ABSOLUT Chicago Day Was Better than Budweiser in the Bleachers
When ABSOLUT announced their newest limited edition ABSOLUT Chicago, the internet ran rampant with harsh speculation about what Chicago tastes like. Thankfully the booze pundits were wrong and the new edition offers notes of rosemary, olive and hints of thyme. Three flavors Chicago’s bartenders can use to enhance your average drink.
The spirit’s connection back to Chicago is that ABSOLUT sees the Windy City as a “modern classic” and the new flavors allow bartenders to put a modern twist on your go to drink.
Don’t believe me, ask Charles Joly from The Aviary (aka American Bartender of the Year). Charles joined the ABSOLUT Chicago Day celebration to modify a classic Bloody Mary with seasoned tomato water, Benedictine, cucumber & Worcestershire ice pearls (yup, he brought his own ice) and Fresno chili tincture - a concentrated chili/ alcohol infusion. The result was a smooth and spicy drink perfect for The Aviary’s brunch menu.
Following brunch with Charles at the Merchandise Mart, I made my way over Sound Bar for what turned out to be the weirdest / coolest lunch break I’ve had in a long time. Just like a Saturday night, you could hear Sound Bar before you saw it, the line to check IDs curved around the block and cars were stopping to ask why there was a line at 12:30pm on a Thursday.
Inside DJ Frankie Knuckles dropped beats as the 200+ strong crowd sipped simple combinations like ABSOLUT Chicago and tonic and the brand’s modified mimosas. As a whiskey and gin drinker, I was surprised by the vodka tonic combination as the rosemary flavor really pulled through and you could taste both the vodka and the tonic.
As the day progressed, so did the complexity of the drinks and the celebration ended with a party at Threadless HQ in the West Loop. It’s clear the bartenders involved were familiar with the rosemary and olive flavors as the vodka worked well with everything from lavender syrup and lemon juice to sparkling rose, lime juice and honey syrup.
The majority of my experience with olives is in dirty martinis, so going into the day, I was curious to see how it would work in the various combinations. Overall the olive flavor is pretty muted but if you enjoy the spirit straight, or in a dirty martini, the flavor makes an appearance.
Similar to Chicago, ABSOLUT bottles have a unique style. For ABSOLUT Chicago the design was crowd-sourced through the Threadless design community and it features several iconic elements (e.g. a hot dog, ferris wheel, theatre sign, etc.) within the Chicago skyline.
Unique in style and flavor, ABSOLUT Chicago is a reminder that like a good city, a delicious and flavorful vodka can exist between the east and west extremes of neutral flavoring and super sugary.