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Billy Sunday Makes the Best Damn Daiquiri You’ve Ever Had

Matthias Merges’s Logan Square spot does fine work on a dozen different cocktails.

Inside Billy Sunday and Billy Sunday’s daiquiri

Photography: Anna Knott

Inside Billy Sunday (left) and Billy Sunday’s daiquiri (right)

Spring break may be over, but perched on a stool at Billy Sunday, quaffing its showstopping daiquiri, you’ll feel transported to a sunny stretch of Florida sand.

True, this homey 50-seat bar in Logan Square, opened by Matthias Merges (owner of Avondale restaurant Yusho) last January, doesn’t exactly look beachy: The lighting is moody, the art is turn of the century. And a dozen expertly executed cocktails offer plenty for sophisticated palates. (Try the Negroni, with its flamed orange garnish.)

But back to that giant goblet of peach-colored nectar, French and Jamaican rums, lime juice, housemade pineapple and passion fruit bitters, and—the crowning glory—heaps of shaved ice (see below for the recipe). All this daiquiri is missing is the umbrella. 3143 W. Logan Blvd., 773-661-2485.

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All About the Billy Sunday’s Daiquiri

“There are a number of stories as to its origin, like many classic drinks, and most of them revolve around the following: It most certainly takes its name from the Daiquiri beach near Santiago, Cuba, where a local iron mine had attracted attention from Americans during the time of the Spanish-American War. Whether it was developed by the engineer Jenning Cox, who was there at the time, or by a visitor Cox had by the name of Pagliuchi remains a hot topic of debate. It is said that upon their meeting they wanted to enjoy a drink together, went into Cox’s store rum and found only rum, limes, and sugar—and so the Daiquiri was born.

“Original recipes can vary in ratios depending on what rum it is, but most follow a 2:1:1 ratio in favor of spirit. Ours shifts slightly due to the use of higher alcohol rums; the Wray and Nephew is at 63% ABV and the Agricole is at 50% ABV. Both of these spirits are loaded with esters and congers that are leaping out of the spirit with tropical fruit aromas, so it was natural for us to help reinforce those flavors with pineapple and passion fruit. The drink has a fair degree of dryness to it as we utilize acid from not only the lime, but the passion fruit as well.” —Matthias Merges
 

The Recipe

1 oz Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum
.5 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc
1 oz lime juice
1 oz passion fruit syrup
.5 oz simple syrup
4–5 dashes pineapple bitters

Add all to shaker and hard shake. Garbage dump into large 16 oz goblet and top with crushed ice.

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