Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

The Violet Hour


  • Please log in to reply
326 replies to this topic

#31 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,108 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 13 July 2007 - 01:19 PM

NYC, where our alchemical friend cut his cocktailian teeth, is one of the epicenters of the cocktail revival movement. "Serious cocktail places" in NYC are the likes of Pegu Club, Flatiron Lounge, Milk & Honey, Death & Co. -- establishments that are considered among the best in the world among the cocktailian set. It remains to be seen whether The Violet Hour will compete on this level, but I have a hard time believing that The Matchbox, The Green Mill and various Chicago restaurant bars are competing on this level of "serious."
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#32 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 13 July 2007 - 03:04 PM

Sam, when will you be in the City of Broad Shoulders so you can judge if TVH is running with the wild horses. We are all raising the bar for eachother so I am competing only with myself. There are many places here that are doing wonderful things with libations. I won't mention any one in particular so as not to forget anyone.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#33 Darren72

Darren72
  • participating member
  • 202 posts

Posted 14 July 2007 - 10:25 AM

Sorry, didn't mean to sound territorial. I certainly didn't mean to suggest we should view these things as a competition between cities or between bars. My earlier post was simply meant to contrast the reality that it is quite possible to get great cocktails in Chicago with the view expressed in two earlier posts that seemed to imply this is more of a barren wasteland in that regard. After all, why would you open a serious cocktail bar in Chicago? Those heathens can't appreciate it. :) It's amazing how many people are surprised that you can actually find good food in Chicago, beyond pizza and cheap ethnic restaurants.

I've been to the Violet Hour and I think it is great. As I said in my earlier post, I'm glad the Violet Hour is open and wish it the best, but I was hoping to put a little balance and perspective into this thread about where Chicago is. It will be a nice day when someone does something new in Chicago and doesn't get a reaction "Why Chicago?".

Edited by Darren72, 14 July 2007 - 01:46 PM.


#34 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 14 July 2007 - 07:35 PM

Why I NO misgivings at all. I thought it was a great idea because Chicago is such a food town. Alinia, Avec, Blackbird, Chuckles, Schwa... To name but a few.

Foodies become Drinkies faster than anyone else.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#35 MattJohnson

MattJohnson
  • participating member
  • 323 posts

Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:33 AM

Took my wife to TVH on friday night. We very much enjoyed it. I'd have said hi, but everyone seemed busy, so I didn't want to mess up the groove. I had the manhattan and the daisy 17. I very much enjoyed the latter. Thanks for great drinks, we'll be back.

#36 Nathan

Nathan
  • participating member
  • 4,260 posts

Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:41 AM

What made you decide on Chicago for your location, Toby? I've read here and elsewhere that Chicago doesn't have much of a serious cocktail culture. Is that incorrect, or do you plan to be the first serious cocktail place in the city?

View Post


The first serious cocktail place in the city? That's maybe just a little overstated. Below are two, the latter being around for about a hundred years (seriously). More generally, many, if not most, medium- and high-end restaurants here have pretty serious/modern cocktail menus.

Not to distract from the main topic though, I'm glad The Violet Hour has opened and I wish them the best.

The Matchbox
770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 666-9292

The Green Mill
4802 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-5552

View Post



no, it's true. in terms of cocktail craft the Violet Hour would be the first serious place in Chicago in many years. there are a couple places like Matchbox where they're at the Employees Only/Angel's Share level...i.e. they at least use fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice..etc. but good luck going off menu or finding a decent selection of bitters.

#37 Nathan

Nathan
  • participating member
  • 4,260 posts

Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:44 AM

Sorry, didn't mean to sound territorial. I certainly didn't mean to suggest we should view these things as a competition between cities or between bars. My earlier post was simply meant to contrast the reality that it is quite possible to get great cocktails in Chicago with the view expressed in two earlier posts that seemed to imply this is more of a barren wasteland in that regard. After all, why would you open a serious cocktail bar in Chicago? Those heathens can't appreciate it. :) It's amazing how many people are surprised that you can actually find good food in Chicago, beyond pizza and cheap ethnic restaurants.

I've been to the Violet Hour and I think it is great. As I said in my earlier post, I'm glad the Violet Hour is open and wish it the best, but I was hoping to put a little balance and perspective into this thread about where Chicago is. It will be a nice day when someone does something new in Chicago and doesn't get a reaction "Why Chicago?".

