AUGUST 2017 – In early July, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel culinary crew worked with Sara Gasbarra from Verdura Gardens to install a 20-box garden on our roof and it’s been a seriously exciting addition to the hotel. The culinary team is using many of the super-local fresh produce in the kitchen and the bar team has gotten in on the action as well.
Cindy’s Spirit Guide Nandini Khaund and her team incorporates a lot of foliage and fresh flowers in any given week to add not only interesting flavors, but also to add pops of color through gorgeous garnishes. When the team was preparing to plant the garden, they put in requests for specific items they wanted to grow and the bar crew excitedly asked for mint, geranium, amaranth, oxalis, nasturtium and marigolds — even edible zinnias!
While they may use these ingredients in a variety of drinks, one that Khaund says is a perfect receptor is the Spanish Gin Tonic. Normally a Spanish version of the popular refreshing cocktail gets served in wide-mouthed wine glasses or another specific one called a copa de balon, but here at Cindy’s we use highball glasses. The drink comprises Letherbee Gin, which is distilled locally in Chicago, a custom tonic we created together with Wisconsin’s Bittercube and then adds fennel, lemongrass, calamansi and cinnamon. Depending on what’s blooming on the roof dictates the garnish so every time you come in, you’ll feel like you’re having a totally new drink with different aromas and flavor perceptions. Our current version features African blue basil with a smattering of red gem marigold. Isn’t it lovely?