LAKEVIEW — Talk about turning lemons into lemonade — Café 28 is letting diners mix their own fancy cocktails after the Latin American restaurant lost its liquor license this year.
The Mexican and Cuban restaurant at West Irving Park Road and North Ravenswood Avenue lost business due to street construction and fell behind on state taxes, causing it to lose its liquor license last month, said mixologist Ardit Dizdari.
Customers looking to drink the cafe's signature mojito were at a loss.
So the cafe had to think creatively. The result: An extensive MYOC menu, or mix your own cocktail, that has gained popularity among cash-conscious and booze-loving customers.
"[Losing the license] was a blessing in disguise," Dizdari said.
Diners bring in their own liquor, as suggested on the menu, and mix it into one of nine options, including a signature mojito with mint and raw sugar, or a strawberry-mint lemonade with strawberries and agave nectar. Sangria lovers can even bring in a bottle of wine to accompany the cafe's mix. Customers who aren't aware of the new policy are referred to a liquor store across the street.
"It's been popular," Dizdari said. "It's a lot cheaper for people."
That said, Café 28 plans to get its license back some time in 2013. But until then, grab a fifth of rum for a cheap way to buy a nice drink. Each one rings in at $4.50.
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