Suburban bars and restaurants mix it up with cocktails to-go
Nearly three months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to suspend operations, suburban nightspots and restaurants are rebounding to serve up spirits for takeout.
And patrons are pleased.
After Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 2682 last week allowing licensed businesses to offer mixed drinks and spirits for curbside pickup or delivery, Scott Nickles' family and some neighbors took advantage of the new law to sample libations from The Vine Martini and Wine Bar in Grayslake.
"We absolutely loved it," said the Round Lake Beach resident who purchased one each of The Vine's five selections then returned for a second round.
"You can try to make them at home, but they never quite taste the same," said the cocktail-to-go convert.
Owner Mike Pruitt said five of The Vine's specialty cocktails are available for carryout -- the Cosmopolitan, Rum Punch, the Appletini, an Old-Fashioned and the Cucumber Gimlet.
They're served with garnishes in a sealed Mason jar per Illinois regulations, which require cocktails be filled, sealed and secured by an employee in a container with a tamper-proof lid and a label listing ingredients, volume and the name, address and license number of the bar or restaurant. The sealed container must be placed in the trunk of the vehicle or in a rear compartment that is not readily accessible to the passenger area, according to the law, which is in effect through June 2, 2021.
At Spears Bourbon, Burgers and Beer in Wheeling, everything on the menu is available for pickup, including some 350 bourbons.
"Anything anybody could order at the table they can take to go," said co-owner Sam Carter.
That includes every cocktail and spirit on the menu. Garnishes, however, are available only upon request, to reduce the number of ingredients employees touch, he said.
Since Spears reopened, "the response has been fabulous," Carter said. "We're thrilled."
Cocktails to-go will be available at Elgin's Martini Room beginning Friday, June 12, said owner Ursula Borodzinska. To start, Hot & Tropical, Picante and Strawberry Seduction martinis will be available for purchase by phone or online along with red and white wine sangria and Strawberry Rhubarb and Jalapeño Mango margaritas.
While not all of the Martini Room's 40-plus options will be available to go, Borodzinska says she will keep the menu fresh and update it weekly.
"We miss our customers. We miss being here with them," she said, adding "we cannot wait to get back to the new normal and ... make it the best experience possible."
Rules for cocktails to-go
The rules that apply to purchasing adult beverages at a bar, restaurant or liquor store also apply to purchasing cocktails for pickup. Plus, additional rules apply.
• The person purchasing the cocktails and the employee delivering them must be 21.
• The cocktail must be in an original container that is filled, sealed and secured by a bar or restaurant employee and placed in a new, sealed container with a tamper-proof lid or cap.
• The sealed container must be placed in the trunk of the vehicle. If there is no trunk, it can be placed in a rear compartment that is not readily accessible to the passenger area.
• The sealed container must include a label indicating: the ingredients and volume; the name, license number and location of the establishment; and confirmation that the container was filled fewer than seven days before the sale date.
• Third-party delivery services may not deliver cocktails.
• Employees delivering cocktails to patrons must comply with an executive order from the governor requiring they wear gloves and a mask and maintain distancing requirements.