• Nelson Vallejo

Chicago's Best To-Go Cocktails for Aperitivi



No home bar? Not a problem in Chicago, where Italian restaurants serve bottled Negronis, spritzes, and other great to-go cocktails.

More time at home has given us ample opportunity to dig into recipes, hobbies, and projects we may not have otherwise been tempted to tackle. There's just one problem: When it’s time for a break, what about the drinks? Thankfully, Chicago restaurants are on the case, crafting an array of show-stopping sips–all bottled up and ready to serve in the comfort of your own home. From straw-worthy spritzes to shots of fernet, here are five of the best to-go cocktails for at-home aperitivi in Chicago. To-Go Classico Negroni from Osteria Langhe. Credit: Courtesy of Rachel Bires The Classico Negroni at Osteria Langhe The same team behind the newly opened Testaccio lays claim to this neighborhood favorite, where chef Cameron Grant serves an array of Piedmontese plates alongside regionally-inspired aperitivi. Just one of them is the Classico Negroni, a bottled blending of City of London Dry Gin, Cappelletti, and Cocchi di Torino Vermouth that serves up to four. Once home, drink creator Ashley Akers suggests stirring the cocktail in a mixing glass with ice for 30 seconds, then serving in a double old fashioned glass with just enough ice to break the surface. Garnish with an orange slice or swath for full-on aromatics. The Art of Choke cocktail from the Violet Hour. The Art of Choke at The Violet Hour When The Violet Hour opened in 2007, it helped revolutionize Chicago’s cocktail scene as we know it today, thanks to a James Beard Award-winning bar program rooted in pre-Prohibition style libations. One such dram takes on Italian inspiration in the Art of Choke, a stirred, on-the-rocks concoction of Cynar, white rum, Chartreuse, Angostura, and mint. Split it, or savor it—guests can take it home in 12-ounce portions. Pizzeria Portofino Spritzes. Credit: Lettuce Entertain You The Spritzes at Pizzeria Portofino Escape to the Italian Riviera at this riverfront restaurant, where hand-stretched pizzas and antipasti are the focal points on the menu. When it comes to drinks, it’s all about the spritzes—now available for folks to stir and sip at home. Each variation serves two, and three options are on offer, including the Amalfi (with limoncello, prosecco, and pinot grigio), the Ventian (with Aperol, prosecco, soda, and orange), and the Portofino (with Aperol, prosecco, soda, and grapefruit). Pizza Friendly Pizza Friendly Fernet Cocktail with a snack and a beer. Credit: Kim Kovacik The Friendly Fernet at Pizza Friendly Pizza Sicilian-style pan pizzas are the specialty at this Ukrainian Village newcomer, and expect these pies to be of high-caliber—the venue is helmed by industry vets Noah Sandoval (Oriole), Bruce Finkelman (16" on Center Hospitality), and executive chef Ruben Villalobos. Still, don’t be fooled by the Michelin-starred pedigree: these folks keep things no-frills, right down to their to-go cocktails. Case in point with the Friendly Fernet, a shot of Fernet, Campari, and a blend of secret spices, available for pick-up and delivery. Il Porcellino Negronis. Credit: Lettuce Entertain You The Negronis at il Porcellino This River North restaurant is a staple for classic Italian-American fare, from meatballs and Bolognese to Caprese and calamari. Find that dedication to craft in the cocktail list, too, where the negroni is front and center. Onsite, choose from four variations of the dram, two of which are available to-go: The Classic and the Mr. White, a riff with Suze and Kina, a wine made from the Piedmont-grown cortese grape. Pair them up with any of the restaurant’s takeaway meal kits—namely the Sunday Supper for two, a decadent spread of Tuscan cheese bread, chicken parm, and tiramisu.

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