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The 12 Cocktails of Christmas at Level Two

 

Hyatt Christmas Cocktails

The holidays are in full swing and many places are introducing seasonal flavors to their cocktail menu.  Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile Level Two restaurant and lounge has brought good tidings of holiday cheer by offering us for a limited time the “12 Cocktails of Christmas”.

Many of the cocktails are a playful twist on the classics.  Each introducing a flavor which represents the holiday.  There is drink for every palette, regardless if your taste leans toward sweet, savory, floral, bitter, etc., there is something for just about everyone.  We had to good fortune to preview the menu.  Here’s what you can find on the 12 Cocktails of Christmas:

Flavor:  Cider

Cocktail: Naughty or Nice Spiced Cider

  • Jack Daniels Fire
  • Cloves
  • Green cardamom
  • Black peppercorn
  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon stick – garnish

Thoughts: Served warm in an coffee mug, this is a cozy, curl up by the fire kind of drink.  It’s the kind of drink that warms the heart.  When I taste Jack Daniels Fire on its own I get a “Red Hots” candy sweetness; it does carry through to the cocktail though it’s subdued by the other ingredients and works very well. According to the menu, you can swap you Jack Daniels for a spirit of your choice: Sailor Jerry, Grand Marnier,  Courvoisier, etc….though when I order this again (and I will) I’ll stick with the J.D.-Fire

 


 

Cinnamon Old Fashion

Cinnamon Old Fashion

Flavor: Cinnamon

Cocktail: Cinnamon Old Fashion

  • Cinnamon bitters
  • Pyrat XO Rum
  • simple syrup
  • Lemon twist – garnish

Thoughts:  The rum really stands out, it felt a bit aggressive.  The cinnamon bitters is made in-house and is present but does not overpower.

 


 

Flavor: Gingerbread

Cocktail: Gingerbread Martini

  • Gingerbread syrup
  • Vanilla vodka
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • Kahlua
  • Rimmed with pulverized gingerbread cookies

Thoughts:  It’s a play on the mudslide.  The gingerbread and vanilla works very well.


 

Stinger - Photo Credit: Level Two

Stinger – Photo Credit: Level Two

Flavor: Peppermint

Cocktail: Stinger

  • D’usse VS Cognac
  • White Crème de Menth
  • Mint Sprig – garnish

Thoughts: Based on the Stinger, a classic cocktail popular in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s, it was a popular nightcap back in the day, the mint would freshen the breath of those who had been drinking and smoking all night.  If you haven’t had a stinger before you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

 


 

Cable Car Cocktail - Photo Credit: Level Two

Cable Car Cocktail – Photo Credit: Level Two

Flavor: Clove

Cocktail: Cable Car Cocktail

  • Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
  • Grand Marnier
  • Simple syrup
  • lemon
  • Orange twist – garnish
  • Rimmed with powdered sugar

Thoughts: The taste reminded me a little of Orangina due to its light orange citrus flavor.  No heat from the rum, it has a smooth finish.

 


 

Flavor: Walnut

Cocktail: Nuts and Bolts

  • Housemade walnut bitters
  • Carpano Antica
  • St. Germain
  • Aperol
  • FEW White Whiskey

Thoughts:  This is bitter and herbal as you would expect with the Aperol and Carpano Antica.  It has a strong walnut finish that oddly doesn’t kick in until a second or two after swallowing.  Kinda cool actually:  Sip, Swallow, wait for it …. wait for it…. *BAM*… walnut.  Love it.

 


 

Cranberry Old Fashion - Photo Credit: Level Two

Cranberry Old Fashion – Photo Credit: Level Two

Flavor: Cranberry

Cocktail: Cranberry Old Fashion

  • Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • Cranberry bitters
  • whiskey barrel bitters
  • simple syrup
  • Bourbon soaked cherry – garnish

Thoughts:  Bourbon forward with a  hint of cranberry.

 

 


 

Gin Flip

Gin Flip

Flavor: Egg Nog

Cocktail: Gin Flip

  • Bombay Dry Gin
  • Egg yolk
  • Orgeat syrup
  • topped with grated nutmeg

The drink was borrowed from Eastern Standard in Boston.  For the uninitiated, the thought of drinking anything with raw eggs in it can be quite daunting.   In addition to the egg, many also shy away from gin.  The cocktail however has the taste and creamy texture of traditional egg nog.   Unless someone told you (I just did), you would have no idea there was gin in this drink.  A few of these and you’ll be caroling in no time.

