The weather may still be on the rainy side, but local restaurants and bars are preparing for the summer heat by rolling out seasonal drink menus.
Sullivan's Steakhouse in Lincolnshire began working on their summer drinks in late February. The menu, which debuts the second week of June, will feature a grapefruit martini sweetened with agave nectar and spiked mint lemonade.
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"I think they will be very refreshing, especially during the hot summer months out on the patio here at Sullivan's," general manager Jason Yuhasz said.
Wickets Bar and Grill in Schaumburg has traded heavier brews for light beers like Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and will be launching its summer cocktail menu Saturday. The drink list is packed with fruity sippers like the Chilly Peach, a blend of peach vodka, peach schnapps and blue Curacao, and the Caribbean martini mixed with Malibu, pineapple juice and Midori.
"You just take a drink you might have had somewhere else and put your twist on it," general manager Dennis Antoniello said. "They're all refreshing."
For Genti Mesi, general manager of Carlucci in Downers Grove, the summer cocktail list is a chance to experiment with new ingredients. Absolut Cilantro was just released last month and he's been mixing the flavored vodka with fresh lime juice and triple sec garnished with a sprig of the herb. He's also excited about a new refreshing gin for martinis and a white whiskey that can make the traditionally dark spirit summery.
Carlucci will also be serving the Stay Sexy-tini, a cocktail of low-calorie vodka mixed with St. Germain and crushed cucumber.
"A lot of people want to enjoy a drink, but also stay in shape for the summer," Mesi said.
Scott Struchen, managing partner at John Barleycorn in Schaumburg, said the bar is focusing on tropical drinks for summer to go with their new two-page burger menu. Options include the Barleycorn Pineapple Punch, which blends four flavors of rum with pineapple, orange and cranberry juice, and the signature margarita, which is topped with Miller Lite.
"I think a good summer cocktail is not too complicated," Struchen said. "It's very easy and refreshing."
Weber Grill, which has locations in Schaumburg and Lombard, focuses on using fresh ingredients in their drinks year round, so they'll be adding options to their menu as the season goes on to take advantage of summer produce such as strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, sage and mint.
"I love fresh herbs, I love using seasonal fruits," said director of operations Gina DelMonico-Williams. "Whenever I think of a great summer cocktail I think of your herb garden or going to the local farmers market and using whatever fruit is available there in the mixed drink."
One of the options at Weber Grill is the Kentucky Cooler, a blend of bourbon, lemon juice and strawberries served in a Mason jar that Williams said is a great introduction to the spirit.
"People might think that's not for me," she said. "It's very approachable and it'll surprise you."