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The Violet Hour


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#91 Alchemist

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 03:56 PM

Yes we really pushed the definition of some of those. The Negroni for instance was a combonation of gin and bianco vermouth stirred and put in a coupe. We then reduced Campari to a syrup, added some Antica vermouth and folded that into egg whites. The effect was this lovely smooth, slightly sweet gin in your mouth followed by complex bitter foam. It was a Pousse Cafe whith opposing flavors.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#92 BryanZ

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 11:40 PM

How did the presentation/serving for all these drinks proceed? Very small pours or did people just try a few?

#93 Alchemist

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 11:33 AM

The idea in the planning stage was to put out a "half drink" every 30 min. Well there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. First for some unfathomable reason, (like none of us had ever been to a Christmas party for a bunch of resturant people), we thought it would be this controlled linear thing. Micheal and I were up all night the night before, making plans, stressing, scratching those plans, then making more, more intricate plans.

The first "course" was dou to go out at 8:15. We had the makings for 90 negroni's set and ready at 8:10. At 8:15 there were 8 people in the bar. We passed out champange, some beer, and a couple of cocktails off the regular menu. Time ticked by with the sound of well made plans going down the drain. More people trickled in and Negroni's were given out in drabs. At 8:40 when course 2 was ready to go out there were 30 people. So we started putting out the Sanagree as well as the Negroni. Quiet jazz flitted about with the flickering candles. The crowd was congragated in the second salon. Little groups forming and splittng, reconfiguring like alge on the surface of a sun dappled pond.

In the back 90 coups were being rimmed with sugar, and having 1/2 a lemon rind wrapped inside. It was an awsome sight to see so many crustas in one place. I forget what time those went out as people were now streaming in.

When The Violet Hour first opened, and the Alinia crew sat at the bar with me late night, we would drink Miller High Life and attitude adjustments of Mathusalem. After dealing with cocktails day and night that is what I craved, simplicity. When I went to Alinia they were nice enough to pair my first course with the Champange Of Beers. On my Alinia menu it says Artichoke, Parmesan, red pepper, basil, paired with Miller High Life. Talk about a one of a kind menu.

So around 10 o'clock, the servers walked through the crowd with 8 packs of 7oz MHL in one hand and a tray of rum in the other. The music jumped to rockus, and the party was on.

From that point on out we put out cocktails every 20 min. The champagne, beer, and libations flowed and everything went swimmingly.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#94 Alchemist

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 12:40 PM

Posted Image
Negroni


Posted Image
Sanagree

Posted Image
El Helado del Hemingway

Posted Image
A HUGE Amount of T&J&T batter. 44 eggs went into it. We were sore for days.

Posted Image
T&J&T batter ready to serve. Those are the big water pitchers.

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A couple of very happy customers.

Happy holidays

Toby

Edited by Alchemist, 15 December 2007 - 12:45 PM.




A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#95 avant-garde

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 02:20 PM

I hate not living in Chicago. Looks like a spectacular event.
"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

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#96 BryanZ

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 09:08 AM

One usually doesn't think of production on that scale when putting out crafted cocktails, but it sounds like a very interesting and well-planned event. Alas, the whims and unique schedules of your guests are the crux of any large scale caterer or event planner, but I don't see how such a cool bunch of people couldn't have a great time in such a cool space.

#97 Alchemist

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 01:15 PM

The new, winter, menu will be starting on Monday Dec 17th.

This has been one of the biggest challenges I have had yet. When fruit is not at it’s best, we look for cocktails that are rich, decadent, warming, and make you feel like you are both home in bed with the electric mattress pad, and on an island beach away from the cruel elements.

20th Century
Plymouth, Lillet, Lemon, Crème de Cacao. There are two good descriptions of this drink. “This drink tastes like Art Deco in a glass” is one. The funny thing about it is if you don’t know what you are drinking there is no way to “get” the cacao.

Rangoon Fizz
Tanqueray, Ginger Syrup, Lime, Mint, Angostura and Tonic. Ginger is such a versatile ingredient, in the summer it’s refreshing, in the winter it is warming. With this cocktail I wanted to make something that could have been enjoyed in Burma way back when. There are bitters to calm the stomach, Tonic to keep malaria at bay, and mint, well because it tastes so good.

Rum Toddy
El Dorado 5, Lemon, Curacao, Honey, Grandma’s Spices. What could be better to thumb one’s nose at Mother Nature’s worst?

