Phil Vettel on Inovasi restaurant's mead cocktail
Good pour: Mead is a fermented honey wine, whose origins stretch so far back nobody is quite sure exactly when and where it began. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Inovasi chef/owner John des Rosiers has been serving a mead cocktail ($10) for nearly three years, with the assistance of a "really good friend" who happens to be a home brewer.
Des Rosiers sources his wild prairie honey from southern Illinois, brews it up and lets it age for a year. For the cocktail, he combines the mead with citrus fruits, mint, a bit of simple syrup and fresh honey, and serves it in a large Ball jar, flagons apparently being in short supply on the North Shore (or possibly hoarded by World of Warcraft enthusiasts). You'll taste a bracing acidity at first, which yields to a deep, molasses sweetness at the finish, along with a subtle fermented bite and floral aroma.
The chef says the drink is ideal as a prelude to dinner — an aperitif, if you will — and that while some customers ask to drink it straight, the cocktail format works best for most. 28 E. Center Ave., Lake Bluff, 847-295-1000, inovasi.us
— Phil Vettel