10 Valpo Cocktails & Drinks You Need to Try in 2023
Today, you’ll discover 10 Valpo cocktails and drinks you should try in 2023. But don’t expect your typical cocktails and drinks you’ll find at any restaurant or bar. After all, Valparaiso is a restaurant town and a great culinary experience is defined by innovation.
Our top 10 Valpo cocktails and drinks featured today are paradigm breakers. We have gorgeous martinis created by a mixologist. We have coffee prepared by a barista and sangria made by a Spaniard. When it comes to cocktails and drinks, Valparaiso is authentic!
So without further ado, let’s get mixing!
The Best Martini in Valpo….
We couldn’t think of a better place to start our list than at Martinis Valpo, Valparaiso’s original scratch kitchen. But don’t confuse their recognition as Valpo’s best martini simply because they have it in their name. This place makes everything from scratch, including the drinks and cocktails.
They even employ a full-time mixologist named Kristin. A mixologist spends a significant portion of their job behind the scenes, creating new craft cocktails and putting their signature twist on existing favorites. To learn more about a mixologist, check out the new Bar Pages on Martinis’ website.
With a menu of nearly 40 different martinis, the martini mixologist takes her cue from Martinis owners Sophie and Louie Kalafatis, where everything is fresh and authentic. The Martinis’ Bar Pages are fun to navigate through and you’ll discover their diverse selection of wine, beer, and cocktails.
So with nearly 40 martinis to choose from, how do you choose which one is best? We recommend you try each one. It’s a great excuse to meet a friend. Just tell them, “Meet me at Martinis.”
Valpo’s Best Tropical Drink | Bayside Sunset
Smoketown Blue’s Chef Mireya is insatiable! Her desire to please customers is only equaled by her passion for innovation. Fortunately, she found an outlet for her passions through her innovative sauces, baked goods, and cocktails. But for Mireya, it’s not enough that they taste good, they have to look good and be made from scratch.
But Mireya’s inspiration is drawn from customers and the community. Her cuisine and sauces are usually conceived through what she finds at the farmer’s market. Her baked goods are derived from the availability of real chocolates and ingredients. But it’s Valpo’s outdoor dining scene that has tapped into Mireya’s undiscovered talent for making gorgeous and delicious cocktails.
Just look at her newest concoction called the Bayside Sunset. This drink is as gorgeous to look at as it is fun to drink. We stopped by to try a few (and a slab of ribs) and couldn’t believe how many people walking by would complement this drink. But to learn more about this tropical drink, we asked the Southern California native to give us the inside scoop.
“The Bayside Sunset is a fusion of tropical flavors, carefully blended to capture the spirit of Valpo’s rich culture. The Smoketown Blues cocktail features a blend of pineapple juice and orange juice and then infused with coconut rum. But to capture the picturesque sunset over Valpo’s cityscape, a touch of grenadine, a luscious red syrup derived from pomegranate, is added. The mesmerizing hue is stunning, especially when dining outdoors as the sun sets!
Served over ice in an elegant glass garnished with a vibrant slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry, Whether it’s date night, or you’re meeting friends during a downtown festival, this Valpo cocktail is a drink you must try in 2023!
Valpo’s Best Cup of Coffee | Stand-Alone or Irish Coffee Cocktail
Maple + Bacon
To be named Valparaiso’s best cup of coffee is no short order! It’s almost as bold as claiming you have Valpo’s best burger. But Maple + Bacon just might be the place you find both! Why? Because Maple + Bacon is owned by none other than Radius’ Chris Pavlou, winner of countless awards for his hamburgers. Pavlou has wanted to open a new restaurant for years, but it would need to be different while maintaining the same high energy and standards his customers have come to expect. He found his inspiration over a cup of amazing coffee with his hero and legendary restauranteur, Bill Wellman.
According to the nation’s top-ranked blog, Guide to Outdoor Ding | Da Best is over Dare! , It was over a cup of coffee that morning that Wellman said, “Chris, Valpo needs a great brunch restaurant and you’re just the person to do it! If you can create the same high-energy atmosphere in a brunch restaurant as you have with Radius, you have a hit.” It was the last time we saw Bill Wellman. The restaurant Hall of Famer died shortly after we met. Pavlou was determined to make good on his hero’s request.
