You know how to EAT THIS CITY. With top chefs as tour guides, you’ve learned how to scout out hot spots for breakfast and brunch, where to go for a delicious date night, and how to feast like a local liege in the cities you love. But where do you wash it all down? Do you know how to find the best brewpub? Who makes the meanest of bloody marys and the most sparkling of mimosas? What bars transport you?
You’re about to find out. Welcome to DRINK THIS CITY!
This week we’re drinking in the cocktail culture of Windy City. Get ready to hit the bars of Chicago! Here to show us how it’s done is star bartender Julia Momose of the two Michelin-starred Oriole — a restaurant which hosts intimate 28-seat dinners featuring carefully considered cocktail and wine pairings. Not a drinker? Julia is also a champion for spirit-free (nonalcoholic) cocktail menus, ensuring that every guest feels welcome and cared-for, and that their beverage of choice is every bit as complex and interesting as the high-octane cocktail in the hand of their neighbor.
Clearly passionate about the bar culture of Chicago, Julia–the Jean Banchet Mixologist of the Year 2017, a Food & Wine Best New Mixologist 2016 and Eater Young Gun 2016 — will be opening Kumiko, a Japanese-inspired bar, next spring. Needless to say, Chicago is a place to visit if you love a beautifully-crafted beverage.
“I love Chicago,” Momose says. “I have only been here for few years, and I appreciate that for as competitive as the food and beverage industry is here, it is just as full of genuine people, creating the best drinks and experiences. It is hard for me to only share one place for each of the categories, so I would urge anyone visiting Chicago to use that first stop as a catalyst, and ask the bartender for their recommendations to explore these options further. I am positive that they will not steer you wrong.”
Who’s thirsty? Let’s check out Julia’s ten favorite drinking hot spots in Chicago!
BRUNCH COCKTAIL OR HAIR OF THE DOG
For the combination of a Bloody Mary and Yerba Mate iced tea alongside my favorite hangar steak and eggs. During the warmer months, I love to sit outside and soak up the sun while people watching from the busy West Loop corner.
Nicole and John Manion have with them a staff of wonderfully professional and down to earth people, and whether I sit at the bar or at a table, I feel right at home.
The Sazerac at Best Intentions. Co-owners and bartenders Chris and Calvin Marty have been in the industry long enough to know just what they would want out of a bar, and they have created that at Best Intentions. This spot is known as an industry hangout, and you can order just about any classic cocktail and they will have the ingredients and the know-how to make it for you. I especially love their Sazerac, served in a nicely chilled glass, with the absinthe used to rinse the glass served on the side — no waste here!
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After a generous partnership with @riazultequila we created the ‘Tailoring Queen’ cocktail for the month of September. A chunk of the proceeds will be added to our monthly charity effort- currently focused on the @_houstonfoodbank_ . • Utilizing all three age expressions of Tequila and stirring it with sweet vermouth, Galliano Aperitivo and some red verjus- the drink is bitter, bracing, savory and still refreshing for a scorching start to Autumn. #💥🥛🌞 #PatioDrinks #Cocktails #ChicagoPatio #TequilaNegroni #Anagram #RiazulTequila
Dealer’s Choice, bitter, stirred, aperitif, at Spilt Milk by co-owner Matty Eggleston. More often than not, I have no idea what I want to drink when I go out, I just have a feeling, and sometimes my favorite sherry, vermouth, or whisky just isn’t the thing. Some of my most memorable bar moments have been at Spilt Milk, where Matty and the other bartenders will artfully mix a well-balanced cocktail to conquer any craving.
The rotating punch at the Broken Shaker in the Freehand. I have to say that I am not much of a punch drinker. But I will say that I love to visit the crew at the Broken Shaker in Chicago and take a look at the unique flavor profiles of their punches that are ever-changing while sipping on some spa water and eating tasty morsels.
Though I do not make it to this bar as often as I would like, I take solace in knowing that I may squeeze into the cozy space and taste through some spirits I have probably never tasted before, or get a brimming Sidecar with a shaker tin of even more cocktail as the “sidecar.”
PUB, TAVERN, OR BREWERY
Pub Royale. Bar manager Adam Thaddeus is a gem of a person and knowledgeably helps guests navigate a rotating selection of beers and ciders listed on a large screen just at the front of the main room. There is a balanced selection of familiar beers along with some unique brews. The food is not your typical pub fare — the talented team in the kitchen serve amazing Anglo-Indian style food, and at the bar, a wide range of beverages and creative cocktails are available as well.
Though it just opened earlier this summer, City Mouse has quickly become one of my favorite spots for a glass of sherry, or to explore the collection of mezcal and other spirits that Caitlin Laman has curated. The interior design of the Ace Hotel is fantastic, and the food at City Mouse is also not to be missed. If you go, don’t miss out on the burger!
Lee Zaremba created one of my favorite Hot Toddys last year at Billy Sunday with chicory and cranberry. He is now the Beverage Director at newly opened Somerset and Devereaux in the Viceroy Hotel. I would recommend heading over that way once there is a chill in the air to see what he has created this year.
THEMED BAR OR IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
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This beet-red beauty is from Mafer Tejeda, a bartender at Mexico City cocktail bar Limantour. We’re donating $2 from each sold to Topos.mx, a rescue group working to help those affected by the recent earthquake. ❤️ Mercado Carmin – tequila, mezcal, grapefruit, beet, carrot, pomegranate, lime, and absinthe.
Lost Lake. I would say that it is more of an immersive experience than a themed bar, as it is truly a Tiki Bar through and through. There is no questioning the intent behind Lost Lake, but it also has an incredibly well-rounded program, from signature tiki drinks to classic cocktails, and one of the most impressive r(h)um collections in Chicago.
COCKTAIL MADE BY A FRIEND
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For a Relaxing Time.. Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky Highball with hand chipped ice – at the Drinkingbird! See you tonight for Old Man Monday! . Sammy Faze Photography 2017. . #sammyfazephotography#drinkingbird#cocktails#cocktailbar#whisky#whiskey#japanesewhisky#highball#toki#suntory#fatalframes#justgoshoot#barphotography#photographer#bartender#mychicagopix#igchicago#ig_chicago#chicagogrammers#spirits#productphotography#drinkjapanese#whiskyhighball#chicagodrinks#135mm#flashphotography#exploretocreate
A Japanese whisky highball made by Sammy Faze at The Drinkingbird. Perhaps a highball sounds a little too simple to mention, but it is a labor of love. Sammy stayed late after work for weeks working to perfect crystal clear ice blocks without any fancy equipment. He now breaks them down by hand and serves perfectly chilled and effervescent Japanese whisky highballs over these stones of clear ice, just the way I like it. Watching him work the bar and the room, giving stellar service to everyone who comes in is just as delightful as the cocktails he makes and the cold beers he pours.
Thank you Julia, for taking us on a tour of the best of Chicago’s bars!
Join us next week for more DRINK THIS CITY! Meanwhile, hit us in the comments — where should we travel next?