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Six Sweet Homemade Sodas at Restaurants in Chicago

These artisanal pop concoctions are quite a step up from the soda aisle standbys.

Housemade sodas at Tavernita   Photo: Tim Hara

Sometimes the most refreshing thing in the world is an ice-cold glass of pop. (Or soda. Or whatever you call it.) And drink allegiances tend to be steadfast things, which makes trying out a housemade soda from a local bar or restaurant a dicey proposition.

To help, we took some of our favorite fizzy sippers from spots all over the city and paired them with their closest mainstream counterparts—basically, we did some carbonated matchmaking. Here’s where to find your new favorite drink. (Sorry, Diet Coke fiends, you’re out of luck on this one.)

If you love: Coca-Cola
Try: Dawson Brand Cola ($6) at The Dawson (730 W. Grand Ave., West Town, 312-243-8955)

House soda jerk Dalton Finney’s cinnamon-spiced twist on Coke plays well with liquor (the bartenders particularly love it in the Pisco-laden La Poderosa cocktail), but even sipped solo, it’s just as refreshing as the real thing.

If you love: Dr Pepper
Try: Cherry Smash ($5) at Nightwood (2119 S. Halsted St., Pilsen, 312-526-3385)

The Doctor contains a mystery mix of 23 different flavors (and no, prune juice is not among them), but it seems plausible that both cherry and sassafras could be a part of the recipe. Nightwood’s pop contains both, so this may be the closest you’ll get to artisanal DP.

If you love: Ginger ale
Try: Maria’s Ginger Beer ($2.25) at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar (960 W. 31st St., Bridgeport, 773-890-0588)

Thanks to a partnership with nearby Filbert’s Soda, Maria’s developed their own ginger blend for use in cocktails (or any time, really) that hits just the right spot between sweet and spicy.

If you love: Root beer
Try: Gale’s Root Beer ($4) at SpritzBurger (3819 N. Broadway, Lake View, 773-868-9866)

One of many advantages of having sweets whiz Gale Gand on your restaurant’s team is unlimited access to her eponymous beverage, also available by the bottle at stores all over town.

If you love: Sprite
Try: Lime Slice ($3) at 2 Sparrows (553 W. Diversey, Lincoln Park, 773-234-2320) 

2 Sparrows has three sodas on their menu, one of which is this bubbly take on lemonade spiked with a sweet-tart lime cordial. Sprite and 7Up only wish they could be this summery.

If you love: Sunkist
Try: Orange soda at Tavernita, 151 W. Erie St., River North, 312-274-1111

Tavernita’s zesty beverage has the requisite vivid orange color and citrus flavor, without the tongue-and-teeth-staining properties of its artificial counterpart.

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