Classic Cocktails in Chicago 2011-03-31 06:02:00
5 Can't-Miss Modern Speakeasies
Are you mad for Manhattans? Love to sip Sidecars? Or maybe you fancy a French 75? Check out these spots for a Prohibition-era cocktail in served in a sophisticated setting that harkens back to drunken days gone by.
Gilt Bar (230 W. Kinzie St., 312-464-9544, shown above). Vintage-inspired and moody, River North’s Gilt Bar is sophisticated without being snooty, and the list of standard 1930s cocktails only adds to the throwback appeal. Enjoy a drink at the eight-person bar or head downstairs to Curio, Gilt’s underground cocktail lounge (or to its fantastic sister restaurant, Maude's Liquor Bar). My pick: Death's Door Daisy, featuring Death's Door vodka, Aperol, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice ($10).
The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen Ave., 773-252-1500). This nationally recognized, purple-hued, 1920s-inspired speakeasy feels like a sexy old Southern mansion transported to modern-day Wicker Park. The opportunity to watch the bartenders create each painstakingly crafted cocktail (created by mixologist Toby Maloney) brings me to a bar seat every time. My pick: Hush & Wonder, with Matusalem rum, lime, créme de violette, and grapefruit bitters ($14).
Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St., 312-441-1920, shown below). Go for the fantastic food and gorgeous interiors — the space was originally an 1890 print shop — at this West Loop stunner, where Ron Howard recently shot The Dilemma with Vince Vaughn and Kevin James.Stay for the libations served up by head bartender Joshua Pearson. My pick: French 75, with Hendrick’s gin, fresh lemon sour, orange bitters, and Bugey Cerdon demi-sec sparkling rose ($12).
The Drawing Room (937 N. Rush St., 312-266-2694). At this "culinary cocktail" lounge, master mixologist Charles Joly has been creating delicious classics since 2007, attracting national attention. The custom-built bar carts allow bartenders to serve each cocktail (most feature house-made mixers and small-batch spirits) tableside. My pick: The Gloomlifter made with Finian's Irish whiskey, Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac, raspberries, and lemon sour ($12).
The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-227-3530). This Logan Square music venue/art gallery/bar features mixologist Paul McGee’s classic cocktails, which incorporate seasonal ingredients and house-infused spirits (think cayenne pepper-infused tequila). My pick: Gin-Gin Mule made with Broker’s Gin, ginger liqueur, ginger beer, lime, mint, and Angostura Bitters ($8).