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« Cooking with Guinness | Main | Inspiration at Navy Pier »

Theme Idea - French Happy Hour


Sometime last year, I was relaxing on the rooftop lounge of one of Chicago's chicer hotels, taking part in their happy hour.  Despite the lovely surroundings, it was a disappointing experience...unappetizing appetizers and (gasp!) poor service.  The only redeeming thing about the whole experience was that it introduced me to what is now my favorite cocktail, the French 77.

"Pfft" scoffed one of my friends, sipping on the champagne and elderflower concoction, and giving our incompetent server the stink eye.  "We could totally recreate this at one of our places."

"Totally," I agreed.

Thus, "Mon Dieu, it's Monday!" was born.  Click below for details on how to create a stupidly easy (but supremely chic) happy hour of your own.


The Invitation

Right-click and "Save As" to your computer. Using any image editor (MS Paint, for instance), type your event's pertinent information in the white space to the right.  Save as a .gif and send it off!



The Menu

I consulted with local chef Tom Saaristo (please check out his web site...it's a treasure trove of ideas) to develop a selection of hors d'oeuvre that could either be made ahead or made the day of with very little effort.

Blue cheese straws  (recipe in link)

Brie & raspberry tartlettes (recipe in link)

 Citrus thyme olives
2 cups pitted Niçoise olives, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, Zest from 1 fresh lemon, and juice from same lemon. Put the olives in a Ziploc bag. Add the thyme, lemon zest and lemon juice. Seal the bag and set at room temperature 4 to 6 hours, or overnight. 


Brioche w/ truffle butter
Toast thin slices of brioche. Cut slices into small squares, and dab a little bit of truffle butter (available at Whole Foods) on each square.  It's rather pungent, so go easy!  Please note, these can not be prepared in advance.


Smoked salmon canapés
Smoked salmon (again, got it at Whole Foods), cream cheese, baguette slices, butter.  Mix smoked salmon with cream cheese.  This can be done ahead of time.  Before serving, put a very thin layer of butter on the baguette slices, which will keep the bread from getting soggy.  Top with the salmon mixture and a little sprig of fresh dill or supreme of lemon.

Chocolate Meringues
There are recipes out there, but honestly, I just bought mine at the store.  I personally like the mini meringues.


French 77
The impetus for this event!
1 shot St. Germain elderflower liqueur (available at bigger liquor stores, i.e. Sam's or Binny's)
1/2 shot fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fill glass with Champagne
Garnish with optional lemon twist


The Extras

Add a few extra touches to make it a special occasion.  For instance, tie little black and white bows around the stems of your champagne glasses (above).

Arrange burgundy and white mini calla lillies into a shape reminiscent of can-can dancers:



Stamp fleur-de-lis onto heavy paper napkins:



Music: Interesting...I seem to have a lot of French music on my iTunes.  Not sure how that happened.  Anyway, my suggestions include

Hôtel Costes

Les Nubianes

Madeleine Peyroux

"Paris" by Yael Naïm


And of course, the last ingredient...a lovely group of friends who are ready to kick off the workweek with French flair!


Photo Credit:  Pamela Larson

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Reader Comments (7)

The French 77 cocktail is so delicious and pairs well with the blue cheese straws. Also, I love the first picture of you pouring the liquor into the champagne glasses. You can see the gorgeous skyline!

March 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChanthana

Love the invites! Kir or Kir Royals could be nice too. I fell in love with them in France - they are cheaper than a soft drink in paris cafes!

March 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Yes, Eileen! I also found that restaurateurs will often entice customers into their establishments with the promise (and subsequent delivery) of free Kir.

March 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSecondCityJen

This looks like so much fun. Great job. The food and champagne are perfect.

March 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I'm not going to be able to follow your blog for fear of tanking on my necessary dairy-free diet.


March 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Hee hee, well so far this is the only entry that has included dairy products...although I do love cheese, so I can't promise that this will stay a dairy-free zone!

March 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSecondCityJen

Just beautiful!....I am always looking for ideas for my Votre Vu soires. Thank you!

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBea De Castro

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