Holiday shopping is hard. Don't over think it. In lieu of elbowing your way through a crowded department store or feverishly clicking through Amazon.com, consider ordering a round of cocktails. Chicago's like Santa's sack for savory spirits, so let us guide you through some of the best places to get your holiday party on.
Scofflaw's Danny Shapiro was recently named "Bartender of the Year" by Eater Chicago and has unveiled a brand new cocktail menu just in time for the holidays. The Hot Butter Rum features a recipe (Banks 7 Golden Age Rum, Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, brown sugar, butter, and spices) that's sure to get you in the holiday spirit and likely guarantee you a spot on the "naughty list." Life's full of tradeoffs.
The Drawing Room is committed to house made mixers and fresh ingredients, so don't ask for a Vodka Red Bull. In the winter months, nothing warms the soul like a Manhattan. If you're looking for a worthwhile substitute for milk and cookies, consider leaving Santa a lowball glass of the good stuff. Drawing Room's Charlie's Manhattan features Templeton, Punt e Mars, aromatic bitters and real Maraschino.
The recently Michelin starred Longman & Eagle is offering an Asian take on the traditional Toddy, a drink made up of sugar water and any strong spirit. According to bartender Derek Alexander, "...we decided to use a more exotic citrus fruit from Japan, the Yuzu, which has a flavor profile similar to Meyer Lemon." Tasty.
The Aviary is owned and operated by gastronomic molecular wizard Grant Achatz. As it turns out, the guy behind dining scene behemoths NEXT and Alinea knows what he's doing on the plate and in the glass. The bartenders here are part four-star chef, part biochemist and the drinks look as though they've been gift wrapped with a liquid nitrogen floater. Not for the faint of heart or strapped on cash, but a worthwhile cocktail experience for those of us who like our booze with a modern art mixer.
Half Acre Beer Company is the dollar-and-a-dream story of a couple guys with no experience opening a brewery. With a distribution area that's expanding faster than the frothy head of poorly decanted IPA, the brewery has quickly become a staple of Chicago's entrepreneurial spirit.
During the winter season, consider their Chocolate Camaro stout, which features a roasty supporting role with a rich Coco takeover. It's like sipping hot chocolate on Christmas morning, only it's served cold and 6% alcohol by volume.