Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants Share Killer Recipes for Sips and Desserts for Holiday Fare!

Combining seasonally-inspired dishes with expertly paired wines, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants gives guests the best in modern casual dining and one of the country’s largest wine clubs. Each Cooper’s Hawk location combines an outstanding dining experience coupled with a Napa-style tasting room and gift shop. The Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club offers members exclusive blends from Cooper’s Hawk’s own winery and members-only classes, parties and events. An award-winning producer of 50 varieties of wine, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants’ own winery offers a full range of thoughtful wines to pair and enjoy both in restaurant and at home.


This chain of winery/restaurants is primarily a mid-west phenomenon with restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia,
Wisconsin. The winery is located in Illinois. See below for the address!

Courtesy of Matt McMillin, Cooper’s Hawk is sharing a couple of recipes with us for you to test out at home. The best option is of course to buy the key ingredients like wines, jellies and more from the Cooper’s Hawk stores or website, so that you can get close to the in-restaurant experience.



Matt McMillin

Matt McMillin has helped define an award-winning path for Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants since 2010. With a focus on seasonally-inspired foods and their relationship to wine, McMillin has mastered a rich, culinary concept that is both sophisticated and unique.

Prior to Cooper’s Hawk, McMillin was a partner in Lettuce Entertain You for 15 years, opening a number of concepts including Big Bowl, Ben Pao, Mity Nice Grill, Shaw’s Crab House and Vong’s Thai Kitchen. He’s also worked with fine French restaurants like Carlos, Le Francais, and Café Provencal.
McMillin is also recognized as
–co-author of the book, Big Bowl Noodles and Rice;
–as a judge on the Thanksgiving edition of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown
–as a chef/influencer in numerous local and national cooking segments.
Chef McMillin is a graduate of Kendall College where he received the Escoffier Award for Culinary and Academic Excellence


Chef McMillin has been generous in sharing some superb recipes with us for your use.

Cranberry Sangriacranberry-(1)



Cranberry Simple Syrup: (Yield 1 1/2 cups)
6oz Cranberries
1 Cup Water
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise
3 Cloves
½ tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1. In a stainless steel pot, dissolve sugar in water and add cinnamon stick, star anise and ground clove.
Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
2. Pour mixture over the cranberries, add vanilla, and allow to cool to room temp then place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
3. In the morning, strain cranberries and remove cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves.
Place syrup and cranberries in separate containers.

Each Glass of Cranberry Sangria:


6oz Cooper’s Hawk Cranberry Sangria
1 TBL Cointreau
½ TBL Cranberry Simple Syrup 
1 Squeeze of Lime
1 Slice Each, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Apple
5 Reserved Cranberries (in glass or on a skewer)
1 oz Club Soda

Fill Glass with ice
Pour in Cooper Hawk Cranberry Sangria and Cointreau into glass and stir gently
Pour in Cranberry Simple Syrup along with squeeze of lime and stir again
Add in fruit slices and cranberries
Top with club soda and stir till blended!



Lemon Pound Cake with Riesling Poached Plums and Whipped Ricotta
Serves 10




6oz Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
4 Whole Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1/4 Cup Whole Milk
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Lemon, Zested
3 tsp Crystal Sugar

1. Place softened butter and sugar in an electric mixing bowl. With the paddle attachment, mix the 2 ingredients on medium speed until fluffy.
2. Mix for approximately 2-3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Mix for an additional 30 seconds.
3. While mixing, combine dry ingredients (AP Flour, Baking Powder, Salt) in a bowl and mix with a whisk.
4. Add the dry mix to the whipped butter and sugar, and mix on slow speed for 10 seconds just to slightly incorporate.
5. With the mixer on slow speed, add eggs one at a time until incorporated.
6. Add the vanilla, milk, sour cream, and lemon zest. Proceed to mix on slow speed until all the ingredients are combined. Scrape the bowl to ensure that all ingredients are combined
7. Butter a loaf pan well and dust with flour on all sides.
8. Scrape batter into loaf pan, spreading the mix evenly in the pan. Sprinkle the crystal sugar evenly over the top of cake batter.
9. Bake in a pre-heated oven, 350 deg. F for approximately 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes. Check for doneness using a skewer. Insert the skewer into the poundcake, and when it comes out clean, it is ready.
10. Remove from the oven and allow the poundcake to cool for 30 minutes prior to removing from the pan. Transfer to rack to fully cool to room temperature. Should Cool fully before slicing. Slice in 10 even slices.

