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This year has made one thing abundantly clear – if we can’t go to the bar, we desperately need really good, ready-to-drink cocktails delivered to our doors. Founded by mixologist Derek Mercer (formerly of Blackbird and Spiaggia), Present Tense- transforms “stay-at-home” into a libation-staycation.

In addition to a selection of ready-to-drink cocktails, Present Tense also features a mini menu of bar snacks and tavern sandwiches. And, for those using time at home to hone skills, Present Tense offers an array of safe, socially-distanced individual and group mixology classes—in person or virtually. As an added bonus, cocktail catering, ice delivery, and single serve ready-to-drink cocktails for small gatherings are also available.

Reflecting on what inspired Present Tense, Mercer explains, “Thousands of restaurants closed their doors forever this year, including Blackbird, where I managed the bar. Stuck at home, I baked bread like everyone else. I watched Simpson’s reruns, and held solo dance parties. Deeply fulfilling, to be sure, but I missed sharing my craft with people who need and appreciate it. I couldn’t let a pandemic stop me from hydrating the good people of Chicago. So, I created Present Tense.”

All beverages are delivered fully chilled, mixed, and ready to drink immediately or can be refrigerated for up to one week. Each $50-$60 bottle contains at least six cocktails. For some people, bigger is better when it comes to the ice cube. One of the most impressive feats of modern bartending is the giant ice cube, so if you’re looking to elevate your cocktails even more, Present Tense also delivers four packs of large, crystal-clear ice cube, and three-pound bags of 1” clear square ice cubes from Quari Ice. 

·     Chicago Tea- rye, brandy, demerara, orange and angostura bitters

·     CR-7 Manhattan- fino sherry, rye, rosé vermouth 

·     Boom Boom Punch- Jamaican rum, light rum, aged rum, lemon 

·     Tailgate Margarita- tequila, cinnamon, orange, lemon 

·     Cointoss- mezcal, vermouth, yellow chartreuse, Benedictine, Peychaud’s bitters

Snacks $8 each

·      Pimiento Cheese Spread- crackers

·     Garlicy Beet Dip- yogurt, beets, carrots, green beans, peppers, cucumbers

·     Super Onion Dip- sour cream, mayonnaise, caramelized onions, potato chips

·     Snacker Crackers-ranch or honey mustard

·     Popcorn- always butter, salt and pepper or cheese.

Tavern Sammies $10 each

·     Cheese-pimiento, garlic, toasted dark rye

·     Pickle- mayonnaise, peanut butter, sriracha, toast

·     Cold Cut- mortadella, ham, salami, provolone, olives, lettuce

·     Ham- bacon, swiss, mustard, pickle, onion, 

School Spirit

Present Tense offers an array of mixology classes for absolute beginners to those pursuing it as a career. From craft cocktails to cooking with booze, groups, individuals, at-home or virtual. Classes can be booked on their website.

Special Delivery

Present Tense delivers Thursday-Saturdays 2-6pm to thirsty Chicagoans within the city limits. Cocktail catering, wider boundaries and availability for special events and occasions are available by request. 

Order ahead online at follow Present Tense @presenttensebar.


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