Stephanie Izard Is Brewing Winning Coffee And Cocktails In The Loop

By Lauren Whalen in Food on Jan 18, 2016 4:10PM

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Stephanie Izard and Ivy Mix, the brains behind Brew Parlor.

Stephanie Izard has triumphed once again.

Last week, the Top Chef winner and partner/executive chef of Chicago's Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Tavern and the upcoming Duck Duck Goat added another feather to her toque: "Chef de Caffeine."

"I'm really competitive, so there wasn't actually a competition, but I still won!" Chef Izard said at Friday's opening of Brew Parlor, a fresh spin on happy hour taking place weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wyndham Grand Chicago (71 E. Wacker Dr.) and several of the hotel's worldwide locations including Doha, Qatar; Shenzen, China and Istanbul, Turkey. Brew Parlor features non-alcoholic drinks curated by Chef Izard and artisan cocktails developed by renowned New York mixologist Ivy Mix. All have one essential, common ingredient: cold-brewed coffee beans.

Cold brew—coffee brewed with cold or room-temperature water—is a growing global trend, with $7.9 million in sales. Coffee's also become a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as cocktails.

Enter Izard, who journeyed to Colombia to properly research the painstaking process of harvesting and making coffee, and Mix, co-owner and head bartender of Leyenda, a popular pan-Latin cocktail bar in Brooklyn. Mix embraced the challenge of crafting cold brew cocktails. "Coffee and alcohol doesn't really make a lot of sense, but neither does vodka and Red Bull, and that's really popular!" Mix told Chicagoist, laughing. "So trying to figure out how to get two things to work together that might be contradictory was really exciting for me."

"I wanted to…make three cocktails that were different, and could satisfy the range of what people want," Mix said. Several rounds of trial and error resulted in The Impetus Spritzer, cold brew with St. Germain, Canada Dry tonic and Cynar, which features both beautiful presentation and low alcohol content. Those seeking more of a buzz will love the Spurred Ground, a variation on a traditional old-fashioned that incorporates cold-brewed coffee infused with oloroso sherry, Italian vermouth, premium rum and amaro. Mix described her final cocktail, Initial Ascent, as "get up and go!": cold brew with bourbon, creme de cacao, lemon, framboise and fresh raspberries.

For those who crave a pick-me-up sans alcohol, one of Izard's three nonalcoholic beverages will surely hit the spot. Biscotti Coffee brings Italian sweetness with almond whipped cream and simple syrup made of star anise, fennel seed and orange zest, while the Mexican-inspired Cafe Ole combines cold brew with dark chocolate, brown sugar and ancho and guajillo chiles. For the most adventurous of coffee drinkers, the Five Spice Shaken Iced Coffee incorporates Thai chili, cinnamon, clove, star anise and sweetened condensed milk for the kickiest of kicks.

Also, Brew Parlor makes it a point to infuse local flavor: Each location's cold brew is unique to the region. All drinks made at Chicago's Brew Parlor use Dark Matter Coffee, established in 2008 out of Star Lounge in Ukrainian Village. Izard is especially excited about introducing visitors to this beloved brand. "It helps show them what I think Chicago is truly all about, which is these smaller producers."

Brew Parlor is now open Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wyndham Grand Chicago (71 E. Wacker Dr). For more information, visit www.wyndhamgrand.com.