On the heels of the recent tiki resurgence, tropical cocktails are soaring high and enjoying a moment in the spotlight. Aside from the popularity of spots like Three Dots and a Dash and Lost Lake, the beachy theme sets the stage at a handful of new bars that have recently opened or are slated for 2016.
New to the Gold Coast is a tropical oasis called Coconutz. This island getaway via Division Street is a Caribbean-inspired Mecca outfitted with sandy floors, a bamboo bar, drinks in coconuts, and of course, plenty of rum. Said rum will lay the framework for classic and contemporary island cocktails, plus house punch. The drinks have quite the pedigree too, courtesy of head bartender Benjamin Kaplan, whose previous stints include Chop Shop, Chicago Distilling Company, and The Harding Tavern. There will also be Asian- and Caribbean-inspired food by chef Sean Welker. The bar is a welcome and refreshing change for the area, which is primarily populated with sporty bars and collegiate fare.
Two esteemed local restaurateurs, Phil Stefani and Adolfo Garcia, have joined forces to bring a taste of Cuba to River North. The impending bar and restaurant is called Flamingo Rum Club, and naturally Caribbean-accented cocktails will play a pivotal role in the beverage program. Along with tropical island cuisine, Afro-Cuban jazz music, and pink tuxedoed bartenders, the rum drinks are designed to transport customers to 1950’s-era Havana.
Opening next year on Restaurant Row, Ronero is a rum bar and restaurant that borrows inspiration from an area unlike any of the aforementioned bars. Here, South and Central America are the inspiration, which is sure to beget a menu unique to Chicago and unlike any other rum-centric spot. Look for the bar to open next spring.