Hush and Wonder
Mathusalem, Lime, Simple, R&W Violette. I have been searching for something to do with violet since before The Violet Hour opened. I knew it would have to be special since it would be something of a “house” drink. It needed to have a fast pickup time, and exemplify The Violet Hour’s raison d'etre.

Tattooed Seaman
Sailor Jerry’s Rum, Demerara Syrup, Winter and Angostura bitters. A treacle in spirit, but reminiscent of the smell of a holiday pie.

Winter Sazerac
Old Overholt Rye, Herbsainte, Coffee Syrup, and Peychaud’s. Like having a Sambuca with your espresso.

New York Sour
Rye, Lemon, Simple, Egg White, Syrah. A classic. The red wine gives this silver fizz warmth and complexity.

Yellow Rose Of Texas
Sauza Plata, Lemon, Yellow Chartreuse, Rose Water. Surprisingly light, but very complex. The rose water is only on top.

Winter Sidecar
Cognac, Lemon, Orange Curacao, Allspice Tincture. For me there is nothing more comforting than the smell of allspice.

Northern Lights
Pisco, Lemon, Simple, Winter Bitters. The winter version of an Iron Cross.

41 Jane Does
Applejack, R&W Poire, Lemon, Simple, Grandma’s Tincture. I think this is the first drink that I created at Milk & Honey, but this version has the tincture.

Maple Nut Eggnog
Rye, Frangelico, Bliss Maple Syrup, Whole Egg, Cream. Pretty self explanatory, and self-indulgent.

There were more changes on this menu than any before. I am going to need to edit this some.

Toby

Edited by Alchemist, 16 December 2007 - 01:40 PM.




A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#98 Alchemist

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 04:08 PM

I forgot to say that there is Grapefruit bitters on the Hush & Wonder .



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#99 avant-garde

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 02:25 PM

I forgot to say that there is Grapefruit bitters on the Hush & Wonder .

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Hey Toby -

Couple questions:

1) What are your thoughts on the Creme de Violette by R&W? I finally got mine delivered to the house a couple weeks ago and have been somewhat underwhelmed by it.

and

2) Is the Hush & Wonder really sweet? It appears to be unless the acid and bitters are in large enough proportions to cut through the sweetness.
"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/

#100 Alchemist

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 03:38 PM

I like the R&W because of it's subtleness. It's got good natural scent, and isn't as sweet as the other brands.

On the Hush & Wonder there is just a rinse of the R&W so it adds very little sweetness. I didn't want it to taste like violet, just be reminiciant of a warm meadow.



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#101 kvltrede

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 04:13 PM

I hate not living in Chicago.  Looks like a spectacular event.

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Well, apparently, living in Chicago isn't sufficient to get one's self invited to Alinea's Christmas party at the Violet Hour. Sure, I don't work at Alinea or even know anyone who works at Alinea but, geez, I'm in the book. They could've called...

Kurt
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#102 Alchemist

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 07:09 PM

I'm not sure how many times you have too eat at Alinia in a year to get the invite to thier x-mas party. Twice? maybe three times a week? Get on the phone and start making rezos now.

Toby



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#103 avant-garde

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 02:48 AM

I'm not sure how many times you have too eat at Alinia in a year to get the invite to thier x-mas party.  Twice? maybe three times a week?    Get on the phone and start making rezos now. 

Toby

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Hahahaha... $8,416.14 later and you get to go to the Christmas party at TVH with Grant. And all you had to do was eat there four times.

Edited by avant-garde, 18 December 2007 - 08:23 AM.

"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/

#104 tsg20

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 06:56 PM

Probably a stupid question - but does anyone know if the Violet Hour will be open on NYE?

#105 A Soldier in the Trenches

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 05:02 PM

Posted Image
Negroni


Posted Image
Sanagree

Posted Image
El Helado del Hemingway

Posted Image
A HUGE Amount of T&J&T batter.  44 eggs went into it.  We were sore for days.

Posted Image
T&J&T batter ready to serve.  Those are the big water pitchers.

Posted Image
A couple of very happy customers.

Happy holidays

Toby

View Post




Is that Biggles??

Keep up the good work.
"Go ahead, play with your food....we do!" -Tommy Head

#106 Alchemist

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 10:09 AM

Probably a stupid question - but does anyone know if the Violet Hour will be open on NYE?

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I'm sorry to say The Violet Hour will be closed on NYE for a private party.

