Drink Smart

Wormhole's antidote to froufrou coffee drinks

Wormhole, the four-month-old Wicker Park coffee shop, is the city's newest spot for serious java (and the only one with a DeLorean parked inside).

Though the official house brew is Metropolis, a chalkboard displays a rotating selection of American microroasters. And baristas treat their brews with the utmost care: When making pour-over coffees, they measure the water and coffee on digital scales.

But what we love most is that the same devotion to craft applies to flavored coffee drinks.

Barista Sara Travis makes syrups and reductions in-house, like Valencia orange-vanilla syrup and chocolate syrup with Grand Marnier. For something well outside the flavored-coffee box, ask about her "competition-style" coffee, inspired by the composed drinks often made in professional barista challenges.

The current offering is the Flannel ($4), an homage to fall via apples, cinnamon and maple syrup, but without the cloying sweetness of some seasonal lattes. Travis simmers Seedling Honeycrisp cider with warm spices and serves the reduction–in a brandy glass–with a double shot of Metropolis Red Line espresso and warm latte-style milk.

It's artfully garnished with whipped cream lightly sweetened with house-made vanilla syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a curl of maple-syrup-marinated Honeycrisp apple slices.

The result is more like a well-made chai than a caramel macchiato.

Wormhole Coffee, 1462 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-661-2468 or thewormholecoffee.com