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CBS Chicago Freelancer Publishes Another Out Of Touch 'Best Of' List

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 30, 2013 4:00PM

Photo via Shutterstock.

We've made clear our love of cocktails, classic, modern and off-the-wall, on about a thousand occasions. Despite the cocktail revolution, bars where you can get a great martini aren't exactly a dime a dozen. So we're often excited to see a new best-of list, despite their fruit-fly-like proliferation around the Internet. We were excited, that is, until we actually read the damn thing.

This isn't the first article by CBS Chicago freelancer Angela Hazen we've criticized, but it may be the most galling—at least if you care about cocktails. There isn't a single notable cocktail bar on this list and, while we aren't prepared to go so far as to claim that none of Hazen's selections are any good, they certainly wouldn't make our list.

Then there are the drinks: all of them are fruit-tinis, sweet syrupy messes beloved by many and, in some cases, even delicious. But they are certainly not martinis. The Blue Line Lounge boasts a Malibu pineapple-tini, the Fireplace Inn has a ginger lemon drop martini and, the big winner where we are concerned, is Intimo Lounge's raspberry mochatini. The martini, in its many variations, has a history and a culture, and while these may be interesting drinks, they don't fit the bill.

Back in 1995, fruity cocktails masquerading as martinis were often the only game in town as bartenders tried to convince people that mixed drinks were worth drinking, but, as some of you may have noticed, the game has changed a bit.

So what happened with this list?

Well, CBS Chicago used to employ some great writers in food and arts, including former Chicagoistos/-as Amy Cavanaugh (now at Time Out Chicago), Kim Bellware (Huffington Post Chicago's associate editor) and John DiGilio. In March 2012 they told their contributors that, rather than paying actual money for real content, they were going to subscribe to a feed—in this case, The Examiner. Based in Denver, they've admitted that there is little editorial oversight of their content (let alone local editorial supervision), and it shows. The authors are paid by page view rather than by article, which makes it cheaper for the site to host massive amounts of mediocre content.

Scott Smith put it best in a blog entry about this list that he posted last night.

It’s especially galling when sites with wide distribution do lists like this because they contribute to a dim view of a city’s culture. CBS Local doesn’t have much authority in these areas but it has a lot of distribution and reach, especially when these pieces are constructed for eyeballs instead of brains. A list of bad picks that pops up on the first page of Google reinforces the idea that Chicago lacks for a quality martini bar and its rock output stopped sometime after the Smashing Pumpkins first broke up. If you’re someone who writes about your city because you love it, it bugs you when you see writing that makes it seem like Chicago has less to offer than a place one-third its size.

We don't mean to attack Hazen personally, even if her biography is comic and ridiculous. But her recent entries indicate that, perhaps, a huge local news outlet like CBS Chicago might want to engage in better oversight as to what they publish.