When it comes to steakhouse cocktails, classic dirty martinis have reigned supreme for quite some time. Beyond that and burly red wines, there hasn't been a lot of unusual options... until now. Steakhouses and steakhouse-inspired bars are getting crafty with cocktails and elevating steakhouse drinks to meet the meat. Here are a few "prime" examples:
Inspired by the Midwestern "steak and potatoes" ethos, III Forks Prime Steakhouse is getting ready to unveil a contemporary, savory riff on the iconic dirty martini. Aptly dubbed the "Steak & Potatoes" Martini, it's set to debut February 16 at the downtown steakhouse. It's made with Chopin Vodka, Vya Extra Dry Vermouth, and a skewered filet mignon and potato garnish.
You can never forget Frankie O, Harry Caray's Hall Of Fame Celebrity Bartender. You say it he shakes it!
Classic cocktails don't come any stronger—or any finer—than the tipples being served at Bavette's Bar & Boeuf. The nostalgic, polished New American steakhouse peddles immaculate versions of sparkling cocktails (think French 75s, Kir Royales, and Champagne cocktails), along with other timeless staples like Gimlets, Lion's Tails, Sazeracs, and Dark & Stormys. Then there's a concise selection of Old Fashioneds as well, made with your choice of bourbon.
At Maple & Ash, beverage director Cristiana DeLucca is single-handedly raising the bar on steakhouse drinking. The elaborate, sensational cocktail program at this slick new Gold Coast steakhouse easily keeps pace with the incredible food, as evidenced in drinks like the Healy Hoo made with Laird's Bonded, housemade grenadine, fresh sour, hard cider, and coffee float; or the Pimiento Rojo made with Milagro Reposado, Del Maguey Vida, Amaro Lucano, Giffard Framboise, hearth-roasted red pepper-ginger syrup, and fresh lime. It's the rare steakhouse that's actually become a full-fledged cocktail destination as well.
Swift & Sons is another notable one. The gigantic new beef bastion in the West Loop features various bar areas throughout the elaborate space, so you know drinking is paramount here, and bartenders pour due diligence into each drink. The menu toes the line between classic flavors and contemporary, displayed in cocktails like the Great Central with Ketel One Vodka, Pür Pear, lime, and basil; and the Yankee of the Yards, featuring Peligroso Silver Tequila, Combier Pamplemousse Rose, sage, lime, and smoked sea salt. Perch yourself at the bar, order a cocktail or two, adjoin them with beef tartare and "everything spice" fingerling potatoes and you've got yourself a happy night. Not to mention one of the most unique steakhouse experiences in town.
Even non-steakhouses have hopped aboard the steakhouse cocktail bandwagon. Take Broken Shaker, for example. The hyper-creative, oft whimsical cocktail bar in the Freehand hotel has added a Steakhouse Sour to their mix of savory-leaning libations. The drink is a bracing one, made with sauce Bordelaise reduction and citrus shaken with Averna, rum, egg whites, and beef-infused angostura. It's like a nice steak dinner in a glass.
Honorable mention goes to the masterful Manhattan at Tavern on Rush. Made with Bulleit bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a cherry, this simple and sublime cocktail is among the best Manhattans you'll find in Chicago.