Monday, May 26, 2008

(bar) violet hour, chicago il

Reprinted from my Yelp review. Oh, but extra points for the typo of "Cherry Herring" on the menu which made me giggly and confused my friend.

When I decided to drive out to Chicago on a bit of a whim, I was pretty excited: I'd heard of this place and was keen to visit. I even tried to drag my favorite drinking companion along, as he is currently in Rochester, NY (which is right on I-90, so it was on the way! -I- thought it was logical at least). Finally, this past Thursday night I made it out here with the friend I was visiting, and I was hoping to provide him with a kickass introduction to this wacky craft-cocktail world I inhabit.

We had to wait a little while, maybe 15 minutes. Totally expected, and our bouncer was very nice. I'd put in a request to be seated at the bar if possible but there was absolutely nothing available (nor for the couple of hours we were there) -- I like to interact with my bartenders and watch them work. Oh well. All the service-types were very nice, and our server was Krista who was very sweet and attentive.

The ambiance: certainly a place you would come to with a group or close companion because on its own, there isn't any ambiance. The seating creates little cloistered pockets, which is great if that is what you are looking for. The space itself feels kind of empty, and I was expecting it to be more fantastical in decor based on other reviews -- again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing and again, had we managed to be seated at the bar it would likely have been a different feel to the evening.

The foodstuffs: I had to try the curried Rice Krispie treats. My question: where was the curry? Does the Midwest have a thing against curry? I mean, they were yummy but I was expecting something with more of a jolt. We also had the breaded asparagus things and the waffle-cut fries and both were tasty and came out from the kitchen quickly.

The drinks: ah yes, the drinks. The point, yes? I was planning on having two over the evening. For my first I went with a rye drink from the menu, the Summer Sazerac. It was wonderfully balanced, and I felt really butch with my rocks glass full o' whiskey while looking around at the other patrons with their pink things. ;) On to my second and final drink of the evening...

Perhaps I am spoiled by my psychic 'tenders back home. There is a lot of communication lost when you're not interacting directly with the craftsperson creating your drink. Therefore I provided information that would be useful for a highly skilled bartender to go with in order to make me my second and final drink without having me sitting in front of him:

1. I announced my intention to have two drinks over the evening;
2. my first drink was a Sazerac (which is pretty much only rye whiskey with bitters and an absinthe or pastis rinse);
3. I wanted some sort of rye flip for my last drink. I have heard amazing things about the bar staff at this venue and I wanted to put myself in their hands to cap off my evening. I told Krista that I don't do citrus, and I do like bitters (I mentioned that I'm a Fernet drinker).

What I received: a tall glass full of what tasted like sweetened iced coffee with a slight boozy undertone, with ice and a straw. Oh, and it took forever. Granted, it was a flip and they take quite a bit of shaking to get right. But it wasn't, like, a Ramos Gin Fizz or something, and it shouldn't have taken over twenty minutes to arrive. It just... was entirely underwhelming and was nothing like what I enjoy drinking. Sure, I put myself into the bartender's hands but I gave what I thought was good information to indicate what sort of drink I'd enjoy. Krista was kind enough to take it off the bill at the end of the evening, but I still was disappointed to not have a second drink.

To sum, the entire experience did not live up to my expectations (which were admittedly high).

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