Red Eye Chicago - - Drink - By Louisa Chu

You need cof­fee. You can do your daily caf­feine rou­tine in the sleep from which you’ve barely emerged, whether it’s fum­bling for a pre­set cup at home or shuf­fling along the line at Dunkin’. But when you can ac­tu­ally take a break, be it brunch or a post-pro­ject re­ward, where are the spe­cial cof­fee drinks in Chicago?

In a town where peo­ple still wait hours to In­sta­gram their Au Che­val cheese­burger, and the Alinea ba­con trapeze ranks as a culi­nary clas­sic, it’s sur­pris­ing that so few craft cof­fee­houses make pretty, much less glit­tery, cof­fee art. Af­ter tast­ing ev­ery sin­gle sparkly cup cur­rently in the city, I can tell you, they’re (mostly) down­right de­light­ful. And maybe coun­ter­in­tu­itively, they’re of­ten a sign of some se­ri­ous cof­fee.

While the latte art of hearts and tulips re­mains highly re­garded, some cof­fee pro­fes­sion­als are div­ing deeper be­neath the sur­face, con­sid­er­ing the whole drink as a can­vas for culi­nary cre­ation. Yet it’s still a rel­a­tive rar­ity. Among dozens of craft cof­fee shops in Chicago, only four shops are go­ing be­yond clas­sic latte art.

The prac­tice landed here big af­ter res­tau­ra­teur Bren­dan Sodikoff and his Hogsalt Hos­pi­tal­ity team met Hiroshi Sawada, the award-win­ning latte artist, at his Streamer Cof­fee Co. in Tokyo. To­gether they opened Sawada Cof­fee in Ful­ton Mar­ket in 2015 with the trade­marked Mil­i­tary Latte. It’s made by mix­ing veg­e­tal green matcha pow­der and house-made vanilla syrup, feath­er­ing steamed milk in the house style and fin­ish­ing with a Me­trop­o­lis Cof­fee espresso shot plus co­coa pow­der on top. The Black Camo latte uses a stark black ho­jicha roasted green tea pow­der in­stead. You can also find both beau­ti­fully bal­anced drinks at Sawada Matcha in River North, which opened in Fe­bru­ary.

God­dess and the Baker part­ners chef Deb­bie Sharpe and Ta­mar Mizrahi in­tro­duced a lim­ited edi­tion rain­bow latte for Pride month in 2017, which they brought back this June, but I missed it. “We try to keep the rain­bow lat­tes spe­cial,” said Mizrahi. “We don’t want it to turn mun­dane.”

She’s also puz­zled as to why the pretty latte trend has largely skipped Chicago so far, un­like Am­s­ter­dam; Ber­lin; Tel Aviv, Is­rael; and Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, Sharpe’s


The Beet Rose Latte at Lim­it­less Cof­fee in the West Loop.

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