In Chicago Bars & Restaurants, Notes From the Field
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The “Chardonnay-bor” at Vistro in Hinsdale

A bartender recently whipped me up a great savory cocktail which highlighted our Distiller’s Gin No. 6 and a lovely Chardonnay (the “Chardonnay-bor” at Vistro in Hinsdale). He has been offering wine cocktails as an option for guests who are not quite ready to switch to wine with dinner, yet don’t want to continue drinking strong cocktails on a weeknight.

Wine-based cocktails aren’t new. The French 75 and Death in the Afternoon are both classics, and Kir and Spritzer style cocktails have had their heyday. Honestly, who among us hasn’t enjoyed copious amounts of Sangria or mulled wine, depending on the season? We’re seeing things elevated a bit these days, with wine being used for what it adds to a cocktail, rather than just a base to build flavor into.


The Anvil Club at bellyQ in Chicago, with Aquavit – Private Reserve & “drunken pears” soaked in spiced red wine

Wine as a cocktail ingredient can do many things; it can add herbal and savory notes to complement the spirit, or it can add or highlight fruit notes while balancing sweetness. The subtle characteristics of a particular style of wine beautifully with a wide variety of spirits, in all sorts of cocktails. Another new favorite is the Anvil Club at bellyQ in Chicago, made with our Aquavit – Private Reserve and spiced red wine.

I would urge you to try these cocktails when you’re out, and to start thinking differently about your favorite bottle of wine at home. Citrus, stone fruit, honey, slate, ripe fruit, baked fruit, cedar, smoke, spice… The cocktail possibilities are endless. It might just be time to move your wine rack closer to your bar cart.