At KOVAL, we’re big fans of cocktail lore. A rich history dresses up any cocktail and a whiskey sour is no different. It’s a simple cocktail but not all strokes of genius require complexity. Legend says that the whiskey sour has its roots in piracy. Some say an alcoholic fix for scurvy. Eventually the concept hopped from ship to shore and in 1862, a half a century later, author Jerry Thomas documented the recipe in The Bartender’s Guide.

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For Chicagoans, summer in the city is what makes us strong enough to endure eight months of winter. Although July is now behind us, those boxes of sweaters still have a good bit of dust to collect before we surrender to the crisp cool of Autumn. One of the best ways to celebrate the end of summer has to be at Millennium Park, arguably the best tourist attraction in the Midwest.

A means to transform unsightly railroad tracks and parking lots, Millennium Park has continually developed its offerings since opening in 2004. Around five million annual visitors have taken advantage of the public art, concerts, and summer activities located on Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets in downtown Chicago.

If you are planning a trip to Chicago or are lucky enough to live here, these are a few suggestions of what will round off your summer with a smile.

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Legend takes us back to Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919. Count Camillo Negroni asked bartender Forsco Scarselli to “strengthen” his favorite cocktail, the Americano (equal parts Campari, vermouth, and soda water) by replacing the soda water with gin. Bartender Scarselli added an orange garnish in place of the lemon usually coupled with an Americano. Before Scarselli knew it, people were flocking to the bar for a ‘Negroni.’


For Negroni Week, we took a tour through popular Chicago bars to taste their version of the Negroni using KOVAL gin.

Read on for recipes and more!

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KOVAL co-founder and President, Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart, watches her children play in a gazebo while she works.

I co-founded KOVAL Distillery with my husband in 2008. Leaving my career as a professor to start Chicago’s first distillery since the mid-1800s was liberating. It afforded me the freedom to run my business, while being a full time mom and homeschooler. Now that my boys are 9 and 6, I have managed this dichotomy for as long as I have had my business. Has it been difficult? Yes.  Difficult, however, does not mean that it isn’t also wonderful. 

I had never thought about the difference between a working-woman vs. a working mother before having children of my own. Growing up, I had been led to believe that women could achieve anything; however children would probably have to wait or be a hindrance.  When I had children of my own while starting a business, I followed the debate as to whether women can have it all. I could not help but think I am lucky if I have time for a shower.  Nevertheless, I have what is most important for me: I am doing things the way I want, and in a manner that expands what many women think is even possible; regardless of whether they would want to work full time and home school their children.

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Earlier this year we collaborated with Glazed and Infused to create a Hot Toddy doughnut that disappeared from behind the bakery glass in hours. With KOVAL Rye Whiskey baked in with various other flavors, completed with a drizzle including KOVAL’s Ginger and Chrysanthemum and Honey Liqueurs, it was hard to have just one bite. Didn’t get to try the donut? Don’t worry, we have a few more ideas baking in the oven.

We interviewed Georgi Cronin, Director of Sales, and Kevin Gomez, Head Chef of Glazed and Infused to learn more about what inspired the company, why Chicago, and whether bacon belongs on a doughnut or not.

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At KOVAL, we’re no strangers to incorporating technology with design. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Kit and Ace, a clothing brand synonymous with simplicity and innovation, creates smart apparel with functionality in mind.  We spoke with Kimberly Stablein from the Fulton Market location about what it means to be a part of Kit and Ace and how the brand connected to Chicago.

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