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Introducing ‘The Underground Mixologists’

Todd Appel, Daniel de Oliveira and Josh Pearson, from left.

Todd Appel, Daniel de Oliveira and Josh Pearson, from left.

When Todd Appel and Daniel de Oliveira left Crimson Lounge in early October, they took the magic with them.

The talented mixologists checked out of the River North nightclub after becoming increasingly dissatisfied with new management. They pretty much had creative license behind the bar, serving up unique versions of classic cocktails as well as the usual suspect sippers, but even that wasn’t enough to keep them there.

They call what they did at Crimson “underground mixology” — making high quality, fresh cocktails in a club environment — a concept that’s rare on the Chicago nightlife scene. “We are always trying to get people to think about drinks in different ways,” says de Oliveira. “We do appreciate good cocktails, but we also like to work in very hectic atmospheres like clubs.”

Look for them to continue making magic as The LBA (Loose Business Alliance) with partner Josh Pearson, an award-winning bartender at Sepia. De Oliveira says Pearson was a good match for the team simply because they all get along and have similar styles.

The guys merged their companies, High Proof Chicago (de Oliveira), Piranha Bros. (Appel) and One for the Bartender (Pearson), to work collectively under The LBA. They’ll work together creating signature cocktails for private events and spirited dinners such as the upcoming Day of the Dead dinners happening at Zapatista locations in Northbrook (Oct. 27) and South Loop (Nov. 1).

The theme is “death by tequila,” and the event includes a seated, three-course dinner paired with Olmeca Altos tequila cocktails, punch reception and an interactive presentation.

Can’t make it to the event? Here are some of the mixologists’ cocktails you can make at home yourself:

Agua Fria
Daniel De Oliveira

2 ounces Olmeca Altos Reposado
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce apple cider syrup
Dash of bitters
1-1/2 ounces ginger beer

Build the cocktail in a Collins glass; gently stir.

To make apple cider syrup: Combine equal parts apple cider and white sugar and roll into glass until the sugar dissolves, or just put in blender and mix until it dissolves.

Santa Catarina
Todd Appel

2 ounces Leblon Cachaça
1/2 ounce Mathilde Pear Liqueur
1/2 ounce fresh pear puree
1/2 ounce spiced syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Cracked ice
Candied lemon peel for garnsh

In an iced mixing glass, add all ingredients except garnish. Hard shake and strain into a fresh iced 8-ounce rocks glass. Garnish with pear slice and candied lemon peel.

Spiced syrup is simple syrup infused with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, wintergreen, mace and vanilla.

Two in the hand
Josh Pearson

2-1/2 ounces Famous Grouse-Blended Scotch
3/4 ounce Gran Classico Bitter
3/4 ounce Dubonnet Rouge
3 dashes Angostura

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well. Rinse a cocktail glass with Ardbeg 10-year scotch. Strain cocktail into rinsed cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.