Poached Pluots or Plums:
• 2 lbs Pluots, or plums, split in half and pitted


• 2 Cups Cooper’s Hawk Riesling
• ¾ Cup Sugar
• zest strips of 1/2 Orange
• sprig of thyme
Combine Riesling, sugar, and orange in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add pluots or plums in a single layer (poach in batches according to how many your saucepan can hold) and poach until your desired softness (usually about 5-10 min.) Set aside to cool. Strain & reserve poaching liquid. Slice the plum halves in 1/3rds.

Whipped Ricotta:

10 oz Whole Milk Ricotta
• 2 TBL Powdered Sugar
• ½ TBL Honey
• 1/4 Lemon Zested
• 1/4 Orange, Zested
• 1 Pinch Kosher Salt
• 1/4 tsp fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
• 1 TBL Cup Heavy Cream

Measure all ingredients accordingly, and place in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk together until light and airy.
Place one slice of lemon pound cake in the center of a plate.

Place 4-5 pieces of plums over the cake, followed by a few tablespoons of the Riesling poaching liquid to moisten cake and over the plums.

Finish with a dollop of the lemon ricotta cream.

Thanks to Cooper’s Hawk Winery/Restaurants and Chef Matt McMillin for these fabulous recipes!

Winery: 430 E. Plainfield Road Countryside, IL 60525

For locations, visit

Stevie Wilson,

Q&A – Disruptive Road to Market: Cooper’s Hawk and Buena Vista Winery Collaboration


Disruptive Road to Market: Cooper’s Hawk and Buena Vista Winery Collaboration

The restaurant/winery reaches its consumers through innovative channels.

With more and more products available in a wider variety of flavors, food and beverage manufacturers find themselves charting new ways to stay competitive and reach their customers. Cooper’s Hawk CEO and founder Tim McEnery has done just that in creating his casual-dining restaurant and winery combination that also offers a tasting room and retail shop.

Over the last two decades, wine’s popularity has exploded in the US, bringing more styles and titles to the shopper, while creating a buzz and likely some confusion. What Cooper’s Hawk does is simplify the complicated wine world by offering customers wine tastings of their in-house selection and a membership to a wine of the month club. At this time, its wines are only available in Cooper’s Hawk’s tasting rooms and restaurants.

Cooper’s Hawk first opened in Orland Park, Ill. in 2005 and now have expanded to 24 locations throughout Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin with five additional units slated for construction through 2017. The winery partners with grape growers around the world to produce the Cooper’s Hawk wine collection. The company is also home to one of the country’s largest wine clubs, which has just surpassed 200,000 members.  To celebrate this milestone, Cooper’s Hawk introduced a collaboration wine produced through a partnership with Buena Vista Winery, which is California’s oldest winery and one of the first new world wineries in the country.

The following is a Q&A with Tim McEnery of Cooper’s Hawk:

Q: How have you been able to cultivate a following of your wines?

A: At Cooper’s Hawk, it’s our philosophy to create an environment that excites and educates our guests. Our concept is unique – each dish in our restaurant is listed with a bin number to guide a wine match made in our own private winery, allowing guests to experience a perfectly paired wine with their meal.

Our Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club is an all-inclusive membership where members not only receive our winemaker’s newly released wine each month, but also enjoy invitations to members-only events, exclusive discounts, points on purchases, birthday rewards, and our Wine Club Newsletter with information on new wines, special events and great recipes.

Q: How significant have the tasting room and wine club been to reaching your customers? 

A: The tasting room is a key aspect of the Cooper’s Hawk experience. It provides a one-on-one dialogue with the tasting room guides, enabling guests to try classic domestic varietals as well as those from wine regions across the world – all at a reasonable price point.  The tasting room allows guests to try new types of wine before they commit to ordering a full glass or bottle and provides guests a glimpse of the wines crafted exclusively for Wine Club members.  Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club members are drawn to experiential aspects of our brand.  Each month, Cooper’s Hawk releases an exclusive wine for our Wine Club members — offering unique varietals that are not part of our standard wine list and people wouldn’t search out, so we bring different varietals to help solidify the relationship.

Q: Describe your process of working with grape growers. How does Cooper’s Hawk go about selecting them and decide on the types of wine to make?

A: We understand that the best fruit produces the best wine and our relationships with top growers throughout the country allows us to source from regions only where growing conditions have been ideal. Cooper’s Hawk benefits from not owning our own vineyard or buying from one large supplier. We are selective and buying the very best fruits from areas where seasonal conditions have resulted in the year’s most outstanding varietals, giving us the ability to consistently produce award-winning wines.  Grape growers who want to partner with us will send us samples – which we then analyze to determine the overall quality, focusing on the flavors and structures.  We also put emphasis on ensuring their values align with ours – whether we work well together, will they support the styles of wine we like to produce.  Another factor is the varietals. Each varietal grows best in different climates and regions — and we will focus our selections in the areas in which they grow best to get the best possible quality.