View Post



I've lived in Chicago and I now live in NY. there are several food areas where Chicago kicks NY's a__. cocktails isn't one of them. Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland and Atlanta (of late) have been in on the cocktail renaissance. Chicago...not so much.

#38 Darren72

Darren72
  • participating member
  • 202 posts

Posted 16 July 2007 - 09:40 AM

I've lived in Chicago and I now live in NY.  there are several food areas where Chicago kicks NY's a__.  cocktails isn't one of them.  Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland and Atlanta (of late) have been in on the cocktail renaissance.  Chicago...not so much.

View Post


Like I said, I'm not implying there is or should be any form of competition. I also didn't compare Chicago's cocktail scene to New York's. It's clear that NY has more cocktail-focused establishments, though that seems beside the point.

If you reread both of my posts, it should be clear that all I was saying is that there are places to get quite good cocktails in Chicago -- especially at the more innovative restaurants. As you wrote in a post about New York's cocktail scene "indeed, one tribute to the popularity of serious cocktails [in New York] is how many new restaurants and bars are at least pretending to have serious cocktail lists". The same applies here -- we've actually moved past Jack and Cokes. Perhaps (and I hope) the Violet Hour will set the bar higher in Chicago. But the idea that we're not ready for the Violet Hour, or that we couldn't appreciate it, is simply ridiculous.

Perhaps we're saying the same thing here, whereas you are emphasizing that we're not NY and I'm emphasizing that we're not Antarctica. However, there seems to be little gained from sorting out whether we're closer to NY or to Antarctica.

Edited by Darren72, 16 July 2007 - 10:03 AM.


#39 MattJohnson

MattJohnson
  • participating member
  • 323 posts

Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:07 PM

I checked my globe. NY is closer. :D

#40 Nathan

Nathan
  • participating member
  • 4,260 posts

Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:45 PM

:)

#41 BryanZ

BryanZ
  • participating member
  • 2,700 posts
  • Location:NJ,NYC,NC

Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:53 PM

What are crowds at this place like? On a weekday, on a weekend? Can I grab a seat solo, or with a group?

#42 Darren72

Darren72
  • participating member
  • 202 posts

Posted 17 July 2007 - 06:29 AM

What are crowds at this place like?  On a weekday, on a weekend?  Can I grab a seat solo, or with a group?

View Post


It's a quite large place so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a seat if you are solo. A friend of mine has visited solo quite a few times grabbed a seat at the bar and talked mixology with some of the bartenders. If you catch them at a less-busy time, I'm sure you'd learn a lot (to follow up on your earlier post about looking for a bar to learn about wine and cocktails). We didn't have any trouble getting a table for three last Friday (though we arrived at 8:30, only 30 minutes after it opened).

Edited by Darren72, 17 July 2007 - 07:41 AM.


#43 BryanZ

BryanZ
  • participating member
  • 2,700 posts
  • Location:NJ,NYC,NC

Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:04 AM

Rolled up to The Violet Hour just as they opened at 8 yesterday. The experience was an interesting one to say the least. Very good, yes, but the word that first comes to mind is interesting.

First of all, they really like to do up the whole speakeasy theme. No sign, no easily visible door, very dark interior. This seems to be the trend in high-end cocktail bars. With that said, when you get inside, The Violet Hour takes this to a whole different level. Cell phones are to remain on silent, patrons lounge at tables surrounded by dark chairs with the highest backs I've ever seen-- the whole place exudes this very refined, cooler-than-thou vibe. I'd actually hazard that it borders on pretentious--and coming from me that's saying A LOT--but I suppose everything does "fit."

The space is also much larger than I thought. I suppose it's a function of the greater amount of space in Chicago, but TVH dwarfs similar establishments in New York. This is a place one could easily lounge and feel comfortable in.

Turning to the drinks, I was only able to sample one, as I had dinner reservation at 8:30. Per Alchemist's recommendation I sampled the negroni; my drinking companion had the summer sangria, which I did not try. It may be a knock to say this, but I honestly enjoyed watching the drinks being made perhaps more than I enjoyed drinking them. The whole craft really came through at this early point in the night where our bartender was able to take his time and make each drink in front of us. Small things like the cracking of the ice and stirring were dutifully undertaken and much appreciated. I even received a bit of pyro theatrics to finish my drink--a piece of orange rind was warmed over a lighter then was squeezed through the flame to give the drink a faintly bitter burnt orange aroma.

