Best Chicago Restaurants to Break Your “No Drinking” New Year’s Resolution
By the time you’re reading this, you’ve probably already broken many, if not all, of your New Year’s resolutions.
Was one of those broken resolutions to drink less in the coming year? Very good, join the other 90% or more of resolution-makers who’ve also wavered a bit on that one. But no judgement, no shame.
If you’re going to have a cocktail, however, you might as well savor every sip of a well-made mixed drink. Perhaps a better, more achievable resolution would be to vow you’d have excellent – and only excellent! – cocktails during the coming year.
Here are six Chicago restaurants that have cocktail specialists on staff who know how to break the impossible-to-achieve resolution with creativity and flair.
Funkenhausen.. There are some exceptional and hard-to-find beers on the menu at Funkenhausen, but if exceptional cocktails are what you’re after, this unusually fun place of German-Soul Food fusion has some *funny* glasses of what you want. Von Cinnabon (funny, right) has cinnamon (of course), apple brandy, and lemon; Kirschbomb (get it?) is gin, sherry vermouth and cherry brandy. There’s a lot of humor in these cocktails, and a lot of very good flavors.
Momotaro. TimeOut called Momotaro one of the top Japanese restaurants in the country, and before or after dinner, you’ll want to stop in Momotaro’s lower level itzakaya bar. In addition to an admirable sake list (including some outstanding private label sake), there are cocktails like Yuki Onna with gin and black mushroom, as well as Kaba Old Fashioned with Evan Williams and cherry bark. This is not your daddy’s sushi joint; it’s way better.
Marchesa. Marchesa offers one of the most elegant of the new breed of old-school restaurants (similar in that way to Mason down the street). There’s something about sipping even a simple classic like a gin martini in a sophisticated drawing room that goes to the head and might even make you feel like royalty or an old-time movie star. If you’re feeling bro-ish, you might rebel against the suave scene by ordering a Jumbo Cocktail. Go ahead; it will be delicious, you can be sure…and royalty does as they please.
El Che Bar. With a fire roaring and meat sizzling in John Manion’s huge Argentinian barbecue, you’ll select some of the best grilled red meat and poultry in the city. To go with those hearty selections, you’ll need a substantial cocktail, and that, too, you can be sure to get at El Che Bar. Kentucky Thunder is Bourbon, passionfruit and basil, a smoky sweet complement to delicious red meat; Bombilla Negroni is yerba matte gin, Campari and vermouth. If you want something simpler yet still stimulating, try the Coke and Fernet Branca.
Coda di Volpe. Italian-focused and casually fun, Coda di Volpe has some outstanding craft cocktails, and you may be initially attracted to the aperitivos, which get their own section of the menu. Before your meal, enjoy Green Eyed Bandit, composed of gin, Green Chartreuse, juniper berry and fresh basil, or a Stolen Vespa, with mezcal, citrus, red vermouth and black olive salt. After one or two of those, you’ll be ready for dinner…with maybe just one more glass of something nice.
Pacific Standard Time. It’s hard not to love a place that has a drinks menu running to around a dozen pages. Pacific Standard time has beer, much wine, and a good selection of spirits, the best of which are deployed in beautifully crafted cocktails. Park Slope is composed of several ingredients, including fig-infused Rittenhouse rye and amaro Montenegro; Crimson and Clover is Cognac, Aperol and honey. You get the idea. There are also spirit-free options, but you’re probably not in the mood for that kind of thing, right?