Smoky, sultry, and sophisticated, tequila (and its cousin, mezcal) has come into its own as one of the ultimate spirits for adventurous cocktailers. From herbaceous to multilayered and spicy, these are the nine most creative ways to sip this of-the-moment liquor in Chicago for Cinco de Mayo and beyond.
Ancho Reyes chile liqueur is one of our favorite new spirits, and this rooftop bar plays up its spice factor by pairing it with Peligroso Reposado tequila, pineapple, jalapeño, cumin, and lime.1816 N. Clark St., 312-254-4747
Head bartender Jess Lambert has quite a thing for Old Fashioneds (there are seven of them on the menu at this Kimpton Gray Hotel spot), and her tequila version is a doozy: Fortaleza Anejo tequila, coconut palm sugar syrup, and Bitter Truth Xocolotl bitters with a grapefruit disc garnish. 39 S. LaSalle St., 312-750-9012
Everybody loves a slushy, and this offering—made with mezcal, tequila, Luxardo apricot, fresh lime juice, and agave—is impossible to resist. Insider tip: Order it as a "Mexican bulldog" and you'll get it served with an upside-down Coronita in the drink. 180 N. Morgan St., 773-831-9696
A bubbly finish of cava adds effervescence to head bartender Julieta Campos's refreshing combo of tequila, strawberries, Salers Gentiane Aperitif, fresh lemon juice, and orange-saffron bitters. 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-227-3530
The obligatory margarita mention—but with its tweak to the traditional marg with avocado puree, orange, yuzu, lime, egg white, and mole bitters, this one deserves its spot on the list. 325 W. Huron St., 312-664-2727