La Sirena Clandestina is getting closer to finally opening and in addition to chef/owner John Manion's Latin American-inspired menu, it looks like a lot of attention is being paid to the cocktails and wine.
Justin Anderson, who is heading up the restaurant's beverage program, met Manion back in 2010 when they both worked at Branch 27. The pair had similar philosophies on how a restaurant should run and, after a yearlong stint at the Bedford, Anderson teamed back up with Manion. Now Anderson has created a cocktail program he felt could be more accessible to more people while still focusing on the brightness, acidity and fruit found in Latin-inspired drinks.
"I wanted to try and get weird," Anderson said. "This process is going to evolve for me. What we'll open with is going to be similar but different three to five months from now. I want to open with something that's approachable to enthusiasts, but also to the general public."
The list, which will mostly focus on shaken and stirred cocktails between $9 and $10, will feature a number of base spirits like pisco, rum, mezcal, tequila, cachaca and fernet. The drinks will change from time to time, but don't call it a seasonal list. "I won't be changing seasonally," Anderson said. "There will be seasonality, but I don't want to overdo it. And I want people to come back and get a cocktail they had before."
Anderson's initial list of about 14 drinks will be broken up into three categories: Los Clasicos, with drinks like a pisco sour, daiquiri or caipirinha; Shaken where you'll get originals like the Punch Drunk in Buizos (cachaça, cognac, apricot preserves, tea, fresh lime and housemade ginger beer), Papí Chulo (tequila reposado, chartreuse, fresh citrus, agave and house orange bitters) and the Bajan Lemonade (aged Barbados rum, cherry liqueur, velvet falernum, pineapple sour and decanter bitters); and Stirred, including ConquistaDoró (tequila blanco, amontillado sherry, herbal liqueur, blood orange liqueur and bitters) and the Cross of Burgundy (Peruvian pisco, bittersweet vermouth, apertíf and creole bitters).
But don't worry, the restaurant will have plenty of whiskey, rye and bourbon because "I don't want anyone to feel slighted when they come in," Anderson said. And if you're looking for wine, La Sirena's list, composed by Paige Jacoby, will feature about 30 wines, mostly by small producers. About half the list will be glass pours. To prepare the staff, Jacoby created wine books with notes for all the servers to ensure better education.
"I think the benchmark of what we're trying to do is have a casual place with awesome service," Anderson said. "We did a lot of traveling and one thing we saw is Chicago needs better service. Not just friendly service, but knowledgeable service."
· All John Manion Coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]
· All La Sirena Clandestina Coverage on Eater Chicago
· La Sirena Clandestina [website]