Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right Beyond the mimosa
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Photograph: Brendan LekanMatty's brunch punch at Perennial VirantA $6 cocktail? I watched Perennial's bartender to see if he was pouring from a premade pitcher. Nope. He attended to each glass as if it were his firstborn, blending vodka and housemade pear puree (ingredients change often) with precision. This might be the best booze deal in town. $6.–Marissa Conrad
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Photograph: Brendan LekanPepino el pyu at MercaditoThe cumin salt rimming this cucumber-laced tequila drink will smack any hangover to the curb. Though it's the hoja santa, or "sacred leaf," that's the stuff of legend, says Tad Carducci, part of the New York duo that crafted Mercadito's cocktail list: According to Mexican lore, Mary dried Jesus's diapers on the plant. Here, bartenders make it into a syrup to add an herbal finish to each sip. $11.50.–Marissa Conrad
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Photograph: Brendan LekanLa Bastarda at Tiny LoungeCombining a mimosa, Bloody Mary, Bellini and margarita into one cocktail sounds like an idea we would have proclaimed genius the night before brunch. Yet talented bartenders make this concept work, producing a "bastardized" cocktail that's fruity (orange juice), aromatic (basil) and doused with just enough tequila to make us want another. $9.–Julia Kramer
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Photograph: Brendan LekanNegroni di Aquila at Longman & EagleLongman doesn't so much twist as tug this classic cocktail into something that's better suited for the early hours, subbing mellow Aperol for Campari, introducing effervescence with prosecco and shoving gin out of the picture. $8.–Julia Kramer
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Photograph: Brendan LekanBuster Brown at C-HouseApparently, whiskey is undesirable at brunching hours, when clear spirits rule. C-House comes to the rescue by offering its dinner drinks at brunch, too. Bourbon (softened by a cinnamon-vanilla-cherry infusion), amaretto and sweet vermouth go down just as smoothly as they did the night before. $13.–Marissa Conrad
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Photograph: Brendan LekanMexican Holiday at 2SparrowsAs a woman who hates coffee, it should be testament enough that I'm borderline obsessed with a drink that lists espresso as its second ingredient. But here, all parts—cocoa tequila, espresso liqueur, cinnamon and Cholula—balance perfectly, with the coffee adding depth, not bitterness. $10.–Marissa Conrad
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Photograph: Brendan LekanTruffle shandy at Sprout [Closed]I was perfectly pleased sipping Sprout's Afternoon Delight (fernet, basil, fennel, yum)–until I tasted my boyfriend's shandy: vodka, hard cider and truffle honey syrup, finished by a zillion lemon slices floating in the glass like little rays of sunshine. They brightened the drink and my mood, which always improves when I can pretend it's summer. $9.–Marissa Conrad

Beyond the mimosa

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