Of the 52 drinks on the menu at Lazy Bird, the new classic cocktail temple in the West Loop, beverage director Lee Zaremba may be most enamored of the crusta, a long-forgotten 19th-century sipper — traditionally made with brandy, lemon, Triple Sec, bitters, and maraschino — that fell out of favor as Americans started to fall in love with whiskey in the early 20th century. “It’s easy to drink and to make — it’s crazy that this one was overlooked for so long,” he says. Here, Zaremba breaks it down for us.
1. The juice
The crusta’s biggest claim to fame? It was one of the earliest cocktails with citrus as a starring ingredient, making it a predecessor to the still-popular sidecar.
2. The garnish
The extra-long twist is one of the classic elements Zaremba kept intact. “It’s like a little crown.”
3. The booze
“We took a few liberties with the recipe,” Zaremba says. Most notably, maraschino liqueur was swapped out for the fortified Portuguese wine Madeira, which is slightly sweeter and also brings a subtle salinity. “It’s still a very bright cocktail, it’s just not as dry or harsh.”
4. The glass
Traditionally, the crusta came with a sugared rim (hence the name). Zaremba kept the lip of his vintage-inspired coupe clean. “The sugar was meant to cut some of the acidic flavors, but I balanced those out in the cocktail instead.”