Iberico Ham That You Can Drink at Chicago's Nacional 27

Photograph taken by Brendan Lekan

While New York has Milk & Honey and Pegu club and their ilk, Chicago is still cocktail challenged. We only have one really dedicated cocktail palace, Violet Hour, and then a handful of restaurants with dedicated bartenders, like Peter Vestinos at Sepia, John Kinder at MK, and Adam Seger at Nacional 27. It's a mystery why the city of Al Capone—a city built on bootleg liquor, a city that kept drinking at an all-time high, even when it was illegal—lags behind. Why is it that we don't drink like we dine?

As General Manager, Sommelier, and Chief Mixologist of Lettuce Entertain You's Nacional 27, and a former kitchen stage in the Michelin-rated Chez Julien of Strasbourg, Adam Seger has both the culinary and mixology skills to take Chicago to the next level, spirit-wise. Last week I had a chance to sample some of his new spring cocktails including a Ruby Red Hemingway with Cuban Oregano and a hibiscus-spearmint mojito.

The drink that stole the show—or maybe I should say my sobriety—was Seger's Ham and Cheese, an Iberico Pata Negra Ham-infused Hennessy-based cocktail augmented with lime, honey, and cinnamon, and a Manchego cheese tuile. It was basically a sweet, smoky glass of liquid Spain.

Seger was generous enough to share his recipe, so you don't have to come to Chicago if you live elsewhere to sample his spirits acumen. Check out the recipe for his Ham and Cheese cocktail to try and make it yourself.