But in tribute to his old friend, Pavlou’s breakfast joint would need to live up to his legendary hero. Pavlou’s pallet is the driving force behind his restaurant’s offering and it’s how he chose his proprietary blends of aromatic coffee. But with numerous options, one stands out because it closely resembles the coffee Pavlou and Wellman shared the last time Pavlou would ever see his friend. How do I know? Because I was there and I brought the coffee beans for Pavlou to grind.
M + B’s Blend 210
Maple+Bacon’s signature coffee is called Blend 210. It’s a medium, washed Arabica, well-rounded fresh roast. This blend is part natural Brazilian + Washed Honduras. It pairs perfectly with the M+B menu but also shines as a stand-alone experience. As a full bar, Maple + Bacon also serves Blend 210 as an Irish Coffee Cocktail.
But if that’s not enough, the coffee bar employs a barista, which Pavlou describes as a coffee artist. “A barista has extensive knowledge about coffee and prepares, decorates, and serves drinks to the customer. Barista is the Italian word for barkeeper.
Someone may need to remind Pavlou that Bill Wellman’s autobiography was called, “It’s Made to Sell-Not to Drink!”
Valpo’s Best “Al Fresco” Cocktail | Carlos’ Sangria
Restaurante Don Quijote
The story of Don Quijote’s legendary sangria is a good one, but then again, all of Chef Carlos’ stories are good. It’s part of the Don Quijote experience. People love it when the chef can leave the kitchen and visit customers’ tables, especially when the story includes Spanish wine and Iberian culture.
You might think it’s cultural blasphemy that we don’t include Carlos wine in an article called, “10 Valpo Cocktails and Drinks You Need to Try in 2023”. But according to Carlos, if we included his wine, 7 of the 10 spots would be taken by his wine…. one wine from each of the seven Spanish wine regions. Check out Carlos’ blog, Spanish Wine Regions. Here is the link.
When life gives you lemons…
So if we aren’t including wine, surely we must have selected Carlos’s red sangria or his ultra-powerful sangria martini, correcto? No señor! It’s his lemonade sangria.
Instead of featuring Don Quijote’s traditional red Sangria, we are featuring one of Valpo’s best-kept secrets. Don Quijote has a second sangria he calls lemonade sangria. This sangria is so refreshing, it is worthy of our Top 10 Valpo Cocktails and Drinks You Need to Try in 2023.
How to Order Lemonade Sangria in Spanish?
We asked Carlos how to order Lemonade Sangria in Spanish. With a smirk and a heavy Galacian accent, the chef replied, with a table filled with tapas!
Tapas are small plate appetizers that allow you the chance to sample foods from the different wine regions of Spain. You can order them with an entree, but many people will fill the table with tapas and share them.
Lemonade Sangria is a mixture of fresh-cut lemon, limes, and other fruits blended with select white wines. If you want to sound authentic, order it by saying, “¿Me trae una limonada?”
But if you want to hear a great story, just ask for Carlos and say, ¿Puedo pedir una botella de Rioja Gran Reserva? por favor únete a mi.
Come for the Art… Stay for the Wine!
Schiralli Gallery & Cafe
Many Valpo Restaurants like to say, come for the food and stay for the drinks. But at Schiralli Gallery & Cafe, they like to say, “Come for the Gallery, and stay for the food and wine.” More and more people in Valpo are learning that the perfect date night begins at the Schiralli Gallery, where everything is painted with passion. This hidden destination just might be the most romantic experience you’ll ever find. This intimate setting is special, and you’ll love every minute you are there.
According to Don Quijote’s Carlos Rivero, “A great culinary town needs more than just restaurants. We love to recommend to our customers to begin their romantic night at the Schiralli Gallery. Tammy and Rocco Schiralli have a talent for making people feel special. Even the food and wine are special. Tammy and Rocco spend painstaking hours searching for unique, boutique foods, ingredients, and wines. Many of the ingredients are grown within feet of the outdoor dining patio.”
