Libations, American-Style

Berkshire Room's Weston cocktail (Photo: Berkshire Room)


Everyone seems obsessed with all things global these days, but there’s nothing better than supporting our own. With all the buzz surrounding craft beers, spirits and wines, here’s a chance to check out a number of bar programs successfully curating superior American products into the mix.   

Berkshire Room. If the Acme Hotel’s glistening new lobby lounge feels a bit old-timey, that’s because it is. Many of its most memorable elements were reclaimed materials, from the original and rare terrazzo composite flooring from the hotel—which was built in the 1920s—to steel shutters from a Kentucky bourbon distillery. Speaking of bourbon, beverage director Benjamin Schiller is obsessed with the stuff. A large selection of his 400-plus spirits list is dedicated to rare whiskeys. Also note that one of the standouts on his menu is Weston, made with the wheated bourbon Weller 12, Dark Matter coffee essence and pipe tobacco.

Bristol. The contemporary American gastropub offers more than 300 wine and beer selections, with almost half representing the United States. In addition, a number of cocktails take advantage of craft American spirits. This includes the Moscow Mule, which uses the Minnesota-based Prairie Organic Spirits’ vodka along with house-made ginger puree, ginger beer and lime juice.


Many of Grass Fed's cocktails are made with house-infused spirits. (Photo: Grass Fed)


Bub City. You cannot get any more in the heart of America than country music, and this River North newbie manages to make the music cool for everyone. Add a full list of lip-smacking BBQ, bourbon and one of the strongest Manhattans known to man and you'll feel as though you should recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Carriage House. You’ll also find BBQ on the menu at this Wicker Park hot spot, but the focus is Low Country fare. While the wine list reads mostly global, beer lovers will be happy to find that the selections are regional and craft oriented, such as Three Floyd’s and Great Lakes. The cocktails are meant to complement the hearty cuisine, particularly the punches, which change seasonally.  

Central Standard. Seasonal fare hailing from the Central Standard Time zone is the focus at this upscale sports lounge and gastropub. The new weekend brunch features specialty cocktail, The Texan Bloody Mary, big and garnished with a skewer of charcuterie meats and cheeses, bison slider and a Miller High Life grenade back.

Cru Kitchen & Bar. The original Cru boasted a laid-back Euro feel, but the new one is all Americana. The beer and wine list offers a heavenly selection by the bottle—including a number of sparkling vino—plus a tight list of spirits. They carry Death’s Door Gin (Wisconsin), Prairie Organic Spirits (Minnesota) and Tito’s Handmade Vodka (Texas).



American craft beer taps at DMK Burger Bar (Photo: DMK Burger Bar)


DMK Burger Bar. By tap or by bottle, DMK’s selection of American-focused suds is quite impressive. In addition to a seasonal, American craft beer or ale, the burger joint also offers on the regular Chicago’s own Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale as well as Two Brothers’ French Country Ale (DuPage County) and Ommegang Witte (Cooperstown, N.Y.). You'll find more than 20 choices from which to choose.   

Grass Fed. While this neighborhood steakhouse usually gets passed over for fancier feasts in the downtown area, people should take note of its libation menu. Grass Fed is doing a number of house-infused spirits (cucumber lavender gin, smoked bourbon, basil vodka, to name a few), plus the craft beers are 100 percent domestic. There’s also a thoughtful wine list by the bottle, which includes Prisoner Wine Co. (Napa Valley), Merry Edwards (Russian River Valley) and Flowers Vineyard & Winery (Sonoma Coast).

State and Lake.  The lobby-level gastropub pairs a number of vintage-inspired craft beers with its contemporary American cuisine. Cans include Finch's Cut Throat (Chicago), Capital Brewery Supper Club (Wisconsin), Burger Beer (Ohio) and Arcadia Sky High Rye (Michigan).