Serious Eats: Drinks
First Look: Garden-to-Glass Cocktails at Homestead in Chicago
I'm sure you've heard of seasonal food menus, seasonal cocktails, but a seasonal restaurant? That's the story with Homestead, which had its grand opening in July. The West Town restaurant is slated to shut its doors around mid-October and hibernate through the less pleasant months, re-opening in the spring of 2013. That may sound like bad business—restaurants don't make much money when they're not open—but owners Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner have their reasons.
For starters, Homestead is primarily an open-air rooftop restaurant, with an 85-seat outdoor patio—bordered by a 1,000-square-foot organic garden and another that climbs a nearby building wall—plus a 60-seat indoor dining room that also includes a 10-seat bar. In other words, most of Homestead's tables are outside—not the most hospitable venue for dining in Chicago in February.
But the winter shut-down also points to the owners' commitment to serving fresh, farm-to-table cuisine. They've stated that all of Homestead's dishes will feature ingredients harvested from the rooftop garden and off-site organic farms. So when the farms stop producing, the restaurant will stop serving.
The cocktail program follows the same protocol. Each of the 10 drinks on the cocktail menu has either an ingredient or garnish that came from the garden. To formulate the debut menu, Mohr and Weiner turned to Chicago-based cocktail consultant Revae Schneider, who runs a bar-styling and mixology-education company called Femme du Coupe. In addition to developing the cocktail's recipes, Schneider selected all of their glassware and the bar tools for Homestead, sourcing largely from local vintage shops.
The Homestead cocktail menu also offers the first glimpse at Schneider's latest brainchild: her own line of flavored syrups, which she's dubbed Le Sirop. To complement the fresh-from-the-garden flourishes, Schneider incorporated measures of Le Sirop syrups—which include flavors like ginger, blueberry lavender, and lemon thyme—into a few of the drinks. Le Sirop won't make its retail debut for a few more months, so for now you'll have to visit Homestead to sample them.
On a recent evening, Schneider walked us through several of the handsome cocktails. Check out the drinks in the slideshow above.