Radius Chris Pavlou agrees with his Spanish friend. “People that begin their evenings at Schiralli have an opportunity to park, check out some very cool art, and have a few glasses of wine before walking down to Radius and continuing their night out. Our Radius hosts can text people when their table is ready. Because Schiralli has plenty of parking and is a short, scenic walk to restaurants like Don Q and Radius, it adds to the romantic experience. Schiralli even has an Inn for that special night or for visitors to Valparaiso.”
But according to Rocco Schiralli, “We think the expression, ‘come for the art and stay for the food and wine’ lends itself to the experience. People love beginning their romantic night with a glass of wine while exploring our art, historic Valpo residence, and gardens. People quite often say our Italian Pinot Grigio is an extraordinary wine, which it is, but we think it’s the experience of walking around with the person you love while exploring the gallery that makes our Pinot Grigio a Valpo drink everyone should try in 2023.”
Champagne Cocktail Bar
McGowan & Sons
We think you’ll agree, nothing exemplifies a celebration quite like Champagne, especially at a personalized event or home party. These days, more and more people in Valparaiso are having their parties catered by the culinary creations of renowned Chef Rob McGowan of McGowan & Sons. And while it’s the diverse offerings and artistic spreads that earn top billing for McGowan, it’s the Champagne cocktail bar that blows up on social media after events.
People absolutely love the fun that comes with creating their own customized concoctions.
So what makes a Champagne bar worthy of our list of Valpo cocktails and drinks you should try in 2023? We asked Leslee McGowan, party planner, and Chef Rob’s better half. “It starts with our presentation. We set up a bar for guests to customize their own Champagne Cocktail! This stunning display includes a variety of real fruit purees, juices, herbs, garnish, and a variety of Sparkling to choose from!
Our fan favorite is pure decadence, a French 75 with a splash of Gin or a Kir Royale with a bit of Chambord.”
McGowan & Sons offers its Champagne cocktail and full-menu catering off-site and at the McGowan & Sons Party Villa. Your off-site Champagne cocktail bar comes with a licensed bartender, so you can also have a full bar. For more information, call Leslee McGowan…..she loves helping people throw a party! 219.241.5016.
Best Old Fashion | Valpo’s Best Chicago Cocktail
One of the characteristics we look for in earning a spot on our list of 10 Valpo Cocktails & Drinks You Must Try in 2023 is the authenticity and freshness of the ingredients. So why would we select an Old Fashion? Because it’s made fresh and comes from an original and authentic restaurant.
Pikk’s Tavern is as authentic as it gets! While Pikks Tavern’s Paul LoDuca and Carlos Rivero helped establish Valparaiso as a culinary destination, LoDucas family has deep roots in Chicago and NWI’s culinary scene.
LoDuca’s story is a good one. It all started when LoDuca was a child working for his father’s restaurant, which was legendary in the Chicago culinary scene. Loduca spent his youth working for his Dad. When most kids were partying at keggers on Friday nights, LoDuca’s Dad made him work. The closest LoDuca got to a kegger was when he cleaned the tap line for the family restaurant.
His father taught him that drinks were made for selling, not drinking. He taught him the secrets to creating cocktails that would lure swanky clientele to the restaurant. When most kids went away to college, Paul was sent to a New York culinary school.
After owning and operating numerous successful Chicago Restaurants, LoDuca chose to open Pikk’s Tavern in his adopted home in Valpo. As a family man, LoDuca wanted to raise his kids in a safe town. But to honor his father, LoDuca created the Pikk’s theme around a 1940s Chicago Tavern. But LoDuca is the real deal! His steaks and menu competes with the best in Chicago. How do I know this? Because LoDuca owns two famous restaurants in the City that are critically acclaimed. Adobo Grill is a neighborhood favorite in Old Town and Vinci is a fan favorite in Lincoln Park. Both have earned high praise from Chicago’s critics.
“I’m gonna live till I die.”
So why is Pikk’s Old Fashion worthy of our 10 Valpo Drinks You Must Try in 2023? Because there’s something real about sitting at the bar at Pikk’s Tavern and sipping an Old Fashion. It’s a Chicago thing.
Valpo’s Best Bloody Mary
Quick! What do you think put Radius on the map? If you guessed the hamburger, you’re late. The burger awards and accolades came later. According to Chef Chris Pavlou, it was the bloody mary that made Radius famous. Often overshadowed by the high-energy atmosphere and the creative hamburger portfolio, it’s the bloody mary that initially attracted Radius’s huge following.
