To do: Lavender Cola at The Gage in Chicago

Like most wonderful surprises, I found The Gage by chance. Well, by Google keyword, which counts for chance in the 21st century.

A friend was visiting Chicago to run a race and she wanted to meet up for brunch while in town. I quickly Googled “restaurant + downtown Chicago.” Ha! And a star was born.

The Gage is a lovely contemporary white tablecloth restaurant that’s my go-to for elegant but accessible fine dining. It’s right across from Millennium Park, and all the various attractions located within, and walking distance from the Art Institute, which is my other sure bet for giving visitors a fun taste of the town without boring myself to death.

Example: We took our Cleveland cousin Maria to The Gage, where she unknowingly ordered a very carnivorous breakfast. She didn’t need to eat again until dinner.
We worked off the meat sweats by heading across the street for the Chicago visitor must-have: A photo at The Bean.
Then we walked the skybridge to the Art Institute.

My favorite thing about The Gage, other than the location and the food, is that I can make reservations on Open Table. The place is cavernous, so I never have trouble saving a seat, but they’re super busy during peak hours and it’s worth it to make a reservation just in case.

Since moving to Chicago I’ve become a reservation queen! I don’t always need them, but it brings me peace of mind that I won’t have to wait for a long time or waste my time commuting to a place that can’t serve me.

But for all my visits to The Gage (I went there for my bachelorette party and they gave me free dessert! WITH a candle! Not all heroes wear capes—some wear aprons!) and all my complaining that not enough restaurants and bars offer cool alcohol-free drinks on their adults menus, I didn’t try their specialty sodas until recently.

Among The Gage’s zero proof options: Organic Seasonal Cordial, House-Made Ginger Beer, Abita Root Beer, and Lavender Cola.

The Gage’s Lavender Cola

The Lavender Cola is a clear (surprise!) favorite. Not too sweet, with the lavender smoothing its way in more as an aftertaste to the citrusy carbonated treat. They serve it in a bar glass with a garnish, which helps me feel like I’m still getting all the fun of an alcoholic brunch but without the hangover, wasted day, and status updates to delete later. 😉

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