Gray McNally's Drink Pick: Corpse Reviver
by meg mathis
As the executive chef of Tortoise Club (350 N. State St., 312-755-1700), former Flat Top Grill CEO Keene Addington’s swanky homage to old Chicago, Gray McNally is aiming to be the toast of River North. When he’s not in the kitchen, though, McNally beats a regular retreat to the West Loop, where he savors the Mezcal Corpse Reviver at Maude’s Liquor Bar (840 W. Randolph St., 312-243-9712).
McNally attests that while Maude’s contemporary French bistro fare initially brought him through the door, this particular cocktail is what has made him a Randolph Street regular. “I love the smokiness of the mezcal, which has a whiskey-type quality,” McNally says of the libation, an update of the classic Corpse Reviver No. 2. “I lived in Mexico from 1998 to 2002, and I learned to really appreciate whiskey’s nuances.” Made with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Triplum, Lillet, absinthe, and lemon, it’s a cocktail meant to be slowly savored and appreciated.
That’s not unlike the creative, comfortable cuisine McNally is dishing up at Tortoise Club. “We’re taking dishes like pheasant pie, lobster thermidor, and Dover sole up-to-date and freshening things up,” says the chef. The cocktail menu even boasts its own smoky signature libation: the Tipsy Tortoise, a heady mix of scotch, Lang Shan tea, and lemon bitters. Like Maude’s Corpse Reviver, the cocktail’s flavor profile is intriguingly complex—and is already garnering the River North restaurant plenty of regulars of its own.
photography by william brinson; drink styling by suzanne lenzer
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