 


 

Bistro Side Car

Bistro Side Car

Flavor: Hazelnut

Cocktail: Bistro Side Car  

  • Tuaka
  • Frangelico
  • D’usse VS Cognac
  • simple syrup
  • orange juice
  • toasted hazelnut float

Thoughts:  Nutty and delicious, it’s definitely a guilty pleasure.  One of my favorites on the menu.

 


 

Flavor: Sugar Plum

Cocktail: Sugar Plum Martini

  • Plum bitters
  • Petal and Thorn Vermouth
  • Tito’s Vodka
  • Simple syrup

Thoughts:  The powdered sugar rim adds an interesting dynamic to the flavor of this cocktail.  The first couple sips, when you have the powdered sugar on your lips, the cocktail has a vanilla, almost marshmallow sweetness to it.  Further sips, after the sugar has worn off, you get the pleasant floral from the bitters and vermouth

 


 

Death by Chocolate - Photo Credit: Level Two

Death by Chocolate – Photo Credit: Level Two

Flavor: Chocolate

Cocktail: Death by Chocolate

  • Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur
  • steamed milk
  • Godiva Milk Chocolate Syrup – Swizzled on the inside of glass
  • Topped with White Chocolate shaken cream and Cocoa powder

Thoughts:  Are you kidding me? If you love chocolate, you HAVE to order this.  Served hot, it a creamy chocolate indulgence that is so sinfully rich and delicious. I could go on but you decadence when you see it.

 

 

 

 


 

Purple "Pear"adise, Photo Credit:  Level Two

Purple “Pear”adise, Photo Credit: Level Two

Flavor: Pear

Cocktail: Purple “Pear”adise

  • Pear puree
  • St. George Pear Brandy
  • Grafignia Malbec Float
  • simple syrup
  • pear fan – garnish

Thoughts:  You have a couple options in enjoying the Purple “Pear”advise.  Mix it or leave it layered and have the flavor change slowly as you drink it.  It’s a very interesting combination of flavors.  The Grafignia Malbec is a dry complex wine and for some can be intense.  The pear brandy is not too sweet but true to its flavor, very fruit forward.  St. George spirits uses a lot of fruit and no added sugar.  For me it brought to mind a wine poached pear, very elegant.

 

 


 

About Level Two

Level Two is on the second floor of the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile.  Located on the corner of Erie and St. Clair street, it’s just a block east of bustling Michigan Avenue but far enough away where it feels like an oasis from the chaos of holiday shopping.

As I said before, the bar program at Level Two is really good.  It felt like a craft cocktail bar disguised as a hotel bar.  There were a couple things that stood out for me…

The People

Level Two, led by Food and Beverage Director David Lennon, opted out of the corporate bar program at Hyatt.  Instead they put together a menu unique to their hometown of Chicago; moving with the ebb and flow of local tastes and trends.  The entire bar staff has a hand in dictating what goes on the menu.  The menu is updated every couple months, this provides everyone ample opportunity and  freedom to exercise their creativity in coming up with some very original and creative cocktails.

One of the main drivers at Level Two is consistency.  It is a key principle that David Lennon instills in his crew.  I believe this was in part inspired by his visits to Eastern Standard in Boston where they set the bar high for service and consistency.  “Who is behind the bar tonight?” is something David never wants to hear.  The cocktail you order should taste exactly the same regardless of who made it.  It should also taste exactly the same every time you order it.

The Ingredients

Great care was taken in the selection of their beer, wine, and spirits.  Their entire beer selection is local… not a single beer available is brewed more than 125 miles away.  They try, when possible, to do the same with spirits, local distillers

Many of infusions and bitters are also made in-house using fresh ingredients.  It is so easy to cut corners using store bought mixers however there is a focus on quality at Level Two, the bartenders take a lot of pride in what they produce.

“12 Cocktails of Christmas” beverage menu will be available December 14 – 25.   This is for those in Chicago who are fans of craft cocktails or just want to get into the “spirit” of Christmas (…see what I did there?) Definitely worth checking out.

 

 

Xan

Xan

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

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