Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions with Spirit-Free Cocktails
The first months of the new year are full of promises to eat better, exercise more, and maybe cut back on the booze.
Some Chicago bars and restaurants are making it easier for you to keep at least one of those righteous resolutions with spirit-free cocktails that are inventive, delicious and satisfying…without a drop of alcohol. With many of these cocktails, you would never guess that they contain no liquor at all.
Here are six Chicago restaurants that are making a major effort to help you keep your promises to yourself with spirit-free cocktails.
Eden. Mixologists Alex Rydzewski and Charlie Foreman at the West Side’s Eden are developing some fantastic spirit-free sips with great flavor and a great price: they’re all just $10. Special selections include the tangy Citta Modena Canela Noir (orange, balsamic lavender syrup, Meyer lemon, basil, club soda), Sanguine Sling (blood orange, lime, rosemary honey syrup, ginger beer) and White Hot Chocolate (Zephyr white chocolate, milk, raspberry dust, house-made whipped cream).
Le Colonial. Recently relocated though still in Chicago’s glittering Gold Coast, Le Colonial offers tasty French-inflected Southeast Asian cuisine, as well as some fruit-forward, spirit-free cocktails for a reasonable ten bucks a pop. Each cocktail represents a season. To pair with your bahn mi, pho or other Vietnamese specialty, consider Mua Xuan, representing springtime with blackberries, lemon juice, Sprite and mint; a summer-y Mua He with pineapple, mango, lychee and lemon juice; an autumnal Mua Thu with guava, coconut, cranberry juice and, yes, Sprite; or Mua Dong, a wintery mix of cucumber, ginger beer and lime juice.
Virtue. Chef Erick Williams has received many plaudits after opening his Virtue in Hyde Park in early 2019. In addition to some of the finest Southern-inspired food anywhere in the city, you can now enjoy some creative and very well priced ($5!) zero-proof cocktails including The Hummingbird (with basil and bitter lemon) and the Duke of Earl (with Earl Grey tea, star anise, lemon and egg white). If you’re looking for something to eat with your drinks, the catfish is spectacular, and if you’ve never enjoyed gizzards, Virtue is where you will.
Lost Lake. Perhaps Chicago’s finest tiki bar, Lost Lake presents Polynesian pleasure without the alcohol. The “No Tipple Tiki” portion of the menu features Mango Mu Mu (pandan, mango, pineapple, lime and Topo Chico) and Nobody’s Business (lemon grass, lime leaf, coconut water, no-alcohol aromatic bitters and nutmeg).
Galit. This newer Middle Eastern restaurant, offering creative takes on classics from James Beard-award winning chef Zachary Engel, has had spirit-free cocktails on the menu since day one. We recommend L.P. Limonana (lemon mint and fuzzy yuzu) or On the Back Burner (fenugreek, ginger and apple cider).
TAO. Amidst the glitz and glamour of Asian-inspired Tao, you’ll find several mocktails presented in a dramatic environment that almost seems more club than restaurant. Perhaps the most popular of the spirit-free options is Nirvana, a spiced fruity blend of Thai-chili spiked passion fruit syrup, complemented with ginger and Red Bull Tropical; this sweet and savory combination will pair perfectly with many of the imaginative edible offerings at Tao, including the lobster wantons, lamb chop yakitori and olive fried rice.