Our winemaker and his team look for inspiration from around the world for the types of wine to produce, as well as through crowd-sourcing. Our winemaker, Rob Warren, seeks out guest-feedback on what wines are most enjoyed, by reading comments on social media, reviews, and by talking with our Wine Club members about various wine blends and flavor profiles. For example, our winemaker was inspired by a popular Spanish-blend “Tempranillo Merlot” and sought after the best vineyards in the US for these varietals.  This allows us to introduce our wine club members to a wine that you cannot purchase at any liquor store.

Q: Is this the first collaboration with a winery? What was the strategic decision to collaborate with Buena Vista?

A: Cooper’s Hawk has partnered in the past with well-known chefs to produce a wine blend, such as Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani, but this was Cooper’s Hawk’s first collaboration blend with a winery. Driven by a shared passion for excellence, this collaboration united the New-World approach of Cooper’s Hawk with the iconic flair of Jean-Charles Boisset and his esteemed Buena Vista Winery.

Buena Vista Winery is known for bold, personality-rich wines and a wealth of winemaking history as California’s first premium winery, founded in 1857. As a scene leader in the wine world, Jean-Charles has brought an outstanding energy to this historic winery ever since Boisset Collection purchased the winery with a vision for the future in 2011.

Q: Do you envision having more collaborative efforts with other wineries in the future?

A: We look forward to it—we love brining our Wine Club members exclusive access to wines from some of the most creative minds in food and wine. In addition, this gives us an opportunity to offer members more benefits through partner winery tastings, tours and experiences.

Get a Taste of Napa Valley When Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant Debuts in Coconut Creek

Bottles on bottles

by Olee Fowler@oleefowler 
Aria Group Architects

If you don’t want to take a trip to the West Coast to get your hands on some Napa Valley wines, now you don’t have to.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, a concept inspired by the popular wine region in Northern California, is opening its door in Coconut Creek come December 5 at The Promenade at Coconut Creek at 4473 Lyons Road.

The 14,279-square-foot-space will feature four different parts a restaurant with a full bar, private dining room, a “Napa-style tasting room” and a retail market.

The extensive menu features everything from pasta, to enchiladas, to burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, soups, salads and more. Of course there is plenty of vino on the menu, including the company’s own Cooper’s Hawk varietals.

The wine theme continues into the restaurant space, including a textured cork wall in the bar and artwork created from reclaimed barrels. The restaurant will open at 11 a.m. daily and close at 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Full article:

Restaurant and winery Cooper’s Hawk to open its first South Florida location

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is slated to open Dec. 5 at The Promenade at Coconut Creek. It will be the brand’s first South Florida location.

The Napa Valley-inspired eatery will debut at 4473 Lyons Road with a full bar, private dining room and an artisan retail market. Each item on the restaurant’s menu is also listed with a preferred wine pairing, and the chain’s popular dishes include its soy ginger salmon, chicken Giardiniera, Asian pork belly toastadas and Mexican drunken shrimp. Cooper’s Hawk also features a large wine club with perks including monthly wines.

Cooper’s Hawk


“We’re thrilled to be a part of Coconut Creek’s exciting growth,” said Cooper’s Hawk CEO and founder Tim McEnery. “We think being perfectly positioned between the sophistication of Boca Raton and excitement of Fort Lauderdale should allow us to serve the area well. There’s a lot of momentum that we see in the Coconut Creek area and we look forward to being a part of it.”

Cooper’s Hawk in Coconut Creek will seat up to 380 people, including 40 seats in its private barrel room. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m. and close at 9 pm. on weekdays, 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and 9 p.m. on Sundays.

According to its website, the brand has another South Florida location planned in Doral. In total, Cooper’s Hawk has 24 locations throughout Illinois, Florida, Indian, Missouri, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin. There are five more planned through 2017.

Full article:

Buena Vista, California’s Oldest Premium Winery Partners with Cooper’s Hawk, a New Generation of Wine Lovers

Two innovators partner to create one great wine

“Working with Buena Vista Winery and Jean-Charles has been one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in winemaking.


Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, a leader in modern casual dining is known for their award winning wines and home of the largest wine club in America. Today, they are excited to announce their latest collaboration with Buena Vista, California’s oldest winery and one of the first new world wineries in the country. The yearlong project comes at a momentous time for Cooper’s Hawk as they celebrate their 200,000 wine club member milestone this month.

