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  1. Photograph: Nicole Radja
  2. Photograph: Nicole Radja
  3. Photograph: Nina Pagano
  4. Photograph: Nina Pagano
  5. Photograph: Nicole Radja

Five overlooked barkeeps

Top notch bartender Adam Seger picks five underlauded talents to watch.


Andy Gould at Boiler Room His Amanda Huginkiss with green Chartreuse ($8) is a must, plus he makes a mean Hum Fizz. Chartreuse is one of the toughest spirits to work with—it’s intensely herbal. If done well, there’s nothing else like it, but you gotta have a combo of guts and finesse to use it. Andy shows both. 2210 N California Ave (773-276-5625).

Cristi Delucca at the Drawing Room She’s supertalented, but sometimes she gets overlooked in the press due to [the popularity of other Drawing Room bartenders] Charles Joly and Tim Lacey. A great analogy for her is Charlie Trotter’s chef de cuisine Matthias Merges, who’s absolutely incredible. But because of [the reputation of] Charlie, you don’t hear about Matthias as much. Cristi’s sharp and talented, her drinks have a lot of finesse, they have a lot of flavor and complexity, and an elegance that makes them a real pleasure to drink. 937 N Rush St (312-266-2694).

Alex Huebner at Weegee’s Alex, Weegee’s owner, makes great classics and is a huge champion of craft spirits. It was gutsy of him to replace some of the big-name spirits that people ask for and substitute them for craft or Midwestern spirits. That’s what sets him apart. He’s got it all, from North Shore gin to Death’s Door from Wisconsin, Templeton rye from Iowa, Knickerbocker gin from Michigan…. 3659 W Armitage Ave (773-384-0707).

Nick Vallas at the Exchange He makes an off-the-hook Bourbon Turnover ($11). That drink really impressed me and really connected me with the time of year. I think that’s great if you can instantly identify a drink with the season from an experience and memory standpoint: You remember the way the air smells, the temperature, what you’re in the mood for. That cocktail nailed it, and that really struck me. 1270 N Milwaukee Ave (773-342-5282).

Danny Shapiro at Perennial He’s doing some really cool seasonal things at Perennial. What’s really key is the restaurant’s cocktail program and the chef’s menu are going in the same direction—that’s what you need to take it up a notch. 1800 N Lincoln Ave (312-981-7070).

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