February 13, 2020
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From cocktails to bites and beyond, Chicago’s hottest bars and restaurants are going all in on CBD.
At I|O Godfrey, CBD oil can be added to cocktails like the Summer Smash (pictured), an elixir of vodka, Lillet Rosé, green Chartreuse and lemon. (Photo by Kailley Lindman/courtesy of IO Godfrey)
As buzz continues to build about CBD—cannabidiol, the nonhallucinogenic compound found in cannabis—and its ability to ease anxiety, relieve pain and alleviate a laundry list of ailments, Chicago bars and restaurants are embracing the trend with CBD-infused menus.
The Bakery at Fat Rice (2951 W. Diversey Parkway, 773.661.9544) will add CBD to its egg tarts; coming this fall, new Lakeview brunch spot Wake ’n Bacon (420 W. Belmont Ave.) will add flavorless CBD to dishes and drinks on request; and in the chic new Hoxton Chicago, Boka Group’s Café Cira (200 N. Green St., 312.761.1777) doses coffee, tea and nonalcoholic beverages with optional CBD. Lacking definitive studies on CBD’s physical effects, Boka Group beverage director Lee Zaremba put it in his coffee for two weeks before opening Cira. “It’s not life-altering,” he notes, “but it’s pleasant.
To date, CBD’s biggest splash has been in bar programs. At rooftop hot spot I|O Godfrey (127 W. Huron St., 312.374.1830), a CBD tincture can be added to any cocktail. Grant Gedemer, director of food and beverage at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago, describes it as converting the curious with its slight chlorophyll scent that tends to “smooth out bitter drinks, like a Negroni, and enhance spirit-forward cocktails for a nice flavor profile change.”Most extensively toying with cannabidiol, the Logan Square tavern Young American (2545 N. Kedzie Ave., 773.687.8385, ) serves “Calmonds,” almonds doused in herbaceous CBD oil, which harmonizes with chamomile and thyme. CBD drinks stake out the subtle middle ground between high- and no-ABV drinks. “We saw a real opportunity to explore something people are interested in,” says Wade McElroy, a co-owner of Young American, which uses a flavorless, water-soluble isolate that can be added to virgin drinks such as the Baie Dankie, a blend of rooibos and tangerine teas, ginger and lemon. “It’s meant to be a relaxing addition to spirit-free drinks full of good stuff like teas and roots.”