Since this was my first negroni, I don't really have anything to compare it to. It was very good, but I'm not entirely sure the flavor profile is for me. Perhaps with time, as I freely admit that my knowledge of cocktails is effectively nonexistent. The cocktail was exceedingly complex, warranting that I taste it much like wine. On the front end the drink was sweet, on the back end the herbaceousness of the gin came through along with more bitter notes. Definitely a learning experience to say the least.

I'll certainly do my best to return, but I will admit that it's probably not the place for everyone. Even our bartender conceded that some people weren't "getting" the craft aspect of the establishment and just wanted their drinks. My friend also seemed somewhat uneasy about the seriousness of the place. To each their own, but I thought it was pretty cool.

#44 babern38

babern38
  • participating member
  • 239 posts

Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:36 AM

Went to TVH with my wife last night and HAD A BLAST!!!

We went there after a great dinner at Bin 36. After the initial difficulty finding the place "we walked by people in line once" since there is no address or signage. We waited about 5 minutes before being let inside.

The space is really cool and I am a fan of being seated at a bar instead of standing around looking for a seat. I love the giant back chairs, which make you feel like you are in your own private booth, shielding you from other customers.

The waitress explained that each drink takes 4-6 minutes to prepare, but our first order actually took about 12-15 minutes. I had the Iron Cross which was excellent and my wife had the sangria whch was also well done. I've never had such a well constructed cocktail before.

Halfway through those drinks we went ahead and ordered the next round so there would be continuous service. We also tried the Jockey Club, Blue Ridge Manhattan, and a Hotel Nacional. We also indulged in the sinful fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.

I would liken these cocktails to the food at Alinea. There are multiple ingredients, of which each can be pinpointed in the cocktail, but they all fuse together to make a great drink.

In summary, this is an excellent establishment of which I look forward to returning. It is so refreshing to go to a bar where you don't have to yell to have a conversation and can drink something far superior to the basic rum/coke. I wish this place the best of luck.

#45 MattJohnson

MattJohnson
  • participating member
  • 323 posts

Posted 06 August 2007 - 11:16 AM

My wife and I went back for a second time at TVH. We had a great time. This time we sat at the bar. I recommend this if you have any interest in how things come together.

I had a classic martini and quite possibly the best whiskey old fashion I've ever had. Thanks so much!

Also, one of the tenders gave us a tip for after drink snacks at Arturos tacos. Bless him for that! They were great!

#46 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 07 August 2007 - 09:51 AM

That is where we send all the good people, late night, flourescent lights, abusivily loud polka music (those 2 min tuba solos ROCK) drunks reeling around bumping your table causing water to spill on your lap...But once those Tacos Al Pastor hit the formica everything is better. AND they put potatoes in their rice! It makes the Irish in me happy. I'm glad you enjoyed your self.

Toby



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#47 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 22 August 2007 - 11:18 PM

Here is a little tasty treat for y'all. I do belive that there will be more to come this week, so I will post them as they come out.



Toby



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#48 KendallCollege

KendallCollege
  • participating member
  • 146 posts

Posted 23 August 2007 - 10:59 PM

I haven't posted here because I've never met a cocktail/liquor that I've liked. However, after watching that clip on YouTube, I need to say that:

Toby...you're chingon.

Cheers.

Trev W.
eGullet Ethics Signatory

#49 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 24 August 2007 - 08:50 AM

Grasias, ven aqui Chicago es a todo Madre!!!

http://www.chicagore...aurants/070824/

Toby

Edited to add link

Edited by Alchemist, 24 August 2007 - 09:17 AM.




A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#50 Poffertjes

Poffertjes
  • participating member
  • 183 posts
  • Location:Chicago

Posted 31 August 2007 - 07:23 AM

You've gotten a lot of press this past week, week and a half.
How's business?
Can a girl still get a seat at the bar on a weekday night?

#51 trillium

trillium
  • participating member
  • 1,515 posts

Posted 31 August 2007 - 08:03 AM

I'd like to know when good times to visit are too. I'll be in Chicago this weekend and would love to stop by for a drink or two, but I'm not really into standing in lines for them, especially since we're pretty cocktail-fluent all on our ownses.



