The Violet Hour
Chicago is one of those towns that I drop into and think "Yeah, I could live here." And, then I remember that it gets incredibly, bone-chillingly cold in the winter and remember, "Nah, I totally could never live here... but I love to visit."
This town has cocktail chutzpuh galore. And, you know what else? The people are so freakin' nice. They don't have that "I'm so amazingly cool and important" crap we sometimes get in L.A. They don't have that "We're too uppity to crack a smile" like waaay too many bars in New York, and they don't have that "We think we're better than everybody else" of San Francisco. (Sorry SF. You know I love you but you know its true.)
The people in Chicago - bartenders included - pride themselves on making great drinks but they don't let it go to their heads. Now, that is something worth braving a chilly night to see. (Yeah, my teeth are already chattering and its barely dipped into the 60's at night. I'm a So-Cal girl, people!)
Sonja Kassebaum blogger at Thinking of Drinking and co-owner of North Shore Distillery was kind enough to join me out tonight for a cocktail. Ok two. (And, did I mention that she and her husband make gin, absinthe, aquavit and more! How rad is that?)
We went to the speakeasy influenced Violet Hour and let Michael, the head bartender, stir and shake up a storm. In addition to being well-versed in gin, whiskey, rum and tequila drinks, the bar also has three kinds of specialized ice, ranging from long tubes to big chunks to round balls. They have the double tin shakers, the fresh herbs and all home made bitters with ingredients like fennel and saffron and such, served out of little brown bottles and eyedroppers.
Man, sitting here after two heady drinks makes me feel like a lightweight cuz I really don't remember all that was in the tipples I sampled... but the first one had gin and egg white - and, well, maybe he'll send me the recipe to share with you folks. The second drink had an incredibly smokey, peaty Scotch (just how I like it) and some other stuff... I think the fennel and saffron bitters was in this one... just trust that it was great and I knew I was having something unique and reeking of high quality.
I also ate some deviled eggs topped with sweet and spicy bacon. I know. I have no business eating that... but you know the 100 mile rule. No, not THAT 100 mile rule! The one about how calories are cut in half when you're more than 100 miles away from home. Yeah, that one.
Anyhoo... I want to check out The Drawing Room next. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe when I'm back in early October. Just wanted to tell you to stop by the Violet Hour next time you're in Chi-town. Its the door with no sign in the building that looks like its under construction with a bare bulb glaring outside above the head of a large man in a black coat. Can't miss it. Or rather, DON'T miss it...