The partnership between the wineries produced the 11th Anniversary Cooper’s Hawk “Collaboration” wine, which celebrates the combined innovation of two wineries – both committed to bringing a dynamic energy to the wine industry. Jean-Charles Boisset, President of Buena Vista Winery, best known for his family’s deep roots in crafting European wine, embodies the best of old and new world wine. Tim McEnery, CEO and founder of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, is the face of a new generation of wine enthusiasts. Together, they crafted a wine that honors California’s tradition of bold, full-bodied wines. “Collaboration” is a rich, deep wine loaded with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, plum and baking spices. It has firm and well-rounded tannins and an exceptionally long finish that can stand up to any beef dish. Although balanced to drink now, this blend will age well for another four to six years. Cooper’s Hawk will bottle 15k cases of wine as their 11th Anniversary Wine of the Month this October.

Tim McEnery shared, “Working with Buena Vista Winery and Jean-Charles has been one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in winemaking. The historical significance of Buena Vista and its 150 year-old tradition is awe-inspiring. I’m honored to be able to bottle the experience and share it with our Wine Club. The Club has helped chart our course in winemaking, and I am confident that our members will embrace the addition of a classic California wine.”

Buena Vista Winery was founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy upon realizing the great potential in Sonoma for world-class wine. He went on to create the first gravity flow winery, excavated the first wine cave and brought in over 200 different varietals from Europe in an effort to create the best wine. From then, he began to call himself The Count of Buena Vista to celebrate his commitment to California wine. In 2011, Buena Vista became part of the Boisset Collection, a producer and importer of fine wines based in Burgundy, France. President, Jean-Charles Boisset was touched by the historical importance of Buena Vista and California’s wine region and has continued to uphold the vision that Count Agoston Haraszthy shared some 150 years ago. Jean-Charles has been recognized for his outstanding contribution to the wine community and has received honors from The French America Foundation, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Meiningers, Decanter Magazine and more.

Jean-Charles Boisset was quoted, “Collaboration is what makes the wine world vibrate and brings a transcendental vision to people’s emotional style, taste and senses. Bringing history and the future together allowed us to re-imagine the wine world. I’m incredibly grateful to Tim and his team, who added another dimension of imagination and inspiration to Buena Vista’s style. The influence and joy shared in crafting this wine will certainly be enjoyed by the Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club. This wine is about power and a vortex of energy that has never been felt before. Together we toast to the future of Tim and his team at Cooper’s Hawk and to collaboration at large.”

The collaboration between Cooper’s Hawk and Buena Vista will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 27 at Danada House in Wheaton, Illinois from 6:30-9:30pm. Cooper’s Hawk wine club members will enjoy an inspired menu compliments of Cooper’s Hawk Chef Matt McMillin served alongside thoughtful pairings from both wineries. The evening will feature a few surprises including a “fireside chat” with Cooper’s Hawk Founder Tim McEnery and Buena Vista President Jean-Charles Boisset. Both will share personal stories about their adventures in wine making and experience working together. Each guest will leave with a bottle of wine signed by both McEnery and Boisset.

Buena Vista Winery is California’s first premium winery; it was founded in 1857 by Hungarian immigrant Agoston Haraszthy, the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista.” Possessing a deep regard for the significance of Buena Vista’s place in California wine history, Jean-Charles Boisset purchased Buena Vista in April 2011 and added the winery to the Boisset Collection. Today, Boisset has returned Buena Vista Winery to its original glory with the complete restoration and re-opening of the historic property. The wines are achieving new heights under Winemaker Brian Maloney and Consulting Winemaker David Ramey. Buena Vista Winery is located at 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma, CA. For more information, please visit

Cooper’s Hawk is a unique combination of restaurant, winery, Napa-style tasting room, and artisanal retail market. The concept partners with some of the best grape growers in the world to craft the Cooper’s Hawk wine collection, winner of nearly 400 awards. Cooper’s Hawk is home to the country’s largest Wine Club, a member club offering exclusive wines, events, and privileges. Helmed by CEO/Founder Tim McEnery, Cooper’s Hawk was first opened in Orland Park, Illinois in 2005. Operations have since expanded to 24 locations throughout Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and Wisconsin, with five additional units slated for construction through 2017.

Full article available –

50 Best Restaurants 2016

If you’re a wine lover, this is the place for you. Dozens of wines from the Illinois winery are available to sample. But the focus is also on the food to pair with your wine. The upscale chain restaurant — the first in Maryland — carefully includes bin numbers of bottles to complement each dish. We were pleased with the quality of our dishes, from the Asian pork-belly tostadas and Mexican drunken shrimp wrapped in bacon to a soy-ginger salmon and the superb short-rib risotto. And don’t go home empty handed. There’s an onsite tasting room and gift shop. (Baltimore Sun Best Restaurants 2016)

Full article available

How Cooper’s Hawk Cultivates Customer Loyalty While Making Wine and Food Easy

How Cooper’s Hawk Cultivates Customer Loyalty While Making Wine and Food Easy

How Cooper’s Hawk Cultivates Customer Loyalty While Making Wine and Food Easy

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Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants has some of the most loyal fans. In addition to offering its own wines with its New American cuisine, the upscale-dining chain also operates one of the country’s largest wine clubs.