On a beating a dead horse note, I was pretty happy to read about a cocktail devoted bar opening in Chicago, especially since we've moved back to the midwest and are still adjusting. But I was surprised that some people were surprised by the location or needed to defend the superiority of other cocktail-loving places as being more "serious" (Samuel, I'm looking at you!). There may be more serious places to imbibe in the world, and I'm not generally a midwest booster, given my strong west coast leanings, but I've never been more consistently able to drink well-made cocktails without seeking out "serious" places then I have in the midwest. I understand the point that Chicago isn't known for it's artisan crafted Ramos Gin Fizzes or "bar chefs" but I do think being able to get consistently good classic cocktails (as in fresh citrus, a few well used bitters bottles, and an understanding that a martini contains vermouth and gin) at ordinary places has its own charms.

I remember drinking very good Sidecars at Green Dolphin St, aw man, it was about 13 years ago, time flies, having martinis made for me at 3:1 gin:vermouth ratios at Green Mill, drinking perfect Makers Manhattans at Delilah's, etc. etc.. I've never had to tell a bartender what was in a Negroni in any place I've been in the midwest vs. other parts of the country where if they know what it is, they do stupid things like use vodka "because it's better". Chicago has one of this country's best-stocked booze stores (hey, when I travel I like to go to booze shops, so what?), Sam's Wine and Liquors... all that good stuff is getting drunk right there in Cook County!

regards,
trillium

#52 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 31 August 2007 - 08:53 AM

You've gotten a lot of press this past week, week and a half.
How's business?
Can a girl still get a seat at the bar on a weekday night?

View Post


Yes we have gotten some wonderful press as of late. And buisness is good.

Yes a girl can get a seat at the bar during the week. The earlier in the week the better. The crunch time seems to be between 9:30 and midnight. Friday early (8:00) there is a line of people waiting for us to open. We are adding more staff so we can open earlier, five or six, hopefully by the middle of September. Sat. is mellow early, but gets busy at around 10:00, after dinner has been eaten.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#53 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 31 August 2007 - 10:49 AM

I'd like to know when good times to visit are too. I'll be in Chicago this weekend and would love to stop by for a drink or two, but I'm not really into standing in lines for them, especially since we're pretty cocktail-fluent all on our ownses.



On a beating a dead  horse note, I was pretty happy to read about a cocktail devoted bar opening in Chicago, especially since we've moved back to the midwest and are still adjusting. But I was surprised that some people were surprised by the location or needed to defend the superiority of other cocktail-loving places as being more "serious" (Samuel, I'm looking at you!). There may be more serious places to imbibe in the world, and I'm not generally a midwest booster, given my strong west coast leanings, but I've never been more consistently able to drink well-made cocktails without seeking out "serious" places then I have in the midwest. I understand the point that Chicago isn't known for it's artisan crafted Ramos Gin Fizzes or "bar chefs" but I do think being able to get consistently good classic cocktails (as in fresh citrus, a few well used bitters bottles, and an understanding that a martini contains vermouth and gin) at ordinary places has its own charms.

I remember drinking very good Sidecars at Green Dolphin St, aw man, it was about 13 years ago, time flies, having martinis made for me at 3:1 gin:vermouth ratios at Green Mill, drinking perfect Makers Manhattans at Delilah's, etc. etc..  I've never had to tell a bartender what was in a Negroni in any place I've been in the midwest vs. other parts of the country where if they know what it is, they do stupid things like use vodka "because it's better". Chicago has one of this country's best-stocked booze stores (hey, when I travel I like to go to booze shops, so what?), Sam's Wine and Liquors... all that good stuff is getting drunk right there in Cook County!

regards,
trillium

View Post


I also hate standing in line to get into a bar. No wait, I Won't stand on line to be looked over and judged by some neo-nazi with a clipboard, really good shoes and a rabid case of meglomania. There is nothing less fun than that. Really nothing, and I'm including leeches on genitelia, hablanero soaked bamboo skewers under the fingernails, and having to watch 24 straight hours of The Simple Life. And if we include waiting on line on a fridged Chicago winter night... well thats worse than a life of only eating at TGIAppChilBennOutbkRedDonalds.

