So day 15 of the cleanse. In case you’ve forgotten (I certainly haven’t) no alcohol, no pasta, no bread, no sugar for the entire month of January. I have to say half way through this we’re doing pretty well. I’ve had a couple of slips with stuff I wasn’t planning on consuming…I had some sour cream and cheese with some tacos I made, but other than that I’ve been good and so has Susie. She’s been making fake cocktails …me I’m just drinking tea and water and Sprite zero. I have to say it was tough last night when I meant my son Mitchell for dinner at this terrific place in Hinsdale called Nabuki. Sushi and it was great, but if you like sushi and you’re like me you probably like saki too. I got to the restaurant first so our server asked me if I wanted something to drink….I explain that my girlfriend had talked me into this January cleanse so no saki. He said “I understand”…so I said “Good explain it to me because I don’t understand”….how did I get here”! He laughed and brought me my tea. I suppose substitutes can help so I found a bunch of places making non-alcohol cocktails and I thought I’d share: Taking a break from alcohol doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself to water or iced tea when you go out. These 14 spots offer mocktails that skip the spirits but bring the flavor.
Acanto Restaurant + Wine Bar
18 S. Michigan Ave., 312-578-0763
Satisfy your thirst with the True Blood (Orange), a blend of blood orange, peach bitters, and soda, or pucker up for the Lavalier, an emerald-hued mix of soda, lavender syrup, green apple and lime. Both of the Theater District restaurant’s mocktails are $6.
228 E. Ontario St., 312-471-3883
A menu of $6 Drivers, meant to be friendly to those who are driving home but still want a creative drink from the Gold Coast restaurant, includes the Fireside, a spicy blend of ginger beer, muddled jalapeño and grapefruit served with a salt rim, and the P&T, pomegranate juice, shaken with cucumber and topped with tonic and then poured over crushed ice with a cucumber ribbon.
2033 W. North Ave., 773-537-4440
Shrubs, sweet vinegars blended with herbs and fruits, can work as mixers or alcohol substitutes like in the Wicker Park spot’s The Wagon Rider ($5), which mixes blackberry-juniper shrub with sage and ginger ale.
730 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-8955
Meant as a zero-proof version of a Rum and Coke, the West Town spot’s Complex Coke combines the soda with coffee, rhubarb and grapefruit to imitate the spirit’s sweet and bitter notes. If you’d prefer to go with a new taste, try the Honey Nuts, chamomile soda mixed with honey, lemon and toasted pine nut syrup to produce a nutty and floral sipper. Both drinks are $6.
1748 W. Lake St., 312-366-2294
The West Loop spot has just reopened and is serving up a Sanguine Sling ($8), a mix of blood orange and lime juices and rosemary-infused honey syrup topped with ginger beer and garnished with rosemary and an orange twist.
Juniper Spirits & Oysters
1244 N. Dearborn Parkway, 312-416-5811
You can find balanced botanical sippers on the Gold Coast spot’s mocktail menu, where options include Sloane’s Secret, which is made with lavender-infused blackberry syrup, lemon juice and soda, and Mr. Cub, a blend of blackberry and pineapple shrub, vanilla syrup and sparkling water. Both drinks are $8.
316 N. Clark St., 312-836-1300
Ease your recovery with the Detox, a blend of ginger beer, blood orange, lemon and cayenne, or a Cucumber Breeze made with cucumber, mint and lime. You can also get a
virgin spin on a Gin Rickey with the Kitchen Rickey, which is made with ginger ale, lime and cherry bitters. The River North spot’s mocktails are all $5.
1962 N. Halsted St., 773-248-3000
Try booze-free versions of classic cocktails at the Lincoln Park restaurant including a mojito featuring pineapple and spiced ginger syrups, pineapple chunks, lime and pineapple juices, mint and bitters, and sangria made from apple cider, lime juice, pear syrup, bitters and diced apples and pears. Both drinks are $10.
315 N. LaSalle St., 312-822-0100
Order from the Theater District restaurant’s Temperance Menu, which offers six $8 mocktails including the Kickstarter Punch, peach rooibos tea blended with turmeric, ginger and lemon, and Get Smashed, apple cider with cranberry, lemon, ginger and rosemary.
135 W. Madison Ave., 312-940-3760
Get your antioxidants from the Loop spot’s Butterfly Dragon, an earthy mix made from bright blue butterfly pea syrup, lime juice, blueberries, coconut water and soda, or order the refreshing and sweet The Workshop, which features muddled blackberries, soda, lemon juice and vanilla-honey syrup. Both drinks are $6.
66 W. Kinzie St., 312-284-4990
Lunch diners at the River North restaurant can head back to work sharp after sipping a Spiced Pineapple ($6), pineapple and lime juice topped with a slice of jalapeño, a sprig of cilantro, grated lime zest and crushed pink peppercorn.
Sable Kitchen & Bar
505 N. State St., 312-755-9704
Seedlip Spice 94, a non-alcoholic distilled drink made with cardamom, citrus peels and bitter barks, is the centerpiece of two $12 drinks at the River North bar. The Apple Spice & Everything Nice adds in bitters and apple reduction, while the Colada De Avena is blended with oat milk, passion fruit and cinnamon syrups and garnished with a cinnamon stick.
Three Dots and a Dash
435 N. Clark St., 312-610-4220
The River North cocktail bar is known for its elaborately styled shareable drinks and you can still get the tropical fun without the booze when you order The Gift to Your Future Self ($18), a blend of Asian pear juice, coconut water, green tea, honey and ginger poured in a coconut big enough to serve two.
39 S. LaSalle St., 312-604-9909
Seedlip Garden 108, a booze- and calorie-free blend flavored with peas, spearmint, thyme and more, is blended with two types of fruit vinegar and grenadine in the Clean Living ($12) served at the Loop cocktail bar.
Now the ingredients are all there so you really don’t have to drive into the city just use your imagination.