Lofty Ambitions

Creative cocktails on the 18th floor at Drumbar

Ed.'s note: As of August 2013, Craig Schoettler is no longer at Drumbar. Alex Renshaw, formerly of Sable, is the new beverage director. 

"We want to walk before we run," says Craig Schoettler.

If you know Schoettler's name, it's because of his former role at the head of The Aviary. In his new gig at Drumbar, walking means stocking the bar with smaller-batch spirits; freezing seven varieties of ice; juicing pineapple and citrus; and making the 18th floor of the Raffaello Hotel downtown's main destination for a sophisticated drink.

Flashier drinks are in the works–using liquid nitrogen, served on barrel staves and in flasks–but even without bells and whistles, Drumbar's new drinks merit a taste.

The most refreshing of the lot matches fresh pineapple juice with green chartreuse, lime and mint (all cocktails are $13). There's a Rosita, a Negroni made with reposado tequila instead of gin, and a classic Martinez, which straddles the ground between a martini and a Manhattan.

Cranberry ice bobs in a bourbon, ginger syrup and orange juice concotion, and Espelette pepper lends a lively kick to a combination of Cognac, blackberry jam, ginger beer and lime.

In the upcoming weeks, you'll want to stop by Monday through Wednesday for warm cocktails infused tableside in vacuum pots, like gin with rooibos tea. And you'd be wise to return soon after, as more additions are on the way.

Drumbar at The Raffaello Hotel, 201 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-943-5000 or drumbar.com