Creative summer sippers quench Chicagoans' thirst

June 4, 2010 (CHICAGO)

There are plenty of creative ways to satisfy a thirst this summer, no ID required.

Television ads would have you think the only way to cool off in the summer heat is with a beer or a margarita. But there is plenty of G-rated creativity going on in Chicago where mixology, fruit and ice come together, resulting in some refreshing, non-alcoholic summer sippers.

If you don't live near an agua fresca cart, you can still find cool, delicious refreshment in a number of other venues, if not your own home. At Argo Tea - which has more than a dozen locations - their summer drink menu has moved way beyond simple iced tea.

"We offer thirty varieties of teas and we can use any of those teas to make our beverages. So we can do tea lattes, we can do a tea sangria like this, which uses a hibiscus tea. Or we can use any of our black teas to make teappucinos and other really refreshing ice drinks," said Mika Ishida of Argo Tea.

Fresh aloe vera and a shot of simple syrup (that's equal parts sugar and water) are added to mint tea to create a refreshing alternative over ice.. while fresh pomegranate tea is combined with assorted frozen berries, then blended up to make a sort of tea smoothie.

Across the street from Millennium Park, in the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute, the non-alcoholic drink menu at Terzo Piano is worth a sip, not only for the view.

"Seasonality of ingredients. It's pretty much what our whole menu is based off of…what we can get locally and what is in tune with the season," said Ryan Paykert, the GM of Terzo Piano.

Fresh pineapple is pureed and filtered, combined with simple syrup, ice and pineapple sage. The mixture is vigorously shaken, then poured into a glass with a bit of soda for effervescence. Same rules apply to their pomegranate and thyme soda, as well as a fresh grapefruit with mint.

"One of the things we teach in our cooking class is that these are great easy cocktails that can be made into alcoholic cocktails, or if you want to make your own house-made sodas for kids, instead of serving things with high fructose corn syrup," said Paykert.

Terzo Piano
159 E. Monroe St.

Argo Tea
16 W. Randolph St.

other locations:

550 St. Clair St.

958 W. Armitage Ave.

3135 N. Broadway St.

819 N. Rush St.

also mentioned:

David Burke's Primehouse
616 N. Rush St.

Green Zebra
1460 W. Chicago Ave.

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