Summer’s more than half way done, even though these days, drink menus tend to follow the weather rather than a strict calendar. Two Chicago bars have done interesting things this year to perk up their menu, in both cases worth a peak.
Sable Kitchen & Bar’s summer cocktail list features cocktails with various techniques and esoteric ingredients. Two of them are strictly “do it yourself” in that the drinks arrive to guests with a dropper filled with a liqueur, allowing guests to control and play with the sweetness in their cocktail. The Siesta, for example is made with vermouth, Bols Genever, lemon, ginger and a loaded dropper of crème de mure so guests can control the amount of blackberry flavor in the drink.
Amaro Sour from the JW Marriott Chicago's Lobby Lounge
Sable is also serving a “superfood” cocktail, the Lost Treasure, made with pichuberry syrup, pisco, bitters, lemon and an egg white. Pichuberries are a Peruvian plant, resembling a mini tomatillo, with more vitamin C than an orange. And then there is the Beach Please, made with bourbon, fresh pineapple juice, spiced coconut milk, and cashew orgeat, served in a bubble glass over crushed ice, a spiced riff on a Pina Colada with savory cashew notes, but not requiring the bartender’s nemesis, a blender.
Not too far away from Sable, the JW Marriott Chicago’s Lobby Lounge introduced has a new menu of cocktails using spirits infused with herbs regularly recommended for their health benefits (although the US government frowns on making health claims for beverage alcohol, herbally-enhanced or otherwise). The herbs include lavender (for easing pain and aiding mental well-being), chamomile (for treating stress and inflammations) and orange blossom water (for soothing nerves).
Good Neighbor Policy from the JW Marriott Chicago's Lobby Lounge
The drinks include the Good Neighbor Policy (chamomile-infused rum, pineapple syrup, fresh lime and grapefruit Juices), and Treeminder (Beefeater Gin, Lillet Blanc, celery water, lavender syrup and lemon juice.) The Marriott menu also includes something called “Cocktails with a purpose,”a take on well-being and sustainability developed with cocktail consultants with Tippling Bros., and with the guidance of nutritionist Keri Glassman. Those include Amaro Sour (Averna Amaro, Myers’s Rum, raw honey syrup, lemon juice, Fernet Branca and turmeric), and Barrel Spice (Patron Reposado Tequila, Amontillado Sherry, Fernet Branca, crème de cassis and molé bitters.)
Of course, all these drinks need to taste good, as well as have a hook - otherwise, customers won’t care what you call them. But there are many ways to stand out with cocktail programs today, as long as one takes the time and energy to think it through.
Are you looking for interesting and innovative cocktail solutions? You'll find them at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. Registration opens in October!