Drink of the week:
A pitcher of Mambo Mojitos at Mambo Grill
, 412 N. Clark St., on Friday night.
The damage: $15 for a pitcher, half off on Fridays from the regular price of $30, which pours six glasses. You do the math.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? My roommate in college Audrey would traipse around parties patting her belly while saying, "Why have a six pack when you can have a keg?" This motto led us to many late-night Belgian waffle binges and plenty of missed lectures. Last Friday I thought, "Why have one mojito when you can have a pitcher?" I love a deal, but a deal that keeps on giving makes me happier than when I finally find my cell phone and wallet the morning after a booze bender.
How it went down: I used to scoff at a drink that shared an ingredient with my toothpaste. I also used to think Barton's Vodka and Mr. Pibb made for a quality cocktail, so I have been proven wrong before. My friend Jamie likes anything Latin American—from boyfriends to beaches. She convinced me to try a mojito in Miami, and now I marvel at its minty wonder.
Mambo Grill claims the Mambo Mojito as its specialty. The bartender mashes fresh mint leaves with sugar and lime, then adds Myer's Jamaican Dark Rum. After a splash of soda water and a fierce shake, he pours the mix into a colorful, festive pitcher. While mojitos are often spoiled by sugar overkill, the Mambo Mojito was sweet without being offensive and refreshing without being overwhelming.
Would I want to become a regular? Finding a drink special on Friday night that doesn't involve cheap beer and drunken DePaul students was as refreshing as the mojito itself. But if I ever happen to cruise around River North on a night other than Friday, I'd still stop in—to try one of Mambo Grill's other creative concoctions, including a beer on the rocks with a dash of Worcester and hot sauce.
Despite being located in a neighborhood flanked by tourists in ankle-strangler jeans, the place packed in groups of local 20-somethings and well-dressed couples. Beyond the drinks, Mambo Grill offers a menu sprinkled with Latin flair and pollo empanadas that I bet rival any Cuban street vendor's creation. The music complemented the black and white photos of Cubans rolling cigars and Havana street scenes. Yep, I'd take a barstool with my name on it at Mambo Grill any day.
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.