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25 drinks every Chicagoan should try

Milkshakes, margaritas and more warm-weather drinks to sip this summer and beyond

June 11, 2013|By RedEye staff, @redeyeeatdrink | RedEye

Are you thirsty enough to take on our ultimate drinking to-do list? Some of the drinks features here are signatures that have become synonymous with the bar or restaurant that serves them. Others are just so delicious they've earned legendary status around the RedEye newsroom. From sweet to sour to downright boozy, there's a little something for everyone. Cheers!

1. Margarita ($8.50) at Matchbox
Ready for a ‘rita that will knock you off your barstool? The boozy version at this teeny-tiny cocktail bar—served in a martini glass rimmed with powdered sugar instead of salt--makes margs on the rocks look like they’re for sissies. –Lisa Arnett

2. Rosa ($5 for a 14-ounce pour) at Revolution Brewing
This hibiscus ale is a quintessential summertime sipper with a slightly floral flavor and an orange-derived tartness. Look for it in cans this summer as well as on draft at Revolution’s Logan Square brewpub. –Kate Bernot

3. Pisco sour ($11) at La Sirena Clandestina
The next best thing to a South American vacation (seriously), this Fulton Market restaurant’s pisco sour is a refreshing and lightly frothy combo of Peruvian pisco, bitters, lemon juice, egg white and just a bit of sugar. –KB

4. Dulce de leche licuado ($4) at Big Star
I’m never patient enough to wait for a table at Big Star to drink cocktails, and that’s OK. Why? Because I can still get the dulce de leche licuado from the walk-up window, and, my god, it’s the best milkshake in the neighborhood. --Jessica Galliart

5. Sherry ($6-$28) at Vera
If you think sherry is only for grannies, a trip to this Spanish-inspired West Loop restaurant will change your mind. Sherries shine the brightest when sipped with food. The staff here expertly pair all different styles of this fortified wine that hails from the Jerez region of Spain (and yes, if it isn’t made in Jerez, it isn’t sherry by definition) with just the right dishes. –LA

6. Chilled drinking chocolate ($7) at Katherine Anne Confections
The hot chocolate at this Logan Square shop is a seriously indulgent winter warmer, but—sorry Katherine Anne!—I don’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole when it’s sweltering outside. Flavors for the summer season range from salted caramel to malted milk to chai. –LA

7. Italian sodas ($2.75) at Cipollina
Hot days spent shopping in Wicker Park necessitate these fizzy coolers made with locally produced Jo Snow syrups in creative combos such as grapefruit-rosemary, tangerine-lavender and hibiscus-basil-orange. –KB

8. Nutella milkshake ($4 at Lincoln Park location) at Edzo’s Burger Shop
Generous scoops of Nutella and ice cream are mixed by a retro-cool Hamilton Beach mixer, then topped with the requisite whipped cream and cherry. Bonus: You can slurp up every last bit from the metal mixing cup served along with your shake. --KB

9. Bubble tea ($3.15-$4.05) at Saint's Alp Teahouse
No summer stroll through Chinatown is complete without a bubble tea break at this tea shop. Flavors range from classic green tea to peanut to sesame, though I’m partial to the coconut milk tea. –LA

10. Aguas frescas ($2.50 for a 12-ounce glass) at Antique Taco
Here’s your mini-Espanol lesson for the day: aguas frescas translates to “fresh waters.” At this cute-as-pie Wicker Park eatery, that means water flavored with sugar, lemon juice and whatever pureed fruit is tasty and in season. When watermelon rotates in, I’m a happy camper. You can even order ‘em spiked with vodka if you’re in the cocktailing mood ($12 a pint; $23 per pitcher). --LA

11. Moscow mule ($9) at Homeslice
Plenty of bars make a fine version of this classic vodka-lime juice-ginger beer concoction, but there’s just something about this one—maybe it’s the charming Russian Standard copper cup that it’s served in--that makes you want to order another round … and another round. --LA

12. California egg cream ($8) at California Clipper
I can’t go to this Humboldt Park bar without ordering this vodka-spiked spin on the classic soda fountain drink, made with cream, soda and dark crème de cacao liqueur (and confusingly, no eggs). If you don’t do dairy, go for the Purple Martin, a coconut rum drink that that showcases the amazing fact that the Clipper has grape soda on its bar gun. –LA

13. Daiquiri ($10) at Billy Sunday
Cane sugar rum and overproof rum add oomph to this Logan Square bar’s take on the tropical staple. Lime, passion fruit and pineapple bitters are balanced, not overly sugary—and there’s nary a plastic umbrella in sight. –KB

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