Mulled wine for the holidays. Ice-cold vodka in January. Champagne toasts for Valentine’s Day. The Wanderlust series of classes at Z Bar spans the globe in spirit and spirits this winter, taking guests on a journey into the history and traditions behind some of the world’s beverages. Vlad Novikov, Z Bar’s Director of Cocktails & Culture, leads the classes in the bar’s Private Salon on the 6th floor of The Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior St.
Mulled wine is the focus of the festive December class, which will run open house-style from 3:00 to 7:00 pm on Sunday, Dec. 23. Guests will sample Z Bar’s version of the warm spiced drink, craft their own and assemble a take-home satchel of spices to last the season. Tickets for the December class are available on Eventbrite here.
On Sunday, Jan. 20, Wanderlust will embrace the January cold with a lesson in rye vodka. Guests will learn about fermentation and distillation and explore the spirit’s Eastern European origins while tasting five different vodkas. The class runs from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, culminating with guests creating their own vodka martini.
To coincide with the class, all month Z Bar will feature six traditional rye vodkas from Poland and the Midwest, plus three special small bites, or zakuski: Borodinski bread with cultured butter and salmon roe; cornichons wrapped in unrendered pork lard and blini topped with crème fraiche and black sturgeon caviar.
February’s Wanderlust, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, Feb. 17, shifts fittingly to the Champagne region of France. Novikov will lead a tasting of four Champagnes, including that of Ruinart, the first established house dating to 1729. Guests will learn about the distinct production methods for each while enjoying paired bites by Chef Bin Xu.
Irish spirits beyond whiskey—namely, wild botanical gin and poitín, the original Irish “moonshine”—are in the spotlight for the hands-on March class, 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 24. In between a welcome cocktail greeting and an Irish Goodbye, guests will make two cocktails with the featured spirits from Glendalough Distillery. During March, Z Bar’s menu also will offer the Glendalough spirits in specialty cocktails along with Red Breast Irish whiskey and Guinness Nitro on draft.
Tickets are $25 for December, $50 for January, $125 for February and $60 for March. To reserve a spot for Wanderlust, visit zbarchicago.com or call (312) 573-6888.