Snazzy ice cubes aren't a new trend, but they're especially appealing during warm-weather months, when rooftops beckon and clear spirits let the cubes shine. While some custom ice cubes are merely for style points, others are flavored with juices or alcohol, changing the taste of your cocktail as they melt. Here are three drinks to try before the end of summer. email@example.com | @redeyeeatdrink
Gin cocktail ($11) at Homestead on the Roof
1924 W. Chicago Ave. 773-332-2354
Fans of gin and tonics will want to try out beverage director Pat Henaghan's version at Homestead, the rooftop restaurant above Roots Handmade Pizza in West Town. Henaghan begins with a soft, neutral gin, then adds juniper- and citrus-forward tonic that the bar makes in-house. He pours that over a green-tinged ice cube that's half cucumber juice, half makrut lime leaf tea (makrut limes also are known as kaffir limes) and then tops the drink with a splash of soda water. "It starts off really gin- and tonic-forward, very juniper-flavored and bitter like the tonic," Henaghan said. "Within about five minutes, it softens up a lot and starts to pick up more of the cucumber." Delicious as the cocktail may be, this one is worth sipping slowly.
La Rusa ($12) at Tanta
118 W. Grand Ave. 312-222-9700
This Peruvian-style cocktail is best sipped on the River North restaurant's second-floor rooftop, which offers seating for 100 and views of downtown apartments. A melting Campari ice cube gradually adds bitterness to an otherwise floral combination of pisco (a South American brandy distilled from grapes), elderflower liqueur and orange and lemon juices that's garnished with a sprig of thyme. As the ice cube melts, its orange color creates a photo-worthy ombre effect.
Dead Flowers ($12) at Nellcote
833 W. Randolph St. 312-432-0500
Named for a Rolling Stones song, this pisco-based cocktail is light-bodied but lingering, sticking with you a few minutes after you've finished a sip. It begins with a base of Chilean pisco and owes an ever-so-slightly pink hue to the addition of Combier liqueur de rose, a neutral spirit that's been steeped with rose petals. The micro-flowers inside the large, square ice cube may not add any flavor, but they clue you in to the botanic bent of the cocktail.