No matter which neighborhood you call home, chances are it’s got at least one bar with cocktails suitable for toasting Mama Earth. Here, some of the most guzzle-worthy eco-picks in the city, from organic martinis in River North to locally made liqueurs in Edgewater.
Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron, (312) 664-2727, $9.50
For this sweet and tangy, 27-ounce margarita, celeb mixologist Adam Seger uses his own locally-bottled liqueur, Hum (a blend of fair-trade hibiscus, organic ginger, cardamom and kaffir lime) to infuse organic rum with tropical flavors. Hum packs a serious punch – at 70 proof, it just might give you the liquid courage to hit the salsa/merengue floor. Bonus: Seger incorporates local ingredients in most of his concoctions at this Near North hotspot.
In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark, (773) 334-9463, $10
In the refreshing, aptly named whiskey-based Koval Gold cocktail, local organic distillery Koval takes center stage. The drink mixes Koval's smooth, warm Rye Chicago Whiskey and its floral Rose Hip Liqueur, adding a splash of lemon juice and a touch of sugar. With hints of vanilla and berry flavor, the menu's new addition looks to be an instant crowd favorite. Hunker down at a high-top table in this Andersonville watering hole, where a bevy of other seasonal and signature, ahem, bevvies await.Peachy
Aria, 200 N. Columbus, (312) 444-9494, $13
Cozy up with your date in a private nook at downtown's trendy sushi restaurant, then sweeten the deal with this light, fruity martini. Made with Tru's organic vanilla vodka and topped with champagne, it's nothing like your college bar's peach schnapps special. Think grilled organic peach, brown sugar, organic lime and a sprig of mint. On the prowl? Sip your drink in the open communal space or people-watch at the sleek sashimi bar.
Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon, (773) 465-9801, $10
Probably the most eco-friendly biz on the list, the Edgewater eatery/bar/performance space works organic, local ingredients into most everything on the menu – especially this drink. The Interim combines organic ginger house-infused Rain organic vodka, chai-infused sweet vermouth and locally produced apple cider for a sweet and complex taste. A portion of sales of this house favorite go to the nonprofit Chicago Rarity Orchard Project.
Pops for Champagne, 601 N. State, (312) 266-7677, $10
Got something to celebrate? Go for the bubbly stuff at River North's sophisticated champagne bar, where the menu gives a nod to the planet with this "sparkly cocktail." Dry Prosecco, organic VeeV (a light acai spirit) and honey combine in this sweet, festive drink. Sip it in the elegant ground-level bar, or head downstairs to the charming live jazz club.
The Briar Patch
Violet Hour, 1520 N. Damen, (773) 252-1500, $11
Write down the address ahead of time or you'll risk missing Wicker Park’s speakeasy-esque spot – and the blackberry-spiked Briar Patch within it. The classy concoction gets its light fennel finish from Wisconsin-made Death's Door Gin and housemade blackberry syrup. The result of this order: you starting with a fresh, summery elixir…and following it up with another.
As the thermometer edges closer to 100 degrees every day, it’s looking like my winter-time prayers for a hot summer are finally coming true. And after months of shivering on the El platform, frozen eyelashes stuck together and unable to speak because of frozen mouth muscles, you’d think I’d be all for this extreme heat wave. But when everyone around is dripping with sweat and too hot to function, it can be hard to remember why I longed for this season in the first place.
That’s when I know it’s time to drop everything and jump in the lake. The mercifully cool waters of Lake Michigan are a fitting reminder of just how fantastic these summer months are in Chicago. Here are a few good clean spots to take a dip:
Foster Beach - this driver-friendly spot attracts families from the West side because of its huge free parking lots and large restrooms. Ice cream carts patrol frequently.
Hollywood Beach- arguably Chicago's most gay-friendly beach is just a short walk from the Bryn Mawr stop on the CTA's Red Line.
North Avenue Beach - young, hip tanners, volleyball players and other athlete-types command the scene at this popular beach. Plus you can grab a drink at beachside bar Castaways.
Ohio Street Beach - small beach close to Navy Pier with chill vibe and rental wetsuits for our sometimes chilly waters. Bonus: great views both of the city and the triathletes-in-training stroking through the swim lanes.
Beaches outside the city:
Illinois Beach State Park, Zion, IL- forest-lined, family beach with parking, showers, plus a large park for hikers, bikers, and campers, 45 miles from Chicago.
North Beach, Racine, WI- huge outdoor playground for kids, and nine sand v-ball courts (plus beer from the North Beach Oasis) for adults, 75 miles from Chicago.