Members tend to be highly loyal because they receive more than just monthly wine deliveries. They can attend exclusive tasting events and even travel around the world for wine experiences with Cooper’s Hawk staff acting as guides.

How did a chain of 24 locations build such a passionate following in 11 years? Its success stems from the original vision: to provide guests with a memorable, easy-to-enjoy experience with wine and food.

Food Made For Wine

Cooper’s Hawk founder/CEO Tim McEnery, who has a background in restaurant management, recalls his initial inspiration for the business in 2002. He was at a winery for a tasting one evening with his wife Dana. “While enjoying a wine tasting, we searched the nearby area for restaurant reservations and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to eat and continue drinking this wine?’” he remembers.

At the time, “Many wineries had small, limited menus and through research, I didn’t find any connected to a full-service restaurant,” he adds. Three years later, McEnery, then 29, opened the first Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Orland Park, IL, where the company is now headquartered.

Cooper’s Hawk today counts locations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. A Coconut Creek, FL, location is scheduled to open in November; four to five additional units are slated for 2017.

The brand’s focus remains on making wine-and-food pairings approachable and understandable. All locations include large, onsite tasting rooms (922 sq. ft. on average), plus menus that pair each plate with a specific wine.

Private-Label Wines

Cooper’s Hawk sells its wines in its restaurants and tasting rooms, and directly to members of the wine club. None of the bottles are distributed to outside businesses. “We’re basically the wine version of a brew pub,” says winemaker Rob Warren.


Cooper’s Hawk sells its wines in its restaurants and tasting rooms, and directly to members of the wine club.


Founder/CEO Tim McEnery was inspired to start Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants in 2002 after realizing that no wineries were connected to a full-service restaurant.

The company does not grow its own grapes; it buys them from about 20 west coast wineries and trucks them to a 32,000-sq.-ft. facility in Countryside, IL. Cooper’s Hawk will bring in international vineyards for special bottlings a few times each year. These might include malbec from Argentina, sangiovese from Italy, and varietals from New Zealand and Australia.

McEnery and Warren select the wineries for these bottlings, and are heavily involved in the process. Warren oversees production of about 425,000 cases of Cooper’s Hawk wine a year. His wines typically age for six to 18 months in oak barrels.

Partner vineyards are selectively chosen for their regions, the structures and aromatics of their grapes, production capabilities and their attitudes. “We’re very persnickety. We want to be in control of our grapes once we get them, and that’s a passion we want to share with the venues we chose,” Warren explains. “When you tour a vineyard and meet the people there, you can tell pretty quickly how much they really care about what they’re doing.”

Once a winery is onboard, its harvested grapes are loaded into refrigerated trucks and driven to Cooper’s Hawk’s facility. Fruit usually arrives two to three weeks after harvest; it’s then destemmed, crushed, fermented, aged, blended and bottled.

Wide Range Of Varietals

The many styles Cooper’s Hawk produces run the gamut. From sparkling rosé, prosecco and moscato, to sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and gewürztraminer, to pinot noir, shiraz and petite syrah. All these and more are available in the restaurants by the glass for $6.50 to $8.75, and by the bottle for $25.99 to $30.99.

For dessert, Cooper’s Hawk makes Ice Wine ($9.50 for a glass, $37.99 for a 375-ml. bottle) and Nightjar, a port-style wine ($8 a glass; $27.99 a bottle). There are also lux offerings for those who want premium pours, including the Lux sparkling ($9.50 a glass, $37.99 a bottle) and the Lux pinot noir ($13 a glass; $47.99 a bottle).

Balanced Experiences

Winemaker Warren and Matt McMillin, vice president of culinary and beverage innovation, collaborate on the seasonally changing Cooper’s Hawk menus. McMillin and Warren systematically match every dish with a specific wine identified on the menu by its BIN number.

When pairing food and wine, they consider how many times each bottle appears on the menu. They try to get all the wines involved; any that have recently received awards or accolades are sure to be featured.

One recommended menu pairing (pictured atop) is the red-wine-braised short ribs with mustard sauce, Mary’s potatoes, roasted vegetables and crispy onion strings ($24.99) with the Cooper’s Hawk cabernet zinfandel ($8.75 a glass; $30.99 a bottle).

“The spiciness of the zin and the tannins of the cab cut through the fatiness of the short ribs,” Warren notes. “Food tastes better with that balance, that synergy. The whole becomes better than the parts.”

