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Master Mixologist: Nate Chung

RELATED: • Master Mixologists: Chad Solomon and Christy Pope • Master Mixologist: Erick Castro • See more Master Mixologists

Photo: Quinn B. Wharton

There’s an old saying that God laughs at those who make plans. We’re not suggesting that God laughed at Nate Chung while on his way to becoming a sculptor, but let’s just say Chung isn’t sculpting for a living. And we’re not saying God drinks whiskey cocktails, but if he did, Chung’s Hookshot Sour at Mott Street in Chicago is a miracle in a glass. Hey, he’s still an artist, but his medium of choice changed. The story goes that Chung was having a party at his house and the owners of a soon-to-open restaurant called Ruxbin happened to show up. He and Vicki, Edward and Jennifer Kim hit it off and before you know it—cha ching, or should we say, cha chung— the sculptor became a partner. Man, this guy can whip up a great cocktail, even at home. So Chung now handles the beverage program for Ruxbin (a b.o.b. spot) and sister restaurant Mott Street, which has a full-fledged beverage program. At Ruxbin, this holder of a masters of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago makes terrific nonalcoholic dry sodas. But at Mott Street, where he’s unfettered, Chung  makes angels sing. Originally from Hawaii, where he enjoyed shaved ice with syrups as a kid, Chung makes grown-up versions with kid-like enthusiasm, including Ants on a Log, a cocktail with Lambrusco, celery syrup and basil seeds. He also works with the kitchen to create Fernet-soaked s’mores. Guests can pair the dessert with a flight of Amaro, handpicked by Chung. So, Chung isn’t the sculptor he had hoped to be. Is it wrong to thank God for that?

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