Toby



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#107 highflyingbird

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:44 AM

We are going to be in Chicago on the 17th & 18th and are going to try to come in. Your place looks just fantastic. We're lucky here in SF to have Bourbon & Branch and Rye and am glad to see Chicago has a great bar like yours.

The Alinea party looked like big trouble! Hope there was a line of taxis at the door at the end of the night! What a time that must have been.

Congratulations on doing something you obviously truly love.

Two questions: Using Slivovitz in anything? What are the hours now?

#108 Alchemist

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 06:44 AM

The Violet Hour Hours (Brought to by the redundant department of repitition.) Are 6-2 every day of the week I would recccomend going early especially if you are planning to go on Fri the 18th. Sit at the Bar. If there is a wait tell the door person you will wait a little longer for the bar, give him your cell and tell him you flew all the way from the west coast to have a cocktail at TVH. Then head across the street-and 1 block north- to Forno for a glass of champagne. Actually I believe it is New Mexican sparkling wine, yum. If it is friday talk to Micheal. He will be very excited to have some people that don't want Grey Goose and Red Bulls.

The Alinia Party was one of the most fun and challenging parties I have ever worked. Luckily there was a line of taxis out side to wisk some of us Exit. Exit is a wonderfully grungy punk bar just down the street. It used to be on wells in the bad old days, and if you handcuffed yourself to the bar you drank for free. Good fun. It's decore runs towards matte black and chain link. The music is a very ecclictic mix of punk rock, old school punk, hardcore punk, srtaightedge punk, skater punk, thrash punk, and new school punk. Cheap beer and screamed conversation is just what you need after a 12 course cocktail epic journey (one can hardly call 12 cocktails a flight).

I would love to hear about your experiance. Have a wonderful time in the City of Broad Shoulders.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#109 santo_grace

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 11:13 AM

highflyingbird - we were there this past Saturday night at 7:30 and got a table no problem. Stayed for 3 wonderful drinks for each of us and some apps. When left at 10pm (to head for Avec for some yummy Jamon Iberico) the line was out the door. Go early if you don't want to stand in the cold and wait. What we loved about it was that we had no idea people were waiting - the bar never filled up to the point where you couldn't move and the noise level was never too loud, so we didn't feel rushed to leave. I don't think there was anyone standing and drinking in the front room. Combine that with the great drinks - we left very happy.
I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

#110 newbie21

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 11:29 AM

A hearty congratulations to Toby and The Violet Hour for the Reader's Critic's Choice Pick for 2007:


A restaurant rat’s favorite places in 2007
By Mike Sula

January 3, 2008

Journalists are like rats, not only because we like to eat but also because powerful forces are trying to eradicate us. Ratatouille, an animated film about a cheffy rat and probably the most meaningful movie of all time for food nerds, resonated especially for me because the Reader, my home for more than a decade, underwent some heartbreaking downsizing this year. Sure, I identified with the movie’s food critic, Anton Ego—in fact, I dressed as him for Halloween—but I felt more for Remy the rodent, who was under constant threat yet comforted and sustained by his passion for cooking. For my part, I’m grateful for the opportunity to take solace in eating well and writing about it. And I’m encouraged that 2008 is the Year of the Rat. Here, in no particular order, are some people, places, and dishes that made me feel better during the long Year of the Pig. You can read about all of them at greater length online by clicking the links in this piece at chicagoreader.com.

THE VIOLET HOUR

Some people thought I’d lost my bearings when I tried to convince them that Toby Maloney’s neo-speakeasy wasn’t just a set piece for Wicker Park hipsters to dump their money into. But this year in that bar I’ve learned more about how to taste and drink like an adult than in all my years above legal age. Try the Dark & Stormy—you’ll see. 1520 N. Damen, 773-252-1500

And I believe an earlier and delightful review, but also included in this week's reader:

The Violet Hour 1520 N. Damen | 773-252-1500

$ Bar/lounge | Sunday-friday 6 Pm-2 am, saturday 6 PM-3 am | Reservations not accepted

Wicker Park’s hidden Violet Hour is a dark, sumptuously appointed retreat from the harsh world outside, attended by nattily dressed barkeeps who exhibit a balletic facility with jigger, shaker, and glass. “Head intoxicologist” Toby Maloney in particular is a blast to watch, building his complicated potions with aggressive grace and dexterity, his showmanship tempered by a chef’s palate and a historian’s depth of knowledge. His seasonal cocktail menu employs house-made bitters, fresh juices and garnishes, and eight types of ice in different shapes, sizes, and temperatures. The bartenders are warm, well versed in cocktail culture, and happy to guide you through the drink list. —Mike Sula


http://www.chicagore...aurants/080103/

#111 highflyingbird

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for the replies. Well, we'll be five people, so maybe the bar is not an option?

