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How to Make the Chicago Cocktail

The Windy City, the heart of American, one of the greatest cities in the United States – whatever you call it, Chicago deserves its own cocktail! Guess what, it has one. Just like New York has its Sour, Chi-town has the Chicago Cocktail (and the Chicago Fizz Cocktail as well, but that’s a different drink!).

Chicago Cocktail hero

The Chicago Cocktail, like the city it’s named after, has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. This classic drink has seen its fair share of changes and adaptations over the years, but its essence remains the same – a well-balanced cocktail with a smooth finish.

According to the Chicago Tourism site, “Chicago Daily News reporter John Drury included the recipe for this fine dessert cocktail in his 1931 guide Dining in Chicago, noting that it had been served at the American Bar in Nice and the Embassy Club in London. It also appeared in the Henry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book. Two dashes of Angostura Biters are set off by three dashes of Curacao. A pinch of Brandy makes for a tipsy cocktail . . . but the final pour of champagne on the top make it an absolute, celebratory delight of a cocktail.

Where to find ingredients for the Chicago Cocktail and other rum cocktails

You can find all the ingredients at Spirits Kiosk (10% off the entire site by quoting this code: ALushLife10SK.) in the UK; or in the USA!

Ingredients for the Chicago Cocktail

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s familiarize ourselves with the key ingredients that make up the Chicago Cocktail:

  • Brandy: At the base of the drink, you’ll find brandy, which lends a rich and forward nature to the cocktail.
  • Triple Sec or any orange liqueur: Orange liqueur adds a delightful citrusy twist to the mix. It’s a popular choice among bartenders for its fruity and sweet notes.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice provides a tangy and zesty kick that balances the sweetness of the orange liqueur
  • Simple Syrup: To achieve the right level of sweetness, we’ll use a sugar cube or simple syrup. Adjust the sweetness to your liking.
  • Dash of Bitters: A few drops of Angostura bitters bring depth and complexity to the cocktail.
  • Lemon Twist or Orange Peel: These citrus garnishes not only add a burst of aroma but also enhance the drink’s visual appeal.

What equipment you need to make Chicago Cocktail

To make a Chicago Cocktail, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • Cocktail Glass or Rocks Glass: The Chicago Cocktail is traditionally served in a cocktail glass, sometimes referred to as a martini glass or coupe glass, but I like to make a batch and then serve them in a rocks glass with ice.
  • Mixing Glass: You’ll use a mixing glass to combine and stir the cocktail ingredients before straining them into the cocktail glass. A mixing glass typically has a spout for easy pouring.
  • Bar Spoon: A long-handled bar spoon is essential for stirring the ingredients in the mixing glass. It allows for precise and controlled mixing.
  • Jigger: A jigger is a measuring tool that ensures accurate and consistent measurements of the cocktail ingredients. You’ll need it to measure the brandy, triple sec, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters.
  • Ice Cubes: You’ll need ice cubes to chill the cocktail and dilute it slightly during the stirring process. It’s also a good idea to have extra ice on hand for serving.
  • Strainer: After mixing the ingredients in the mixing glass, you’ll need a strainer to strain the cocktail into the cocktail glass, keeping any ice or small ice chips out of the final drink.
  • Garnish Tools: To add the finishing touches to your Chicago Cocktail, you’ll need tools for garnishing, such as a vegetable peeler for creating lemon twists or orange peels.
  • Optional: Sugar and Plate: If you want to sugar the rim of the cocktail glass for added sweetness and presentation, you’ll need a small plate for the sugar and some superfine sugar.

With these essential tools in your bar, you’ll be well-equipped to craft the perfect Chicago Cocktail and explore its delicious variations. Enjoy your mixology adventure!


Now that you’re well-equipped and familiar with the ingredients and equipment, it’s time to bring the breathe some air into the Chicago Cocktail!

  1. Start by chilling your rocks or cocktail glass. You can place it in the freezer or fill it with ice and water while you prepare the cocktail.
  2. In a mixing glass, add the brandy, triple sec, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters.
  3. Fill the mixing glass with ice cubes and stir well. Stirring ensures that the ingredients are thoroughly combined and chilled.
  4. Once the mixture is well-chilled, strain it into your chilled cocktail glass.
  5. To garnish, express the oils from a lemon twist or orange peel over the cocktail by giving it a gentle twist, releasing the citrus aroma.
  6. Optionally, you can sugar the rim of the glass for an extra touch of sweetness and presentation.
  7. Serve your Chicago Cocktail with a smile and enjoy a taste of the Windy City in every sip!
Chicago Cocktail hero

Variations of the Chicago Cocktail

Like any classic cocktail, the Chicago Cocktail has seen its fair share of creative interpretations. Here are a few variations you might want to explore:

  • Chicago Fizz: If you’re in the mood for something bubbly, try adding a splash of club soda to your Chicago Cocktail. It gives the drink a fizzy texture reminiscent of a champagne cocktail.
  • New York vs. Chicago: If you’re feeling a bit playful, you can pit the Chicago Cocktail against its East Coast rival, the New York Cocktail. Both use similar ingredients but in different proportions, leading to distinct flavor profiles.
  • Old Fashioned Twist: Take a page from the old-fashioned playbook by muddling an orange slice and a maraschino cherry with the sugar cube before adding the other ingredients. This variation gives the Chicago Cocktail a fruitier twist.

Why Lush Life loves it

In the world of classic cocktails, the Chicago Cocktail stands tall as a testament to the rich history and creative spirit of the city it’s named after. With its well-balanced combination of brandy, triple sec, and citrus, it’s a cocktail that’s stood the test of time.

So, whether you’re a Chicagoan at heart or simply looking for a great drink to enjoy, the Chicago Cocktail is a fantastic choice. Its smooth finish, balanced flavors, and fruity twist make it a timeless classic that’s sure to delight your palate. Bottom’s up!

 Plus more classic cocktails here

Here is the Chicago Cocktail recipe!

Chicago cocktail

Chicago Cocktail

The Windy City, the heart of American, one of the greatest cities in the United States – whatever you call it, Chicago deserves its own cocktail!
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Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Course Cocktails
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 178 kcal


  • 2 ounces brandy
  • .25 ounce orange liqueur
  • 1 dash of aromatic bitters
  • 1 ounce Champagne
  • Garmish: lemon slice


  • Add brandy, triple sec and bitters with to a shaker
  • Add ice
  • Shake, shake, shake
  • Strain into a rocks glass with ice or a coupe without ice
  • Top with Champagne.
  • Garnish with lemon peel


Serving: 1gCalories: 178kcalCarbohydrates: 3gSodium: 2mgSugar: 2g
Keyword Chicago Cocktail
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