Chicago was slow to jump on the craft cocktail bandwagon, said freelance writer Lauren Viera in her article “Mother’s Ruin” in the Chicago Reader. She wishes bars like Scofflaw’s, a gin-centric cocktail bar, would only serve gin, or whatever they happen to specialize in, instead of offering more varied menus. She wrote, “Chicago’s bars and bartenders are plenty capable of delivering drinks above and beyond those of our coastal competitors. We’re just slower.”
This article agitated food writer Mike Sula, who then published his retort “Gin and Juiceless?” that says “…we’re neck and neck with the Big Apple, having matched them in [James Beard] nominees for its Outstanding Bar Program award.”
The battle raged on. Online forums blew up with opinions about how Chicago stands up against other cities when it comes to its cocktails. Viera even published a rebuttal on her personal blog.
Perhaps the problem is not in the quality of Chicago’s cocktail bars, but instead one that Sula points out- the small number of trained mixologists in the city. Or perhaps there isn’t even a problem. New York and Chicago are vastly different cities, with subsequent varying cocktail scenes, after all. We’re just glad they both have establishments for the drinking of good booze in the first place.
Mother's Ruin, Chicago Reader
Gin and Juiceless?, Chicago Reader
Essay sparks heated discussion on the state of Chicago cocktails, Chicago Tribune