Make Room For Mocktails
By Audarshia Townsend
You’ve got your reasons for not drinking—observing sobriety, pregnancy, etc.—but thankfully you don’t have to limit yourself to water, juice and soda anymore. A number of Chicago bartenders have expanded their menus to include a delicious mocktail or two, offering fresh approaches to non-alcoholic beverages. From lush, inventive ingredients to fancy, antique stemware, these drinks are certain to keep you satisfied.
Cicchetti. You’ll want to prop yourself up at this sophisticated bar in Streeterville for a few Italian bites paired with The Orchid, a delightful elixir that’s effervescent and light. It’s made with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, Belvoir (a non-alcoholic elderflower cordial) and lime, plus topped off with San Pellegrino and garnished with an orange wedge. On warm weekends, order a pitcher, settle outside and sip under the sun.
Cicchetti's The Orchid mocktail (Photos: Audarshia Townsend)
Homestead. What’s super cool about this chef-driven, rooftop restaurant directly above Roots Handmade Pizza is that it boasts a massive garden right on premises. That means that it becomes a literal farmers’ market for the bartenders, who can pick fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables at their convenience to enhance the mocktails. In addition, all syrups (such as blueberry-thyme and agave) are house-made, so imbibers may enjoy the freshest ingredients. Diners are also encouraged to tell bartenders their favorite flavor profiles for extra special touches.
Hubbard Inn. You won’t find it on the menu at River North’s busiest after-work bar, but if you order Inn Decent Exposure, your bartender will happily whip it up for you. Comprised of fresh juices (pineapple, orange), Jamaican bitters and Peychaud’s bitters topped with ginger beer, this non-boozy beverage arrives in an elegant, old-school champagne flute typically reserved for more celebratory sippers.
Jellyfish. You’ll also find ginger in the Somajito Mocktail at this stylish sushi hot spot, but bartenders use fresh ginger root and mint-and-ginger-infused simple syrup that’s made in-house. Freshly squeezed lime juice and soda water are added for a fizzy finish that perfectly complements a number of maki rolls.
Jellyfish's fresh ginger-enhanced, non-alcoholic beverage
Nico. Another off-the-menu mocktail may be found at this red hot Italian eatery in the Gold Coast. It doesn’t have a name, but you’re guaranteed to get it because it contains the simplest ingredients: muddled cucumbers, house-made simple syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice and a splash of grenadine and club soda.
Sepia. And head to the West Loop for Ricky Spritz, yet another booze-less wonder you can enjoy as gleefully as your pals indulge in martinis and Manhattans. It’s another simple concoction that comes with freshly squeezed lime juice, fresh mint and ginger beer. It’s garnished with a lime wheel so it looks as fancy as everything else served in the cocktail lounge. It’s also not on the menu.