Off the Menu:

Rudy Torres' Flortini - By Elizabeth Licata - Mixologists may slave over their seasonal menus and special offerings, but some of the most exciting drinks around can only be found under the table. Ask any good bartender, and chances are good that he's got something secret in the works that just hasn't made it to the menu yet. To find out what's the next big thing, we're going off the menu in search of next season's cocktails.

Rudy Torres at Topo Gigio in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood has been working to roll out something festive and refreshing; his Flortini is made with two parts Pinnacle cake-flavored vodka and one part fresh pineapple juice, shaken together, poured into a Champagne flute that's then filled with Prosecco and garnished with a maraschino cherry to create an overall effect that's almost exactly like drinking a pineapple upside-down cake in a glass.

The phrase "cake-flavored vodka" is enough to make most cocktail aficionados blanch, but the ingredients balance out to create a flavor that's refreshing but not cloying, and unusual enough to satisfy most seekers of unique libations. The Flortini is sweet, to be sure, but the Prosecco gives the drink a bright fizz that lightens the impact of the cake-flavored vodka, and the blast of pineapple keeps the profile fresh instead of sticky.

"I feel like I should be drinking this by an outdoor hotel pool at night during some kind of fabulous party," one taster opined.

"This reminds me of a Bellini," another taster said. "But it's a lot lighter, so I could drink a lot more of them. That's definitely a good thing."

Check it out. Topo Gigio