Drink of the week:
photo: Clifton Henri
pictured Monrudee Laparparat pours a Plum Wine Mimosa
A Plum Wine Mimosa at Oysy (South Loop)
The damage: $7
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? For most of my childhood/young adulthood, I failed miserably at staying in touch with people. After elementary school, I never looked back on my cohorts from the Animal Club, a group of ten-year-old girls devoted to…well, I'm not sure exactly. We went caroling once to raise money for animals (just, in general, you know), and I think we wrote a letter to Congress. Mostly, we filled out Mad Libs. If I couldn't keep that bond going, what chance did my other pre-teen friendships have? Once my high school friends headed off to all corners of the country for college, though, I learned the importance of picking up the phone now and again, and I've carried this lesson into adulthood. When my co-worker Jess left for a new gig, I knew the best way for us to stay in touch: with chopsticks in hand.
How it went down: I so rarely eat at non-BYO sushi restaurants that I almost instinctively ordered a glass of white wine, my requisite sushi carry along. But since Oysy's drink list goes beyond the standard big bottles of Kirin beer and martinis, I decided to take advantage.
I had just walked from River North to the South Loop in the kind of post-rain humidity that makes your skin feel like a popsicle melted all over it. I needed a refreshing libation to cool me down, and the Plum Wine Mimosa, a 50-50 mix of rose sparkling wine and Hakutsuru plum wine, or umeshu, sounded perfect. The wine, made with shochu-soaked plums, is usually enjoyed as an aperitif and packs a 12.5-percent alcohol content. On its own, it tastes tart and sugary, but with the rose complementing its sweet notes, the umeshu tasted delightfully tame, a bit tangy and slightly fruity. A super-sour mini plum, which tasted like it had been pickled in formaldehyde, waited at the bottom of the flute.
Would I want to become a regular? Though I couldn't muster eating the tiny plum, I wondered if nibbling on it might aid my buzz. It had been soaking up my cocktail for at least 45 minutes; with our constant stream of chatter, I had sipped rather slowly compared to my usual chug-like pace. When the sushi arrived, though, it was all we could do not to stop talking entirely and silently devour the fresh slices of unagi and beautifully plated spinach salad with a thick-as-paste sesame sauce. We lingered in the mod environs, with sleek, blonde wood tables and lime-green accents, for quite some time after cleaning our plates. Our waitress didn't seem to mind, and neither did we; we had plenty of catching up to do.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.