Chicago's Newest Spring Break Cocktail

March 07 2012 - 1:10 PM

Temperatures are in the 60s, and suddenly your chocolate stout or big, bold Cab doesn't feel like such an appropriate choice. Curiously, two Chicago restaurants are ahead of this warm weather game with cocktails that involve cola. Yes, cola. (Or "pop" for you Midwesterners and "soda" for East Coast transplants.)

These drinks are a far cry from the barely-drinkable rum-and-Cokes you made as an ignorant college freshman. At new South Loop fine dining restaurant Acadia, you'll find a Rum-and-Kola smash created by mixologist Michael Simon. The cola flavor there comes from kola nuts steeped in Fentiman's Curiosity Cola, then puched up with mint and rum.

At Barcito, River North's flashy new Spanish bar attached to restaurant Tavernita, bartenders shake up homemade kalimotxos, a curious Spanish drink that's half cola and half red wine. I first encountered this concoction at Lollapalooza last summer, when two good natured Argentinian boys extoled the virtue of their favorite summer drink. But Tavernita's version tastes nothing like that sticky sweet red juice they swilled from Gatorade bottles; housemade cola is mixed more reverently with a quality tempranillo, resulting in a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Can't decide which cola cocktail to choose? Since this warm snap won't last forever, we won't judge you for giving them both a shot on a Wednesday afternoon.

–Kate Bernot