Chicago Cocktail recipe – a classic comes back from the dead

Chicago CocktailWhile digging through some old cocktail books to find a recipe fit to represent Chicago, I came across one that was a no-brainer. It was right there in the c-section. The Chicago Cocktail.

I’m far from a cocktail aficionado, but I’d never even heard the name Chicago Cocktail before. Some quick research didn’t turn up much more than a two-paragraph Wikipedia page and an updated version by David Wondrich in 2006.

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That’s when I started digging through old newspapers. There was an article from in 1866 that described the Chicago Cocktail as a “new and most astonishing beverage.” Then in 1893 a Spanish duke swooned over the it. Clearly there’s something to the drink.

Chicago Cocktail

The Chicago Cocktail is somewhat similar to an Old Fashioned in that it starts with brandy and bitters. Instead of sugar (and occasionally fruit) though it calls for a dash of curaçao. Then in a feat of triumph, instead of a splash of soda it is topped up with champagne.

The thing about the Savoy Cocktail Book is that the measurements are just a wee bit antiquated. So before you go pouring 2/3rds of an ounce into your drink, you should know that it actually means 2/3rds of a wine glass.

Chicago Cocktail

And before you go filling up a wine glass, it’s actually an old timey unit of measure that equals 2oz. The cocktail essentially becomes 1.5oz of brandy, along with the two dashes.

Chicago Cocktail

✧ 1.5 oz Brandy (Courvoisier VSOP)
✧ 1 Dash Curacao (Grand Marnier)
✧ 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
✧ Sparkling Wine (Chandon Brut Classic)

Combine all ingredients except ice with ice and stir well. Strain into cocktail glass rimmed with caster (superfine) sugar. Top up with sparkling wine.

You might notice that mine is actually rimmed with powdered sugar. That’s what I had on hand, and no one actually asks their neighbor for sugar. Plus superfine sugar doesn’t show up well in photos, which is also why mine is layered on comically thick. At the end of the day you’re just trying to have a drink, and I certainly accomplished that feat.

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Chicago Cocktail

Colin Joliat
About Colin Joliat 347 Articles
Colin Joliat is the brains behind this rinky-dink operation. He covers the alcohol industry with two parts information, one part comedy, and one part WTF is wrong with this guy. He's written for Brobible, Guyism, Thrillist, CoolMaterial, Craft, and more.