Grand: The cocktail stop

Grand: The cocktail stop

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  • Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

    RPM Italian

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    RPM Italian

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Sable

  • Photograph: Vincent Gilemi

    Sable

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Watershed

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    NoMI Kitchen

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

RPM Italian

Stop thinking tourist trap when you think River North. Great booze flows freely near the Grand Red Line stop, where many of Chicago’s top mixologists have set up camp at cocktail lounges within stumbling distance. At Sable (505 N State St, 312-755-9704), you’ll need about ten minutes to get through the book (yes, book) of cocktails. Liquor guru Mike Ryan shakes up everything from original takes on pre-Prohibition classics to retro tiki cocktails, and lets tipplers handpick ingredients for the ultimate martini and Manhattan. Nearby, RPM Italian (52 W Illinois St, 312-222-1888) has scored former Whistler bartender Paul McGee, who’s now serving as the cocktail director of restaurant empire Lettuce Entertain You. McGee’s style leans toward reconstructed classics, updated with personal touches—a splash of bitters, a substituted aperitif. Or drink local at WaterShed (601 N State St, lower level, 312-266-4932), the subterranean lounge within bubbly bar Pops for Champagne. An impressive lineup of labels from Midwest breweries and distilleries pairs nicely with cheffed-up bar bites from executive chef Luke Creagan. Choose your own adventure and prepare to get sauced.


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