. This time I tried a recipe from Twinnie, and I almost like it! To round out the Husband’s birthday wishes, we also stuffed our faces with burgers and tots for lunch, charcuterie and wine for dinner.

Attempting the naked cake craze

With our parents and siblings on the East Coast, we don’t tend to celebrate birthdays together. But as a twin, it’s always been a big deal. This year was no exception. Birthday Week started off strong with Twinnie and Pop attending a conference in Chicago. Sounds dull, but it was actually kind of fantastic – the three of us celebrated birthday week at this very conference, gasp, 15 years ago!! I wish I could say we were only 12, but moving along…

Birthday burgers with beer and bourbon

Pop has very interesting and international friends from his years globetrotting for work. Friends we’ve gotten to know over the years. Friends who like to take everyone to big dinners. Friends who invite us kids to tag along! One night was an Italian bistro and spritzes, the next night was a steakhouse and fancy fancy wine.

Twin Time!

In between the decadent dinners, the Husband (willingly!!) made my birthday cake AND took the girls to a roller skating birthday party. Unless you’ve got Littles in your life, I don’t know how to explain how impressive this is!! Other gals complain that their husbands don’t cook or carpool or go to gymnastics and tennis and swim. Mine, he does it all.

Happy Hour at historic Palmer House Chicago

Back to the weekend – the kids roller skated while Twinnie and I marched on an unseasonably warm Chicago day. It gets better – we met up with Gina afterward and the two most important ladies in my life finally got to meet. My worlds collided over cocktails and I couldn’t be happier.

A bit blurry, but I love this girl!

That was just the start of Birthday Week. What does a Wednesday birthday look like for a mom with two young kids? Just like any other day – get to school, take care of house crap. But I did get to have lunch with Pop thanks to an ice-storm cancelling his last day of work. Score! After school, the Big did homework while I sat on the floor with wine and coloring with the Little. Simple. Mundane. Perfect.

Coloring and Pinotage on the floor with the Little on my birthday

I finished the week with a bit of work – a cupcake order for a baby shower. Yeah, I know, I have a cool job. One of the perks of starting your own business!

Birthday Week wrapped up strong too with a quick but relaxed weekend in the city. My favorite hotel, good food, good friends, free champagne and quality time with the fam. Yep – free champagne. Hotel Allegro (I wonder if all the Kimpton properties do this?) hosts a reception every evening with champagne.

The Little’s BunBun is well-traveled!

That’s not the only reason to love Hotel Allegro – David, my concierge buddy (remember my people aren’t assholes post?) was there!  Friendly service, hugs, and Playdoh for the kiddos. He even came through with Shirley Temples for the kids.

The girls chatting with David at beautiful Hotel Allegro 

After a perfectly peaceful afternoon (zero squabbles!!), Gina and co. met us for drinks in the evening – while we sipped bubbles, the kids rolled around on the floor and danced and ran around. The best part is we didn’t bother anyone.

The kiddos made Playdoh “cookies” – thank god for their innocence!

No, seriously. The beauty of the Allegro’s lobby is there are little alcoves and corners in which to lounge. We picked a little glassed-in area off to the side which I’m sure made other hotel guests happy. After a LOT of bubbles and laughter, I ended the evening with the Big feeding me French fries as I fell asleep in our guest room, hah!

Shirley Temples and Playdoh

Wait. Wait! There’s more! After hitting the coffee and cocoa bar at the hotel in the morning, we walked over to The Dearborn for brunch. Cocktails, doughnut holes, and plates of bacon!

By now you know I can talk to just about anyone. On the way to the ladies’, I ran into a fellow birthday girl – Kylie. Visiting the windy city with her mom, this cutie pie has an infectious smile and a slight drawl that I could listen to ALL DAY.

The Big’s breakfast was bigger than her!

As we parted ways (after peeing together and pretending to bust open the wine fridges along the back corridor), Kylie asked about a restaurant, and I came up empty-handed. Long story short, I came up with an answer to her question and crashed her table for another 45 minutes! The moment her hilarious server discovered we are birthday buddies, he declared we should do shots with Kylie’s mom.

My new Birthday Buddy Kylie!!

So we did a shot of their Manhattan (strange shot choice, but whatever) and continued chatting. Next he brought out a little birthday dessert, woohoo! Finally, he brings over champagne and says, “Now you guys need to toast!”

Birthday Flowers and the Diva of Hotel Allegro

A quick train ride home to complete Birthday week, and back to reality in time for February. Next up for us – the Little’s Moana Birthday Luau! The planning and prepping for that will definitely require a little bourbon drinking so I hope to have the second installment for the United States of Bourbon out to you in the next few weeks.

Short of a million bucks or a free trip around the world, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. What would make your Birthday Week perfect??

Bloodies and Bubbles, oh and High Life – the Champagne of Beers!

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