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Local Flavor: S.L Wine Bar mixes cocktails with community

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Pourcuterie Board

“The Ridge” and Buffalo Chicken Pizza earn Local Flavor Award

by Melanie Jongsma, with Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 21, 2022) – Christopher Cain enjoys mixing drinks. Not only do cocktails provide him an opportunity to bring his creative spirit to spirits, but he loves the community interaction that happens over the counter at S.L Wine Bar. It’s not uncommon for him to mix something together, slide it in front of a customer, and say, “Here, what do you think of this?” In fact, that habit eventually turned into official “Mix w/ Chris” nights that allow patrons to sample new creations at discounted prices.

Community and creativity are part of the “Good Vibes Only” (the bar’s tagline) that Christopher and his wife Deja have brought to Lansing since August of 2021, when S.L Wine Bar opened.

S.L Wine Bar contact info
Address: 3224 Ridge Road, Lansing IL 60438
Phone: 708-251-5014
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.slwinebar.com
Facebook: facebook.com/slwinebar

Signature cocktail: The Ridge

Earning The Lansing Journal’s Local Flavor Award is a new cocktail Christopher created specifically for Lansing: The Ridge. The Ridge is a bourbon-based drink with strawberry and lemon modifiers that Christopher says is “meant to be sipped.”

“It’s our version of a bourbon smash,” he said. “If you like bourbon you’ll like it. And if you like lighter drinks, you’ll like it as well.”

Ingredients in our sampling of The Ridge included bourbon, strawberry, cranberry, cherry dust, simple syrup, and a dash of edible glitter, with a lemon and cherry garnish.

cocktails
The Ridge is a bourbon-based cocktail that is meant to be sipped. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Named after Ridge Road — which is not only S.L’s location but also the small-town heart of Lansing — The Ridge evokes warm feelings by its appearance as well as its taste. Christopher and Deja want the drink to convey the same welcome they have felt in Lansing and to emit the relaxed Mayberry-like vibe they feel Ridge Road represents. As Chris explains it, The Ridge brings old-school and new together, just as Ridge Road is currently doing.

Christopher has invented other cocktails during his time behind the bar. The Stony Island is what he calls “Lansing’s version of a Long Island.” The Stony Island mixes seven different dark liquors rather than the light liquors that are typical of a Long Island.

He also introduced us to the Baby Shark, a family of tequila-based margarita cocktails that was named by a customer. A typical Baby Shark is blue because of the blueberry in the mix, but the specific recipe can vary. Christopher referred to ours as a Mud Shark, and included blueberry, strawberry, mango, cranberry juice, and lime.

cocktails
S.L Wine Bar owner Christopher Cain mixes up a “Mud Shark,” which is part of his “Baby Shark” family of cocktails. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Signature dish: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

S.L Wine Bar serves the lighter, appetizer-type foods that are common at bars and pubs, but they have become known for their Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Christopher’s sauce recipe is topped by grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, and “a dust of parmesan.” Each pizza is made fresh upon order and is served on a stylish oven board.

The Buffalo Chicken Pizza is made fresh for each order. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The pizza is the size of a flatbread and is a full meal for one person, or a hearty snack for two or more.

Atmosphere

S.L Wine Bar seats up to eight directly at the bar, and there are several two-person tables in the room. In addition, a spacious area near the windows provides an “upscale lodge” atmosphere, with a couch, coffee table, fireplace, and Wassily-esque chairs arranged to provide two distinct spaces for four or more people to focus on conversation with their cocktails.

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Comfortable seating near the windows allows for group conversation, while smaller tables and stools at the bar create different vibes for different needs. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Other notes

  • Poetry Nights, Live Music, Brunch, and other events are posted on S.L Wine Bar’s website and Facebook page. Christopher and Deja offer a variety of events to appeal to a variety of people, and they are open to suggestions.
  • S.L Wine Bar also hosts private events for families and businesses, and they notify the public via Facebook when they will be closing for a private party
  • Gaming is available along the wall west of the bar.
  • Parking is available in the lot at the front of the building, though when the lot is full, maneuvering and exiting onto Ridge Road can be difficult. Additional lighted parking is available north of the building, and security is available to escort patrons to their cars.
S.L Wine Bar is located at 3224 Ridge Road, in the plaza at the northeast corner of Ridge and Burnham. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Additional info

In early 2021, The Lansing Journal published an article about Christopher and Deja’s vision for S.L Wine Bar:


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Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.

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