The Chicago-post holiday scene is gray and bitter-cold, and when the temps really take a nosedive, our options for a good time get kind of slim. If you can't bear to see another double-feature or sneak off to Barneys yet again, we suggest tucking into one of this City's best bars. You know, the kind of place that's cozy and cool, and won't make you roll your eyes from all the pomp and painful hipness. Hence, we've rounded up the goods on Chicago's best drinking spots for a long, long winter. And wouldn't you know it, we asked the brains behind the bar to tell us what they can't wait to pour you this season. We suggest you take their advice...we did with no regrets!
The Violet Hour continues to set the pace in stylish Chicago imbibing. Robby Haynes fills us in on what's hot behind the bar, specifically the Ginger Toddy, which pretty much tastes as good as it sounds. This winter-only offering combines rum, house-made ginger syrup, honey syrup, and old-fashioned Bitters. It's served hot, so as far as we're concerned this is the cure for what ails you.
The Whistler's chill vibe makes it one of Chicago's best ways to warm up. For those of us who crave a good winter cocktail but are so over mulled wine, The Whistler's Paul McGee recommends an Elk's Own. The bar's version of this classic combines bourbon, lemon juice, ruby port, and egg white. Even better, it's got a touch of Cynar (artichoke cordial—don't freak out) and a yummy walnut liqueur rinse.
Sable, in River North's Hotel Palomar, is on a mission: Bar manager Mike Ryan wants to make sure you're really loving the booze here. And this winter, we've got our eye on the Dominican Snowbank. We can tell you it's full of Brugal Anejo rum, cinnamon bark, and cream, but all you really need to know is the final ingredient: house-made chocolate bitters. Yum.
With a new winter-friendly patio up and running, Big Star is embracing the cold with panache. Ben Fasman, manager at Big Star, suggests a Paris Texas to warm you up. Made with apple brandy, bourbon, Yellow Chartruese, and Carpano Antica, the Paris Texas has hints of cinnamon and apple, and will make you think of a super-boozy, apple Old-Fashioned. We're in love.