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A Plea For More Delicious Non-Alcoholic Drinks

The rise of mixologists has livened up the city’s bar scene and made our restaurants more exciting as well. But the options for the sober remain, for the most part, the same.

Whereas:

1. Fine restaurants and bars regularly serve delicious mixed drinks, particularly with the rise of mixology.

2. Fine restaurants and bars are essential hubs of social and civic life, particularly in Chicago.

3. If you are not drinking, for reasons of pregnancy or sobriety or just not wanting to drink, the options available at these fine establishments are generally limited to water, tea, coffee, juice, or soda pop.

Therefore be it resolved that:

We need more drinks like the one below (apologies for the cell-phone picture):

star lounge chicago

That’s a Persephone Blue from Star Lounge, my excellent neighborhood coffee shop. It has three different teas, pomegranate juice, and agave nectar. It’s one of four mixed-tea-drinks Star Lounge serves, and while they’re not cheap ($5), they are well-made, attractive, and delicious. The Mexi-Cali Orange, with hibiscus, orange juice, cinnamon, cayenne, and agave nectar is another favorite.

I’m at the age where friends are starting to pop out babies, and I’ve also got friends who don’t drink, or rarely drink, for various reasons. And it always seems like a shame, when we’re out, that they can’t avail themselves of the mixologist’s art just because they’re not drinking alcohol. Not to knock good old tea or coffee, but even in their best forms they are what they are, and it’s pleasant to have non-alcoholic options with a creative touch, and ones that aren’t condescendingly mocktailish. Frank Bruni had a nice piece about New York restaurants serving non-alcoholic mixed drinks earlier this year after having a similar revelation:

Many restaurants, especially ambitious ones, have been creating and serving distinctive nonalcoholic mixed drinks for years, but there seems to be a bit of an upsurge of late. Bartenders and restaurant beverage service directors say that reflects the increasing adventurousness and high standards that gastronomes bring to all aspects of a dining experience, from the bread service to the coffee. Drinks are part of that, and many people uninterested in wine, beer or hard liquor don’t want to make do with something they could get at a bodega.

I don’t get to many Chicago hotspots, so I may have missed such options in Chicago—this Yelp thread suggests a few places—but it doesn’t seem to be widespread. I’m hoping that changes.

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