The problem is we can only fit about 100-120 people in the space (which has a legal capacity of 160) because there are only 4 bartenders, and without it feeling cramped, clubby, hot & sticky, loud, and unpleasant. That's if the pacing is right, and there are a few big parties in the back drinking Caraffes. We figure one bartender can handle between 25-30 drinkers. 25 if it is a Mon-Tue and you are making all speciality drinks, 30 on a Fri-Sat when you have 20 people having cocktails 10 people drinking Ketle 1 and sodas. That is critical speed. Bartenders just can't move faster. Which is worse, having to wait 30 min at a bar across the street with a cold beer, or having to wait 15 min in a packed bar trying to get a drink?

We take your cell number and give you a ring AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

I hate the fact that some people think that "The List" is in any way rigged. Steve Rubel had it right, he was all for having a broad spectrum of people, I belive he said of Studio 54 he wanted "the princes and the plumbers". There is nothing more boring than being in a bar with all the same kind of people. Sorry for that rant.

And I will agree with trillium that you can get great drinks here in the mid west. And Sam's F#&king rocks!!!



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#54 avant-garde

avant-garde
  • participating member
  • 138 posts
  • Location:Kansas City

Posted 05 September 2007 - 02:23 PM

Just like me to go to Chicago and return home to find this thread the day after. I most certainly would have made it here after the Second City show had I known about it. Oh well...definitely next time.
"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry
http://thehopry.com/

#55 avant-garde

avant-garde
  • participating member
  • 138 posts
  • Location:Kansas City

Posted 05 September 2007 - 04:28 PM

I'd love to hear more about the bitters that you've concocted.

View Post


Will do as soon as I can, and will also post photos and vague recipes. Opening a bar is like juggling 14 chainsaws, 3 bowling balls, 17 kittens, 2 bottles of rum on fire, and a tennis ball while running across a marsh seething with piranhas, using only the heads of crocodiles as stepping stones while being chased by an angry mob of vengeful visgoths, tattooed repo men and a couple of IRS agents. Will soon have everything under control.

View Post


...by the way Toby...where are we on this follow up? Elaborate sir! Photos, recipes, bitters, and any other insight por favor.
"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry
http://thehopry.com/

#56 kendix

kendix
  • participating member
  • 69 posts
  • Location:San Francisco/KC

Posted 11 September 2007 - 06:23 PM

I've been dying to get back to Chicago ever since I learned about this place on Ruhlman's blog.

Won't the door man just let me in if I tell him I'm an egullet member?

#57 BryanZ

BryanZ
  • participating member
  • 2,700 posts
  • Location:NJ,NYC,NC

Posted 12 September 2007 - 04:04 PM

Telling the doorman you're an eG member will not only confuse him but make you appear rather, umm, lame. Just show up at opening, or I think they take resos for later in the evening.

#58 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 16 September 2007 - 04:00 PM

I think I did mention that "egullet" and "The Hold Steady" were passwords as such, but if the bar is full the bar is full. I would imagine that most of us would like to be there when it isn't slamming, and we can talk to the bartender. Go before you go out to eat at Spring and meet the nice doorman and tell him you're coming back...



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#59 millerza

millerza
  • participating member
  • 3 posts

Posted 19 September 2007 - 03:38 PM

After about 9 visits I've finally had the entirety of the cocktail menu while there (the brandy category being a surprise standout, given my Kentucky-spawned predilection for rye). I was wondering if there were any off-menu cocktails that you'd recommend? I've had the old fashioned (really excellent), and know of a handful of classic cocktails that don't have variations on the menu, but I was wondering if you had any that you'd recommend as exceptional or exceptionally interesting? Like a Ramos Fizz? A Penicillin? I've only had a chance to sit at the bar once, since I'm usually with a group (of people who I insist must go; all have been pleased).

To clarify, I've got a pretty good grasp of the World of Cocktails and have a pretty good idea of what I like (anything, really, if it's well made). But is there any often-neglected cocktail or Violet Hour Special that's not on the menu?

Also, I look forward to the fall menu...

Edited by millerza, 19 September 2007 - 04:36 PM.


#60 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 22 September 2007 - 10:40 AM

Yes the fall menu will be out soon so there will be a bunch new things to try. I am also putting togather a Classics Menu. It will be avaliable during the slower times.

I am very impressed you worked your way through the entire menu. And it is always is nice to bring someone into the fold and turn them on to another liquor, and the brandy family is such a nice family.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE