Friday, May 17, 2013

STYLE INSIDER: Alexis Cozzini

Luxe File Chicago sits down with Sarca's Alexis Cozzini who dishes on her favorite summer must-haves from skin-revealing mini dresses to colorful sky-high wedges. Ladies, it's going to be a long, hot summer. 

Alexis Cozzini

Dangerous Hemlines

In the fashion world, higher temperatures mean higher hemlines. I love seeing the collections of mini dresses and short-skirts on the runways, particularly in feminine skater-style silhouettes. Pair it with a tribal print crop top and gladiator sandals for a boho day look, or mix it with a sheer blouse and studded heels for a dressed up feel.

Walk The Line

Summer is a season of spontaneity: a last minute beach trip, impromptu cocktails with the BFFs, or an off-the-cuff patio party. Being ready for anything is must! That being said, footwear must follow suit: enter the Wedge. A colorful pair of wedges that not only provide comfort, but also lend a serious dose of style, are this season's fashion star.

Sleek Prints

Prints have been a runway staple over the last year, and it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere soon!  Although the trend may be tricky, mixing prints in vibrant hues is hot, hot, hot for summer. Make the look pop by keeping the prints in the same color family and pair with a classic bag or simple shoe in a solid color.

Statement-Making Necklaces

When it comes to adding that little something special to an outfit, a statement necklace is the perfect jaw-dropping accessory. Whether dressed down in your favorite tee and denim shorts for a day of shopping, or paired with a glamorous maxi dress for a high-octane night on the town, bling is always a girl's best friend.

Pajama Game

Rest and relaxation comes to life during the summer months: lazy days by the pool, catching up on your reading with your feet in the sand, or hitting a fabulous yacht party. Whether you want to be casual or just comfortably chic, a pair of luxe PJ's are the epitome of warm weather lounging.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Style Insider: My Summer Must-Haves (Part 1)

The sun is shining, beach-inspired cocktails are calling and summer is shimmering on the horizon. When it comes to building a well-edited wardrobe, what’s more fun than stocking up on some of the hottest warm-weather essentials. 

We sought out a few of the town’s most notable fashion insiders - Ryan Beshel, Alexis Cozzini, Ikram Goldman, Azeeza Kahn, and Erica Strama - to discuss their lust-lists, from the perfect statement necklace to mink-lined bejeweled Birkenstocks.  

We kick off our summer style series with bow tie-loving bon vivant Ryan Beshel:

Ryan Beshel
Public Relations Coordinator
900 North Michigan Shops

Summer calls for light and bright - and this Karen Millen floral-inspired cotton dress is just what the weather woman ordered. A pop of floral print over this classic white cotton is perfect for the office or for play.

Prep your feet for summer strutting with a visit to Charles David. This Terrain Patent Wedge screams summer and you'll be rockin' a splash of orange, the color of the season.

As the sun begins to warm the chilly Chicago beaches, the bathing suit makes its way back into our closets. A visit to Intimacy Bra Fit Stylists is where you will find the hottest suits under the sun. This nautical look will turn heads at the beach and you feel like a million bucks knowing it's hugging you in all the right places.

We're not quite finished with neon yet - and neither is  Michael Kors. Make a bold statement with this Jet Set Perforated Travel Tote as you strut down Michigan Avenue like it's your very own runway. After all, you're so front row.

When it comes to summery sunnies, I say go big or go home. A quick visit to Solstice Sunglass Boutique for these optical kicks by Dior will keep you undercover when checking out those beach bodies.  

Photo Credit:
Photo of Ryan Beshel courtesy of Rumala Sheikhani


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hair of the Dog: Seven Creative Cocktails to Enjoy on May 5

Cinco de Mayo - or slightly less popularly known as “The Day of the Battle of Puebla” - is the patriotic-infused holiday when Mexican-Americans come together to celebrate their heritage and pride. For the rest of us gringos, it’s a time to reflect on the meaning of “happy hour” over several pitchers of tequila-laced cocktails.

For Luxe File readers who are planning a mixology mashup at su casa, we have provided several recipes from the town’s top tequila-toting restaurants that include some fabulous flavors, including pink guava, hibiscus flowers, avocado, and poblano chilis that are sure to add some fireworks to any fiesta.

