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G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Opener

For our bi-annual Men’s Issue, we’re introducing a guide to lifestyle essentials—a provision list of sorts. We enlisted the help of experts around the city (as well as looking to our own team of experts!) to give us tips and pointers to keep you well-informed and dapper as-ever. Read on to learn about the newest coffee brewing technique to navigating the Art Institute of Chicago like a pro. From morning, noon and night, this guide will keep you on the up and up. >>

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Chemex

Is the era of plug and brew over? We’re trading in our Mr.Coffee maker and bypassing the French press to introduce a utilitarian and architecturally sound piece of brew ware: The Chemex. We turned to our favorite coffee oasis, Caffe Streets, for tips and tricks on becoming friendly with this new piece of equipment. Opposed to a French press or pour over, the Chemex uses a thicker filter and has a single point of exit, which produces a lighter cup of coffee highlighting fruit notes.

Scott walks us through brewing the ultimate cup of joe with the Chemex:

“The first step is to weigh out your beans. A good amount of coffee for a Chemex split between two people is about 35 grams. After the beans are ready and ground to a medium coarseness, you will place the filter in the Chemex and wet it with a small amount of hot water to settle it in place and form a seal within the neck of the Chemex. Drop the grounds into the filter and pour around 50 grams of hot (roughly 205F) water on the grounds. This step is called the “bloom” and releases any carbon dioxide that’s still trapped in the beans from the roasting process. After approximately 60 seconds, you can begin the pour. There are many techniques for this, but one of the most common is to pour a very thin stream of water over the grounds in very small circles, about the size of a nickel. Pour around 525 grams of water continuously over the grounds, and wait until it all drops through the coffee. Remove the filter and voila! You have a freshly brewed Chemex.”

Chemex 8-cup Coffeemaker, $40 at Caffe Streets, 1750 W Division Street; CaffeStreets.com

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Dop Kit

Having a well-stocked dopp kit creates a reliable package of grooming essentials in one convenient place. Start your dopp kit with a great multitasking product like, Dr. Bronners, an all-natural soap that can be used for the body, face and hair. We also love Kiehl’s for lotions and night creams that are natural and great for most skin types. Other honorable mentions in building your dopp kit? a cologne that can take you from day to night, shaving gear and our personal favorite: Tom Ford Bronzing gel. With a small army of items, you’re grooming regimen will be fast and stylish—the perfect combo in our book.

TOP ROW: Weleda Skin Food, $19.95; Tom Ford Bronzing Gel, $48; Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap, $4—$24; Marvis Ginger Mint Toothpaste, $6. MIDDLE ROW: Pill Capsule, $3.99 and $6.99; Aqua di Parma Colonia Spray, $134; Piave Toothbrush available at Truefitt & Hill Kiehl’s Creme de Corps, $29.50; Jack Black Beard Lube, $17; Aqua di Parma Shaving Razor, $320. BOTTOM ROW: Nail Brush, $13; Jack Black Eye Balm Age Minimizing Gel, $24; Kiehl’s Lip Balm, $7; J. R. Liggetts Shampoo Bar, $5;  Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate Elixir, $46

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Shirt

Let’s get down to the basics. Chances are you’re wearing a collared shirt to work everyday, or at least the majority of days. For a garment getting daily wear it needs to be functional, quality and comfortable. A white and micro patterned collared shirt are necessities, according to Indochino’s Director of Merchandising, Tom Kearnan. Want some variation? Bonobos Shirt Designer Katie Boiano suggests adding collar variations to your basic white shirts. And we love the pale blue hue of the Boga shirt, which acts as a neutral—virtually going with anything. Look for quality and comfort in 100% cotton fabrics and small details. Boga shirts utilize sea island cotton, which is one of the rarest cottons in the world creating a silky-feel and breathability great for all seasons and with reinforced button holes, we’re talking durability day in and day out.

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Premium White Oxford Shirt, $159, by Indochino; The Americano Blue Floral Mini Gingham Shirt, $138, by Bonobos; Shale Blue Broadcloth Slim Fit Dress Shirt, $350, by Boga.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Avocado

We asked Jessica Murnane from One Part Plant to give us an easy, accessible and healthy power food that could take you from breakfast to lunch to snack. Cue the almighty avocado! Full of good fat, protein, potassium and other vitamins, this fruit is guaranteed to keep energy levels up and concentration stable. Toss half an avocado into a smoothie in the morning or keep one at your desk to slice open eat with a spoon. Jessica gives us a quick, healthy (and fun!) recipe to pack up the nutrients in your sack lunch.

