Baconfest Chicago is pleased to announce that Zacapa Rum will be partnering with Sable Kitchen & Bar’s Mixologist Mike Ryan to sponsor a Bacon-Rum Cocktail for Baconfest Chicago 2011, April 9th at the UIC Forum.  Mike Ryan is one of Chicago’s most innovative Mixologists and we’re thrilled to welcome his Zacapa-bacon creation to the roster of cocktails and beer on hand for Baconfest Chicago 2011.

Sable Kitchen & Bar will also be represented by Baconfest Chicago Veteran Chef Heather Terhune who will no doubt be wowing guests as she did last year with her Bacon-wizardry.

More info on Mike Ryan and Zacapa Rum below.

On behalf of Baconfest Chicago, The Illinois Pork Producers Association and our charity beneficiary The Greater Chicago Food Depository, we thank Zacapa Rum, Sable Kitchen & Bar, Mike Ryan and Heather Terhune for their generous support!

THIS JUST IN as of 5pm on 3/22/2010.  Mike Ryan has created and christened his Bacon/Rum Cocktail.  He calls it SWINE AND THINE:  Zacapa, bacon syrup, creme de cacao and chocolate bitters.  We are STOKED!

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Aged at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level in a house above the clouds, Zacapa Rum has a heavenly taste as unique as the story behind it. Zacapa’s creation starts with the fertile volcanic soil of Guatemala. No other place in the world is better suited for the cultivation of sugar cane than its southern coast. Unlike most rums, which use molasses, Zacapa uses only the first pressing of sugar cane, delightfully called virgin sugar cane honey. After distillation, Zacapa Rum goes on a momentous journey to the Guatemalan highlands. In the cool mountain air, Zacapa is aged according to the solera system, a process where rums of different ages and personalities are blended together over time in a series of casks that previously stored robust bourbons, delicate sherries and fine Pedro Ximenez wines. Like a fine cognac or single malt Scotch, the rich, sophisticated taste of Zacapa is best enjoyed when sipped and savored neat or on the rocks.

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(Photo: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants)

Mike Ryan

As head bartender at Sable Kitchen & Bar, Mike Ryan brings his signature culinary flair to the craft cocktail movement. The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago graduate, former Moto sous chef and self-described “shot and a beer guy” became accidentally enamored with bar-tending while working as a cook at Fulton Market molecular gastronomy restaurant Moto between 2005 and 2008.  “He [owner Homaro Cantu] wanted a cook behind the bar,” remembers Ryan. “I was literally looking up things like highballs in a book.” Soon, Ryan became interested in the possibilities presented by unusual spirits, classic mixes and new flavor profiles.

Ryan grew up outside Philadelphia in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and moved to Chicago in 2001 to attend culinary school, and, while working at Otom and Moto, began spending his free time at Wicker Park’s The Violet Hour. “I was trying all the classics, reading up on the history,” Ryan remembers. In 2008, he was asked to join The Violet Hour team.

“My mentor is [Violet Hour head bartender] Mike Rubel,” says Ryan. “He’s incredibly knowledgeable about spirits and their history.” Ryan spent his time at The Violet Hour “banging out drinks, tasting, learning, really understanding the relationships between sweet, sour, bitter and booze.” At the same time, he continued to hone his hospitality skills. “How great is it when you can give somebody exactly what they’re looking for, even if they don’t know exactly what they want?”

Ryan’s behind-the-bar plan for Sable is to leave guests feeling both at home and constantly engaged. As far as mixology goes, he says, “I’m a fan of bright, loud, vibrant flavors. I like to use egregious amounts of bitters, bold whiskeys and to try cool savory ingredients while utilizing my kitchen background to ‘take it to the next level.’” Ryan wouldn’t have left The Violet Hour for an opportunity any less promising, he says. “Being in charge at Sable gives me the chance to explore some thoughts I have about cocktails, and chase down a few philosophical ideas about bar-tending.” Under Ryan’s leadership, the Sable bar houses one of the largest selections of brown spirits in the city.

An Albany Park, Chicago, resident, Ryan was a 2009 scholarship recipient in the Cocktail Apprentice program at New Orleans’ annual Tales of the Cocktail, a high-profile industry convention. He has been featured in Time Out Chicago, The New York Times and Whiskey magazine.

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For More info on Sable Kithen & Bar and Chef Heather Terhune, visist:  Sable Kitchen & Bar.