Adam Seger's cocktails

One bartender has his hands in nearly every drink in Chicago. (But not in a gross way.)

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  • Photograph: Brendan Lekan

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    The Winter Gimlet (Ransom Old Tom gin, lime, brown sugar syrup, Angostura bitters), $10

  • Photograph: Nicole Radja

    The Norman D. (calvados, sparkling apple cider, bitters), $10

  • Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

    Grilled pineapple mojito (cilantro- and pineapple-infused rum, mint, lime, grilled pineapple, sparkling water), $12

  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    The Blackbird orange (Koval Rye Chicago; honey syrup infused with black pepper, cayenne, chile flakes and cinnamon; orange juice; Fee Brothers aromatic bitters), $12

  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    The Wingdar #3, from bartender Nina Pilacoutas (North Shore Aquavit, apple, honey, lemon, sage), $10

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Old Thymer (Hayman�s Old Tom Gin, thyme, lemon juice, simple syrup, ginger beer), $9 (look for it this spring)

Photograph: Brendan Lekan


It’s hard to imagine now, but just six short years ago there was only one serious cocktail guru in town. His name was Adam Seger, and he put out his market-driven cocktails, with a focus on bitters, infusions and fresh herbs, at Nacional 27 (325 W Huron St, 312-664-2727), still one of Chicago’s prime spots for a good drink. Seger has stepped back from the bar at Nacional to focus on his botanical spirit, Hum, yet his influence can be found in bars everywhere in Chicago—such as in the six drinks below, all made by Seger disciples.


BITTERS

The disciple “[Adam uses] bitters in a cocktail the same way you would season food. Way before the whole classic-cocktail resurgence, we were adding a couple dashes of housemade bitters to every mojito at N27. Used properly, bitters provide aromatic complexity and meld the flavors of a cocktail into something greater than the sum of its parts.”—Jeff Donahue, general manager/beverage director of Province (161 N Jefferson St, 312-669-9900); worked with Seger at Nacional 27
The drink The Winter Gimlet (Ransom Old Tom gin, lime, brown sugar syrup, Angostura bitters), $10 

The disciple “When I was creating the drinks at Paris Club, I sought out bitters other than Angostura…we have six kinds at our bar. You can definitely attribute that to Adam. He thinks of every element that goes into a drink.”—Kiran Pinto, general manager of Paris Club (59 W Hubbard St, 312-595-0800); worked with Seger at Nacional 27 and Tru
The drink The Norman D. (calvados, sparkling apple cider, bitters), $10


INFUSIONS

The disciple “One of the biggest areas in which he really influences our bar is with infusions. He taught me that you have to wait. It takes a lot of work, but the end result is worth it.”—Katie Clas, director of beverage at Mercat a la Planxa (638 S Michigan, 312-765-0524), worked with Seger at Nacional 27
The drink Grilled pineapple mojito (cilantro- and pineapple-infused rum, mint, lime, grilled pineapple, sparkling water), $12

The disciple “He has been a local pioneer with infusing. Now, while I do not ever plan on doing a ham and cheese cocktail, I have been inspired by his menus to…do a few unique infusions of my own.”—Lynn House, mixologist at Blackbird (619 W Randolph St, 312-715-0708); has competed against Seger in local cocktail competitions
The drink
The Blackbird orange (Koval Rye Chicago; honey syrup infused with black pepper, cayenne, chile flakes and cinnamon; orange juice; Fee Brothers aromatic bitters), $12


FRESH HERBS

The disciple “He was the first to start using fresh herbs and fruits in Chicago. So in a way, he’s influenced everybody.”—Daniel de Oliveira, who designed the cocktail menu at WaterShed (601 N State St, 312-266-4932); worked with Seger at Nacional 27
The drink The Wingdar #3, from bartender Nina Pilacoutas (North Shore Aquavit, apple, honey, lemon, sage), $10  

The disciple “When Adam does events, he brings his own herbs—but in pots. He brings the whole plant. He shows how easy it is to use fresh herbs in an urban environment.”—Anne Carlson, events manager and former head bartender at In Fine Spirits (5420 N Clark St, 773-334-9463); worked with Seger at Osteria Via Stato
The drink Old Thymer (Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, thyme, lemon juice, simple syrup, ginger beer), $9 (look for it this spring)


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