Smoky Bandit
(Makes 1 glass)
Courtesy of Carnivale

2 ozs. Illegal Mezcal Joven
½ oz. of pink guava purée
Float of Barritt’s ginger beer

Preparation: Muddle 3 medium slices of cucumber with 1 lemon segment. Strain and pour over ice in a rocks glass. Top with a float of ginger beer. Garnish with a guava slice and half rim of pimenton and salt mixture.

Mexican Cosmo
(Makes 8 glasses)
Courtesy of Frontera Grill

2 cups silver tequila 

1 cup Cointreau

¾ cup fresh lime juice

1 cup Jamaica Flower Cooler (see recipe below)

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar

1 lime for serving

Preparation: In a carafe or pitcher, combine the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, Jamaica Flower Cooler, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate if not serving within a few minutes. Set out a bucket full of ice and glasses (the drinks are strong, so serve them in 6-ounce martini glasses). Slice the lime into rounds (1 for each glass), then make a cut through each slice from the center through one spot on the rind to impale a lime round on the side of each glass as garnish. Scoop lime slices into a small serving bowl.

When ready to serve, fill a cocktail shaker about half full of ice and measure in about ½ cup of the cosmo mixture, then cover and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds to chill the drink and dissolve enough ice to bring the flavors into balance. Strain into a glass and serve.

Jamaica Flower Cooler
(Makes 2 quarts)

2 cups (2 ounces) dried jamaica "flowers"

1 ¼ cups sugar

Preparation: In a medium 3-quart stainless or enameled saucepan, bring 1 ½ quarts of water to a boil. Add the "flowers" and sugar. Stir for a minute or so, while the liquid returns to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Cover and let steep for at least an hour, but no more than 2. Pour the mixture through colander or strainer into a large bowl, pressing on the "flowers" to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in 3 cups water.

This recipe makes a tart version of uga de jamaica so feel free to stir in more sugar. Store covered in the refrigerator in a noncorrosive container, preferably one that won't strain.

Tippling Bros. Little Market Cocktail
(Makes 1 glass)
Courtesy of Little Market Brasserie

2 chunks pineapple, approximately 1½-inch cubes

1 ½ ozs. reposado tequila 

1 oz. guajillo syrup (recipe below)

1 oz. lime juice

Preparation: Muddle pineapple in cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients. Shake over ice.

Guajillo Syrup
(Makes 4 cups)

4 cups simple syrup

3-4 guajillo chiles

Simple syrup preparation: In a pot, mix four parts sugar to four parts water. Boil until sugar dissolves.

Preparation: Warm simple syrup over medium heat. Break up chiles and add to syrup. Simmer 10 minutes, taste for heat, and let simmer for another 10 minutes if needed. When desired heat level is achieved, strain and refrigerate.

Chile en Nogada
(Makes 1 glass)
Courtesy of Mercadito

2 oz. reposado tequila
1 oz. poblano chile purée**
1 oz. lime juice
½ oz. Nux Alpina walnut liqueur
¼ oz. simple syrup

Purée preparation: Remove stems and seeds from two poblano chiles and cut into ½ pieces. Blend on high with ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and ½ cup of water. Keep refrigerated in an airtight plastic or glass container. Will stay viable for 3 days.

Preparation: Shake all ingredients together with ice in a mixing tin. Strain over fresh ice in an old-faashioned glass. For garnish, fill half of an empty walnut shell with a spoonful of pomegranate seeds and float on top of drink.

El Bolero Margarita
(Makes 1 glass)
Courtesy of Mercat a la Planxa

½ oz. agave nectar
1 ½ ozs. reposado tequila
½ oz. Grand Marnier
fresh avocado, 2 slices
2 ozs. house made sour mix (see recipe below)
lime juice
sour syrup
jalepeno bitters

Sour mix preparation: Combine 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup water, and 1/3 cup sour syrup.

Preparation: Combine all ingredients. Shake until avocado dissolves. Pour into a margarita or rocks glass with ice and a salt and peppar rim. Add a dash of bitters on top and serve.

