Chicago Gourmet: Who will be Chicago's Punch King

Chicago Gourmet: Who will be Chicago's Punch King

Now in its eighth year, Chicago Gourmet, the popular culinary bash thrown in Millennium Park by Bon Appétit that’s on the must do list for passionate foodies, wine lovers and party people will be coming to town on September 26 and 27 with an even bigger menu of events.

The newest of these happenings is Punch Kings, Pigs n’ Tiki. The party celebrating a certain throwback type of cocktail, The Tiki, will take place on Harris Theater Rooftop from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, September 26—same place as Chicago Gourmet’s hot ticket Hamburger Hop one night earlier.

tikidrinkumbrellaYou may remember (or not) tiki as those little drinks with the paper umbrellas. The tiki drinks hit the mainland in the 1930’s thanks to native Texan Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt better known as “Don the Beachcomber.”

Don opened his first “Polynesian” tropically decorated tiki restaurant/bar in Hollywood where it became a magnet for the big name stars from that era.

His tiki empire expanded across the country with a Chicago location opening in 1940 at 101 East Walton Place.

By the 1950’s the tiki craze was becoming a caricature of its former self with tacky and gimmicky imitations leading to its demise.

The new tiki movement features crafted cocktails

The new tiki movement features crafted cocktails

No surprise, what comes around goes around and Tiki Drinks are once again hot.

Only this time around, it’s all about crafted cocktails. No longer are Tiki Drinks just made with canned pineapple juice and Malibu rum.

Today’s Tiki Drinks are crafted by mixologists using fresh fruit juices, top quality rum, Amaro, Chartreuse, Campari, gin and even coconut oil-washed vodka.

Chicago Gourmet’s Punch Kings, Pigs n’ Tiki event celebrating the new tiki craze will be highlighted by a throwdown between twelve of Chicago’s finest mixologists to see who can create the best Tiki Punch.

The evening will also feature a heritage pig roast from ten Midwest Heritage pig farmers paired with chefs lining the perimeter of the Harris Theater rooftop where they’ll be putting their unique spin on the traditional pig roast.


The atmosphere on the Harris Theater rooftop is expected to feature a Polynesian themed flair that will transport guests to a tropical oasis where they can enjoy the innovative Tiki Punch creations, roasted pig, premium beer, spirits tastings and more.

A panel of expert judges will evaluate each tiki-inspired punch bowl based on flavor and consistency to determine who will win the coveted title of Punch King.

The head-to-head competition features the following mixologists:

  • Alex Bachman, Billy Sunday
  • Diane Corcoran, Three Dots and a Dash
  • Cristiana DeLucca, Maple and Ash
  • Jacyara de Oliveira, Sportsman’s Club
  • Will Duncan, Punch House
  • Harrison Gingsberg, The Dawson
  • Arthur Horocki, Celeste
  • Brandon Phillips, Bottle fork
  • Alex Renshaw and Shailee Weber, Presidio
  • Benjamin Schiller, The Sixth (opening 2015 in Chicago)
  • Rachel Thompson, The Violet Hour
  • Peter Vestinos, The Betty

Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7 food reporter and co-host of “The Feed” podcast, along with Dane Neal, host of WGN Radio’s “Flavor HD” and syndicated host of “Access Appetite LIVE!”, will emcee the evening.


And the winner is…Lee Zaremba of Billy Sunday

Lee Zaremba of Billy Sunday was crowned Punch King at last night’s Chicago Gourmet event on the Harris Theater rooftop His punch bowl named Puka’s Empire included Cruzan Diamond Estate White Rum, Cruzan 151 Falernum, pineapple, kiwi, lemon, ambergris laced honey, Jamaican seasoning and aromatic bitters.

Ticket information…

Tickets to Punch Kings Pigs n’ Tiki are $75.00 per person. The evening includes punch bowl tastings from the contenders, a heritage pig roast, premium beer and spirits tastings and more.

Tickets for Chicago Gourmet on Saturday and Friday night’s Hamburger Hop are sold out. There are limited tickets available for Sunday’s Chicago Gourmet and Friday night’s after party, Late Night Gourmet, at the Underground.

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