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).

summer sazerac

Old Overholt Rye
R&W Apricot Liqueur

Served in a rocks glass at Violet Hour, Chicago IL.

A very tasty variant, it seemed like they did without the sweetener because of the presence of the apricot liqueur. The Herbsainte was a very conservative rinse, and was only noticeable by nose for the first sip (but really, that's what matters most).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

remember the maine

2 oz Maker's Mark Bourbon
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 tsp Cherry Brandy
1/2 tsp Absinthe or Pastis

Stir briskly in clock-wise fashion -- this makes it sea-going, presumably! A slightly different recipe calling for Rye can be found at The Cocktail Chronicles.

I keep wanting to add an exclamation point to the end of that name. This drink was published in The Gentleman's Companion by Charles H. Baker, Jr., and was named for the USS Maine's sinking on 15 February 1898 (thank god for iPhones; we would have been scratching our heads until we all got home, trying to remember that date). The drink? Despite the Bourbon it was really, really tasty. I'm not sure why I hadn't made one before.


1 oz gin
1 oz green Chartreuse
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters

Garnish with a cherry.

I've been aware of Brother Cleve for years and years, and here was his contribution at World Cocktail Day: a drink that dates back to Harry Johnson's Cocktail Book. Totally my sort of drink: lovely balance of vermouth and Chartreuse.

maiden's prayer

Plymouth gin
white rum
lemon juice
orange bitters

Garnish with pansy petals.

We attended a celebration of World Cocktail Day at Green Street earlier this week -- what a super-fun event! And such yummy drinks to be had. This one was presented by Tommy from Eastern Standard, and was a variation of a variation (1930) of the original (1907). Despite the presence of lemon juice, it was so well-balanced that it was a pleasant drink even for me and my old-lady teeth.

nicol's secret pisco punch

pineapple syrup
lemon juice
gum syrup

Now, I'm pretty much a tomboy when I choose a cocktail: ladies aren't supposed to drink brown liquor and all that. Well, I ain't no lady! Punch? Now this is a drink that ladies and girls would both enjoy -- hell, anyone would love punch. It's just plain yummy. And I, too, love punch. And this punch is goood! The gum syrup adds something really lovely to the mouth-feel. I could drink this all night (and if you know anything about the history of punches in the Colonies, you'll know that people pretty much did.)

(credit: John from no. 9. Further information on this punch can be found here.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

:: a slight change ::

I swapped one feminine archetype for another in this blog's title; clearly, I've moved into another role.

Carry on.

wicked kiss

1 1/2 oz Rye (Rittenhouse 100)
1/2 oz Calvados
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash Angostura bitters

(Misty @ Green Street)

A take on the Widow's Kiss, made even yummier by the addition of Rye whiskey. The Rittenhouse cuts through the somewhat sticky nature of the other ingredients and made for a perfectly delightful, herbalicious drink.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

cocktail à la louisiane

3/4oz Rye (Michter's US1)
3/4oz sweet vermouth (Vya)
3/4oz Benedictine
3 dashes Absinthe (Jade 1901)
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Stir well with ice, garnish with a Luxardo cherry. Recipe from Gumbo Pages.

We had the silly idea to mix up a couple of these in honor of a friend's birthday toast we were forced to miss -- and to take a photograph of said toast. I present to you perhaps the most awesome photo of Husband and myself ever taken.

And by "most awesome" I actually mean "kinda retarded". Happy birthday, Q!

Oh, the drink? Yummy but somewhat sweet for me and a sticky mouthfeel; the absinthe cuts through and adds a nice nose-buzz.