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Chicago Cocktails that Bring Big Vacation Vibes

If you’re interested in a January thaw (just not the teetotaler variety), we’ve got a list of Chicago cocktails that will transport you to a warmer locale, without even leaving the Midwest. Take off that puffer coat, sit down at the bar, and sip away. It’s the perfect way to spend the coming snowy weekend! Just don’t forget to take that vacation-drink selfie.

Sable Kitchen & Bar at Kimpton Hotel Palomar {505 North State Street, Chicago; 312.755.9704}

Sable Kitchen & Bar, one of USA Today’s “10 Best Hotel Bars in America,” offers craft cocktails perfectly curated to banish those winter blues. Half Mile to Heaven is a spicy-sweet fusion of aged El Dorado and Banks rums, Falernum (a liqueur with notes of ginger, lime, clove, and almond), grapefruit, lime, and blackberries. The Fern goes a more lively route, featuring Absolut Vodka, espresso beans, hoja santa (a Mexican “sacred leaf” with a slight root beer flavor), cherry-bark vanilla bitters, and Fever-Tree Indian Tonic.

Fisk & Co. at Kimpton Hotel Monaco {225 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago; 312.236.9300}

If Fisk & Co.’s daily $1 oyster happy hour offering doesn’t spell vacation diet to you, plenty of festive libations remain on the Belgian-inspired menu as well. The Fair Winds cocktail blends Greenbush ‘Star Chicken Shotgun’ IPA with Aperol and lemon into a light and crisp concoction that brings to mind a breezy, sunset sail. It’s a great spot for after-work drinks or to stop in before you head to one of the nearby theaters.

Z Bar {108 East Superior Street, Chicago; 312.573.6888}

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, Z Bar‘s beverage-genius Vlad Novikov has created a menu full of whimsical offerings. The Officer’s Quarters, with its concoction of gin, vermouth, Fernet, sherry, and lemon, dangles a mermaid at its lip, tail smothered in a dollop of caviar. The Sunday Spritz mixes magnolia wine and elderflower with a chrysanthemum bud (nutrient-rich root included) and sliced fruit. Adventurous travelers, take note.

Bar Allegro at Kimpton Hotel Allegro {171 West Randolph Street, Chicago; 312.236.0123}

Bolivia meets Sardinia in Bar Allegro’s Winter Fig, a cocktail that melds fig-infused Singani 63 (a Muscat-grape, distilled spirit from the Andes mountains) with Termontis Mirto, an Italian, myrtle-berry liqeuer. Daybreaker features Alipus Mescal, Lyonnaise peach liqueur, and lime cordial in an elegant twist on a peach margarita. You’ll be looking up flights for a warm vacation after the first few sips!

The Bar at Hotel Zachary {3630 North Clark Street, Chicago; 773.302.2300}

Do you prefer an après-ski vibe over a sandy beach? Hot Toddy Month continues into 2020 at The Bar at Hotel Zachary. The Zachary Toddy whips ginger syrup and apple brandy into a delicious treat, while the Irish Cold Brew combines Jameson Stout, fresh housemade coffee, and Aperol. Hot Buttered Rum and Slice of Apple Pie toddies round out the menu, with the latter’s blend of apple pie brandy and thyme-rosemary honey a perfect afternoon delight. Come in your best winter sweater, and get cozy by the fire!

Lazy Bird {200 North Green Street, Chicago; 312.761.1777}

Located in the cellar level of the Hoxton Hotel, this speakeasy-inspired venue has 52 unique craft drinks—compiled in a beautifully-illustrated cocktail book—and an ever-changing roster of live music. No. 14 on Lazy Bird‘s expertly-curated menu is the Vieux Carré, an homage to the classic NOLA cocktail. Close your eyes, listen to the trumpet sounds of musician Sam Trump, and imagine yourself transported to New Orleans. Or, perhaps, soak up the moment and relish the special tempo that is winter in Chicago.

Bad Hunter {802 West Randolph Street, Chicago; 312.265.1745}

Good drinker, Bad Hunter—so goes this vegetarian eatery’s Instagram tagline, and the libations menu lives up to the boast. The RnBeet is a gorgeous, bubbly concoction of orange wine, Rhine Hall plum brandy, Génépy herb liqueur, marigold honey, and more. If the frost outside warrants something with a stronger kick, The Last Frontier is a robust winter martini with hints of nutmeg, cardamom, and marshmallow. Earthly delights, indeed.

Boleo and Vol. 39 at Kimpton Gray Hotel {122 West Monroe Street, Chicago; 312.750.9007}

Boleo‘s Head Bartender Sam Garcia has woven the flavors of Peru and Argentina throughout this Latin-influenced hot spot’s menu. Get in on the “buena onda,” (good vibes) and try the Patagonia, made with Tacama Albilla Pisco brandy, allspice-berry dram, cranberry tea syrup, lemon, and bubbles. Cachaça, a beloved liquor native to Brazil, is center stage in Let’s Misbehave, paired with Lustau Oloroso and notes of maple, walnut, and a touch of mint. At Vol. 39, clever details abound on the mid-century-inspired menu. Go ahead and treat yourself to the Ferris Wheel Flight, a luxe offering of six iconic cocktails indelibly linked to the people and places that created them—Champagne, Martinez, Manhattan, Sazerac, Daiquiri, and Negroni—and finished with an ounce of caviar. Prefer your drinks toasty over chilled? Eight twists on the classic Old-Fashioned cocktail, served warm, will heat you up in no time.

Rebar at the Trump International Hotel and Tower {401 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago; 312.588.8034}

Located at the mezzanine level of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, Rebar evokes a vintage Hollywood ambience with a modern sensibility. A quick look at the cocktail menu shows a well-edited list of diverse offerings. The Vietality recalls Vietnam’s complex history through its own fusion of Glenmorangie Scotch Whisky, banana and ginger root liqueurs, Orgeat, and Absinthe. And what’s a vacation without a selfie? The Candid Moment is a spirit meant for two, made of Avion Reserva 44 tequila, sage, and Aperol, and finished with a Polaroid memento.

Club Lucky {1824 West Wabansia Avenue, Chicago; 773.227.2300}

Club Lucky boasts more than killer martinis on its extensive drinks menu. This ultimate cocktail lounge offers eight hot drinks to warm even the chilliest soul. Black Magic mixes vodka, Kahlua, and Italian chocolate liqueur with a cup of fresh coffee. The Hot Chocolate Swirl takes the oldie-but-goodie, adds delicately-spicy Licor 43, and finishes with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Because sometimes, only a hot chocolate will do.

By Abbey Bloom | Contributing Writer