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Alchemist

The Violet Hour

327 posts in this topic

My wife and I are going to try to stop in tomorrow night. I'll be honest, I'm really excited to try your Manhattan.

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Okay, I'm going to stop in on Saturday. What time does the place open?

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8pm-3am Sat.


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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Do you mean that crazed bartener who showed up in a wife beater an slammed things around for about an hour before gracefully changing into a wicked suit to press the flesh and kiss some babes.

Yes that was me.  It was my first day off in over three months.  The joys of owenership!!!

That's what I thought...about it being the first time you had a night off probably in awhile. We asked for you and were told you were off for the night. So when I saw someone run into to save the day, I figured it was you. We left soon afterwards (so I missed the wardrobe change) and were very impressed with the line out the door...better to keep people waiting outside than waiting inside for their drinks.

We should be in next Friday. Hope to meet you then.


Edited by santo_grace (log)

I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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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?

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

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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

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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

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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 (log)

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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

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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.

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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?

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

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.

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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?".

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.

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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.

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 (log)

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

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 (log)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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