Photography by Kat Anderson and Michael Robinson
Words by Simon Difford on 01-Apr-2015
1520 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60622, United States
Tel: +1 773 252 1500
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Sun-Fri 6pm-2am, Sat 6pm-3am
Door: Go early
Style: Lounge bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Food, Romantic
Price guide: Middling
Food: Plates & dishes
This vast basement lounge behind a hidden entrance is one of Chicago's most respected cocktail bars - justifiably so. The 'speakeasy' entrance to The Violet Hour is hidden in plain sight camouflaged as part of a frequently changing mural running the length of the wall. Once you've located the door inside you'll almost certainly find yourself at the end of a line of people waiting to go in. It's first come first served with no bookings so perhaps plan to be there for 6pm when they open.
The marble topped bar runs the length of the grand, dimly lit room, both the room and the bar dissected into three by gathered drapes making this large high ceilinged basement space feel intimate. High backed seats in front of striped cuboid tables have something of an Alice in Wonderland feel.
The food menu ranges from 'roasted nuts', 'frites and aioli' and 'stuffed dates' to 'pulled pork sliders', 'truffled ricotta tartine' and 'chicken wing tartine', but it is the cocktails over seen by Eden Laurin, Toby Maloney and Jason Cott that are the main attraction. The three dozen strong cocktail list is impressive with prominent signature drinks. Perhaps some of the more noteworthy are the Juliet and Romeo (gin, mint, cucumber and rose water), Elephant in the Elevator (blanco tequila, lemon, Lillet Rose, kümmel and orange bitters), The Peacemonger (Ancho Reyes, lime, Cabeza, grapefruit and Miller High Life), Flip the Bird (Cruzan Blackstrap, pineapple, Campari, whole egg and nutmeg) and Bang the Drum (applejack, lemon, Saigon cinnamon, palo cortado sherry and coffee pecan bitters).