Cosmic cocktails: Monday's solar eclipse inspires themed sippers
Day drinking on Monday might not be part of your routine, but this week you have a rare opportunity to make an exception. A solar eclipse will be visible across the U.S. on Aug. 21 and local spots are tapping into the excitement by throwing viewing parties and mixing themed cocktails.
Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles is hosting a poolside eclipse party from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., doling out free viewing glasses for the first 50 people and providing box cameras that let you watch the path of the eclipse without looking at the sun. A large-screen TV will be set up to watch NASA coverage and the resort will be raffling off four books about the eclipse.
"It just seemed like a good opportunity," said Pheasant Run director of sales and marketing Hal Barth. "It's kind of a nice end-of-summer kickoff."
The resort will serve a free hot dog lunch along with themed drink specials including Blue Moon beer, a mocktail Eclipse Soda made with orange soda and vanilla ice cream and the Total Solar Eclipse, a blend of dark rum and orange soda garnished with an orange slice.
"We wanted to do something different, not a tequila sunrise, so that's how we got there," Barth said. "We needed to make it look somewhat like an eclipse. We saw one with quail eggs online and thought 'Really?' Let's keep it simple with something people would like to drink."
The J. Parker in Chicago is putting an eclipse in a glass by serving both traditional Dark 'n' Stormy cocktails and a riff on the layered blend of dark rum and ginger beer dubbed the Solar Crescent that features Flor de Cana white rum, Cruzan black strap rum, mango, banana liquor, lemon and soda. You can try it at a lunar brunch the rooftop spot is hosting from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., where guests will get special eyewear for viewing.
"A total solar eclipse is extremely rare, and the last one visible in the United States was 26 years ago," said The J. Parker managing partner Ryan See. "Even though the path of this full eclipse will take place about 330 miles south of Chicago, the city will still be able to see roughly 90 percent of the eclipse, which will be a really cool and visual rarity for hotel guests and neighbors alike."
The fact that dark rum sticks to the top of a glass is key to the $12 Sunblocker cocktail that LH Rooftop in Chicago is serving now through Monday. The drink blends Cruzan dark rum with clementine-flavored San Pellegrino, an orange slice and a bit of kuro, a tasteless charcoal powder often used to add a dramatic flair to the spot's dishes.
"It's our version of seeing the sun from the bottom and being blocked from the top," said LH Rooftop general manager Ben Foreman. "It also is refreshing like a summer cocktail so you get the best of both worlds."
LH Rooftop also will be serving Elysian Brewing's Space Dust IPA and a dish inspired by the map of the eclipse featuring a terrine of foie gras with a black streak of truffle accompanied by brioche with cocoa marbling that gives the bread its own black streak.
"We have just a great view for seeing the eclipse and we wanted to build a program around having people come out to our rooftop, have lunch and see the view," Foreman said.
Chicago rooftop lounge I/O Godfrey is hosting a party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the retractable glass roof will provide a view of the darkening skies. The first 100 people will receive complimentary glasses, and they'll be selling 100 more while supplies last. While you watch, you can sip The Eclipse, a $14 cocktail that features a carafe of house-infused citrus vodka blended with a tea made from a flavorless blue flower you pour over a glass of lemon granita.
"It changes from a bright blue to almost black, very, very dark purple," said Grant Gedemer, director of food and beverage at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago. "It eclipses itself right in front of you."