#TrendSpotting: Chicago Edition

 In Blog, Trendspotting

We read about trends and new products on the market, but we also see value in being out in the field and browsing menus. Earlier this month we had the opportunity take a trend walk to try some on-trend and interesting menu items in Chicago’s Logan Square and West Loop neighborhoods.


Lula Cafe:
2537 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

The Tijuana Brass Band at Lula Café caught our eye because most of the ingredients were botanicals – something that we’ve known to be popping up on menus nationwide. They add flavor complexity without calories. This drink used jalapeno just as a garnish; having it as an ingredient helped the product stand out to us to try, but overall it didn’t add much to the drink.

We also tried Seasons Soda Bitter Lemon Soda. This local brand can be found at dozens of Chicago locations (including several upscale restaurants) and stood out to us for a few reasons. Bitter has been identified as a possible flavor profile that consumers will seek out as they shift away from sugar. This brand offers two other flavors Honeymint, Maple, both of which are demi-sec (medium sweet). All three flavors have 65 calories or less per serving.

Owen & AlchemyIMG_6064
2355 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

We sampled the sold-out savory juice: heirloom tomatoes and Himalayan sea salt, which reminded us of a traditional Italian grandmother’s first iteration of pasta sauce. The staff informed us that this was one of the most popular drinks that they press and package daily. We also enjoyed their black lemonade, which gets its color from activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is known to remove toxins, and in this black lemonade, the charcoal didn’t have a strong impact on the flavor. This beverage also included lemon, rosemary, raw agave, and most notably, cucumber, whose flavor only seemed to emerge as part of an aftertaste.

cup and spoonCup & Spoon
2415 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

We stopped at Cup & Spoon, an unassuming neighborhood coffee shop and venue for showcasing local art, and inhaled their Madagascar bourbon vanilla, fig, black pepper latte. The fig and pepper was subtle but this beverage over ice was slightly addictive. We expect to see more botanicals and fruit in coffee going forward.


La Colombela colombe
955 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607

La Colombe is one of the few places that we know of that has nitrogen-infused coffee on tap. The black and tan we ordered is a perfect combination of two of the biggest trends in coffee right now – cold brew coffee on the bottom, nitrogen infused coffee with milk on the top. Smooth and less acidic than many other coffees out there.

ssonsSwift & Sons
1000 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

Many cocktails are a combination of a modern twist on vintage experiences, and there’s still a premium price paid for the production value. At Swift & Sons, the Swift Bloomsbury (gin, vermouth, orange saffron bitters) was built table-side. It is one of five cocktails that is accompanied by an old fashioned martini cart and martini expert. Our mixologist finished this drink off with the “essence” of a lemon peel – by squeezing the hovering lemon peel over the martini. We also enjoyed the Benevolent Philanthropist, which stood out on the menu for the pink peppercorn that added a pop of color to the top of the frothy, fruity cocktail.

Saint Lou’s Assembly rootbeer
664 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60661

Our last stop of the day was at St. Lou’s Assembly. There we enjoyed their seasonal Lavender Lemonade (which they offered to spike, but we declined), and a Boozy Root Beer Bourbon Float. We talk a lot about consumers’ consistent demand of indulgent beverages, and this alcoholic beverage perfectly aligns with that value. The richness of the ice cream helps minimize the bourbon flavor, while the nostalgic essence of the root beer float definitely shines through. St. Lou’s also surprised us with their presentation of RTD cocktails – they had a pre-mixed Old Fashioned cocktail delivered in its own small ice bucket.