Whether you're looking for a quiet bar tucked away or hoping to drink plenty of mescal-filled cocktails and pint after pint of cider, try these new bars this summer.
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After opening GreenRiver last September, the group behind New York City’s Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog has given Chicago a more intimate venue next door. Head bartender Julia Momose created a menu much shorter than GreenRiver’s, with 12 seasonal flower-focused cocktails (the new menu starts mid-June). Those flowers form the bases of cocktails like the refreshing Wild Maquis, concentrated on lavender with slightly savory mescal, Cocchi Americano and Herbes de Provence. GreenRiver’s Aaron Lirette is behind the small food menu, with dishes like oysters, pork pâté and olives.
In the bar space next to Johnny’s Grill, you’ll now find Mezcaleria Las Flores. Owner and beverage director Jay Schroeder presents each of the cocktails here in fun glasses—one even comes in a bowl. At $10 a pop, it’s easy to throw back a few of Schroeder’s concoctions, like the refreshing Magnetic Pole Reversal with sotol, cucumber, lime and basil. Don’t miss the expansive back-bar menu, with pours of agave spirits served with lemon and spices. And being next door to Johnny’s has its perks—you can order from the neighbor’s kitchen for snacks or dinner.
Consider a night at the Northman as an education in cider. Two years in the making, the bar on the border of North Center and Lincoln Square offers an extensive list of interantional and local ciders and bartenders who can talk you through the choices. The list boasts page after page of draft, canned and bottled ciders, along with a French- and English- inspired bistro menu. Make sure you belly up to the bar and get the Spanish long-pour cider: It's unfiltered and uncarbonated but gets just the right amount of fizz as it streams from a tap almost as high as the ceiling. As for the rest of the menu, your servers can walk you through the rotating selection of semidry, dry and sweet ciders, as well as an expansive list of calvados.
This North Center cocktail bar stands out in a neighborhood dominated by craft beer, giving local mixed-drink enthusiasts a haven to try interesting offerings like the Optimo, smooth with a fruity kick from pineapple rum and sherry. There’s also a menu of old-fashioneds available with varying spirits, from rye to rum. With a dark speakeasy feel, this one is on the list for date night.