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A splash of something spirited 

Long Story Short

You know that one image that's ubiquitous to culinary features in the media, the one of the chef standing over a sauté pan of something just after he's doused it with a splash of wine or spirits, just as a plume of fire erupts toward the overhead hoods? The action shot that not-so-subtly says, "Yeah, I'm a badass, I ignite alcohol vapors for your amusement"?

That might be the extent to which many people associate cooking with hooch: the in-pan whiskey reduction or wine sauce for an impress-the-guests meal, or just for an open-kitchen restaurant crowd-pleaser. But with the explosion of the microbeer scene, more and more brews too have made their way out of chili pots and into other courses, from creative apps to desserts.

The potential for cooking with distilled and fermented goodies has never been so ripe as the present, with an unprecedented array of craft products inspiring multi-course meals on a weekly basis at fine dining outfits everywhere.

Which gets to our challenge to area chefs for this year's Dish guide, inserted into this week's Indy: to incorporate a beer, wine or spirit into a recipe of any sort, aimed at highlighting the liquid lovin'.

With the sommelier-and-cicerone-stocked restaurant world being one soaked in sauce, we knew our respondents would be up to the task. Now, we're relying on you to hit the bottle for a good cause. Cheers.

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