Chicago Bartenders Batch Cocktail Recipes for Summer

Sunbathing with a drink in hand is undeniably a vibe, and it’s one you never tire of when the weather turns up in Chicago.

Whether in a bar or restaurant, in someone’s backyard, by the pool, or reclining in a folding chair around a campfire, having a cocktail outdoors is a celebration of summer. that comes back.

If you’re heading out for anything from a birthday picnic to a languid stay on the beach, make-ahead cocktails are the way to go. While there are a growing number of canned or ready-to-drink cocktail options at the grocery store, most stick to a few tried-and-true classics, leaving drinkers with a limited range. The untested limits of homemade cocktails make them versatile enough for any occasion or palate, and they’re easy to transport in canteens or 2-liter bottles, or frozen for longer trips in coolers.

We asked some of Chicago’s top cocktail makers and shakers what they would whip up for a drink that can not only double as an ice pack in a cooler when frozen in plastic zip lock bags, but satisfy all sorts of drink needs, from sweaty post-hike toasties to starry nights. You can get most of the ingredients at local stores — though some are most likely found specifically at liquor stores — and the recipes are scalable, so everyone can indulge.

With minimal prep work and maximum gain, these five cocktail recipes are just one measure, mix, and pour away from a superior summertime drinking experience.

Note: Each recipe makes a single serving of the cocktail, although each syrup recipe makes enough for about 10 servings. Multiply by the number of servings you would like for a custom size batch.

Creator: Tia Barrett (Esme)

Best for: Hang out on a beach or by the water during the day

Tasting notes: Floral with a slight bitterness

Drink this if: You like Aperol spritzes or Stoli Doli martinis and plan to drink all day in the heat

Pro Tip: Freeze them in ice cubes and add sparkling water for a cooler version of the spritz

“Bitter flavors make you want to eat, which is another way to slow that rate of consumption,” says Barrett, who notes that low-alcohol cocktails are key to avoiding an unwanted midday nap. “This drink is bright, refreshing and easy.”

Ingredients:

ounces of Hendricks or any other neutral gin

¾ ounce pineapple syrup (see below)

½ ounce Saint Germain

½ ounce Aperol

¼ ounce of water

carbonated water to taste

Pineapple syrup:

46 ounces of pineapple juice

little spoon of salt

½ cup of white sugar

1 toasted cinnamon stick

Directions:

1. For the pineapple syrup, combine pineapple juice, salt, white sugar and toasted cinnamon stick in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Reduce half the liquid until straw-yellow and thickened, ideally to the consistency of maple syrup. (Additional syrup can be used to sweeten fresh fruit, coffee or pancakes in addition to application in cocktails.)

3. Once your syrup is ready, mix it with your alcohol and water, then top up with sparkling water. As an alternative, freeze the mixture before adding soda water and make ice cubes, then add soda water.

Creator: Timothy Heyward (Kasama, SKY, Milk Room)

Best for: Evening sipping by a campfire on a hot summer night

Tasting notes: Citrus and cola with a touch of dry hazelnut

Drink this if: You like Manhattans and fortified wines like Madeira

Pro Tip: Fill a 2 liter plastic bottle with a batch of this cocktail for a delicious nightcap by the fire

“I’m sort of on a quest to get people to drink more fortified wines,” Heyward says. “It lends itself well to warmer temperatures, and I like how it pairs with bitter and rich stuff, as well as barrel-aged spirits.”

Ingredients:

¾ ounce Averna Amaro or Meletti Amaro

¾ ounce Rittenhouse Rye or any high-proof whiskey

1½ ounce Broadbent Madeira Rainwater

1 a dash of Angostura bitters

1 a dash of orange bitters

1 ounce of water/to taste

Directions:

1. Mix all the ingredients together. Serve neat or with a large ice cube.

Creator: Chad and Alicia Hauge (Common Good Cocktail House, Mott St, Longman & Eagle)

Best for: If you’re torn between indoors and outdoors and need a drink that can do it all

Tasting notes: Bonfire tea time with floral and citrus notes with a peaty slap

Drink this if: You like something delicate and intense

Pro Tip: This drink is best enjoyed while relaxing with good music.

“I like when I drink a cocktail and there are layers; high notes, deep low notes and something that connects them,” says Chad Hauge.

Ingredients:

1½ ounce Suntory Toki whiskey

½ ounce of Laphroaig Scotch Whiskey

¾ ounce lemongrass chamomile syrup (see below)

¾ ounce of fresh lemon juice

ounces of water

Lemon chamomile syrup

ounces lemongrass stalks cleaned, bruised and chopped

ten ounces of water

ten ounces of honey

20 grams of chamomile (about 10-12 tea bags)

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, combine the lemongrass, water and honey and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes before adding the chamomile and simmer for another 5 minutes.

3. Strain through a fine mesh and let cool.

4. Combine syrup with the rest of the ingredients.

Creators: Chad and Alicia Hauge (Common Good Cocktail House, Mott St, Longman & Eagle)

Best for: Sweating outdoors while playing volleyball or hiking

Tasting notes: Roasted tea with herbal, earthy and funky notes with a barrel and vanilla flavor

Drink this if: You like Arnold Palmers, mules and the Caribbean

Pro Tip: Breathe deeply and connect flavors with nature while drinking.

“When you’re outside, you’re exposed to all these smells that make you breathe deeper, and suddenly your horizon expands because you’re not surrounded by buildings,” says Chad Hauge. “This cocktail is for those physically demanding days.”

Ingredients:

ounces Clement VSOP Old or your favorite Aged Agricultural Rum

ounces of brewed genmaicha (or black tea if you prefer a less roasted flavor)

1 ounce ginger and honey syrup (see below)

¾ ounce of lemon

1 ounce of water

Ginger-honey syrup

Ingredients:

8 ounces of water

8 ounces of honey

3 ounces finely chopped fresh ginger root

Directions:

1. Combine ginger-honey syrup ingredients in a blender, transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then let cool.

3. Strain through a fine mesh.

4. Combine with the remaining ingredients.

Creator: Julieta Campos (Fifty/50, Heavy Feather, The Whistler, Berkshire Room)

Best for: After hiking on a hot sunny day, and hanging out in the back of an RV with some friends

Tasting notes: Deep berries balanced with nutty and citrus notes

Drink this if: You want to quench your thirst and don’t like your drinks too sweet

Pro Tip: Enjoy it sitting on a rock by a river before rejoining the group.

“It’s a refreshing mid-afternoon cocktail,” says Campos. “It doesn’t dehydrate you. It’s bright and you don’t commit to a heavy drink in the middle of the day.

Ingredients:

1 ounce of Lustau Don Nuño sherry

½ ounces of St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur

¾ ounces Fruitful Blueberry or any other blueberry syrup or liqueur

¾ ounces of fresh lemon juice

6 drops of mole bitters (for a 10-serving batch, 60 drops is approximately ⅛ ounce)

Directions:

1. Combine Ingredients.

2. Garnish with mint, berries and powdered sugar.

Grace Wong is a freelance writer.


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Rozella J. Cook