Another suggested match is the gnocchi carbonara with pancetta, chicken, sage and peas in a parmesan garlic cream sauce ($18.99) with the Cooper’s Hawk Lux chardonnay ($10.50 a glass; $37.99 a bottle). An Italian family business in Chicago makes the gnocchi and ships it frozen to Cooper’s Hawk locations.


Another suggested match is the gnocchi carbonara with pancetta, chicken, sage and peas in a parmesan garlic cream sauce ($18.99) with the Cooper’s Hawk Lux chardonnay ($10.50 a glass; $37.99 a bottle).

“The rich, creamy, buttery sauce and the chardonnay is a match made in heaven,” McMillin says. “Like any pairing, the key is balance.”

Having now worked together for six years at Cooper’s Hawk, McMillin and Warren say that they can anticipate each other’s pairings when creating new dishes or wines.

“I’ll recall a cauliflower purée dish and tell him that I’m thinking of doing a new take on it, and he’ll already have the perfect wine pairing in mind,” McMillin says. “There’s not as much guesswork anymore.”

Cocktails With A Twist

While the main focus is wine, Cooper’s Hawk also offers beer and boasts an extensive cocktail menu. Updated once or twice a year, the list includes 11 Martinis and a dozen craft cocktails.

“Not everyone drinks wine,” McMillin says. “Or they may want to start their meal off with a cocktail before switching to wine. So our goal is to deliver as good of an experience with our cocktails as we would with our wine and food.”

Cooper’s Hawk pours fresh juices and makes its own mixes from scratch. The chain uses craft-level spirits in its drinks (though it does stock well spirits), and frequently incorporates its wine into the cocktails. “We like to do really simple cocktails that are straightforward with a slight twist,” McMillin explains.

For instance, the Cooper’s Hawk Margarita ($10) is made with Cazadores reposado tequila, triple sec, sour, passion fruit and sparkling wine. The Bin 61 Sour ($9.50) mixes Woodford Reserve bourbon, lemon sour and the Nightjar port. Jen’s French Martini ($11.25) uses with Effen vodka, Chambord black raspberry liqueur and sparkling wine.


The Cooper’s Hawk Margarita ($10) is made with Cazadores reposado tequila, triple sec, sour, passion fruit and sparkling wine.

The Margarita is a top seller, McMillin adds, and a good representation of how Cooper’s Hawk approaches cocktails. “It comes down to the balance,” he explains. “You have fresh-squeezed lime juice and tequila of a good quality. We finish it off with our blanc de blanc and passion fruit.” The cocktail “has that exotic flavor and aroma without being too strange.”

Join The Club

Launching a wine club was always part of the Cooper’s Hawk plan. “It gives us an opportunity to offer perks and create loyalty with members,” explains McEnery.

The club now boasts about 200,000 members, who each month receive one to two bottles of Cooper’s Hawk wine, depending on the plan they purchase.

There are four options: Variety members get alternating red and white wine varietals; subscribers of the Red Club or White Club receive just those types,; and members of the Sweet Club receive only sweet wines.

Members who live near a Cooper’s Hawk location can pick up bottles in person for $18.99 or $35.99 each month, for one or two bottles, respectively. (The Sweet Club wines are $16.99 to $31.99). Wines can also be shipped for monthly dues of $79.99 to $139.99.

The wine club began with basic offerings, Warren says, and evolved organically. Now members can get unique blends and varietals, such as chenin blanc viognier or syrah petite sirah.

Other offerings may include collaborations like a wine project with Buena Vista Winery, the oldest premium winery in California, or Cooper’s Hawk’s interpretation of familiar blends such as GSM or BDX (Bordeaux-style blend).


“Everything we do is about creating value,” explains Matt McMillin. “These clubs and events all keep people connected and make superfans out of guests.”

Wine Events

The wine club members also receive regular invitations to special events and tastings, points towards Cooper’s Hawk rewards, and invitations for Wine Club trips that take fans across the globe.

The special events include higher-end pairing dinners, which plate five-to-six dishes alongside pours from the Cooper’s Hawk lux line of wine. A recent dinner featuring chef Emily Ellyn paired a farmer’s market salad with viognier, home-made ricotta-taleggio ravioli with barbera and strawberry rhubarb meringue tarlets with rhubarb wine.These events also enable the company to seek feedback from their fans on any new foods and wines.

“Everything we do is about creating value,” explains McMillin. “These clubs and events all keep people connected and make superfans out of guests.”

Wine club members can also have access to Cooper’s Hawk executives. “Rob talks directly with Wine Club members on a regular basis. Some of them travel all over the world and send photos to me,” McMillin says. “And they’re also inviting their friends into the wine club,” he adds.

McMillin recalls a particular Wine Club trip that came to influence others that followed. He was in Portugal with about 20 members staying on a mountainside hotel.

