Sparkling Cider With a Bourbon Kick

Chef Paul Virant is well known for using local ingredients in the contemporary American cuisine he serves up at Perennial Virant, near the Green City Market in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. He's modernizing midwestern cuisine, but his unusual plates often reflect and old-school love of canning and preserves as well as classic Illinois staples like beef loin and baby bass.

Just like the cuisine, Perennial Virant's cocktail menu changes seasonally and is comprised of drinks that make use of locally prepared ingredients designed to compliment Chef Virant's work. Bartender Garret Sweet designed his cocktail "Your Favorite Flannel" to be keep cozy during this seemingly endless winter.

Sweet says the drink grew out of conversations with the men behind Virtue Cider, a Michigan-based craft company. "The idea was to take the rich and warming flavors of bourbon, chai tea, and apple cider and brighten them by incorporating a sparkling wine from Burgundy." Effervescence is a good way to prepare a diner's palate for a multi-course dinner, which suited Sweet's purposes: "Its flavor profile really complements Chef Paul Virant's style."

Sweet suggests pairing "Flannel" with braised meat dishes. "The sweet and savory components of the rabbit combination and roasted sunchoke dishes on our current menu stand out as particularly special pairings with this cocktail," he explains.

Your Favorite Flannel

Preparation
Fill a champagne flute half way with the Cremant. Shake ingredients separately and pour over slowly. Garnish the rim with a grill marked "plaid" apple segment.