Cocktail Challenge: Cheez-Its | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

Food & Drink » Cocktail Challenge

Cocktail Challenge: Cheez-Its

Matty Colston of Parachute pairs cheesy snack crackers with kimchi.


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

1 comment

"It's kind of ironic," Matty Colston says, that just a few days before bartender Lee Zaremba of Billy Sunday challenged him to create a cocktail with Cheez-Its, "I went on a huge rant about how much I love Cheez-Its," prompted by a friend complaining that his son had scattered the crackers all over his car.

Said rant notwithstanding, however, Colston—the beverage director for Parachute restaurant—wasn't thrilled at first about working with the snack cracker. "I thought [Zaremba] might take it a little easier on me," he says.

While deciding what to make, Colston put some of Parachute's house-made kimchi on a Cheez-It and tasted it. "It was delicious," he says. So he pureed the two ingredients to make a paste for a cocktail he called the Kimcheez-It.

Colston tried infusing gin with lovage, caraway, and Cheez-Its, but "it ended up being this kind of murky orange, and the lovage totally took over," he says. Instead he settled on a simpler infusion of caraway in City of London gin. Another element of the cocktail was a kimchi broth the restaurant uses in a noodle dish, comprising kimchi juice, gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste), and lemon, lime, and orange juice.

After rimming a glass with a mixture of crushed Cheez-Its, Korean chiles, and celery salt, Colston combined the drink's other components and strained them into the glass. Finally, he topped the cocktail with Krombacher pilsner. "Essentially it's a michelada—or a kimchelada, or a kimcheezitchelada," he says.

"I like all those things separately, so I found a way to make them work together. I'll crush a box of Cheez-Its while drinking a beer."

The Kimcheez-It by Matty Colston - PETER HOLDERNESS
  • Peter Holderness
  • The Kimcheez-It by Matty Colston

The Kimcheez-It

2 oz caraway-infused City of London gin
1 oz kimchi broth*
2 bar spoons Cheez-It­–kimchi puree**
Krombacher pilsner
Cheez-It/Korean chile/celery salt mix (for rimming the glass)

Rim a glass with the Korean chiles, crushed Cheez-Its, and celery salt. Add ice. Shake the first three ingredients with ice and fine-strain into the glass. Top with pilsner and garnish with a sprig of lovage or celery leaf.

*Kimchi broth: Combine one part kimchi juice, one part citrus mixture (a third orange juice, a third lemon juice, a third lime juice), and a dash of gochujang.

**Cheez-It–kimchi puree: Blend equal parts by weight of Cheez-Its and kimchi.

Who's next:

Colston has challenged Maria Carlin of Big Star to create a cocktail with makgeolli, a Korean fermented rice beverage. Slow City Brewery in Niles is the only company in the Western hemisphere that makes the drink. "Makgeolli cocktails and punches are very popular in Korea, some of which are kinda gross and neon color and some more thoughtful," Colston says. "Maria is Korean, and I'm excited to see what she does with it."

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Showing 1-1 of 1


Add a comment