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Spirited choices

Three great cocktails from the folks who know them best

The Mastic Tree | Café Amano | Elmhurst

2 oz. Effen Cucumber Vodka
1.5 oz. Homericon Liquor
Splash of fresh lemon juice
English cucumber (for muddling and garnish)

Place vodka, Homericon liquor, lemon juice and two English cucumber slices into a martini shaker. Muddle the cucumber, add ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with another slice of cucumber and serve immediately.

The Fusion Bar at Café Amano in Elmhurst offers unique cocktails, but the most popular martini is The Mastic Tree, says executive chef and proprietor Marco Conte.

“Homericon liquor is made from the sap of the Mastic tree in Greece,” Conte says. “Its unique, almost tree-like flavor creates a slightly sweet and citrusy martini that has a very clean and fresh finish.”

English cucumbers are best for muddling – or pressing to extract the flavor – because of their thin skins, Conte says. 

Mexican Pina Colada | CiNe | Hinsdale

1.5 oz. Rumchata
4.5 oz. Tequila Cream 
2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1.25 oz. homemade sour mix
Cherry as garnish

It all started with some Rumchata and Tequila Cream. CiNe bar manager and mixologist Luis Mendoza saw the extra bottles lying around and he thought, “I’ve got to create something new here.”

So he played around with Rumchata, which is a blend of Horchata (or rice water) and rum. Enter the Cream of Tequila.

“When you combine the flavor of creamy tequila and rice and add pineapple, it’s like drinking a colada,” Mendoza says. 

The Mexican Pina Colada takes its place among margaritas, mescal cocktails and seasonal fresh drinks alongside contemporary Mexican dishes. 

“What inspired me was creating new flavors,” Mendoza says.

The mixologist advises people to never be afraid to try something new. “If you have the proper things to create a cocktail, don’t be afraid,” he says. “Use fresh ingredients from scratch, like fresh lime juice.”

Bourbon Bacon Sour | Wild Monk | La Grange

1.25 oz. Larceny Bourbon
1 oz. Bacon-Infused St. Germain liqueur
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
.25 oz. diluted maple syrup (1 part maple syrup / 1 part water)
.25 oz. egg white
1 dash bitters

Add egg white, lemon juice and maple syrup in a shaker and shake hard for 10 to 15 seconds.

Add the rest of the ingredients, fill shaker with ice and shake again for 10 to 15 seconds.

Serve in a martini glass and garnish with a piece of crispy bacon.

Self-described “bourbon guy” Demetri Kopley, owner and beverage program manager oft Wild Monk in La Grange, was doing research on cocktails when he created a drink mixing the two trendiest menu items: bourbon and bacon. It would become the Bourbon Bacon Sour. 

“The egg white makes it frothy and the St. Germain is an elderflower liquor with bacon, kind of sweetish and smoky,” Kopley says. “You can marinate the bacon in St. Germain for 24 to 48 hours for a smoky taste. You serve it in a cocktail or martini glass with a piece of bacon, like a play on a whiskey sour.”