We know Chicago's bartenders aren't the only booze experts in town. Help us shake off those winter blues with your version of the perfect cold-weather cocktail recipe. Whether your concoction is best sipped at home under a warm blanket or chugged in a dark tavern next to a crackling fire, we're looking for a drink with some seasonal comforts. To get you started, below are some pointers from Duchamp's Kris von Dopek, who will pick the winning recipe. The winning recipe will be featured on Chicagomag.com and in an upcoming issue of Chicago magazine.
GO: We'll announce the winning cocktail at our Night of Discerning Drinking tweet-up. Imbibe with Chicago magazine staff while enjoying specially priced Typesets, as featured on our list of Chicago's 20 Best Cocktails. February 8 from 6 to 8 p.m., Duchamp, 2118 N. Damen Ave., RSVP via Facebook.
1. Get nostalgic
"I like my cocktails to start with a backstory," von Dopek says. Whether you're recalling an event from your childhood or worldly travels, memories are excellent flavor triggers. Start off with a recollection, then tie it to a particular smell or taste. For example, if winter always reminds you of baked goods, conjure up a drink using hot cocoa.
2. Pair your musing with a spirit
Once you've identified your inspiration, pick a complementing spirit. Dark spirits generally work better for winter-inspired cocktails, says von Dopek, because they already contain seasonal notes and spices. Bourbon goes well with chocolate and cider, rum pairs nicely with vanilla, and scotch tastes good with honey. But if you prefer vodka or gin, try matching them with nectars, preserves, or jams, which are reminiscent of winter.
3. Top it off with a scent
Aroma is important. "Most of your taste is your smell," says von Dopek. When finishing off your winter wonderland cocktail, consider a garnish that will leave drinkers with a lasting impression. Citrus zest or ginger add a nice touch, but don't be afraid to play around. Von Dopek likes garnishing select drinks with allspice infused with high-proof rum, which adds texture to the cocktail.
Submit an original cocktail recipe captures Chicago’s winter season by Friday, February 3rd, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the title of the recipe and inspiration behind it, as well as your complete and accurate name, address, email address, telephone number, and date of birth. To read the official contest rules, click here.