The gang behind Sepia will open their second restaurant on June 13 at 565 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop. Proxi, a more casual restaurant with global influences from chef Andrew Zimmerman and co-owner Emmanuel Nony, will also feature the talents of head bartender Josh Relkin. He’s been Benjamin Schiller’s head bartender at The Sixth in Lincoln Square, a chef de partie at Alinea, and at The Aviary/Office.
Relkin’s goal at Proxi is to use familiar ingredients in new ways. One beverage, “Revive & Recover,” mixes lychee and Pisco. Another, the “Daq Attack,” is based on a daiquiri using roasted banana and curry. These drinks can be enjoyed in the dining room or the bar, which may stay open late to serve restaurant workers. Relkin also hopes the sidewalk patio will be a hit for drinkers.
Like Zimmerman, Relkin is using his travels as inspiration. Case in point: He and his wife returned from their honeymoon in Spain where gin and tonics are the country’s national beverage. So Proxi’s drink list will feature three Spanish-style G&Ts.
Chicago’s cocktail culture has grown since Relkin moved to the Windy City. When he arrived, his go-to drink was a Jack and Diet Coke. A trip to The Violet Hour in Wicker Park opened his eyes to better cocktails.
“It’s crazy that you can see that little corner bar go from muddling bright, red cherries and oranges to having to consider making their own Demerara syrup,” Relkin said. “You can now walk a block in any which direction and actually get a really good cocktail.”
Check out the drink menu below, which doesn’t include Jack and Diet Cokes.