SUSHI WRAP
“I think people get wrapped up (pun intended) on making pretty sushi rolls. But who says you have to cut them up and make them restaurant-worthy? Eat them burrito style. They are easier to transport and no chopsticks required!”

- A sheet of Nori
- A healthy serving of quinoa (great protein source)
- Long matchsticks of cucumber
- 1/2 avocado either diced or spread on wrap
- Splash of tamari or hot sauce (or both)

More tips from the pro: “Quinoa is even easier to make than rice. I like to make enough for the whole week for wraps and salads. But if you don’t have time to make it, grab some pre-made from a salad bar for the week or just for lunch the night before.”

Get more healthy eating + lifestyle picks at OnePartPlant.com.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Sprout Home

We know decorating may not be your forte—or heck, maybe you crush the interior decorating game!—but we think adding plants to your home and office can be beneficial aesthetically and mentally. We recruited Owner of Sprout Home Tara Heibel to weigh in on a fool-proof plant, or dare we say, a man plant. She recommends air plants and succulents as very low maintenance greens. Tara also is a big fan of Mother-in-law tongue for its ability to improve indoor air quality. “They [mother-in-law’s tongue] can also handle low filtered light and a considerable dry out time between waterings. Seems too good to be true.” Another reason we love airplants here at G&F; toss one, or three, in a small vase or decorative tray for an instant centerpiece. You’ve just upped the ante in your cubicle, son!

Plants, succulents and green goodness available at Sprout Home, 745 N Damen Avenue; SproutHome.com.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Paper

In a world of constant digital communication, between emails, texts and Facebook likes, it’s hard to make an impression. Having a great set of blank cards on hand is essential. Don’t forget the stamps, too! We stopped by Greer Chicago to pick out some our favorite amusing and heart-warming cards to inspire you to create sincere messages for all the special people in your life. Owner Chandra Greer gets us excited to start our new penning obsession about with her insights.

“What’s expressed is much more than words on paper; an email, while expeditious, cannot come close to the power of handwritten personal communication. Greer has a young customer base and one of our great joys is serving as a resource for socially and professionally-active correspondents who have the discretion to know when an email or text is appropriate and when it is not.” Pick up a some red & white baker’s twine too for last-minute stylish packaging.

Red and White Baker’s Twine, $0.15 per yard, by Twinery Maraschino; New York Hashtag notecards, $18.50 for a set of 6, and New York Motorcycle notecards, $22.50 for a set of 6, both by Terrapin Stationers; Portable Thank You Notes, $6.50 for a pack of 10, and Good Job Notes, $6.50 for a pack of 10, both by Greer Civilettes; A. Favorite Rock Quote notecards, $12.50 for a set of 6 assorted notes; Crocodile Embossed Leather Pen $32 by Retro 1951. All available at Greer Chicago, 1657 N Wells Street; GreerChicago.com.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Art Institute

If there is one place to know your way around, it’s the Art Institute. Free every Thursday from 5pm-8pm, the Art Institute serves as an urban oasis to decompress after a day of work, or impress on a first date. And they’re making it easier than ever to become an expert docent. Download the Art Institute App for interactive tours for mini one-hour tours to collection guides.

Skip cocktail hour after work and explore. And dare are we say this is the perfect place for a first date (with a stop at Terzo Piano for appertivo after a quick peek through the collections)? While the downloadable tours are great, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. We’ve picked a few of our favorites like Remington’s The Advance Guard (middle row left); Rosseau’s The Waterfall (bottom row right); and the Pony Skin Chaise Lounge (top row left).

Download the iTunes app here for full Art Institute Chicago tours.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Steak Chop Shop

What could possibly be more brawny than a thick piece of steak? Learning about different cuts of meat, grass-fed versus corn-fed and how to to cook meat properly can often get stressful. We think it’s essential to get to know your local butcher, because if someone is going to help you throw together a bomb dinner, it’s them! We enlisted the help of Michael Trotta from Wicker Park’s newest meat emporium, the Chop Shop, to tell us a little bit about the skirt steak, which he suggests is the easiest cut to to cook.

