As the weather gets nippy in Chicago, infinity scarves aren't the only things keeping folks warm. Cozy, toasty beverages are as much a part of fall as trick-or-treating, and drink lists all around the city are rolling out warm drinks for seasonal comfort. From spiked hot chocolates to ciders aplenty, it's easy to quench your thirst this fall. Here are some of the top spots for warm drinks in Chicago right now.
Nana is renowned for its Latin-spiced, organically minded brunch fare and homey Sunday suppers, but what some may not know is that the Bridgeport restaurant mixes up some of the mightiest warm drinks in Chicago. The double dirty chai is a fun breakfast drink if you don't have much to do after, made with housemade coffee liqueur, housemade Irish cream, chai team, and steamed milk. Old Overholt whiskey, Triple Sec, honey, and lemon juice bolster Nana's spiked cider, while the Aztec chocolate is an enriching elixir made with housemade chocolate ganache, mezcal, organic milk, spicy ancho chile syrup, steamed milk, salt, and cinnamon. The real gem of the bunch, though, is Nana's pumpkin atole, a brunch-exclusive libation inspired by champurrado. Whereas champurrado features chocolate, Nana subs housemade pumpkin butter, mixing it with milk and flour to produce a soothing porridge-like consistency.
One of the hottest tickets in town right now are seats at Dusek's Board & Beer, the brand new restaurant inside Pilsen's historic Thalia Hall, as well as subterranean sister spot Punch House. And you'd better believe both spots offer warming incentive to visit this fall. Dusek's is currently doling out the Dusek Warmer, filled with mulled ale, Applejack, and fall spiced fruits, while Punch House celebrates Autumn in the Basement with a spicy, fruity potion made with Batavia Arrack, brandy, lemon, orchard fruit juices, raw sugar, and clove.
If it's cider you crave, head directly to Rockit Bar & Grill and do not pass "Go." The downtown dining and drinking hotspot gets even hotter this season with the addition of a luscious cider menu, featuring a bevy of cozy beverages sure to warm the soul any night of the week. Ciders are available spiked with bourbon, caramel, and salt, with brandy and maple syrup, or with aged rum and brown sugar. Ciders are also available in hot kettles served tableside, which is precious.
Warm cocktails are good and all, but it hurts to bid farewell to ice cream and other iced desserts for the season. Thanks to tesori's combination of espresso and gelato, folks can enjoy the nourishment of a warm beverage without sacrificing the pleasures of iced confections. tesori's Bevanda Mattina is the new breakfast of champions, an interactive creation that encourages guests to mix their own cocktail by adding amaretto and Amaro into a large coffee cup with a scoop of vanilla gelato. It's all topped off with freshly brewed espresso, resulting in a soul-warming concoction that captures the best of both worlds.
One of the quintessential fall warmers is a Hot Toddy. Get your fix at Old Town Social, where the bar puts a zesty spin on tradition via housemade autumn syrup brimming with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorn, vanilla, and orange peel. It's all stewed together with Atlantico Reserva rum, Averna, and apple cider. Still thirsty? Get tipsy on cocoa with Old Town Social's Capone's Cocoa. The mixture of Templeton Rye whiskey, housemade chocolate syrup, Green Chartreuse, cinnamon, marshmallows, and mint would make the namesake gangster proud.
Cider tastes better with a side of knowledge. The introduction of Wassail cider to the drink list at Longman & Eagle is as enlightening as it is delicious. As the menu explains, wassailing is the traditional ceremony held in cider-producing counties in Southwest England wherein people sing and drink to the health of trees so that they may thrive. The ritual is intended to awaken the cider apple trees and scare away evil spirits to enable a bountiful fall harvest. Because evil should not be an ingredient in your cider. Instead, Longman & Eagle mixes their house-spiced apple cider with Applejack Bonded and Goslings Black Strap rum.
Photo credits: Dan Blackman (Punch House), Rockit Bar & Grill, Anthony Tahlier (tesori), Old Town Social