Drinking has always been central to Japan’s small-plate izakaya culture, usually in the form of sake or beer. With over 11 sake pours available at Prospect Heights newcomer Bar Chuko, that category gets fair play. What makes its drinks program so refreshing, however, is the way it extends beyond such staples to embrace the unexpected. In addition to bright, high-acid whites like the 2012 Josmeyer Pinot Blanc from Alsace, for instance, the wine list boasts such offbeat pours as a skin-fermented, umami-friendly Vinoterra Rkastiteli from the Republic of Georgia and a tangy Chiaretto rosé from Piedmont’s Luca Ferraris. Similarly, the bar highlights several versions of chu-hai, Japan’s traditional shochu-based cocktails, not to mention a thoughtful lineup of Japanese whiskeys—all of which go well with the extensive list of skewered meat, seafood and vegetables that anchor the menu.