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Low-Proof: On Fitting Lower Proof Cocktails Onto The Menu At Two

By Melissa McEwen in Food on Jul 15, 2014 9:00PM

"Kevin Doherty Special"

“Honestly, before your article I’d never heard of a shim” bartender Graham Crowe of Two Restaurant (1132 W. Grand Ave.) told me when I stopped by the bar for a quick dinner and drink. His cocktail menu now contains two low-proof drinks—a sake cocktail and a radler with just a nip of gin that is labeled as a “shim.”

"Shim," coined by cocktail author Dinah Sanders, is one of several names for low-proof cocktails. As I eagerly devoured some octopus in a spicy tomato sauce with summer squash, I asked Crowe about why he decided to add these drinks to his menu. “My own style is ground in high-spirited boozy and direct drinks. I wanted to try something outside the wheelhouse, a fun light summer cocktail” says Crowe. The resulting refreshing creation, the "Kevin Doherty Special," contains Steigl Radler, Caorunn Gin, Julius Meinl hibiscus tea syrup, and grapefruit bitters.

"Sake and Swallow"
The other low-proof cocktail on the menu is equally perfect for summer sipping. It’s a sake cocktail called the Sake and Swallow containing Namacho Sake, Kings Ginger, green tea simple syrup, mint, and fresh lime juice with lime-bittered crunched ice and a sea-salt flaked rim. The result is a drink that’s briny and slakes a summer thirst perfectly. It’s another that works very well paired with seafood. “I previously didn’t really care much for sake, but I went to a sake tasting at Kendall College hosted by the Japanese Consulate and learned a lot about different types of sake. I was inspired to try to do something with sake that’s fun and different” Crowe says.

His experiments eventually made it on to the menu. “These drinks are really easy to pair with food” Crowe says. Two’s cocktail menu still contains many heavyweight drinks, but the two low-proof drinks give it a great balance that can appeal to a wide range of drinking styles.

This is part of a series here at Chicagoist focusing on low-proof cocktails. We hope to highlight the best, so stay-tuned for further chapters in the Low-Proof series.