Chicago mixologist conjures up exotic cocktails

February 20, 2010 4:34:02 PM PST
There's been a renaissance in the world of cocktails recently with more local bartenders creating drinks with roots in the pre-prohibition era. But one local mixologist has decided to create his own spirit which can be used in a number of ways.Cocktail "geeks" like myself are always looking for new spirits or mixers and now we have a new toy. It's called "hum," and it's the brainchild of a busy alchemist who was looking for just the right combination of flavors and aromas in his glass. We caught up with him recently to talk mixology behind the bar, of course.

Adam Seger has become quite the bar chef. You could also call him a mixologist, for the way he conjures up exciting cocktails at Nacional 27 where he also serves at General Manager. His most recent title: entrepreneur. He's created a new spirit, that's really in its own category, called HUM.

"It kind of brings the mixology world into another bar and into someone's home where you can have a very complex cocktail and it may only be two or three ingredients," said Seger.

The key is what's inside: beyond rum, there's dried hibiscus flowers, shedding their fruity perfume; organic ginger with an intense, almost spicy characteristic. Fresh cardamom, adding a hint of complexity, and most intriguing of all, kaffir lime leaf, the Thai secret weapon that offers a beguiling aroma. Segar says HUM will do for sprits, what the iPhone has done for telephones.

"If five years ago you were trying to explain what an iPhone was it would be extremely difficult. And HUM is a little bit like that because you can have it on the rocks, you can have it over ice cream you can cook with it, you can use it in classic cocktails," said Seger.

So instead of a Negroni, Seger creates a HUMgroni - subbing the Hum for vermouth - as he combines North Shore gin, campari and ice.. finishing it off with an orange peel. The HUMito obviously starts with muddled lime and mint, then HUM instead of rum, soda, and garnishes of fresh lemongrass, lavender and lemon thyme - a garden in a glass. His "lovebird" contains passion pomegranate puree and blood oranges; the addition of sparkling wine gives it some effervessence. But Seger says you can keep it simple as well: The HUMbrew is just two things: his beloved spirit, with a Goose Island Matilda beer. Seger says if you happen to overindulge, you can even re-name the next morning.

"Instead of getting a hangover, you get a HUM-over," said Seger.

Hum is all over the cocktail menu at Nacional 27.

Nacional 27
325 W. Huron St.

It is also available at:

Lush (three locations)
Wholes Foods at Kingsbury and Northbrook
Bodega Ramos on Diversey
Provenance on California
Pastoral on Lake Street
Drinks over Dearborn