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Drinkable Desserts

Skip the cake and head straight for these sugar-shackled dessert drinks.
Monday May 05, 2008.     By Stacy Warden
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

A carrot cake martini with a frosted rim
photo: Stacy Warden
Every so often I can shrug off a restaurant's dessert menu, walk straight past my neighborhood bakery and leave the grocery store without even glancing down the candy aisle. But when faced with a list of two of my favorite things combined—confections and liquor—my sweet tooth always gets the best of me. Whether you're a fellow candy freak or an empathetic chocoholic, you'll understand why I can't steer clear of the sweet drinks at these bars.

Carrot Cake at Suite Lounge
This cavernous grotto of a bar would be more aptly titled "Sweet Lounge," with its trailing list of dessert martinis. Cobblestone walls and the lounge's cellar-like decor are quite a contrast to its lovely sounding cocktails, which include flavors like peach cobbler, key lime and banana split. They're all tempting choices, but it's the carrot cake martini that'll sway you. The popular spice cake has been revived as a drink that's just as spicy and sweet as the fluffy stuff you'd find at the bakery. Cinnamon and mint liqueurs amp things up here, while the addition of Baileys and cream gives it a silky texture. And then it's all finished—brace yourself—with a cream-cheese frosting rim. Sweet Jesus, it's like a little slice (uh, I mean glass) of heaven.

Lollipop at Tantrum
A tantrum is the last thing you'll be having after thumbing through this lounge's sugar-rich cocktail list. Whether it's chocolate, caramel or something slightly tart that you’re thirsting for, Tantrum's got the fix. Candy connoisseurs need look no further than the Lollipop. This mouth-puckering play on the original candy-on-a-stick marries melon and orange liqueurs, pineapple juice and Southern Comfort. It tastes more like a strange combination of Jolly Ranchers than say, a Dum-Dum—but it's delicious nonetheless. And in the spirit of summer, coconut-infused rum can be subbed for SoCo to induce a tantalizing taste of the tropics. The South Loop lounge manages to be posh without packing in pretension; it's likely you'll be sipping your fancy little cocktail next to a guy guzzling his bottle of beer.

Smore-Tini at Silver Cloud
Don't have the time to pitch a tent and sit around a campfire roasting marshmallows? Neither does the crew at Silver Cloud. Instead, they're quick with the cocktail shakers, mixing up a liquid version of the gooey summertime treat. This blend brings together chocolate liqueur, vodka and hot coffee. The comfortingly warm concoction is served in a graham cracker-rimmed martini glass and then topped with a toasted marshmallow and a pretty white cloud of whipped cream. It's just like hanging out in the wilderness, if the wilderness were a diner in Bucktown.

Creamsicle at Hot Chocolate
Here's to another sweet cocktail inspired by junk food on a stick. This vanilla vodka-infused drink, made with OJ and half-and-half, is just like those glorious creamy orange treats that the ice cream man used to dole out on sunny days, except you don't have to flag down a truck in the middle of the street for this one. Instead, you can enjoy the frothy citrus stuff, served over ice in a high ball glass, at a posh little pastry-minded restaurant in Wicker Park. And if you're looking for an excuse to indulge, August 14 marks National Creamsicle Day. But I'm sure no one’s going to argue if you tell them it's today.

Dulce de Leche at Zocalo
OK, I'm not sure what's worse: having to choose between this restaurant's dessert sampler (five desserts for $24) and its decadent cocktails, or recovering from the sugar-coma induced by relishing in both. If you must decide on just one, go for the dulce de leche cocktail, a milky combination of vanilla vodka and a creamy banana liqueur. Fans of the original dulce de leche (sweet milk) will love the notes of caramel and silky texture of this drink. You may have had something similar in ice creams, cakes and flans—but after a sip of Zocalo's liquid version, you'll forget about those edible treats. This River North restaurant and tequila bar is a great spot to wrap your chomps around some savory fare before working your way toward its sugar-spiked drinks.


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