Dining Chicago

Mint Juleps & Margaritas, Plus Mimosas For Your Momma

Allium's Pomelo Margarita (Photo: Allium)


You should be thinking about drinking some really good cocktails this month. May is so many things to many people, from slamming down Mint Julep after Mint Julep on Kentucky Derby Day (May 4) to more civilized bubbly sipping on Mother’s Day (May 12). Here are some of our favorites—and favorite places—to imbibe this season.


Kentucky Derby Celebrations


  • III Forks. Who doesn’t love a good rooftop party? Throw in some bourbon and fancy dressing folks, and you’ve suddenly got yourself a great Saturday afternoon. For the occasion, III Forks is doing $5 Maker’s Mark drinks and $5 Mint Juleps in commemorative glasses you get to take home. You’ll need something to soak up all that booze, so servers will be passing around Kentucky-style fried chicken wings and seasoned popcorn. The race will be shown on several monitors on the rooftop. The party happens 2-6pm.


  • Ada Street. We’ll let it slide that there are no televisions at Ada Street ONLY because Bramble On, the highlight of the spring cocktail menu, is truly sensational. It’s one of those drinks that goes down a little too easy, and is ideal for drinking on the enclosed outdoor patio.  It’s made with gin, lemon juice, house-made raspberry jam and fresh mint.


  • American Junkie. For the occasion, the new River North sports lounge offers a traditional Mint Julep ($8), but what makes this one cool is that you can order it in a special souvenir cup. For $50, you’ll get a signature Woodford Reserve cup and cocktail, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale benefits PAWS Chicago. Snack on pork belly sliders and flatbreads, and DJ Natural Born Killers spins contemporary tunes. There will be prizes for the best dressed guy and gal who show up in fabulous Derby fashions. Doors open at 3pm.


Ada Street's Bramble On. (Photo: Ada Street)


  • Chicago q. Yet another worthy charity event happens at this BBQ-focused eatery in the Gold Coast. Benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana, the party is $42 and includes a lavish, Southern-style buffet and one cocktail (make it a bourbon one!). Of course, a large projection screen will be tuned in to the horses. The party takes place 3-6pm.


  • Old Town Social/RM Champagne Salon. The lively Old Town tavern teams up with its sleek bubbly bar for a day of decadence. Watch the race on one of the 23 flatscreen plasmas at OTS while sipping on Mint Juleps and Pimm’s Cups, and when the race is over, buses will take revelers over to RM to keep the party going. You’ll be all dressed up in Derby flair, so why not?! Look also for Derby-inspired dishes on the menu at OTS. Doors open at 10:30am; buses depart at 6pm for RM Champagne Salon.


  • The Pony. The animated Lakeview sports lounge gets dressed up for Derby with a party giving props to the best dressed guests in the house (There are cash money prizes, people!). Food and drink specials include $7 Mint Juleps and $10 Hot Brown sandwiches. There are so many television monitors that no one will have a problem seeing the action.


Sable Kitchen & Bar's Ice and Fire (Photo: Sable Kitchen & Bar)


Top 5 Tequila Cocktails for Cinco de Mayo


If you’re throwing a Cinco de Mayo party, we’ve got you covered with a simple recipe for Don Julio’s take on the Premier Paloma. It contains Don Julio Reposado tequila, Italian aperitif, agave nectar and fresh juices.


Now, here is where to go and drink up:

  • Eli Wallach at Sable Kitchen & Bar. Bartender Mike Ryan’s concoction is not for the faint of heart. At first sip, you’re certain to get a buzz and that’s because he’s mixing Don Julio Añejo with Green Chartreuse. If you’re looking for something milder, try Ice and Fire (Don Julio Blanco, agave nectar, lime, cucumber and sriracha).


  • Margarita Doughnuts at Glazed and Infused. It’s not a cocktail, but it’s still awesome! Taco Joint Urban Taqueria teams up with the red-hot pastry shop for a special Cinco de Mayo doughnut. The Margarita doughnuts will be available May 3-5 at the Lincoln Park location only. The mini margarita doughnuts (three for $6; six for $10) feature tequila, fresh lime zest and sea salt.  


  • Pomelo Margarita at Allium. The drink’s spiced up with Don Julio Reposado, Royal Combier, fresh rhubarb, strained grapefruit juice, agave and house-made guajillo chili ice cubes.


  • Rosemary’s Margarita at Antique Taco. It’s the only Margarita on the menu, and that’s probably because nothing gets better than this. It’s a classic blend of tequila, fresh lime juice and fresh orange juice, but the magic happens when house-made rosemary simple syrup is folded in. Order by the pitcher.  

Best Sparkling Cocktails & Mimosas for Mother’s Day


  • Nellcote. Head to the swanky cocktail and dining destination the day before Mother's Day to take part in an event celebrating mothers who are no longer with us. The restaurant will donate a portion of proceeds from the purchase of select Champagne cocktails to the American Cancer Society.
  • Tavernita. The Spanish sensation offers a seasonal sipper of cava complemented by sloe berry liqueur, gin, raspberry and lemon.
  • Tesori. If you're planning a Mother's Day lunch, she can take advantage of a complimentary Mimosa flight. That's for moms only!



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