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Seven Session Cocktails Perfect for Patio Drinking Season

Low-proof drinks are practically tailor-made for outdoor boozing.

Joe’s Metal Fork at GreenRiver   Photo: Kailley Lindman

A warm weekend forecast calls for camping out at one of Chicago’s patios or rooftops. And with a session cocktail in hand, you can stay all day. These seven low-proof beverages—all of which you can drink outdoors—go down deliciously easy, and let you avoid that nap-ready feeling even when you’re three drinks in.

Lillet Rose ($8) at the Winchester

1001 N. Winchester Ave., Ukrainian Village, 773-698-8703
You’ll want to make this café’s shaded sidewalk patio your Saturday living room. The four aperitifs on the menu—including this one, which is served on the rocks with a splash of soda—invite you to settle in.

Spritzer ($8) at Dusek’s

1227 W. 18th St., Pilsen, 312-526-3851
Dusek’s throws an Italian spin on the downright refreshing aperitivo-based cocktail by mixing Cocchi Americano with spiced fig, lemon, and—an essential ingredient to any spritzer—bubbles.

A Cobbler ($13) at the Betty

839 W. Fulton Market, West Loop, 312-733-2222
The cobbler, a fruity sipper served over crushed ice, is as summery as cocktails get. The Betty’s take starts with a sherry base and adds just enough gin to give it lift without throwing off your afternoon.

Joe’s Metal Fork ($14) at GreenRiver

259 E. Erie St., 18th Floor, Streeterville, 312-337-0101
GreenRiver’s got some choice views, so head bartender Julia Momose designed the spot’s terrace cocktail menu for session boozing. Gin-and-tonic fans should start with Joe’s Metal Fork, which adds banana liqueur, lime juice, and botanical Absinthe to take the drink beyond basic.

No ’Pagne Cocktail ($8) at Parson’s Chicken & Fish

2952 W. Armitage Ave., Logan Square, 773-384-3333
A simple prosecco cocktail keeps you sharp enough to tackle patio ping-pong and bocce (or just some serious people-watching).

Wholesale Supply ($15) at Drumbar

201 E. Delaware Pl., 18th Floor, Gold Coast, 312-933-4805
You may just think of sweet vermouth as one third of a Manhattan, but here it takes center stage, with soda and a sunflower-seed beer syrup in supporting roles.

Heat Check ($12) at Mott Street

1401 N. Ashland Ave., Wicker Park, 773-687-9977
Low-alcohol amari plus lime and sugar makes for easy day drinking—and gives you a reason to spend your Sunday on Mott Street’s pergola-covered patio. Start with their coconut pancakes and plan to stay until brunch service ends.


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