Infusing spirits with flavors is not only fun, it's also a practical option for bartenders and discerning at-home cocktail-crafters who are looking to experiment a bit. An infused spirit can completely change the taste of a traditional drink, and even add some flair to seasonal options. For those interested in tasting the difference, here are 13 spots around Chicago infusing some extra oomph into their cocktails.Read More
13 Spots Stepping Up Their Cocktail Game with House-Infused Spirits
1. Fish Bar
The cheekily named "Smokeshow" cocktail at Fish Bar offers a nice kick thanks to its jalapeno-infused Lunazul Tequila, which is mixed with Vida Mezcal, hibiscus, and lime.
Opened by the team behind NYC’s praise-baiting Dead Rabbit, GreenRiver became one of Chicago’s most-polished cocktail spots even before it got time to hit its stride. Come for the great bites and head-turning views, but stay for the "Tommy Gun," which is made with pineapple-infused Kappa Pisco, Garam Masala, lime juice, and aromatic bitters.
3. Rec Room
Rec Room is the place to go if you’re in River North but don’t want to feel like you’re in River North. The hard-partying basement bar features a variety of fun, simple cocktails, as well as house-infused vodka of the day. Also try the "Snake ‘Em on Down" cocktail, made with basil-infused vodka, house-made strawberry-basil soda, and lime.
This secret-ish Ukrainian Village cocktail lounge has no problem letting its hair down and having some fun—as evidenced by its Banana Foster Old Fashioned. It’s made with banana-infused Irish whiskey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and bitters.
5. River Roast
Stunning views, picturesque entrees, and inventive vegetarian-dishes are all great reasons to visit River Roast. The "Hemingway’s Muse" cocktail is just added incentive, and it’s made with mint-and-lime infused Brugal Rum, Demerara sugar, and club soda.
The stunning Silversmith Hotel lounge may look like a million bucks, but it also offers a great weekday happy-hour menu that’s easy on the wallet. You can also stop in for brunch and order up the "Monster of the Midway Bloody Mary," which is made with bacon-infused Grey Goose, a house-made bloody mix, and fourteen different garnishes.
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7. Bread & Wine
A play on the dark and stormy, Bread & Wine’s "Second City Storm" is made with rum that’s infused with toasted pecans, cinnamon, and vanilla bean. The complex spirit is buttressed with sassafras simple-syrup, lime, Jamaican-jerk bitters, and ginger beer.
A fun, exotic mix of equator-hugging flavors, Presidio’s "Pisco Punch #1" mixes Thai-chili-infused Pisco with mango, lime, and coconut.
9. Southport & Irving
It can be easy to get lost among the shuffle of cocktail-hotspot openings. Nevertheless, the underrated SIP (Southport & Irving) is quietly crafting some interesting drinks, including the "One More Please." It’s made with mushroom-infused Plantation Original Dark Rum, Skadi Aquavit, carrot-beet shrubs, lemon, egg-white, absinthe, and club soda.
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10. Cantina Laredo
Available in citrus and strawberry flavors, Cantina Laredo’s Hatch margaritas feature Avión Silver Tequila infused with Hatch chile peppers.
11. Barley & Brass
Hey, we’re not going to sweat you for downing a shot of Fireball once in a while. However, like some other bars, Barley & Brass makes its own cinnamon-infused whiskey in-house, which serves as a tastier, more-respectable option.
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12. Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
At Jake Melnick’s, beverage director Emilie Sharboneau gets hands-on by infusing Modest Vodka with vanilla beans in-house. The spirit is featured in the "Get Toasted" cocktail, which is also made with Vander Mill Cider and a splash of cranberry.
13. Tavern on Rush
Simple but packing a serious punch, Tavern on Rush’s pineapple-infused Absolut Vodka is popular among patrons who either order it shaken up in a martini glass or on the rocks.