After a group activity, guests had the options of returning to the hotel and then heading out on their own for dinner, or having McMillin and his staff procure local wine and food for an impromptu mountainside picnic. Everyone chose the latter.

Word of the resulting dinner circulated through the wine-club membership. Now the trips typically include a similar, spur-of-the-moment group activity. “It speaks to the fabric of what we do,” McMillin says. “We create entertaining experiences that people remember and crave.”

Educating the Whole Team

The servers at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants must be well versed with the wines to provide a high level of service and engaging customer experience. Warren explains that many staff are Cooper’s Hawk superfans themselves, making them proficient with wines on the menu if guests have questions.

Our staffers education goes beyond mere passion: Servers and tasting-room attendants sample Cooper’s Hawk wines every day before the lunch and dinner shifts. These “community meetings” take place in each restaurant, and focus on wine-of-the-month offerings, their chef-pairing recommendations and other current specials. “Our staff are always thinking about wine and food pairings,” says McMillin.

It’s not just servers that benefit from a wine education, however. The Cooper’s Hawk offices, or “restaurant support center” as its called, also hold community meetings once a month. At some, Warren will lead participants through tastings, working his way through all the departments.

“That way, everyone understands a little bit better about what everyone else does here at Cooper’s Hawk,” Warren explains.

Encouraging Experimentation

Wine-centric customers today love to explore, McEnery says.Millennials in particular have a world view on international wines, along with an increased openness to different wines and wine education, he notes.

Cooper’s Hawk plays into this curiosity and experimentation by presenting guests with multiple opportunities to taste different bottles.

Servers will pour a sample by request for guests in the restaurant, ensuring that what they order matches their palate’s preference. And for the adventurous or curious drinker, Cooper’s Hawk offers six different wine flights.

On the current menu, the sparkling flight ($13.99) consists of blanc de blanc, sparkling rosé, almond and raspberry wines (a chardonnay base with flavoring); the white flight ($13.99) is sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, Cooper’s Hawk White, and chardonnay; the red flight ($14.99) is sangiovese, zinfandel, petite sirah, and cabernet sauvignon; the lux ($18.99) is lux chardonnay, lux pinot noir, lux cabernet sauvignon and lux meritage; and a dessert flight ($12.99) comes with rhubarb, sweet red, raspberry and blueberry wines.


The red wine flight ($14.99) is sangiovese, zinfandel, petite sirah, and cabernet sauvignon.

Guests can also create their own flight of four wines for $15.99. “Every time I’m in a restaurant, I always see a few people ordering flights,” Warren says. “It gives people the opportunity to experiment with wines and food.”

Which plays into something Warren believes is at the heart of Cooper’s Hawk: consumer education.

“We try to provide as wonderful a learning experience as possible for people,” he  says. “And we try to be as unintimidating about it as possible.”

That means offering as much education as guests want “and providing as many samples as we can,” Warren says. “That’s something that you can’t get at any wine shop.”

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Cooper’s Hawk at Liberty Center: Wine, Dine, and Unwind

Cooper’s Hawk at Liberty Center: Wine, Dine, and Unwind

When you think of fun, creative ideas for an intimate date night, wining and dining may not be the first thing that comes to mind. The brand new Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant at Liberty Center, however, just might change your opinion.

Cooper’s Hawk is a national chain with internationally recognized wines; in fact, their Lux Pinot Noir just won an impressive 99 points at an international wine competition in California. Yet, the Cooper’s Hawk location in Liberty Center has a local flair and intimate atmosphere that make the experience feel like more than just dinner — it feels like something special. In other words, it makes for a perfect date destination.Cooper's Hawk Tasting Room Liberty Center

Immediately upon entering, you find yourself in the tasting room, which makes it clear that the focus at Cooper’s Hawk is on wine (they even offer a number of retail items, which all compliment the wine lifestyle in some way). I was greeted by a wine attendant named, Jasmine, who was friendly, knowledgeable and offered great suggestions based on my personal tastes. I started with a Blanc de Blanc, which was a good way to get acclimated with what Cooper’s Hawk has to offer. The real star of the evening, however, was the Lux Pinot Noir — it just may be one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted in my life.Wine at Cooper's Hawk

Best of all, Cooper’s Hawk offers wine tastings that make for a fun, highly interactive date idea whether you and your date are already wine aficionados or are just now getting into it. Tastings consist of up to eight 1-ounce pours of a variety of wines, and attendants are trained to ask questions and give suggestions that will tailor the experience to your preferences. The selection of wines also changes every month, making this an excellent destination for a return date in the future.

