Where to Find Summer’s Hottest Cocktails

Updated 7/10/17 by Manon Blackman

Any bar can pour you a cold one, but today’s cocktail scene is much more demanding.

Don’t make your own tonic or fresh sour mix? Not muddling fresh herbs, fruits and veggies into your rum or vodka? Unacceptable! Restaurants are putting much time and effort into their cocktail menus, and we are all the better for it. Here are some of our favorite places to imbibe—and they all serve real food as well, so it’s one-stop shopping!

CHICAGO

Acadia
I was blown away by the bar artistry here; it’s every bit as special as the food. A good one to try? The Rich Gamble with belle meade bourbon, apricot tea-infused liqueur, toasted pecan and black walnut reduction and a touch of rhubarb amaro served in a cinnamon-smoked glass. Wow. 1639 S. Wabash Ave., 312-360-9500

Allium
I love to cuddle in the living room-like space or overlook the Mag Mile while sipping a Raspberry Basil Collins (Tangueray 10 Gin, Raspberry Syrup, Basil, Lime, Ginger Beer). Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Pl., 312 799-4900

Billy Sunday
The Salty Dog here is made with Aquavit, Grapefruit, Myrtle Berry, Lime, and Hawaiian Black Sea Salt. The drinks are the stars here, but the limited menu of food is spot on. 3143 W. Logan Blvd., 773-661-2485

Bub City
Park your steed at the door and enjoy a Save a Horse, Ride a Cucumber (Hank’s vodka or Plymouth gin,
lime, cucumber, mint); or the Buck Dynasty (Old Grand Dad 100 bourbon or Vida mezcal,
lime, hellfire ginger syrup, ginger beer). Well over 100 kinds of whiskey, including three housemade whiskey shots. 435 N. Clark St., 312-610-4200

Carriage House
The Rhubarb Gin Fizz will really get you in the down-home Southern “spirit.” Made with Warner Edwards rhubarb gin, grenadine, simple syrup with lemon juice, and topped with rhubarb cider and egg white, it’s a perfect summer quaff. 1700 W. Division St., 773-384-9700

DMK Burger Bar
I am partial to Madame Geneva’s Rhubarb Delight (Hendrick’s Gin, lime soda, and gingered rhubarb jam) or the Strawberry Fields (Bacardi Rum, fresh strawberries, basil, lime juice and agave nectar). 2954 N. Sheffield. Ave., 773-360-8686

Longman and Eagle
Brilliant cocktailing happening here. For a change, try the Late Bloomer (Very Old Barton 100, Tarragon, Lychee, Lime, Sparkling Wine); it’s fresh, a little herbal and a tiny bit sweet. The balance on this one is amazing. 2657 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-276-7110

Parson’s Chicken and Fish
Sure, you could do a Purple  (Red Wine, Port, Sugar, Orange Blossom Water), but they have a NEGRONI SLUSHY. Need I say more? 2952 W. Armitage Ave., 773-384-3333

Siena Tavern
With eleven house cocktails ready to go behind the bar, the choice isn’t easy. So I’ll make it for you: the No. 5 (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Averna Amaro, allspice dram, cinnamon, clove, lemon, angostura bitters and ginger apple cider). 51 W. Kinzie St., 312-595-1322 

cocktails-siena-tavern

EVANSTON

cocktails-found-gtFound
“Lady of Libations” Jan Henrichsen knows her way around a cocktail. Take the G&T Rethunk, a delicious blend of Letherbee gin, grapefruit, ginger and lime with a rare powdered cinchona bark that she flies in from South America. That’s commitment! 1631 Chicago Ave., 847-868-8945

Taco Diablo
Try the spellbinding Yes Please, a refreshing drink of fresh pink grapefruit,  pomegranate, passion fruit, and Tito’s Vodka, or opt for the Hot Joy margarita spiked with spicy chili shrub & habanero bitters. 1029 Davis St., 847-868-8229

Union Pizzeria  
I am jonesing for the Zapotec (Banhez Mezcal, Giffard creme de apricot, cynar and lemon juice) served over ice. 1245 Chicago Ave., 847-475-2400

Ward 8
A real cocktail bar—with food—on the North Shore! I can’t set foot in here without ordering the Corpse Reviver #2 (equal parts gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, and Lillet with a dash of absinthe) from talented mixologist Cody Muldeer. But you really can’t go wrong here. 629 Howard St., 847-420-7353

cocktails-ward-8

GLENCOE

Guildhall
Their perfectly balanced Guildhall Manhattan (Old Forester, Carpano Antica, House Bitter’s Mix) will rock your world. 694 Vernon Ave., 847-835-8100

GLENVIEW

Jolane’s Café
Wednesday night is Martini night, and they only cost $6, whether you opt for the Julius Espresso Martini (made with Julius Meinl espresso, Grey Goose Vodka, Kahlua and white Crème de Cacao) or the Melissatini (Jose Cuervo Tequila, pineapple juice, lemonade and grenadine). 1100 Milwaukee Ave., 847-375-6986

Wildfire
You almost feel virtuous drinking the Skinny Pineapple Coconut (Bacardi Rock Coconut Rum, lemon and pineapple juices and Monin sugar-free syrup) instead of the calorie-laden Pina Colada. Almost. 1300 Patriot Blvd., 847-657-6363 (also in Lincolnshire)

HIGHLAND PARK

Abigail’s
Pretend you’re up in the land of cheese curds with resident mixologist Lawrence Kedzie’s  Door County Cherry Sour (Door County cherry-infused white whiskey, cherry bitters and fresh sour mix). Yeah, sure, you betcha! 493 Roger Williams Ave., 847-780-4862

HIGHWOOD

Silver Dollar Tavern
Don’t ask what’s in the “world-famous” Moe Tai, because they won’t tell you. Just drink it, and stop being nosy. 336 Green Bay Rd., 847-433-6360

LAKE BLUFF

Inovasi
The Deacon Palmer (black-tea infused Bulleit Bourbon, lemon syrup, Angostura bitters) is Arnold’s non-teetoaling pal. 28 E. Center Ave., 847-295-1000

LIBERTYVILLE

cocktails-pinstripes-marg

The Tavern
Their Cosmo with SOL plays on the typical Cosmopolitan cocktail using North Shore Distillery’s Sol Chamomile Citrus Vodka. 519 N. Milwaukee Ave., 847-367-5755

NORTHBROOK

Pinstripes
What makes a Margarita Italiano? The addition of Limoncello to Patron Silver Tequila, sour mix, and a splash of pomegranate juice. 1150 Willow Rd., 847-480-2323

SKOKIE

Roka Akor
Some of my favorites from their Chicago branch include the tasty aperitif A Cocktail Without a Name (Shinshu Mars Iwai Japanese Whisky, Dolin Genepi des Alpes, Genmaicha Tea, Honey, Lime, Grapefruit, Angostura Bitters) and the Stranded in Kyoto (with Tanqueray No. Ten, Campari, Lemon, Pür Likör Elderflower, and Mint). 4999 Old Orchard Center

WILMETTE

Convito Café and Market
If I’m feeling especially Italian, I go for the Tuscan Lemonade (Ketel One Vodka, lemonade, blackberry puree and a splash of soda).

WINNETKA

Trifecta Grill
For a spicy twist, try the Pineapple Jalapeno Mezcal Margarita, with La Luna mezcal, fresh lime, agave, and Cointreau.