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Taxes done … time for a drink

Tax season has come and gone.   With it the headache of seemingly endless forms, boxes, and charts.  No sleep.  Questions creep into your head… Did I fill everything out correctly?  Am I forgetting any juicy deductions?  Am I going to owe a crap-ton of money?  Am I going to be audited?  Do they allow conjugal visits in prison?  It’s enough to drive a person to drink.

J.W. Marriott announced a couple tax themed cocktails to help take the edge off.

These cocktail were offered from Friday, April 11th through Tuesday, April 15th  but depending on how well they are received, they may find themselves added to the cocktail menu.  Like most bars, the lounge at the JW Marriott changes their menu seasonally.  What’s great about this lounge is that their bartenders have input as to the drinks the make it to the menu.  Unlike other hotels whose menus are conceived at corporate HQ, the menu here is more attuned to local tastes.

The bartender who created these cocktails is Damian Arms.  A soft spoken all-around nice guy who has been mixing drinks on the west coast before coming to Chicago.  After speaking to him for a while it was evident his level of commitment to his craft and the thoughts and inspirations that goes into the drinks he creates.

Working with Damian was a mixologist and hardcore spirits geek (I mean that in best possible way) named Laura.  These two are varsity level bar chefs.  I mention this because I am in a hotel lounge; granted I haven’t been in every hotel lounge in the world but from my experience, top notch talent in a hotel lounge on a Monday afternoon doesn’t happen … ever.



Sweet and smokey, warm and heavy.  A perfect drink for a cold night in Chicago.  The bacon infused brandy was made in-house, as were a lot of their custom ingredients.  The bacon was very subtle and blended in with the maple , walnut and orange.  It’s not shocking,make your teeth itch, sweet but it is sweet.  I really enjoyed this.




The drink was inspired by a trip Damian made to Greenbush Brewing Co. in Sawyer Michigan.  Damian was going for a hoppy – honey favored cocktail and didn’t fail to deliver.  The 401 (O.K.) felt like the total opposite of the Carried Interest.  Light and refreshing, very much a summertime drink.  The IPA doesn’t overpower the drink but is the dominant flavor component.  Beer has been used before in cocktails and in this case it was used a a bittering agent to counterbalance the delicate sweet of the lemon and honey.

I’m usually two drinks and done however Laura told me of a cocktail she made called Dusk that I had to try.  Not on the menu but definitely worth ordering.



“Dusk” by Laura

  • Bulleit Rye
  • Hennessy VSOP
  • Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • Lagavulin 16-year old Islay Single Malt Whisky  (yeah, things just got real)
  • Flamed lemon peel

Not sure if there were any other ingredients.  I’ll be sure to post a correction if there is.

The Lagavulin was sprayed into the glass with an atomizer prior to adding the cocktail which was served neat.  The whisky has a very very deep smokey peaty aroma, I almost mistaken it for Mezcal … (but that’s just me) and adds an unexpected dimension to the drink.   Scent after all does have an impact on flavor.   “Dusk” is really mellow and hint of rounded sweetness.  There was a lot going on here from the caramelized citrus oil to the chocolate bitters and  Whisky mist…very complex and sophisticated.  Very impressed.

I still can’t believe I got this in a hotel lounge.  Cheers!

If only my taxes were this easy to finish

If only my taxes were this easy to finish


If you are in Chicago, be sure to stop in.  Ask for Damian or Laura.


JW Marriott Chicago

151 W. Adams St.

Chicago, IL 60603










Founder and senior editor of VODA. Cocktailian, Journalist, Traveler, and the next Robin Leach.

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