What do you get when you combine a bit of Hugh Laurie, a dollop of Dr. House, shake with a hearty portion of charity and serve it up in a trendy Chicago tavern? “It’s the Dr. House Martini,” says Beth Heller, Marketing Director for Harry Caray’s and a partner in Harry Caray’s Tavern on Chicago’s beautiful Navy Pier Waterfront.
Last month, Laurie performed at Harry’s with The Band From TV, a rock band of television stars whose mission it is to raise money and awareness for their favorite charities. Band member James Denton (Desperate Housewives), once a server at Harry’s, is a partner in the restaurant and was instrumental in bringing the band to his old stomping ground. And now Laurie’s favorite drink has been added to Harry Caray’s menu to join an enticing list of beverages named for Chicago sports legends like Ernie Banks and Bobby Hull—and to raise money for Laurie’s charity, Save the Children Foundation.
While at Harry Caray’s in June, Laurie was served up his favorite drink: in his own words, “Belvedere Vodka, a croaked whisper of fine Vermouth, almond stuffed olives—served cold as a Welsh grave.” It was a perfect drink to cool him off in the hot Chicago sun—and after a long plane ride to arrive at Harry’s just in time to play the gig. But Denton came up with the idea to add the Dr. House Martini to the menu, which also features “Ari’s Gold” in honor of Jeremy Piven’s character on the HBO hit Entourage (Chicago actor Piven is also a partner in the establishment). But there’s a twist to the Dr. House Martini (and I don’t mean of lime), making it extra special. Harry Caray’s donates 100% of the proceeds from Dr. House Martini Save the Children; it’s also the organization to which Laurie’s take from Band from TV also goes. So you can, as House might say, “get your drink on” and do some good at the same time. (Although I’m not sure if such philanthropy is something of which Dr. Gregory House is likely to approve!)
The Band From TV was started by Greg Grunberg (Heroes), who wanted to raise money and awareness for the Epilepsy Foundation. While guest starring on House during season two (“Sex Kills”), he met Laurie and they discovered their mutual interest in music. Laurie joined up shortly thereafter and Laurie’s co-star Jesse Spencer a couple years after that.
While in Chicago for three days, the band –which also stars Adrian Pasdar from Heroes, Scott Grimes (ER and Robin Hood), Bob Guiney (The Bachelor)—rocked Chicago. In addition to the gig at Harry’s, they played Taste of Chicago and, playing for 1,000 fans at The Vic Chicago, they raised more than $65,000 for Epilepsy Chicago.
Each band member plays for his favorite charity, and fees for performing go to those organizations, raising money and awareness for their various causes. BFTV produced a CD/DVD in 2008, and there are plans somewhere in the works to produce a second recording, time to be determined, according to the band.