Raising the Bar – Chicago

The stars of the bars have been found.
Sable, at the new Palomar Hotel does not disappoint.

An ace staff overseen by executive bartender Mike Ryan runs a tight ship, shaking and serving both classic and nouveau cocktails.
The bartenders all wear ties and waistcoats, and are exceedingly professional, in that have it your way department. If you want your white lady with lemon instead of lime, so be it.
They also have a money back guarantee policy.
Attention is also paid to local and regionally made spirits, along with a global assortment – their bourbon and rye selection is mind boggling!
Some locally distilled products include North Shore No. 6 and Death’s Door Gin, Rittenhouse blended rye, and further afield, Banks, a clean, smooth and viscous white rum with hints of banana, and Smith and Cross pot-stilled rum – clocking in at 114 proof, which will be released to the world at Sable in September.

House made bitters share the stage with some of the world’s finest, including the herbaceous Amaro Montenegro.

We’ve been enjoying their version of Sazeracs lately, made with Rittenhouse blended rye, demerara syrup, Peychauds and local North Shore Sirene absinthe.
For anyone wanting to bring back a spiritual taste of Chicago, both North Shore and Death’s Door can be purchased at any local Binney’s liquor outlet.
For those of you in a “speak easy” state of mind, you might want to check out The Violet Hour, another spot from chef and restaurateur Paul Kahan.
The entrance is intentionally disguised, and is manned in the evening hours by a friendly giant who’ll ask how many in your party. Passing through numerous heavy curtains, you enter a dark room.
Another friendly giant seats you where he deems appropriate: at one of the bars, booths or, what we appreciated, ultra high backed chairs. The cocktail list is $12 a pop. We’d heard that cocktails can take up to 20 minutes, so we timed our drinks. Surprisingly, it was only five minutes in. Watching the bartenders, shaking two at a time, the vibe was vacantly efficient, in sharp contrast to Sable, that engaged the customer.
We enjoyed The Full Stop: Death’s Door gin with grapefruit, Amaro Montenegro and St. Germain, and the Art of the Choke, a mix of Cynar, lime, Flor de Cana rum and green Chartreuse.
As with most of chef Paul Kahan’s spaces, this one is also LOUD. It’s also dark.
 



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