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Mix masters

You thought you'd heard about every great mixologist in town. You thought wrong. Introducing Chicago's new bartending guard.


Kyle Fountaine
Watch for A respect for restraint
Fountaine has shaken cocktails in Amsterdam and Montreal, but it wasn’t until Blackbird that his chef-driven style started taking hold. Because he preps his cocktails alongside chefs prepping dishes, he’ll often incorporate what they’re working with into his drinks to enhance the meals—but never overshadow them. That’s how ingredients like chervil end up on his list, and why his cocktails are so good at easing you into (or out of) a meal.

Whisper by Kyle Fountaine, Blackbird

2 oz Hendricks Gin
¼ oz Escorial Liqueur
¼ oz Bartolo Nardini Rue Infused Grappa
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz lemon balm syrup
Fresh chervil

Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a Cocktail Glass. Garnich with a leaf of chervil.

Benjamin Schiller
Watch for Food-friendly cocktails
Schiller recently completed a lengthy stint at In Fine Spirits, where he developed a habit for all spirits small-batch and artisanal, and helped turn that bar into the Violet Hour: Andersonville. When developing his cocktails’ flavors, he depends on his wine background, which means that his drinks for the BOKA Group (for which he’ll be head bartender) should go as well with dinner as they do before it.

Fresh and Clean by Benjamin Schiller, BOKA Restaurant Group (and formerly In Fine Spirits)

2 oz North Shore #6 Gin
½ oz Aperol
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
1 dash Peychaud's bitters

Stir together all ingredients and serve in a cocktail glass.

Jeff Donahue
Watch for An editor’s focus
Mentored by mixologist Adam Seger, Donahue’s had a lesson or two in the seasonal, local tenets of Nacional 27’s cocktail program. At Province, he’s taken what he learned and edited it down to the bare components, introducing a single unusual flavor (or two) to a classic cocktail. In his hands, a Sazerac is simply that—except for the smokiness of the Chinese tea Lapsang souchong infused into the simple syrup.

Vya Chicago, by Jeff Donahue, Province

1 oz North Shore Distiller's Gin No. 11
1 oz Quady 'Vya' Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz thai basil simple syrup*
1 sprig fresh Thai basil

Combine all ingredients in a glass and shake with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with Thai basil.

*To make the Thai basil simple syrup, bring two cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 2 cups of raw sugar and 3 stems of Thai basil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, take off heat, and let cool. Strain through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth before using.

Rich Szydlo
one sixtyblue
Watch for A quiet sophistication
At a swing-dancing bar, Szydlo learned the Manhattan. At a steak house, he mastered the martini. At the Cubby Bear, he slung shots. But in the past two years at one sixtyblue, he’s crafted an ambitious cocktail list. Take his Shire, for instance: It rejects every tenet of the appletini—gin sits where vodka would be, juiced green apple takes the place of pucker. Yet it somehow makes a direct appeal to the appletini clientele.

The Shire, by Rich Szydlo, one sixtyblue

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
1.5 oz juiced green apple
3 kiwi slices

Muddle kiwi, apple juice, and gin together in a large shaker. Add ice, shake and pour into martini glass. Garnish with a kiwi slice.

Marc Yanga
The Gage and 33 Club
Watch for Versatility, prolificacy
Yanga spent years traveling across the country training Morton’s bartenders on classic martinis; at the Gage, he can finally play around a little. And now that he’s also at Jerry Kleiner’s new restaurant 33 Club, Yanga has two outlets for his passion. So instead of one twist on an old-fashioned, Yanga creates two: one geared toward the Gage’s adventurous clientele, another toward the traditional tastes of 33 Club’s.

Apricot- (or Cherry-) infused Sazarac, by Marc Yanga, 33 Club and The Gage

Splash Pernod (with Absinthe is ideal)
2 oz infused bourbon (at The Gage, Yanga uses bourbon infused with dried apricots; at 33 Club, black cherries)
½ oz simple syrup
2-3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters

Add ice and Pernod to a glass, twirl the contents for several seconds to “season” and chill the glass, then dump the contents out of the glass and set aside. In a large mixing glass, add ice, infused bourbon, simple and bitters. Stir. (Do not shake, as this will “bruise” the bourbon.) Strain into glass and garnish w/lemon twist.

Daniel Love
the Sofitel, Mercadito
Watch for Award-winning, off-list cocktails
In a recent Bartender’s Guild competition, Love’s cocktails beat out those from the city’s mixology giants. But if you want to drink those winning cocktails, don’t look for them on the lists at the Sofitel or the soon-to-open Mercadito. Instead, take a seat at one of those bars. Love is always working on something, and while the cocktails on the menu will always be there, the ones in his head could be gone by the end of his shift.

The Jack Rose by Daniel Love, The Sofitel and Mercadito

2 oz Applejack
Steamed apple cider
Lime zest
Pomegranate syrup
1 oz Navan
Fresh whipped cream

Pour Applejack into a cider glass and top with hot apple cider. Fold lime zest, pomegranate syrup and Navan in the whipped cream. Top cider with cream.

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