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Bartenders to Pritzker: Legalize To-Go Cocktails Already

Plus: A beloved slashie closes and three new restaurants open.

Julia Momose makes the Momiji, a layered apéritif, at Kumiko.   Photo: ROSS FEIGHERY

Many bars and restaurants have been selling beer, wine, and bottles of liquor during Gov. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order, but in Illinois, it’s still illegal to package pre-mixed cocktails to-go. 

The Illinois Hospitality Coalition is trying change that with a new initiative called Cocktails for Hope, spearheaded by Kumiko’s Julia Momose. Their argument: “One bottle of gin may sell for $40. However using that gin, we could create 16 cocktails and sell those for $15 each for a total of $240.” You can sign the petition here.

In the past few months, states like New York and California have changed their laws to allow for to-go cocktail sales in an effort to help bars during the coronavirus outbreak. In Illinois, where bars and restaurants are only able to sell sealed bottles, many spots, including Estereo, Wherewithall, and Queen Mary, have turned to cocktail kits, pairing bottled liquor with mixers on the side. At Kumiko, you can buy spirits, mixers, and garnishes.

In sad news, Logan Square slashie Crown Liquors has closed its doors for good — RIP Hot Dice!

But surprisingly, there were also a few restaurant openings last week. In Edgewater, Beard & Belly (6157 N. Broadway), the moniker under which chefs Kyle Schrage and Jim Torres cook at the Long Room, are now serving burgers, mac and cheese, fried chicken sandwiches, family meals, and other dishes. 

More good news: They’ve teamed up with Milwaukee’s excellent Honeypie Café, which means you can get slices of coconut cream and other pies. Beard & Belly has been selling out of food daily, so keep an eye on their site and place your orders early.

Fans of L’Patron have a new taqueria from the same family to visit: Gabriela’s Carnitas opened Friday in Logan Square (3721 W. Fullerton Ave.). The menu includes carnitas, of course, but also flautas, menudo, pollo asado, and more. They’re open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery.

Justin Doggett, who runs Kyoto Black, a wholesale cold brew coffee service company, has opened his Edgewater storefront (1445 W. Devon Ave.). You can get his coffee, which I first had back when he was working at Metropolis, in 1.5 liter pouches, which should cover your morning coffee fix for a good while.

Finally, lots of bars and restaurants are selling swag to raise money for their employees, and there’s some really good stuff. If you love Scofflaw, they’ve never sold any merch before, so get yourself a Scofflaw kitty t-shirt. I also love the shirts that benefit Sportsman’s Club, and if you do any national cocktail bar tourism (raises hand), the company making them, Cocktail Kingdom, is offering a pretty great lineup of shirts celebrating some of the country’s best bars.

If you make a donation of at least $20 to Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Bad Hunter, and other spots), you’ll get a Family Recipe e-book, featuring food and drink recipes from staff. One of my favorites is the bi-weekly Lost Lake email newsletter, which you’ll get if you make a donation of any amount to the bar’s GoFundMe. If you haven’t donated yet, you’re missing out on recipes for some of the bar’s tiki drinks (I’ve been making Coconauts at home like they’re going out of style), but also some super easy at-home cocktail ideas, videos, crossword puzzles, and more.

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