Get Global . . . With Your Cocktails

SmallBar’s “Spice of Life!” cocktail. (Photo: SmallBar)

The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Summit hits Chicago at the end of May and folks are tense because of the many expected clashes with protestors. One way they can loosen up is to explore the city’s best options for globally inspired cocktails.

That’s right, cocktails.

Nothing brings people together better than discussions over drinks (Remember the infamous “beer summit” at the White House?), so we’ve compiled a list of where and what you should be drinking:

Barcito. Bartender James Rhine discovered New Zealand’s 42Below vodka when he used to live there. His original sangria recipe (see below for details) expertly merges cultures with 42Below’s kiwi-flavored vodka, Kung Fu Girl Riesling, coconut water, and the usual fresh fruit ingredients.

The Bedford. Wicker Park’s subterranean sensation offers a truly spectacular cocktail menu, but the standout is the Pisco Punch, created by mixologist Peter Gugni. The Peruvian-influenced cocktail includes Encanto Pisco, fresh pineapple, lime juice, simple syrup, ginger beer and Angostura bitters. You can order it by the glass ($10), by the half bowl ($35) or by the full bowl ($60).

Blackbird. A specialized cocktail dessert menu’s now on tap, thanks to head mixologist Lynn House. She plans to change it up regularly, but expect Sakura to be one of the mainstays. It means “cherry blossom” in Japanese and includes Mizbasho sparkling sake, Roi Rene Rouge cherry liqueur and Fee Brothers cherry bitters.

Filini. You’ll find two exceptional elixirs on the menu at the snazzy sunken lounge at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The reinvented Cosmopolitano is accented with vanilla vodka, amaretto and apple liqueur while the bubbly Novara Fizz features Campari, lemon juice and honey that’s topped off with Prosecco.

L2O’s “Pamplemousse” cocktail. (Photo: L2O)

Fred’s at Barneys New York. With Haitian-born chef Jean Tippenhauer at the helm, it makes sense to have a Caribbean-focused cocktail behind the bar. Longtime bartender Clarence Mills has whipped up The Cabana (Malibu rum, Domaine Canton French ginger, fresh lime, bitters) for the occasion. It’s ideal for sipping on the tiny terrace, if you can snag seats.

L20. The esteemed seafood spot’s known best for its wine list, and now they’re making inroads in cocktail culture. They’re off to a pretty great start with the French-focused Pamplemousse, an exotic potion of Journeyman Bilberry Black Hearts Gin, Campari and grapefruit.

SmallBar. It’s time to get beyond margaritas, and many Chicago bartenders are excited to help you get on your way. Take Craig Hiljus, for example, whose Spice of Life! cocktail “brings together the fresh flavors of Mexico.” His ingredients of Tanteo Cocoa Tequila, Calvados, fresh hibiscus, fresh lime, agave nectar, Bittermen’s habanero shrub play off each other seamlessly.

Trattoria Gianni. Fans of the Lincoln Park Italian spot will be thrilled to know that they’ve just opened a spacious new patio that’s ideal for chilling with summery sippers. Adam Seger’s Punch Italiano—a Prosecco sangria—serves as the perfect refresher with splashes of Hum liqueur and garnished with strawberries and blueberries.

Tru. The award-winning Streeterville restaurant offers one of the most luxurious lounges in town, and Scotsman Can Take A Punch (Glenmorangie 10-year, Chartreuse, green tea and ginger) will certainly be a hit this summer.

James Rhine’s New Zealand-Influenced Sangria



1 bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling
1 bottle of 42 Below kiwi-flavored vodka
2 liters of coconut water
10oz of lemon juice
10oz of simple syrup



Begin by muddling a can of lychees and two oranges, then add ingredients above. Strain into pitcher; add fruit of your choice (blueberries, pineapples, etc.). Top with soda water or Sprite to your preference.


For more about Steaks see: CHICAGO’S BEST STEAKS & STEAKHOUSES