SEPTEMBER 2017 – Many of us love a well-made cocktail, one that takes a little time to construct, where you know thought has gone into its creation and where seasonal ingredients seamlessly meld with higher-quality spirits. But how often do you get a drink because of what it stands for? When was the last time you ordered a cocktail knowing it would help pay it forward? Well, now you have a chance.
Chicago Public Schools has been in the news lately, mostly because the system needs help. It needs more money and more people caring about it. A few months ago, Chance the Rapper made headlines by donating $1 million of his own money to support the arts in schools and last month gave out 30,000 backpacks filled with school supplies. At the end of August, our state’s legislature finally came together to pass a bill to secure much-needed funds. But at the core, the people who care the most are the hardworking teachers who bust their butts day in and day out to ensure Chicago’s kids get the education they deserve.
This month, building on other initiatives the Chicago Athletic Association hotel does to support education (more on that later), we’ll donate proceeds from a special cocktail — Eternal Flame — to support Golden Apple, a wonderful 23-year-old non-profit organization that helps inspire, develop and grow teacher support and school leader excellence throughout Illinois, especially with at-need schools.
As the organization is called Golden Apple, it might make sense to have a drink contain apple, but our spirit guide, Nandini Khaund, put more creative prowess into crafting Eternal Flame. Instead, she focused on layering in flavors that evoke autumn and apple by pairing the silkiness of Old Forester bourbon with the fruity nuttiness of Taylor Fladgate 10-year port. Then she added a hint of anise through Herbsaint and rounded out the whole concoction with ginger, demerara, lemon and 3-Estate black tea. The refreshing cocktail gets garnished with tarragon and tangerine lace marigolds we source from our rooftop garden. The drink – which also comes as a mocktail with apple, 3-Estate black tea, ginger, lemon and tarragon – will benefit Golden Apple throughout September.
In addition to supporting Golden Apple, the hotel actively works with WITS (Working in the Schools) where our staff can volunteer to visit nearby schools to mentor kids and have one-on-one reading sessions. Last year, we donated a number of books to schools and encouraged our hotel guests to do the same upon checkout. And members of our staff can benefit from the Chicago Athletic Association hotel’s Backpack Program, where they can anonymously sign up to receive school supplies given by fellow hotel staff when they can’t afford to give their children a robust bag of school supplies. So no matter how we get there, whether through backpacks filled with supplies, books or cocktails, we’re committed to helping Chicago’s students thrive!