11 Easy Cocktail Recipes — Bartender Approved

UPDATE: This story was originally published on October 5.
Question: When was the last time you ordered something other than a boring ol' vodka soda? We're not knocking the standby, but there's a reason why there are so many bottles behind the bar — variety is the spice of life, friends. So, we tapped a well (at top levels, of course) of bartending knowledge to bring you 11 tasty mixologist-approved cocktails—and we promise even you can shake these up at home.
Yes, Chicago's lords of libations have shared formulas for easy, seasonal concoctions straight from their own recipe books. And your friends are guaranteed to marvel over your fall-inspired Old Fashioneds or boozy pumpkin shakes. Oh, but don't worry — you won't have to light anything on fire or source any exotic ingredients to make the magic happen. These babies are spirited enough.
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The Bristol: Dark & Stormy

1.5 oz ginger puree
2 oz Goslings Rum
½ oz lime juice
Goslings Ginger Beer

Add ginger puree, lime, and rum to a glass. Add ice to a shaker, and add contents to shaker. Shake 10 to 15 times and pour over four large cubes of ice in a Collins glass. Top with Goslings Ginger Beer. Add fifth large cube of ice to drink and drizzle “black strap” molasses to cocktail — two long straws.

The Bristol, 2152 North Damen Avenue (at Webster Avenue); 773-862-5555


Photo: Courtesy of The Bristol
2 of 11
Michael Jordan's Steak House, Jason Huffman: Lady Sapphire

1.5 oz Damrak
1 oz Mathide pear
.75 oz lemon
.50 oz vanilla cardamom syrup
1 egg white

Skake, double strain, and serve.

Michael Jordan's Steak House, 505 North Michigan Avenue (between Grand Avenue and Illinois Street); 312-3218823


Photo: Courtesy of Michael Jordan's Steak House
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J. Parker, Erin Hayes: Hello, Havana

1 oz Matusalem Clasico Rum
.75 oz banana liqueur
.5 oz passion fruit puree
.25 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Barspoon of Demerara syrup

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into double rocks glass filled with ice.

J. Parker, 1816 North Clark Street (at Lincoln Avenue); 312-254-4700


Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Lincoln
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The Florentine, Chad Pozmantir: Smoky Mt. Rye

2 oz Bulleit Rye
.5 oz blood orange bitters
.5 oz smoky honey (For a short cut, you can take a tablespoon of honey and mix that with a splash of a product called "liquid smoke" by Colgin, available on Amazon)
Splash of lemon juice

Stir and strain over ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

The Florentine, 151 West Adams Street (between Wells and La Salle Streets); 312-660-8866


Photo: Courtesy of The Florentine
5 of 11
Fish Bar, Sasha Nemchonok: Mezcal Me Maybe

1 oz Del Maguey Vida Mescal
.5 oz Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila
1 oz simple syrup (ideally, a mango/jalapeño flavor)

Mix all of the ingredients, pour over ice. Top with a splash of pineapple juice and lime wedge.

Fish Bar, 2956 North Sheffield Avenue (at Wellington); 773-687-8177


Photo: Courtesy of Fish Bar
6 of 11
Eleven City Diner, Josh Kaplan: Bloody Mary

Rim pint glass with lime juice and celery salt.
Fill with Ice.
Add large celery stalk.
Add 2 to 3 squirts of cholula and worcestershire.
Add 3 oz of vodka.

Fill rest of the glass with Eleven City Diner Bloody Mary Mix.
Garnish with salami, swiss, olives, and lemon wedge.

Eleven City Diner, 1112 South Wabash Avenue (between 11th Street and Roosevelt Road); 312-212-1112


Photo: Courtesy of Eleven City Diner
7 of 11
Drumbar, Benjamin Newby: The Ol' One Two

2 oz Hennessy Black
1 tsp blackberry jam
3/4 oz Stirrings Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Chambord 1/2 oz lemon juice
2 pinches of cayenne pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together, serve over ice in a Collins Glass. Top with a splash of ginger beer (there are several on the market).

Drumbar, 201 East Delaware Street (between Walton and Chestnut Streets); 312-943-5000


Photo: Courtesy of Drumbar
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Chicago q, Nick Crowley: Bear Hug

2 oz Templeton Rye
2 oz of ginger beer
1/2 oz cinnamon simple syrup (or regular simple syrup with cinnamon mixed in)
Splash of lemon juice

Shake all of the ingredients together and pour over ice. Add a cinnamon stick and lemon peel tuile if desired.

Chicago q, 1160 N Dearborn Street (between Elm and Division Streets); 312-642-1160


Photo: Courtesy of Chicago q
9 of 11
25 Degrees, Mac and Joe Boumaroun: Pumpkin Spice Boozy Shake

Pumpkin Puree Recipe
Blend the following:
1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup apple juice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 oz of butterscotch and/or caramel sauce
3 oz of pumpkin puree (recipe above or pre-made pumpkin pie filing)
2 oz of Bacardi Oakheart Rum
1 pint vanilla ice cream

Blend ingredients in a blender, pour into a tall glass, and top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

25 Degrees, 736 North Clark Street (at Chicago Avenue); 312-943-9700


Photo: Courtesy of 25 Degrees
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The Gage: Fall Old Fashioned

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye 100p
1 oz Blis Maple Syrup Mix (syrup and cherry orange water)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
2 strips of lemon peel
2 strips of orange peel

Put citrus peels in rocks glass. Add ice ball, rye, syrup mix, and bitters. Stir in glass for a few seconds. This is a spin off of the classic Old Fashioned, which combined Rye, sugar, bitters and citrus. The Blis maple syrup is from Michigan, where it is aged in old bourbon barrels. Because it is super sweet and viscous, it has been cut with a cherry orange water. The water is cooked sous vide with orange peels and dried cherries at a controlled temperature to prevent any bitterness from overcooking the citrus. This drink is quite strong.

The Gage, 24 South Michigan Avenue (between Madison and Monroe Streets); 312-372-4243


Photo: Courtesy of The Gage
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Antique Taco, Rick Ortiz: Rosemary Margherita

2 cups tequila
4 cups water
2 cups fresh lime juice
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups rosemary simple syrup
1 tsp salt
2 rosemary branches
(Makes ½ gallon)

Mix all the ingredients, pour over ice. Add rosemary branch garnish.

Antique Taco, 1360 North Milwaukee Avenue (between Paulina and Wood Streets); 773-687-8697.


Photo: Courtesy of Antique Taco
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