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New fruit juice ARo made its worldwide debut in Chicago this summer. The drink consists of 50% aronia berries (a super fruit that is chock-full of antioxidants) and 50% other fruits (pineapple, pear, orange, peach, Concord grape, apple and banana puree), with no added sugar or preservatives. Healthcare providers Pamela Thomas, MD and Maria Jackson co-founded the brand to combat the plethora of over-processed and cornstarch-rich foods and beverages.
ARo recently hosted a Cocktail Faceoff, asking local bartenders to concoct a cocktail using the drink. The three that received the most votes online would move on to the final round. The winner would then take home $1,500 and the bar would receive a free supply of ARo for one year (a free case each month for 12 months for a total retail value of $575). Second place earns $750 and third receives $500. (Read more in our article here.) I was asked to be on the committee—travel to three Chicago bars to sample the cocktails and help pick a winner. With no hesitation, I said YES!
On Saturday, we first headed to West Loop’s Third Rail Tavern. Bartender Karissa made the ARostar—blueberry pomegranate vodka, pineapple juice, Prosecco and ARo, muddled with blueberries and topped with a slice of star fruit. It was sweet and fruity; beachside-perfect.
Next was Old Town’s Benchmark. Susan crafted the Irish ARo Martini—Jameson, lime, rosemary-infused simple syrup, ARo, muddled with mint leaves and garnished with a sprig of mint. Though I’m not the hugest fan of Jameson, I loved the unusual combo with ARo and mint! It was a Mojito gone Irish!
We traveled to Wells on Wells, also in Old Town, for the finale. Jacob created the Twisted Love—peach vodka, amaretto, orange juice and ARo, served with a lemon twist. The cocktail was sweet and a little tart. It tasted like candy—white-flavored Airheads, to be exact!
I had a blast (not a bad gig!) and the bartenders did a great job creating unusual drinks that were each tasty but very different from one another. The winner will be announced via Cheeky on Thursday, October 18. (Sorry, no telling.)
You can purchase ARo to play mixologist and make your own creations. Click here for a list of locations that offer the juice. Happy mixing!