GREGBIRMAN
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THE WATCHER

 Whereabouts, outtakes, and intakes. 

All You Can Drink

For the third year in a row, the South Loop Beer and Cider Fest came to my neighborhood for a three hour, all-you-can-drink PARTY. Admittedly, this was my first time attending, but I felt obligated since it took place right in my new back yard. Let me tell you, when brewers like Begyle, Haymarket, Hopewell, Lo-Rez, and Motor Row are generously filling your glass, you can't help but turn up with the alderman and the neighbors. 

My lens was a little more focused than my vision after a while, so the photos speak for themselves. 

If you're into craft beer and good vibes, check out this weekend's Wisconsin Craft Beer Cruise on Lake Michigan from the same organizers (Brewfest Partners). Hit this link to apply my discount code and see the list of participating brewers. 

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Track Suits and Bagels

Don't be fooled. This was not intended to be my typical insta-worthy adventure and, ultimately, nothing was done for the gram aside from my post about the Mural Fest. Originally a trip meant to celebrate one of my oldest friends getting married later this summer, Montreal proved to be a bachelor's paradise. Besides the abundance of international food options, activities, and nightlife, we arrived at the right time, when the World Cup was just kicking off, the Mural Fest was bumping, and the French Music Festival occupied the Quartier des Spectacles. Nevertheless, I walked away with a few street shots, and as you'll notice, a reoccurring track suit theme. Why? Because our very own party costume served as inspiration. 

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Watcher Origins Pt 1: Street style

With renewed hopes to blog more, I’m dedicating a few posts to the origins of what ultimately became The Watcher: street style and food. There was never a shortage for subject matter or inspiration - I found details at every corner and on every table. Whether it was unfashionable or poorly presented, I sought to show the ordinary in a different light. What was lacking, however, was the skill to capture what I saw and the platform to share it. Eventually, The Watcher became a training ground for writing, posting, Wordpress templating, and marketing before I understood what marketing was. There was no focus until I decided that international culture in Chicago is a common thread across my posts, and as much as my Instagram doesn’t reflect it now, street style as I see it has always been a subject of my creative origins. 

Here are a few select scenes from past travels. 

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Press Room

In a neighborhood that went from meatpacking to under-the-radar-cool to a burgeoning luxury rental market every Northsider is “suddenly” discovering, intimate sneakaways are recently hard to come by. But if you rush past the Parlors and the glitzy glorified taco stations up and down restaurant row, you’ll come across an intimate, subterranean, wine bar in the lower level of the recently acclaimed Publishing House Bed and Breakfast.

The Press Room, a small plate establishment boasting essential wine pairings and instagrammable charcuterie boards is elevated (no pun intended) yet approachable. Chef Jeff Williams cooks up American cuisine with French and Italian references, with dishes like the confit potatoes, burrata, and chicken liver mousse, and a dessert list that includes crème brulee topped with salt flakes. The Press Room is ideal for a pre-dinner or late night digestif, or (in our case) a dark and cozy hideaway from the lights and crowds of the West Loop.

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Cyber Monday Holiday Staycation

Over the last few years, Nika and I have been traveling at spring time, usually in March for her birthday, which basically means we're in town for the holidays and saving for that trip. Even still, we like to reward ourselves with a staycation locally, since it tends to be slow at work and there's so much to do in the city. It has become such a tradition for us, that we even got married at a hotel in December.

This past year, we've been spending a lot of time at the Peninsula for dinners, afternoon tea, events, and stays. You may have seen a few posts here and there, but I decided to share a few more photo highlights in this post, along with some details on their Cyber Monday offer. Check out the deal after the photos! 

It's hard to stay anywhere else, so if you're in town this season, treat yo self and book before EOD Monday to take advantage of these deals. Use code CHCYBER for 30% off on luxury guest rooms from December 17 2017 through April 30 2018 via peninsula.com or book an experience with a gift card. You'll get 10% applied towards a dining experience or spa treatment with a gift card of $300 or more.

Happy Staycation!     

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