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Dining out: cool cocktails, sweet treats

QUENTIN ROUX
Q@MISUNTIMES.COM
  • Manager Marotta, who has regular culinary pow-wows with Liverani and Lake to pitch new ideas and suggestions, says the specialty drinks and desserts have evolved nicely since the restaurants opening 18 months ago.

Enjoy the meal, but leave room for the desserts and specialty drinks.

That’s the message from the SpeakEasy of Marco, whose trio of GM Cindy Marotta, chef Selem Lake and bartender/mixologist John Liverani are this week’s contributors to the Sun Times’ Drinks & Desserts series of features on local restaurants.

Liverani says most of his craft drinks are his own creations, such as the cucumber and basil martini (with gin and dry vermouth), describing it as “mother’s milk.” Or, for those with a decidedly sweet preference, he says look no further than the West Indies yellowbird martini with silver rum, a splash of Galliano liqueur, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice and crushed cherry topped with a splash of fresh cream.

Liverani’s raspberry truffle is equally appealing, and is a concoction of vanilla vodka, Chambord liqueur (a black raspberry-flavored liqueur from France), Godiva white chocolate and a non-sweet cocoa rim.

Liverani’s raspberry truffle is equally appealing, and is a concoction of vanilla vodka, Chambord liqueur (a black raspberry-flavored liqueur from France), Godiva white chocolate and a non-sweet cocoa rim.

A special at the moment is the Razzle, with raspberry vodka, cranberry juice, a splash of Sprite and a jigger of blue Curacao on top.

A special at the moment is the Razzle, with raspberry vodka, cranberry juice, a splash of Sprite and a jigger of blue Curacao on top.

“This is a refreshing drink for a sunny day,” says Liverani, alluding to the rapidly approaching warm weather in Florida.

Red velvet cake is another Chef Selem Lake special.

Chef Lake also likes originality, and on this day prepared red velvet cake, deep-fried cheesecake (“it’s nice and crispy outside and still cool inside”), and also delicious hand-tied honey doughnuts, which are deep fried and coated with a honey cinnamon glaze and served with French vanilla ice-cream.

The deep-fried cheesecake is crispy on the outside, and still cool on the inside.

Manager Marotta, who has regular culinary pow-wows with Liverani and Lake to pitch new ideas and suggestions, says the specialty drinks and desserts have evolved nicely since the restaurants opening 18 months ago.

“As we became more popular, we decided on specialty and craft drinks,” she says. “At the moment, if there’s a wait, people like to sit by the water and have a drink. Other people like to come in later just for the drinks and desserts.”

The restaurant, which tapped into the now-romantic tradition of Prohibition-era eateries and watering holes, has an appropriate speakeasy atmosphere — what with inoperative tommy guns and skyline photos of the Windy City on a couple of the walls — but it also opens up into a breezy outdoor section with a water view.

If you go

What: The SpeakEasy of Marco

Where: 1106 ½ N. Collier Blvd, same plaza as Chamber of Commerce

Hours: Seven days a week, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (kitchen). Bar later.

Reservations: 8 or more people. Call ahead for short-notice seating/waitlisting

Take out: Yes

Catering: Yes

Private parties: Yes

Website: speakeasymarco.com

Telephone: 970-2929