Much like your wardrobe, a new season means it's time to swap out the whiskey and try on something a bit lighter.
Allow us to introduce you to your spring spirit of choice: sake. No, not in a sake bomb. If you have a college degree, you can have a cocktail.
The Chu-Cumber at Sushisamba Rio
Consider the Chu-Cumber cocktail Japanese Spirits 101 in a glass. It’s made with not only sake (made from fermented rice) but also shochu (distilled from barley, sweet potato, or rice). The two are combined with gin and muddled cucumber, then served in a nori salt-rimmed glass. Sounds healthy, right? We tell ourselves that, too.
$12. 504 N. Wells St., River North (312-595-2300)
The Red Lotus at BellyQ
The Red Lotus cocktail is like a sake slushie, but do not give this drink to children. Seriously. Don't. The mixture of sake, yuzu, and cane sugar looks sweet with its plum basil seeds and sesame leaf garnish but it packs a boozy uppercut. Which is to be expected with a name like Red Lotus.
$10. 1400 W. Randolph St., West Loop (312-563-1010)
Dragon's Milk/Frozen Pond at Sumi (pictured)
Start on the ground floor with a bottled cocktail called Dragon’s Milk (vodka, cucumber, mint, nigori sake, white pepper and lime). Then move downstairs to Charcoal Bar, where the expert bartender will shake up a Frozen Pond made with Buddha’s Hand vodka, nigori sake, vermouth blanc, grappa, and hopped grapefruit bitters.
$12-14. 702 N. Wells St., River North (312-988-7864)
The Sake Menu at MANA
This vegan restaurant has devoted an entire section of their drink menu to classic cocktails made with the Japanese spirit. From refreshing sake combos with coconut water and lime to a cucumber margarita spiked with sake, MANA has a combination to please even the most hesitant palate.
$8-9. 1742 W. Division St., Wicker Park (773-342-1742)