I think we'll be there sometime just after 6 since we have dinner reservations later both nights (Moto, Green Zebra) and that way us soft west coasters won't be popsicles waiting to get in! Maybe we'll try for Thursday, too. I already know I'm going to fall in love with the place.

Thanks for the tip on Forno. I've had that bubbly and it is good. Exit sounds totally awesome. I'll bring my handcuffs. ;)

#112 MattJohnson

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 01:22 PM

Is that bubbly Gruet?

#113 Alchemist

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 04:32 PM

Ding, Ding, Ding, Somebody please give that man a Delux over-under washer dryer combo from Whirlpool!!



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#114 BryanZ

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 11:28 PM

I mentioned this in a different thread, but Gruet is, like, all the rage these days. I picked up several bottles for $10.99 retail. Not too shabby for a sparkler that's easy to drink and even a bit complex. I prefer the blanc de noirs. The demi sec is not good.

#115 Alchemist

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 11:14 AM

We at The Violet hour are pleased to have an out of town luminary joining us behind the bar for a few days in mid February. Joaquin Simo of Death & Company, NYC, will take a post behind the mahogany Feb. 11th through the 13th. At the same time our own Kirk Estopinal will be in NYC at D&C shaking up TVH cocktails.

This is part of a nationwide bartender exchange program to spread good will, wicked cocktails, knowledge and techniques between cities. The idea is a simultaneous stage for bartends. We hope that it will be a win, win, win situation. The drinking public gets to try cocktails from an other city without the inconvenience of modern day air travel, the staff a both establishments get to hang out and talk shop and see someone else’s cocktails, and the industry is benefited by

This is the first of these exchanges, so I must entreat all our regulars to join us plus anyone who has been wanting to try the fantastic cocktails of D&C while watching a master at work. The success of this exchange will affect how the program runs.

Here is the eGullet link to the Death & Company thread.

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=97439

See you soon

Toby



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#116 tsg20

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 02:33 PM

We finally made it to the Violet Hour last night. I've been looking forward to it since this thread started, but a combination of busyness in the week/fear of queues on the weekend/general not going to bars due to dislike of smoke had meant that we hadn't got round to it. Anyway, we went along a little before 7, got seats at the bar, and had a fantastic couple of hours. It's pretty rare for me to go somewhere with as high expectations as I had and not feel some disappointment, but this was one of those occasions; I think we'll be coming back a lot in the next few months.

I'm not very good at describing drinks, but I feel I have to say something about my second drink. I asked for something which would show off the house-made bitters, and was offered an Old Fashioned; not a drink I've thought much about in the past. It was one of the best cocktails, if not the best, I've ever had. The whole experience - the feel of the bar itself, the friendly and informative staff, the drinks - all perfect.

#117 Chris Amirault

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 02:39 PM

Which bitters did they use? The winter bitters weren't available when I was there in November.
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#118 tsg20

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 03:23 PM

Which bitters did they use? The winter bitters weren't available when I was there in November.

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I'm not completely sure, to be honest; several kinds of orange bitters.

#119 Alchemist

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 05:05 PM

At The Violet we treat the old fashioned as more of a style of cocktail. We take the original idea-a spirit slightly sweetened, with bitters and a citrus garnish-and then riff from there. The drink is so very different with the smallest changes. I can belive that there were some House Orange Bitters in there. But, say if it was really cold the bartender could have donated some Winter Bitters, if it was a nice day out maybe the Autumn Bitters might have been contributed. Maybe the bartender wanted to showcase the lemon that was going to be part of the garnish, and used some House Lemon bitters. Maybe the bartender went down south and made a tequila old fashioned with agave syrup and grapefruit bitters. Maybe tsg20 had a cocktail earlier in the evening with an element they really enjoyed, and so the bartender echoed that.

I guess you could say I’m not sure but I’m so very glad that tsg20 was not let down by us despite such high expectations.

Toby



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#120 tsg20

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 05:52 PM

That's very interesting! I guess it may well turn out to be a drink that I never have quite the same again - which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, as I'm not sure that a repetition could live up to my memory, in any case. All of the variants you've described sound excellent, in any case.

I just had my first go at making an old fashioned at home - only mildly successful, as I don't think the Angostura bitters were quite up to the job (either that, or my technique was lacking).