Chicago’s Lost Lake tiki bar the perfect spot for National daiquiri day imbibing

With a selection of over 300 rums and a daily daiquiri variation, this neighborhood tiki bar is the perfect place to learn all about this Cuban American classic cocktail.

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National Daiquiri Day is approaching! It’s not clear why July 19 was chosen for such a refreshing distinction, but I can recommend some local places where you can learn all about and celebrate the drink beloved by many, including author Ernest Hemingway.

Logan Square’s Lost Lake was named best American cocktail bar by Tales of the Cocktail in 2018, and nominated as a James Beard Award finalist for outstanding bar program in 2019.

With a selection of over 300 rums and a daily daiquiri variation, this neighborhood tiki bar is the perfect place to learn all about the daiquiri —a Cuban American classic cocktail.

The daiquiri’s origins are credited to Jennings S. Cox, an American mining engineer living and working in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century. (Most likely, the drink was around long before Cox entered the picture, as the cocktail is similar to a Cuban drink called Canchanchara, prevalent with locals in the 19th century.)

“A daiquiri is a perfect way to introduce yourself to the [rum] category or to do a deep exploration into [our rum] list… Haitian, Martinique, Jamaican, Indonesian,” said Lost Lake co-owner Shelby Allison. “Because it’s just rum, lime and sugar, the spirit really shines through and you can really get to know the vast spectrum of the category.”

While the minimalist cocktail sounds simple, the daiquiri remains a favorite on bartenders’ repertoires.

Lost Lake tiki bar, at 3154 W. Diversey in Chicago, has over 300 types of rum.

Lost Lake tiki bar, at 3154 W. Diversey in Chicago, has over 300 types of rum.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

“I love three-ingredient drinks,” said Allison. “They are the most difficult drinks to make because they are the most difficult drinks to balance. They take the most restraint which shows a lot of maturity in a mixologist or a bartender. It shows how important each ingredient is that’s chosen in such a classic cocktail.”

The care given to drink ingredients at Lost Lake extends beyond just the selection of rums.

“We use all fresh juices here,” said bar manager Alicia Arredondo. “We have a dedicated prep team… clocking in at 9 a.m. to squeeze all of our juices and prepare all of our syrups and garnishes daily. It takes time to tiki.”

A visual feast for the eyes with garnish accoutrements that run the gamut from various swizzle sticks, umbrellas, orchids and cardboard straws, the drinks are as delightful to behold as delicious to drink.

The Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri, served at Lost Lake, is made with overproof Jamaican rum, Trinidadian rum, spiced rum, banana, coconut, lime, and Demerara syrup.

The Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri, served at Lost Lake, is made with overproof Jamaican rum, Trinidadian rum, spiced rum, banana, coconut, lime and Demerara syrup.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The blended Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri (a picture infinitely worth sharing on social media) features three rums as the base spirit — Trinidadian rum, spiced rum and Jamaican rum. Along with lime juice, Demerara and a whole banana, there’s a top secret coconut liqueur made in-house from fresh coconut. Freshly grated nutmeg and a banana “dolphin” garnish the cocktail.

“Bunny’s is a very silly looking drink but it’s a serious cocktail,” said Allison. “It’s balanced and interesting and it meets that criteria we have for all of our drinks — it works for skimmer, dipper and diver level of interest.”

“We take a traditional approach to daiquiris but we have variations or riffs,” said Arrerondo. “You’re always welcome to ask us what we have available, we’re happy to play around.”

From the whimsical to the traditional, the daily daiquiri selection also incorporates unique flavors from avocado, pomegranate, passionfruit to lemongrass.

“Don’s Special Daiquiri by Don the Beachcomber” is an ode to the founding father of tiki culture, Donn Beach, who was known for his “rum rhapsody”— mixing rums for extra depth, exotic flavor and octane.

Lost Lake bar manager Alicia Arredondo prepares a daiquiri.

Lost Lake bar manager Alicia Arredondo prepares a daiquiri.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

“He’s our go-to inspirational figure for what we do here at Lost Lake,” said Arrerondo of Beach, and for his namesake cocktail, which is mixed with a blended rum and El Dorado 3 Year rum. “The El Dorado 3 Year rum is charcoal-filtered so it’s very distilled, clear, fresh, clean and crisp, and lighter in style [mixed with the blended Appleton which is] darker, intentional and in-your-face.”

Lost Lake will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in January 2020. It’s a tropical getaway throughout the year that’s great for celebrating special occasions via shareable, large-format, punch bowl-style beverages served from a giant shell, or as a neighborhood staple for a cocktail and food (try the dumplings, tantanmen noodles and stir-fry).

“[There’s] a really wonderful feeling of community that we create over cocktails every night,” said Allison, who’s also overseen Lost Lake initiatives to give back through donations to grassroots organizations. “Anybody can walk in and see themselves reflected on our bar team and know that they’re valued as more than just a transaction.”

Lost Lake is located at 3154 W. Diversey.

Don’s Special Daiquiri, served at Lost Lake, is made with Appleton Signature Blend rum, El Dorado 3 year rum, lime, honey, and passionfruit syrup. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Don’s Special Daiquiri, as served at Lost Lake tiki bar in Chicago.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

RECIPES (Courtesy Lost Lake)

Don’s Special Daiquiri (by Don the Beachcomber)

1 Appleton Signature Blend

1 El Dorado 3

1 lime

.5 oz honey

.5 oz passionfruit syrup

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add cubed ice and shake until frost forms in the outside of the shaker. Fine strain into chilled coupe glass.

Lost Lake’s Classic Daiquiri

The Classic Daiquiri as served at Lost Lake tiki bar.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Lost Lake’s Classic Daiquiri

2 oz Caña Brava 3 Year (or another Cuban-style rum)

.75 oz hand-pressed lime juice, reserve the hull for shaking

.5 oz Martinique cane syrup

Combine ingredients and spent lime hull in a cocktail shaker. Add cubed ice and shake until frost forms in the outside of the shaker. Fine strain into chilled coupe glass.

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