“It is flavorful, typically thin so it can cook quickly, and holds dry rubs and marinades very well. While there are many types of Wagyu and Kobe beef options, USDA Prime is your best indication of being a top cut of meat.” says Michael. And since summer is around the corner, he recommends grilling for best results. For a meatier cut, we’re all for the classic Fred Flinstone cut, the T-Bone. Our favorite preparation? Right on the grill, baby.

Skirt Steak, T-Bone Steak (pictured above) and more available at The Chop Shop, 2033 W North Avenue; ChopShopChi.com

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Glassware

We know you’ve been through dozens of cheap Ikea wine glasses, but it’s time to learn the art of stemware. Glassware can’t really change the taste of any alcohol, but instead stemware serves as a guide to our taste buds for certain aromas and flavors. The rim curvature of a glass will dictate which part of the mouth and tasting receptors the alcohol will hit. If we’re keeping to the basics, stick to larger glasses for red wine and smaller for white wines. For chilled wines, smaller glasses will preserve the cooler temperature of the liquid. From whiskey glasses to pints, see if you can experience your favorite booze in a new way (invite your friends over, too!).

Vineyard White Wine Glass $14.95, Vineyard Red Wine Glass $14.95, Vineyard 15oz Chardonnay Glass $14.95, Pint Tumbler with Crown $3.95, Spiegelau Wheat Beer Glass $12.95, Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner Glass $12.95, Rosa Sparkling Wine Glass $10.95. All items available at Crate & Barrel, 646 N Michigan Avenue; CrateandBarrel.com; Rocks glasses vintage.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Bar

Does your bar still resemble the collection of bottles that lived on top of your dorm room fridge? Ditch the Smirnoff and Jim Beam, Freddie Sarkas from River North’s Celeste gives us the ultimate bar cart list and recipes to build drinks of gentlemen.

MANHATTAN RECIPE
- 2 parts Rye Whiskey
- 1 part Sweet Vermouth
- 2 Dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a glass or unto ice.

NEGRONI
- 1 Part Plymouth Gin
- 1 Part Campari
- 1 Part Sweet Vermouth
Mix: Combine ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a glass or unto ice.

OLD FASHIONED
- 2 parts Spirit (You’re choice here. Whiskey or Tequila work well) + sugar cubes
- 2 Dashes Angostura
Mix: Start with Sugar and bitters in a mixing glass. Use a spoon to crush the sugar cube, then add ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into fresh glass.

PICTURED ABOVE: Hochstadter’s “Slow & Low” Rock & Rye Whiskey, $28.99; Angostura Aromatic Cocktail Bitters, $16.99; Justerini & Brooks Blended Scotch, $27.99; Monte Alban Mezcal Tequila, $26.99; Plymouth Gin, $32.99; Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Rouge, $19.99; All items available at Binny’s Beverage Depot, Binnys.com; Visit Celeste, 111 W. Hubbard Street; CelesteChicago.com.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Weekend Pack

With summer at our heels, it’s important to keep an arsenal of great, light travel gear at-the-ready when spontaneity calls. Classic packables are fool-proof and comfy, but don’t forget to have a little fun and show your personality in the details. Having a great pair of sandals, sneakers and casual shoes are your only needs abroad. Sunnies, sporty hat, leather belt and zip wallet are not required, but highly recommended for optimal leisure. Now what are you waiting for—impromptu vacay pronto!

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Shoes $44.95 by Vans; Oath Snapback Cap $28 by Brixton; Rico Chukka Boot $395 by Salvatore Ferragamo; Tropical Print Socks $12 by Happy Socks; Clubmaster Sunglasses 112.50 by Ray-Ban; Wallet $20 by Hershel Supply Company; Leather Belt, price upon request, by Diesel; Arizona sandal, $129.95, by Birkenstock; All available at Nordstrom, 55 E. Grand Avenue; Nordstrom.com.

G&F MENS ESSENTIALS_Skin prep

When it comes to winding down at night, your body needs a little TLC and not another round. With thousands of scrubs and lotions on the market (sometimes at very high price points), it’s nice to whip up a spa-like scrub with ingredients you already have in your kitchen. This peppermint scrub is great for the hands or body to soothe sore muscles, calm nerves and relieve stress.

Mix together 3 parts olive oil, 2 parts white sugar and a few (powerful!) drops of peppermint essential oil thoroughly. Scrub over hands and body. Close eyes and breathe in deeply for a moment of relaxation to get you ready for a good night’s sleep.

Want more G&F Men’s? See our Spring Fashion Editorial here.