Bourbon, Fernet, chartreuse, and a splash of cava? Gin, maple syrup, amaro, and sparkling white wine? A slurpee mixed with turtle’s blood and Bulleit rye? Stop, I want to get off! After drinking so many outrageous half-dozen-ingredient concoctions, sometimes I just want someone to serve me a fucking drink. Evanston’s unimpeachable Ward Eight does some gimmicky craft-cocktail stuff: they host a tiki night on Tuesdays and typically feature a couple multicomponent libations on their chalkboard. But the emphasis is on their book of classic cocktails, and many of those drinks are the best versions in town. Their Brooklyn, a manhattan made with rye instead of bourbon, is the finest example of that drink I’ve had anywhere. A Lion’s Tail—a mix of bourbon, pimento dram, Angostura bitters, and citrus—is sweet and refreshing without the tangy sting of excessive acid. With so many bars trying to outdo each other with over-the-top spectacles, Ward Eight is outdoing all other establishments by simply making better drinks.
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