Chicago Cocktails – Lost Lake

The best tiki bar you’ll ever drink at, Lost Lake is one of the better bar experiences I’ve ever had with awesome service, kitschy/cool décor, and money cocktails.

 Ambiance: *****

Decor: *****

Service: *****

Cocktails: *****

Overall Rating: 5

This week I was lucky enough to visit the fair city on the lake, Chicago. After the fun cocktail times I had in October (you should read my writeup of Chicago Athletic Club and Presidio), I was determined to fit in as much bar time as possible this go-around! Doing some pre-trip cocktail research I spied tiki-bar Lost Lake in Imbibe Magazine’s Best Bar of 2016 article; it’s quirkiness and focus on presentation and bar experience seemed right up my alley. So, two hours after getting off the plane in O’Hare, I headed to the Logan Square neighborhood for some umbrella drinks. Knowing little about the city, I was convinced I had given the cabbie the wrong address when he dropped me off at an unmarked storefront and small Chinese restaurant. After a few furtive glances, I realized Lost Lake was right behind me, albeit well-camouflaged!

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Beyond the opaque glass was an enchanting and wonderfully kitschy tiki bar ripped straight out of 1950s Florida. The vibrant atmosphere and ultra-capable bartenders (dressed in themed wear) made for a truly one of a kind experience that exuded fun. Honestly, I’m hard pressed to think of a better spot to meet up with some coworkers or old friends and just have a happy, helluva time.

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As for the drinks, the only thing that matched their bright, good looks was their taste – just some awesome and outlandish combinations of spirit and citrus flavors. My greatest regret was only getting one night with Lost Lake’s list – on my second visit, the line was out the door! Many wonderful drinks remain, but I did get to try five of them, the first being the “Curative Vibrations” with bourbon, Tamarind shrub, lemon, pomegranate, and tiki bitters. This was probably the most unusual drink of the night, with a great scent off of the bourbon and shrub and a powerful, boozy punch. That bourbon and pomegranate mix is new to me and I enjoyed exploring it, a very balanced, smokey-sweet combination. The lemon also had a nice, searing cut on the taste. Very intriguing. Then I had the “Heaven is a Place” with dry gin, lime, curacao, falernum, honey, allspice, and angostura bitters. This was a sprightly gin-citrus sipper with a great allspice influence that grounds and warms it up a bit, giving it a little nutty hint. The lime and curacao work well together, icing and lifting the gin flavor up. So unique!

Moving on to the beautiful “Tic-Tac-Taxi” with aged multi-island rum, overproof Jamaican rum, coconut, passionfruit, and lime. This was my favorite tasting drink of the bunch, an icy rum milkshake laden with superb tropical flavor. Ultra-refreshing, this took me away from the wintry Second City and down to Miami, poolside, with the lime and passionfruit exploding in harmony as you gulp. A masterpiece of citrus and rum, I’ll have to figure out how to make these in time for summer. Then a real looker came by, the “Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri” with overproof Jamaican rum, overproof demerara rum, spiced rum, banana, coconut, and lime. Obviously, coolest presentation ever, with a banana morphed into Flipper. I love banana so this was a slam dunk for me, a consistent banana flavor rounded out by the coconut. The sweet rums are subtle but empower that great fruit taste. Loved it.

The grand finale was the “Saturn in the House of Saturday Forever” with aged jamaican rum, american gin, passionfruit, lemon, falernum, coconut, absinthe, and besk (this is the Swedish alcohol AKA the infamous “malort.” Perhaps it was the besk with the absinthe, but this was a really wild and intriguing taste that starts very tropical but then gets sophisticated. The second half of the drink is truly one to behold, picking up on the floral gin and the citrus-tinged coconut which takes you to the end. Great drink.

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I was so sad to leave Lost Lake – the next time I set foot in the Windy City, this will be my first stop!

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