Cooper's Hawk Bar at Liberty Center

While Cooper’s Hawk is a winery at heart, it also has a lot to offer even if you or your date do not like wine. The restaurant keeps a variety of beers from local breweries on tap, and also has an innovative cocktail list featuring specialties such as the Back Porch Lemon Tea.

Most important of all, of course, is the food. One of the first things you notice about the food is how much care is put into it, in both preparation and taste. Cooper’s Hawk features a scratch kitchen, and as soon as my appetizers were set on the table, I could definitely tell.

Asian Pork Belly Tostadas at Cooper's Hawk

My personal favorite was the Gnocchi Carbonara, but the award-winning Asian Pork Belly Tostadas (pictured above) were also excellent. And what’s a date without dessert? The restaurant also features a fully stocked truffle case with all kinds of sweets (made fresh daily) to serve as the perfect end cap to a date night.

Desserts at Cooper's Hawk

One of the best parts about Cooper’s Hawk is its location in the Liberty Center, which puts it in walking distance from just about anything you could want on a date. Liberty Center also features a number of events — including live music on Thursday nights, a farmer’s market on Fridays and a Funny Bone Comedy Club, which is open on the weekends — that help to make Cooper’s Hawk either a great destination for your entire date or the perfect way to kick your night off.Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant at Liberty Center

Overall, I give Cooper’s Hawk at Liberty Center a $$ for price and ♥♥♥ for romance. Regardless of your experience level with wine, the restaurant’s delicious food, intimate atmosphere and local flair make it a promising date night destination for both wine aficionados and newbies alike.

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These 10 up-and-coming restaurant chains are taking over America

Everyone knows the names of the biggest restaurant chains in America — McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell. But there’s a pack of up-and-comers ready to take their place.

On Tuesday, Nation’s Restaurant News released its annual Next 20 list, ranking restaurants on the edge of breaking into — and potentially taking over — the restaurant industry. Chains are ranked in terms of US systemwide sales and make the list if they aren’t among the 200 largest restaurant chains in America by systemwide sales, but are still brands that consumers need to know.

These 10 brands are on the cusp of a breakthrough:

2. Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

Systemwide sales in US: $147.9 million (+26.30%)
US locations: 20 (+11.11%)

The wine-centric chain has figured out how to find its niche in the casual dining industry, producing 50 wines and 15 specialty blends. It also has a wine of the month club, with discounts and wine trips.

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The Next 20: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant Casual-dining brand targets wine lovers with tasting room, retail shop

Cooper’s Hawk offers a full menu with suggested wine pairings and also sells its own branded wine retail.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants isn’t so much a casual-dining concept as it is a lifestyle chain for wine lovers.

The Countrywide, Ill.-based concept surged again in the Latest Year, putting it high in the Next 20, and on the cusp of the Nation’s Restaurant News Top 200 largest restaurant chains in the country.

Domestic systemwide sales at Cooper’s Hawk rose 26.3 percent, to $147.9 million, in the Latest Year.

Unit count rose 11.1 percent, to 20 locations, all of them large, high-volume operations: Estimated sales per location rose 6.4 percent in the Latest Year, to $7.8 million.

Tim and Dana McEnery opened the first Cooper’s Hawk in Orland Park, Ill., in 2005, combining a winery and restaurant with a Napa-style tasting room where customers can sample the brand’s own wines.


The menu of wine-friendly fare includes such dishes as blackened ahi tuna, above, braised short rib and gnocchi bolognese. Photo: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

“There’s so much competition in this industry,” Tim McEnery said in 2010. The winery “does separate us from the average upscale-casual restaurant, as does the diversification of our revenue streams with the wine tasting room and the retail portion.” 

The chain makes its own wine at a production facility in Countryside. The winery produces 50 wines that are sold in Cooper’s Hawk restaurants. It also has a Wine of the Month Club, whose members can receive a bottle of wine each month and discounts on wine purchases for a monthly fee.

While Cooper’s Hawk is known for its wine, it’s still a restaurant. On the menu are dishes like short rib risotto, pistachio-crusted grouper and gnocchi bolognese with braised short rib. It also offers lunch entrées, sandwiches and salads.

The menu, of course, recommends what wines pair best with each item.

Keys to Success

The winery: No large-scale chain does wine quite the way Cooper’s Hawk does. The company’s production facility in Illinois makes wine and ships it across the country, with 50 wines and as many as 15 specialty blends.

Retailing: Cooper’s Hawk has a significant retail business. Its restaurants include Napa-style tasting rooms where customers can sample from a rotating selection of wines. It also has a Wine of the Month Club, where customers can get a bottle of wine a month and discounts for a monthly fee.

Patience: Cooper’s Hawk has been a hot name in the restaurant business for years, but has kept a patient approach to expansion, adding locations as real estate becomes available. That has ensured strong, steady growth for years.

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