Food-Friendly Focus

At Atelier in Chicago, Ali Martin’s cocktails complement the Michelin-starred cuisine.

Ali Martin makes in-depth, highly creative drinks with limited bar stock at Chicago restaurant Atelier.
Ali Martin makes in-depth, highly creative drinks with limited bar stock at Chicago restaurant Atelier. (Photo by Neil John Burger Photography)

When Ali Martin came on as beverage director of Chicago restaurant Elizabeth in 2021, she’d already been tending bar in the city for more than a decade at such spots as Mother Hubbard’s, Angry Pig Tavern, and Blackbird, and had become a certified sommelier two years prior. “There was no bar program at Elizabeth at that time, as the space doesn’t have an actual bar, so I implemented one,” she says. “It was very small at first, bringing in artisanal and local spirits, and making custom cocktails upon request.” When Elizabeth closed and reopened in 2023 as Atelier, Martin was given more room to grow. “I was able to create a more in-depth bar program, featuring a few hyper-seasonal house cocktails and adding cocktails into our pairing menu, while still, of course, having the ability to accommodate the simple request for a Vodka Soda.” 

Atelier is a Michelin-starred, 21-seat restaurant that serves a 14-course tasting menu of New American fare infused with unexpected global flavors by James Beard Award-winning Chef Christian Hunter. In addition to managing the wine pairings for this menu, Martin creates cocktails that are similarly complementary. “The true star here is the food, so we produce seasonal drinks that are not meant to overwhelm any of the food, but pair with it,” she says. “We’ve had to get extremely creative with our program since we don’t have a bar, so our cocktails can be heavy on prep ahead of time, but must be simple to put together during a busy service in a tight space.” 

On her small and meticulously curated cocktail list (drinks are $12-$17), Martin’s preference is for drinks that are sophisticated in their simplicity, allowing the beauty of each ingredient to shine through. This is on display in such cocktails as her Cherry Blossom ($12), blending equal parts vermouth and sake, plus house-made cherry concentrate, and her Sabor del Verano ($17), comprising mezcal and aloe liqueur along with house-made tonic syrup, lemon bitters, and soda water. “I also get a lot of joy out of creating something completely original for an individual in a moment—when it’s not a busy Saturday night, of course,” Martin adds. “It’s delightfully more challenging to do this without a fully stocked bar at your disposal. We have to go off of whatever we have in-house at that moment and what the guest likes, and just have fun with it.” 

Ali Martin’s Recipes

Cherry Blossom


1½ ounces Joseph Cartron Le Vermouth Blanc; 

1½ ounces Fukucho Moon on the Water 

Junmai Ginjo sake; 

1 drop cherry concentrate¹; 

Luxardo cherry.


In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine vermouth, sake, and cherry concentrate. Stir and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a Luxardo cherry. 

¹On the stovetop, bring 1 pound fresh cherries and 8½ cups water to a boil, then simmer for 35 minutes. Add ¾ cup honey and simmer for another 10 minutes. Strain and refrigerate. 

Sabor del Verano


1½ ounces Madre Mezcal Espadin Black Label; 

1 ounce Chareau Aloe liqueur; 

½ ounce tonic syrup²; 

2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters; 

2 ounces soda water; 

Orange peel. 


In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine mezcal, liqueur, syrup, and bitters. Stir and strain into an ice-filled goblet. Top with soda and garnish with an orange peel. 

²At 60 degrees, sous vide the following for 2 hours: 75 grams dried citron peel (reconstituted in a little water), 20 grams citric acid, 15 grams juniper berries, 10 grams black peppercorns, 10 grams cardamom pods, 5 grams allspice berries, 75 grams Rare Tea Cellars cinchona bark, and 500 grams water. Strain, then combine with equal parts sugar by weight. For 500 grams syrup, stir in 15 grams yuzu juice.