Cocktalian Chicago

The Violet Hour's Grave Dancer

I’ve been to some bars in L.A. where bartenders have told me they were inspired by the cocktails at Chicago’s The Violet Hour. I’ve read some articles about this bar and it was my #1 cocktail bar I had to try. After dinner at Moto, we headed over and experienced a brief wait.

It wasn’t too terrible but some jerks were also waiting and causing a ruckus. It seems the three misters were drunk and/or high. And if we hadn’t been let in at the right moment, I would have spoken to the bouncer as one of the house rules at the Violet Hour is not bringing anyone you wouldn’t want at your mother’s house for Sunday supper. These three were definitely not welcome guests. I lost track of them and perhaps they were let in after all. I saw someone with a baseball cap on and it was clearly against their house rules.

Still, the Violet Hour speaks of a certain genteelness and charm. The highbacked chairs reminded me of the chairs on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. They afforded privacy and perhaps a few secrets were exchanged. Although they didn’t entirely block your view. The booth next to our table was clearly on display and vice versa.

The cocktail menu is a single sheet but the book of liquors was quite heavy. I opted for one of their signature cocktails, the Grave Dancer. Even the name brought a shiver. It was very potent and right up my cocktalian alley. It was made with Wild Turkey 101, Punt e Mes, Laird’s Apple Jack and house-made orange and root beer bitters.

Alas, we only had time for one before we disappeared into the night. But considering the pub crawl we had the night before, it was probably for the best.

The Violet Hour

1520 N Damen Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60622
(773) 252-1500

Longman & Eagle's Manhattan

On our last full night in Chicago, we headed north to Logan’s Square to hit up Longman & Eagle and the Whistler. But we had such a good time at Longman & Eagle, we stayed the night. I started out with their Kentucky Colonel (Weller Antique, Benedictine, orange bitters). Next up, I tried their Manhattan which was strong and boozy like I wanted (Wild Turkey 101, Punt e Mes, aromatic bitters, cherry bitters). As I was gabbing with Derek Alexander, the barman, I decided to give him my trust and asked for Dealer’s Choice. He served up his signature Heaven’s to Betsy which was absolutely fantastic. It was my favorite combination of bitters, brown and stirred. There were an incredible amount of ingredients in this cocktail which I didn’t write down but absinthe is one of them.

Longman & Eagle's Whiskey Sour

This whiskey sour was very different to me. While Seven Grand here in L.A. makes their own sour mix, Longman & Eagle relies on just citrus to give it a slight acidic tinge. Very nice.

Longman & Eagle believes in whiskey should be for drinking, not for taking up space in a bar. They offer $3 shots of many fine whiskeys and unbelievable prices on their cocktails. I was shocked to see the Manhattans and other drinks going for $8. I’ve been curious about Makers 46 for a while but have yet to try it. Derek mentioned a better one to try was Woodford’s Reserve Grand Masters. If I could import a bar to L.A., this would be the one. Plus they serve some delicious looking food.

Longman & Eagle

2657 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60647
(773) 276-7110

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