With a riverside terrace that stretches from LaSalle almost to Clark, one of the most scenic spots for outdoor dining in Chicago is at Fulton’s On The River. It’s a great spot to have a cocktail, and they’re taking full advantage of it with signature drinks that put twists on traditional summer favorites.
The restaurant hosted a summer mixology class on their terrace and I brought my mom for a pre-birthday celebration. We were greeted with glasses of Moletto champagne and were quickly served deviled eggs. Made with truffle oil and topped with caviar, these were some of the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had (sorry mom). Then they served tenderloin “sliders”. Steak sandwiches are usually a bit tough, but these were as tender as filets should be and topped with grilled onions and cheese. My request for a cheese-free sandwich for my lactose-intolerant mother was honored quickly. This was an auspicious start.
Mixologist Scott Updegraff joined the group and started the class with a caipirinha. This Brazilian cocktail is made from cachaca, a sugar-cane based liquor, and the traditional recipe tastes very similar to a margarita. His twist? Use strawberry simple syrup and fresh basil. It’s a refreshing and delightful libation for a hot summer day. For the class Chef Greg Biggers created paired dishes with each course, and this one was served with King Crab strawberry salad with roasted corn puree, prosciutto chips and basil oil.
Next up – sangria. Made with red or white wine and filled with fresh fruit, it’s best to let it sit for a few days to let the flavors blend. Scott suggested Malbec for red and Sauvignon Blanc for white, but he said you can use any wine. So, next time you’ve opened a bottle of wine and don’t want to drink the whole thing, make sangria. His twist on the white wine sangria was to add peaches, peach juice, and a cinnamon-clove simple syrup. It was a favorite of the group, although mom thought it was too sweet. Honestly, if it hadn’t been so hot I might have thought it was cloying, but if the day’s a scorcher it’ll do just fine.
White Peach Sangria
We both, however, loved the halibut ceviche. Soaked in pear juice, then served with pear, peach champagne vinaigrette and a lotus chip, it was absolutely wonderful.
For our final pairing we were served a jalepeno margarita with spiced seared New York strip tartare. The margarita was a little spicy and you could definitely taste the jalapeno, but it wasn’t too hot. It was a nice accompaniment to the steak, which was served with artichoke hearts, brioche, and a cucumber chili relish. This was another dish with dairy, and once again they accommodated my mom.
We were invited to try our hands at making the cocktails ourselves, so mom popped up and made our favorite, the strawberry basil caipirinha.
She offered her finished drink to Chef Greg, who took one sip and said…
Here are the recipes so you can make them at home; or just stop into Fulton’s and take advantage of the gorgeous terrace.
Strawberry Basil Caipirinha
3 lime wedges
2 basil leaves
1 fresh strawberry
1/2 oz simple syrup
Put above into pint glass and muddle for 15 seconds. Add 2oz of fine cachaca; then fill glass to 3/4 with crushed ice and shake. Serve in rocks glass and garnish with a lime.
White Peach Sangria
Add peaches and peach juice to a pitcher of white wine. Mix in 3 oz pineapple juice and *cinnamon-clove simple syrup. Chill overnight, and then serve with diced fruit (Scott said hard fruits work best).
*equal parts sugar and water, 1/2 oz brandy, 1/2 oz cointreau, cinnamon and clove
3 lime wedges
1 orange slice
dash simple syrup
1oz jalapeno infused tequila
1/2oz Grand Marnier
Combine above in pint glass, then shake and strain over new ice and top with sour mix. Garnish with a sugared rim and a lime wedge.