According to the article, Secrets to Valpo’s Best Bloody Mary, Just drive through Valpo’s downtown early on a weekend. From the moment Radius opens, every outdoor seat is taken. Now take a closer look and you can’t help but notice that everyone has a bloody mary and a smile–in that order!
These drinks are stacked: especially the 32-oz version. The Radius flagship cocktail is topped by the legendary half-pound Prime Burger with your choice of cheese, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, crinkle-cut pickles, and red onions on a buttered toasted brioche bun. If that’s not enough, the 32-oz bloody marys also include a skewer containing an onion ring, shrimp cocktail, mac & cheese hush puppy, applewood smoked bacon, celery stick, and a Miller Lite Pony on the side.
32 Oz Bloody Mary | Prime Burger with Cheese, Onion Ring, Shrimp Cocktail, Mac & Cheese Hush Puppy, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Celery Stick, and a Miller Lite Pony
24 Oz Bloody Mary | 1 Burger Slider, Onion Ring, Shrimp Cocktail, Mac & Cheese Hush Puppy, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Celery Stick, and a Miller Lite Pony
16 Oz Bloody Mary | Garnish Skewer & Applewood Smoked Bacon. EXTRAS: +$2 Burger Slider, +$3 Extra Shot, +$2 Miller Lite Pony (7oz)
Wine for a Vacation State-of-Mind
You might think if a Mexican Restaurant was featured on our list of 10 Valpo cocktails you need to try in 2023, it would be a margarita. But think again, my friend, because this isn’t your typical Mexican Restaurant. This is Veleros Mexican, Valparaiso’s upscale Mexican restaurant. With authentic flavors and traditions, Veleros uses the tortilla shell as its vessel for its remarkable cuisine which includes steak, Amish chicken, lobster, and shrimp.
Of course, wine is the perfect match for such proteins, so it stands to reason that Veleros would have such remarkable wines to choose from. But there is something special when you blend the flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine with the finest seafood and meats.
Fans of Veleros steak and chicken love Velero’s Andeluna Raices Malbec. The wine’s bold fruit flavors, moderate tannins, and hints of spice can complement the richness of Veleros steak offerings. The Veleros Malbec also pairs nicely with the chicken dishes, especially the grilled chicken tacos and burritos. The Veleros steak also pairs with this popular wine. The wine’s fruitiness and moderate tannins bring out the savory flavors of the steak.
But it’s the seafood paired with Pinot Noir DeLoach that evokes a tropical state. Ironically, Velero’s name is derived from the sails of a ship. Veleros seafood is shipped in daily. We think you’ll love pairing the seafood, lobster, and shrimp with Velero’s Pinot Noir DeLoach. The wine’s medium body, bright acidity, and delicate fruit flavors make it the perfect complement to the range of seafood offerings. We recommend trying it with the lobster burrito.
Velero’s Venni Valle likes to recommend these two wines for people that are new to upscale Mexican food but also believes personal taste plays a significant role in wine and food pairings. Experimenting with different wines with different Mexican dishes is part of the Veleros experience. Fortunately, Velero’s stocks a great selection and a diverse menu that will bring you back again and again.
Best Wild & Frozen Valpo Cocktail
Aftermath Cidery & Winery
Great culinary towns have a drink that you won’t find anywhere else. A drink so unique and different, people that are from out-of-town feel they need to have one before leaving. In Valpo, we have the Mega Slurpy from AfterMath.
The Mega Slushies are so good, they can be enjoyed as a stand-alone treat, served with one of the Aftermath pizzas, or as a final stop after an event or concert at Central Park. But any local will tell you, seize the moment, because this Valpo drink changes monthly.
While choosing which slushy to get is half the fun, newbies might want to start with the slushy called the Cubbie Bear Cherry. It’s so good, it has earned a permanent stay on the menu.
But while the mega slushies are a Valpo tradition, it’s the wine and cider that helped make Aftermath critically acclaimed by connoisseurs. Aftermath Cidery produces a variety of unique ciders that are made with local ingredients and best-practice cider-making techniques. Their ciders come in a range that includes dry and crisp, sweet and fruity. The flavors include maple, ginger, and honey.