The final posthumous Chicago post (i.e. “Best of” list #3: COCKTAILS)

Note 1: No, Chicago is not dead. And neither is my blog. And neither am I, for that matter. But I like the word POSTHUMOUS. Also it looks funny spelled out.

Note 2: I’M IN SEATTLE AND FINALLY WRITING AGAIN! (Because I finally got internet, woo!)

Anyway, for those of you who read my travel blog, I hope you enjoyed it. Craig and I had a great time writing it, and Leonard is the bestest travel buddy ever.

And now, since I promised this post long, long ago, here are my TOP 5 COCKTAIL SPOTS in Chicago!

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1. The Whistler [5/5 Awesomeness points]

If you have not yet been to The Whistler, you have seriously missed out. The ultimate in small-venue music, this place also has a cocktail list that will blow your mind. Mr. Mixologist (Paul McGee) is a beardy man who wears flannel. In short, he looks like a lumberjack. And he concocts the most delicious cocktails this side of the Dan Ryan.

The menu changes seasonally, and I used to make it a habit of going several times each season to make sure I got to taste all 8 cocktails on the menu. Because seriously, they are that good. For example, I’m not a huge tequila fan, but the tequila cocktails at the Whistler are so subtle that you can hardly tell it’s tequila anyway. So please, go there.

2011 Summer Menu – yummmm…

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2. The California Clipper [5/5 Awesomeness points]

This place is almost too cool to write about. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s so freaking awesome. First of all, they have live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This music consists of hilarious and entertaining genres like rockabilly, honkeytonk blues, New Orleans dance jazz, and classic country. It’s amazing and oh-so-much fun.

And the cocktails: CLASSIC. I kid you not, they only serve the old-fashioned standard classics. And they make them SO WELL. You can get the ever-popular favorites: the Manhattan, the martini, and the Tom Collins. And then they have the real good oldies: the Singapore Sling (a Tom Collins w/ cherry brandy), the Brandy Alexander, and the (perfect) Rob Roy. Confused? Go ask your grandparents, I’m sure they know.

A classy Singapore Sling and a minty Grasshopper. Perfection.

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3. The Bristol [4.5/5 Awesomeness points]

This is one of those places where the food is so amazing and the drinks are so amazing that you aren’t really sure which you should focus on when you’re telling your friends all about it afterwards. Because all of a sudden you start talking and you’re like “oh man and the pasta” and then you remember the Sazerac cocktail you had and your brain goes all fuzzy.

The best part about The Bristol is that they warn you how long the drinks will take to make. Cocktails are listed in 3 categories: A Few Minutes, Several Minutes, and Ten Minutes +. But don’t be alarmed, because the drinks are worth the wait. My personal favorite is the Smoked Sicilian Manhattan — nowhere else that I have found even stocks smoked Maker’s Mark. And believe me, if you are a whiskey-lover like I am, you definitely need to try it.

A Pomelo Fizz and Sazerac, perfectly crafted.

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4. Mercadito [4/5 Awesomeness points]

As I said before, I’m not a huge tequila fan. But Mercadito may have single handedly changed my mind. It’s a tapas-style contemporary Mexican restaurant, so lots of small plates and ceviches and various types of guac and salsa. It’s quite delicious.

To go along with their really funky menu, Mercadito has redefined what it means to hang out and drink margaritas. They have 8 different margaritas, and they are so much more interesting than your basic Strawberry Margarita or whatever. These vary in levels of spice and citrus, some are sweet and some are salty. It’s fantastic. And beyond that, they serve what may be the best (and spiciest) Michelada I have ever encountered. So if you are a margarita fan, I highly recommend this place. And if not, give it a shot, you might change your mind.

A super-spicy Michelada and the Tres Viejos margarita.

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5. Big Star [3.5/5 Awesomeness points]

I know several people (coughKate&Katecough) for whom Big Star is the shit. I myself was not so impressed. It’s loud. It’s crowded. Both of those things I don’t handle well. HOWEVER, they do have some pretty good cocktails. Yes indeedy.

The whole vibe is sort of on-the-border-esque, so the cocktails all have a southern Texas feel to them. You have your basic Big Star Margarita, and then there’s the Sarsaparilla Springs, and the Stockyard Pony, and a whole host of other cocktails made with crazy southern ingredients that you don’t normally see. So if you’re cool with crowds and noise, this is definitely your cocktail spot. And if not, sit outside where it’s slightly quieter and enjoy the Tacos de Pescado. Delicious…

A super-salty Michelada at Big Star with Tecate. Refreshing.

Alright kids, that’s it for the Chicago hotspots. Now I’m in Seattle, and I have a whole new bar-hopping adventure just waiting for me! It’s going to be great.

In the meantime, expect lots of ***RECIPES*** to show up here. I’m kind of broke and can’t go out to bars all that much at the moment. But Craig and I have been cooking a lot, and I have some exciting new dishes to share with all of you. Get excited!

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