Small-batch distilleries: Chicago's got ‘em in spades.
Best place to get your mitts on the lot of 'em: Ezra’s, the Lincoln Park temple of rare booze stacked high with all the spirits a man could ever want.
We visited the shop to find the five local bottles every Chicagoan should have on their highest shelf this fall.
Get acquainted. Make friends. Then go ahead and knock yourself out.
Letherbee 2015 Autumnal Gin
A seasonal offering we look forward to every year. The 2015 Autumnal Gin goes down the hatch smooth: a mellow gin built on maple sweetness and smoky notes of charred wood and allspice. That's all thanks to the Letherbee crew aging their poison in a used Buffalo Trace barrel for the past three years. Doesn't matter if you mix it in a fall Negroni or drink it like water; just drink it. BUY IT HERE
Journeyman Distillery O.C.G.
O.C.G. stands for "Old Country Goodness," and that pretty much sums up this apple cider liqueur made right across the border in Three Oaks, Michigan. Used to be available only at the distillery, now available everywhere. It's basically Fall's answer to the shandy: Michigan apple juice and cider blended with Journeyman's own rye-based W.R. White Whiskey. Sweet and tart, but at 10% ABV, not something to mess around with. BUY IT HERE
Blaum Bros. Knotter Bourbon
While Galena's Blaum Bros. still have to wait for their own whiskey to reach the proper age before bottling, they're unleashing this lot of bourbon — sourced from Indiana but finished off in Galena — straightaway. Confused? Worry not, totally normal practice. BUY IT HERE
Oppidan Malted Rye Whiskey
A young rye whiskey with a real rye edge. Oppidan is distilled from 100 percent rye — a rare breed, given U.S. law requires only 51 percent (the rest can come from corn, wheat etc.) for a spirit to be called a rye whiskey. Spicy body rounded out with hints of vanilla and chocolate. BUY IT HERE
Chicago company. Colombian rum. Available in 8- and 12-year varieties, this rum is distilled from three sugar cane species then aged in used bourbon barrels. A sweet mix tempered by charred oak and dry finish. A delightful spirit on its own or mixed. BUY IT HERE