Cure-All Cocktails for Chicago Winters

Getting sick this winter isn’t inevitable. We may not be doctors, and these suggestions are based on personal experience only, but we’ve found that warm drinks and those with certain superfoods keep our bodies in prime condition. Get your buzz on with these flu-fighting cocktails available at local restaurants. Sometimes a stiff drink is just what the doctor ordered.

Ada Street

Honey and ginger are served warm here, with lemon, in an apple brandy and rye drink named Bedford Falls. Rye beefs up the full sweetness of the brandy and the two early 19th century American spirits intertwine. “The fruit and spice of the rye will take the warmth right down to your toes,” says Beverage Director Michael Rubel. 1664 N. Ada St., Chicago, 773-697-7069

Ay Chiwowa

A classic Paloma gets a little healthier with extra grapefruit and notes of ginger and honey. Ginger chunks are chopped coarsely and boiled with honey to make a syrup that will settle stomachs and add spice to the citrus notes of grapefruit juice and red grapefruit liqueur. 311 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-643-3200


A ginger hot toddy will keep you warm and do the body good. Ginger syrup, lemon juice and hot water purify blood and flush out toxins along with calming upset stomachs and boosting immune systems. Lemon juice also helps strengthen your liver, perfect for counteracting the crux of the drink: tea-infused Old Forester bourbon. 804 Davis St., Evanston, 847-859-2880 

House 406 

Gin and tonic gets a handcrafted touch at this modern American steakhouse. Beverage Director Tim Russell makes his own tonic with cinchona bark, which has been used medicinally to treat the common cold, flu and fever. He adds cinnamon and gentian root (an herbal bitter that aids digestion) plus lemon and grapefruit peels before blending the special recipe tonic with lightly herbaceous St. George Botanivore gin. 1143 1/2 Church St., Northbrook, 847-714-0200

Mott St 

Shaved ice in winter? If you grew up in Hawaii, like Beverage Director Nate Chung, why not? These refreshing drinks are nostalgic for Chung, who makes each one to order with a traditional shaved ice machine. The “Ants on a Log” in particular is quite light with low alcohol and sugar content from Lambrusco and house-made celery syrup. A sprinkling of basil seeds, which help with digestion and sore throats, tops it off. 1401 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, 773-687-9977

River Roast 

Wassail—an ancient southern English hot mulled cider—is the inspiration behind a strong boozy punch at Tony Mantuano’s newest restaurant. “My mom still makes the best hot cider—ever,” says Beverage Director Chris Jecha. We think he’s giving her a run for her money with a blend of ginger-peach hard cider, rum, cognac, brandy, gentian and mulled spices. Jecha uses a halogen beam to infuse the cognac with cranberry and makes his own cinnamon, clove, cardamom and star anise syrups to eliminate the grittiness from using raw spices. The drink is then heated to order (to 140 degrees) in a syphon by the halogen beam and garnished with a torched cinnamon stick. 315 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, 312-822- 0100

River Roast’s Wassail. Photo by Amber Gibson.

Roka Akor 

Try hot sake at this Westfield Old Orchard restaurant (or the River North location). In old Japanese tradition, women add sake to hot baths to improve health and detox skin. We’ll settle for how the ginger and pine extracts help breathing. Ask the bartender to whip up something for you on the fly. 4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, 847-329-7650

Sable Kitchen & Bar 

Rose hips, the fruit of the rose that ripens after flowers are pollinated, are exceptionally high in vitamin C and strengthen the immune system. Bartender John Stanton steeps dehydrated rose hips and adds a touch of rose water to make a syrup for his Whistle Stop cocktail. This riff on a pisco sour includes a little Cocchi Rosa and is served in a coupe. Stanton says, “The sharp, herbal notes of rose hips strike a balance with the sweetness of the wine, acidity of lemon and fire of the pisco, while egg white pulls the flavors together.” 505 N. State St., Chicago, 312-755-9704


Mixologist Graham Crowe’s “Not Your Cup of Tea” cocktail can be served either hot or cold. A base of Prairie organic gin is blended with bright green tea with notes of ginger and pineapple. Add a dash of Bad Dog sarsaparilla dry bitters (for the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties), lemon and a calming lavender sprig garnish to pacify any winter demons. 1132 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-624-8363


Soothe a sore throat with a chamomile tea and gin drink by head bartender Bill Anderson. He steeps Rare Tea Cellars Egyptian chamomile tea, then cuts it with sugar to make a tea syrup for the Come to Drink of It. “My inspiration was a spicy, slightly toasted version of the classic Last Word,” Anderson says, using chamomile to replace the traditional luxardo maraschino and a half-ounce of mezcal to give the drink floral, fruity and smoky notes. 4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs, 708-246-2082

Vie’s Come to Drink of It.