From locally made liqueurs to ready-to-drink cocktails, here’s the latest from Chicago’s always-hopping spirits scene.
Forbidden Root’s full line, including elixir bitters, tonic syrup and vermouth
Forbidden Root’s newest line of craft beverages, the Lost Botanicals Series, is a culmination of advanced alchemy and intriguing ingredients, with housemade elixir bitters, vermouth and tonic syrup. Each bitter is infused with 14 aromatic botanicals, including American oak, elderberry and agave syrups, and gentian and cherry barks—all melded with deep citrus notes and a zing of evergreen. 1746 W. Chicago Ave.
Bringing an international slate of liquors, craft beers and wines from across the globe to Water Tower Place, Spirits & Spice has shelves stocked with more than 400 bottles from local family wineries cozied up next to a 39-year-aged Armagnac, Arcola whiskey, honey vanilla rye liqueur and more. Complimentary samplings before purchase are de rigueur, and the shop’s pantry selection features flavor-infused vinegars and oils as well as gourmet sauces, spreads and snacks. 835 N. Michigan Ave.
The debut cocktail line from Blue Blazer counts the Lula Cafe bloody mary among its concoctions.
Blue Blazer has partnered with hospitality mavens like Heisler Hospitality, Folkart and Four Corners to introduce ready-to-drink craft cocktails from Chicago bars and restaurants, including Pub Royale and Lula Cafe. Its famed Pub Royale Cup combines Letherbee and Beefeater gins; Letherbee Royale Cup liqueur; and cane sugar, fresh lemon, strawberry, cucumber and ginger juices. Throughout the duration of local bar and restaurant restrictions, 51% of all profits will be donated to not-for-profit organizations, including the Illinois Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Relief Fund and Southern Smoke’s Chicago Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.
A stunning selection of whiskies, gins and spirits are created at Koval Distillery—Chicago’s first since Prohibition. Each whiskey is aged in a charred barrel, making for flavorful grain notes. Its cranberry gin liqueur brings with it full-bodied fruity flavors from Koval Gin’s 13 botanicals, formulated with locally sourced ingredients and ideally paired with a spritz of prosecco or sparkling water. 4241 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Apologue’s cocktail Kits for Causes in partnership with The Violet Hour
Say cheers from the comfort of home with DIY seasonal cocktail Kits for Causes from Apologue, in collaboration with local bars and restaurants, including Lula Cafe. Each is a balance of natural liqueurs and regional ingredients. December welcomes The Violet Hour kit, featuring a Saffron Toddy with Apologue Saffron liqueur, Rhine Hall apple brandy and spiced honey syrup. Plus, $15 from every Saffron Toddy kit sold in December will be donated to Women In Hospitality United.
Photography by: From top: Courtesy of Forbidden Root; by Alexandra Zajac; by Robby Haynes