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Chicago's Heat No Match For Drink Selections At Homestead

By Paul Leddy in Food on Jun 5, 2013 3:00PM


When we last visited Benjamin Schiller, he was talking about the inspiration behind his cocktails at Boka. Little did we know that he would soon announce that he was leaving the Boka Group to work for Fifty/50 Restaurant Group.

We recently spoke with Benjamin at Homestead, a farm-to-table restaurant (they have a 1000 square foot rooftop garden) that recently opened. Benjamin serves as beverage director and has curated a very thoughtful spirit, cocktail, wine, and beer list for guests to enjoy.

The first thing that guests might notice is that the beer selection features beers from just one brewery (the first week will feature Anchor Brewing). “Right now, there is so much competition for craft brews, especially for seasonal or limited releases,” Schiller explains. “We were thinking that we have a better chance of securing those items that are harder to come by if we just feature one brewery at a time.” By featuring one brewery, they also show the strength and diversity of the breweries offerings. A different brewery will be featured each week.

Schiller’s spirit list is also very focused. It stems from an exercise he used to do when he couldn’t sleep. “I would go out on my patio and put together a spirit list by category with no more than seven selections, “ Schiller explains. “(The choices are) excellent selections for the value in each category and price-point.”

When compiling the wine list, Schiller could have easily put together a list of generic, “safe” wines for guests. He instead made a list that is very tight with a preference for small-production wineries. “Most of the wine we have are under 2000 cases (production for the year),” Schiller says. “We even have a couple wines by the glass that are 200 cases. We took a big risk, but we think it will pay off.”

Since the rooftop garden seats 80 guests, Schiller approached the cocktail list differently. “I wanted to consider that someone was going to be out there in the summer heat and would want a refreshing cocktail,” he says. Schiller’s cocktails are light, easy drinking, and will certainly be a refreshing cure for the Chicago heat.

Schiller made a couple of cocktails for us that illustrate this approach. The Ghost Sign cocktail (above) had an interesting combination of tequila, Pimm’s No. 1, and kumquat. The cocktail is refreshing and balanced with the addition of the Pimm’s bringing a nice bitterness to the cocktail.


The second cocktail Schiller made was a cocktail called the Ink Sleeve that features raspberry ice that adds an evolving flavor to the drink as it melts. It pairs wonderfully with the smoky mezcal.

With the well thought out beverage list that Schiller has assembled and the beautiful rooftop space, Homestead will surely will be a great place to relax and unwind on those warm days of summer.