Hibiscus Flower Sangria
(Makes 4 glasses)
Courtesy of Mexique

1 cup hibiscus flower glaze
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup orange liqueur
1 quart burgundy wine
3 cups 7-Up

Preparation: Mash a few sprigs of fresh mint and combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Add ice and stir. Pour into a large red wine glass and garnish with ice, diced jicama, oranges and limes.

(Makes 1 glass)
Courtesy of Nacional 27

2 ozs. mezcal
1 oz. lime juice
½ oz. agave
½ oz. triple sec

Preparation: Mix all ingredients together, serve over ice in glass with salted rim, or strain into a chilled martini glass.

Written by Sally Shorr

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Giddy UP! Hosting The Perfect Derby Party with Debi Lilly

Known as the “greatest two minutes in sports”, the Kentucky Derby offers the perfect excuse for hosting an intimate celebration at home. 24/7 accepted the challenge but after a quick review of our abbreviated To Do list – scouting for ladylike derby hats and wooing our favorite equestrian-insider, Jennifer Wirth, for her famed mint julep recipe we knew we needed a professional's touch.

Enter author and celebrity party planner, Debi Lilly (pictured above), whose VIP-only parties are always the talk of the town. We caught up with Oprah Winfrey's favorite fȇte extraordinaire who shared a few simple suggestions for treating guests to an intimate Derby Day gathering.

By Invite-Only!: With just a few days to go before Race Day, grab a gorgeous Derby photo online and email friends and family to join you in the “Race for the Roses” this weekend. Derby hats required!

Luxe File loves: This adorable Kentucky Derby inspired party invitation (above) adorned with Swarovski crystals; designed by Inviting Company. Click HERE to purchase.

Getting Your Home “Derby” Ready: Now that spring is here and the weather is warm, try to set elements of the party outside and enjoy the sunshine while you increase your party space. For inclement weather, bring the party inside. Anything can poise as a make-shift bar: a counter, coffee table, or a mobile trolley.

Set the bar outside on your patio table with pre-made cocktails in oversized drinking jars to make service fast and easy for guests (and you don't get stuck behind the bar shaking juleps the entire party).

Turn On Your Inner Mixologist: Here are three handcrafted cocktail recipes – two courtesy of Debi Lilly and one from Jennifer Wirth – we are sure you and your friends will love to sip long after the race has ended.

Sweet Tea Vodka (Makes 4 glasses)
In a glass pitcher or jar, combine two parts Sweet Tea to one part Effen Cucumber Vodka. Add fresh mint sprigs into pitcher, and let sit for a half hour before party. Serve over ice, with lemon to garnish.

Mint Julep (Makes 4 glasses)
In a bowl, muddle (smash) 1 bunch fresh mint, 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 cups water. Add in Bourbon Whiskey, to taste. Serve over ice, with mint sprig to garnish.

Jennifer Wirth's Mint Julep (Makes 6-8 glasses)
3 cups sugar
1 bottle Maker's Mark® Bourbon (or your preference)
1 bouquet of fresh mint
crushed ice

Simple syrup: In a medium saucepan, add three cups of water and three cups of sugar. Bring mixture to a boil and let thicken slightly. When simple syrup has thickened, pour into a large glass and overnight to chill. When preparing the juleps, fill a 6 oz. glass with crushed ice to the rim. Add two shots of bourbon and fill remainder with chilled simple syrup. Add 1-2 stalks of mint into glass and stir.

Food, Glorious Food: Win the blue ribbon with these attention-grabbing party bites.

Loaded Mac and Cheese
8 ozs. macaroni, whole wheat
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup milk
2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
black pepper to taste

Cook macaroni and drain. Melt butter then add in flour, salt, pepper, and milk one at a time. Cook until bubbly. Add cheese then stir until melted. Add macaroni then stir until evenly coated. In greased muffin tin, spoon mac and cheese. Cook for 30 minutes at 350º. Top with your favorite flavors: cherry tomato, scallions, sauteed mushrooms, roasted peppers, black pepper bacon, chicken apple sausage, black forest ham...whatever you love!

