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Drink This Now: 6 must-drink cocktails in Chicago right now

Photo Credit: Shelby Allison

The Private Vices at Scofflaw
A new addition to the menu for fall, this drink combines Scofflaw’s exclusive Old Tom Gin (made for them by North Shore Distillery) with Letherbee Besk (a homegrown version of the famous Malort), lemon, and honey syrup. A hit of grapefruit matches perfectly with the besk, adding a bitter top note that won’t give you a puckered face.

River Valley Bloody Mary at River Valley Farmer’s Table
Everyone loves a good bloody mary, but so often these days elaborate garnishes are used to hide mediocre ingredients. Not so at River Valley, where their house-made mix uses heirloom tomatoes that come straight from their farm in Wisconsin. It’s garnished with salami, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and their signature pickled mushrooms.

Amaro Swizzle at River Roast
There’s no doubt that amaro is hot right now. The bitter liqueur (actually, there are hundreds of varieties) adds a complex note to whatever drink it touches. One of the best, especially for fall, is at River Roast. They infuse Four Roses with lemon-mint tea from Rare Tea Cellar, combine it with local Letherbee Fernet and Italian Cynar, serving it over crushed ice with mint. Refreshing, yet complicated—what more could you ask for?

The Double Barrel Manhattan at Berkshire Room
Now that we’re gliding towards winter, it’s time to start drinking whiskey again. And there’s no better whiskey drink in town than the Double Barrel Manhattan at Berkshire Room. If you ask really nicely, they might show you their secret barrel room, since this is a barrel-aged cocktail. In fact, it’s a double barrel aged cocktail (get it?), spending time in a used Buffalo Trace barrel and a cask from Chimney Rock Winery.

Armagnac/Cherrywood Smoke Cocktail at Acanto
This nameless drink—Acanto prefers to list their drinks by ingredient—blows away anything else you’ll get near Millennium Park. It starts with an Armagnac base, still a rare spirit for mixologists to play with, and gets dabs of so many foreign bitter spirits that you won’t be able to pronounce them if you want to order the cocktail. Just drink it. It’s delicious.

Old Fashioned at Acadia
Acadia’s bar is still the best thing going in the South Loop, and that’s not just because of the lobster rolls. The constantly rotating cocktail list from mixer Arunas Bruzas includes his take on an Old Fashioned. You can’t quite place what makes this drink different from the typical rendition until you check out the menu—it’s the house-made smoked vanilla and saffron syrup.

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