Lemon Italian Ice at Mario's Italian Lemonade
Why not celebrate at Chicago's most beloved Italian ice stand? Located in Little Italy, Mario's juts out from a townhouse on Taylor Street, and it's strictly a to-go operation. Unlike most sickeningly sweet versions of the frozen treat, you can actually taste the fruit that goes into each flavor. Plus, it's located directly across the street from another Chicago essential, Al's #1 Italian Beef.
Mario's Italian Lemonade, 1068 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60612 (map)
Snow Cone at Jo Snow Syrups
When I was a kid, I knew for a fact that the best way to improve a snow cone was to add more syrup (preferably to the point where the syrup came up to the top of the paper cone). Now that I'm older and have much less of a sweet tooth, I realize that you just need to use Jo Snow Syrups. This local brand creates distinctive flavors that are only slightly sweet, which makes for a far more refreshing experience. You can attempt to create your own at home by purchasing the syrups online or at one of these shops, but that requires actual work. Instead, I like to pick up a snow cone at the company's stand at the Logan Square Farmers' Market.
Jo Snow Syrups; josnowsyrups.com
Negroni Slushy at Parson's Chicken & Fish
I was well aware of the Negroni Slushy before my first visit to Parson's Chicken & Fish; I just didn't expect it to be any good. Though an interesting concept, I expected it to be watered down and sweetened up. Instead, this version has all the bitter notes that you'd expect from the classic, while the ice helps lighten it up, making it a great fit for all the fried offerings.
Parson's Chicken & Fish, 2952 W Armitage St., 773-384-3333; parsonschickenandfish.com
In the Rocks at The Aviary
This drink has been on The Aviary's menu in some form since the bar first opened, and it's easy to see why. Obviously, there's the incredible presentation, in which a sphere of ice is injected with an Old Fashioned cocktail and then cracked opened at the table. But it's also a damn fine Old Fashioned, perhaps the best I've had in town. The current interation (last time I tried it) is cracked open using a mini slingshot, which you can check out by watching this video.
Ice Pop at Ice Cubed
Of course, I can't forget about ice pops. And the one business that's really pushing things forward is Ice Cubed, which sells them from a food truck. Carol interviewed the owner, Erika Stone-Miller, last year to find out how all of the inventive combinations came about.