Wedge Salad
Using small hearts of romaine, cross two hearts onto a small plate or group onto platter. Bake bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven, crumble. Drizzle romaine with a healthy option blue cheese yogurt dressing. Add bacon crumbles,  blue cheese and fresh black pepper.

Mini Turkey Sliders
20 ozs. ground turkey (do not buy turkey breast)
2 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
1 clove minced garlic
1 bunch fresh chopped basil
1 bunch fresh chopped oregano
fresh black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Shape into petite patties. On a medium hot grill, cook burgers for 3-4 minutes, per side, or until browned. Sandwich the burgers between dinner rolls or buns. Serve with small bowls or jars of ketchup, flavored mustards, flavored BBQ sauces, flavored pickles, onions and tomatoes.

Luxe File loves: Craving something sweet? Finish the evening with a heavenly dessert courtesy of Hot Chocolate's Executive Chef Mindy Segal. Here's one of our all-time favs.

Mindy Segal's Chocolate Souffle Tart
1 9-inch pie shell, homemade or store bought
5 ounces 64-percent dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350º. Bake pie shell until just golden around edges; about 12 minutes. Set aside. In a medium bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water.Combine chocolate and butter. Cook, stirring, until melted and combined; 5 to 8 minutes. Keep warm. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of sugar until frothy. Slowly beat in the remaining sugar and whip just until stiff peaks form. Fold the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture until partially combined. Fold into half of the white mixture. Add the remaining whites and fold until combined. Scoop the mixture into the pie shell; fill to the top of the shell. Bake until the pie doubles in size, has a crust on top, and is cake-like on the outside but still soft in the center; about 20 minutes.

Host/Hostess Attire: If any party deserves a hat parade - this is IT. Invite friends to don their derby hats, traditional southern dress, and award best “his and hers” Dapper Derby Day outfit.

Luxe File lovesLadies, take your positions! Stand out from the stylish crowd in a feathery, or flowery, crown by Jg Hats (pictured below).

Gents will look dandy in a seersucker suit and ascot. Not a southern gentleman? Get jiggy with madras pants and hit the mint juleps, hard. 

We also like this "Dressing For the Kentucky Derby" grooming illustration for guys, courtesy of the Art of Manliness website.

Derby Games and Prizes: I love to print off each of the horses, tape them onto straws and tuck them into cups for a good old-fashioned "Betting Window" (pictured below). Guests can place bets for first, second, third place. Have fun prizes ready to hand out to the winners.

Luxe File loves: Need creative prize ideas? Here are three: A dinner for two gift certificate to Derby Bar & Grill (first picture below), one of Chicago's oldest post-Prohibition bars with a cool Kentucky Derby vibe; a Swarovski crystal monogrammed riding crop (MEOW!); and anything from Hermès (second picture below).

Now sit back and linger over a sweet, mint-infused cocktail while the horses gallop by. Luxe File's money is on “Orb”, but don't quote us. We're just happy to have friends who know something about these things. 

Photo Credit:
Photos of "Loaded Mac and Cheese", "Mini Turkey Sliders", and "Betting Window" courtesy of Debi Lilly.

Dogs Play Cupid At Singles Yappy Hour

It’s a classic tale of unrequited love: boy meets girl in a dog park, boy falls for girl’s rambunctious Rottweiler, boy asks girl out, girl realizes boy likes her pooch way more than her, boy realizes too late he’s in the doghouse, girl breaks up with boy, boy asks for puppy visitation rights, girl asks for spare leash back.

The Perfect Mutt-tini. ¡Salud!

Whether you’re ready for a high-octane summer romance – or your dog is – then “Singles Yappy Hour” benefitting Chicago House is right up your alley. Starting at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, romantically-solo dog owners can mingle with fellow singles and their favorite, furry companions over canine-inspired bites and “Mutt-tini” cocktails on the pet-friendly patio at Sidetrack (3349 N. Halsted). We’ll leave the alpha pickup lines to you, stud.

Poochless in the city? Chicago Canine Rescue will be on-site to match the right breed for you. $20 donation at the door. All proceeds benefit Chicago House, which provides housing and support for people living with HIV and AIDS. RSVP now at:

Written by Sally Shorr