Chef Matthias Merges's new, speakeasy-style cocktail bar officially opened in Logan Square on Thursday (1/24/13), and after looking forward to it for months, I stopped in on Friday for a few rounds and some snacks. Good times.
The long, narrow space is absolutely beautiful and also comfortable. Original ceiling and floors have been restored and they, along with many other artful touches, give the space a rich, polished feel that is very much Chicago. Lighting fixtures throughout the space are gorgeous, and the parquet bar and tabletops provide a great feel, especially if you're a Celtics fan.
For those who are not enamored with the high, backless stools at Yusho, they'll be happy to settle into some padded, upholstered stools that have backs and are of a more conventional height. There are 16 (or so) of these seats at the bar, as well as a few standard-height 2-tops and 4-tops, too. The space holds about 50 people total.
At the helm is GM Alex Bachman, who also curates (and still oversees) the bar at Yusho. He has a great vision for cocktails, especially food-friendly cocktails, and the Cocktail Menu
reflects his distinctive aesthetic. We tried several cocktails and enjoyed them quite a bit. Being the boozehound that I am, my favorites were the Old Fashioned (Bourbon, Rhubarbamaro, Cube Sugar, Essential Oils) and the Cocktail (Malted Rye, Ambergris Laced Palm Sugar, Water, North Bay Bitters). But I also really enjoyed a taste of a Hoar's Frost (London Dry Gin, Orange Curaçao, Lemon, London Dock Rum, Grenadine) that my wife ordered. Alex had occasionally made them for me back at Yusho. The house Negroni (Old Tom Gin, Vermouth di Torino, Gran Classico Bitter, Flamed Orange), which I tasted, is also fantastic -- a very well-balanced rendition.
We tried a couple of items from the Food Menu
: Garbanzo Bean (Whipped, with Preserved Lemon & Pickled Pistachio) and Pig Ears (Fried, Malt Vinegared, served with Cornichon Aioli). The garbanzo dish was a creamy, lemony take on hummus and I thought it was great. We also enjoyed the pig ears, which played very much like pork rinds. They were light, crispy and greaseless, and I really dug the cornichon aioli with which they were served but they were even better dipped in the garbanzo whip. Other offerings -- like croquettes, pickled sardines, smoked trout, braised rabbit and duck confit -- were very enticing and seem like perfect bar fare. I look forward to checking out more of the menu on upcoming visits.
A bit later I tried their original take on a Daiquiri (Rhum Agricole Blanc, Jamaican Overproof White Rum, Lime, Passion Fruit, Pineapple Bitters), which features 2 of my favorite rums (La Favorite and Wray & Nephew 151) but I ordered it near the end of our session and the drink was a bit to sweet for where I was at that time. Still, I could see starting with it and enjoying it. By the end of our session, veteran barman Michael Rubel (Violet Hour, Big Star), who is back from a stint in Louisville, was making our drinks. It was cool to see such an experienced drinkslinger behind the bar. I told him that I needed to finish with something a little boozier and he made me a very tasty riff on a Manhattan, which incorporated Zucca rhubarb liqueur instead of sweet vermouth. I liked how the drink finished quite a bit.
There's also a Beer & Wine Menu
, which we didn't explore at all this time around.
Prices seem very much in line with the neighborhood. Cocktails were $10 each and the pig ears and garbanzos were $7 and $5 respectively. I think this is going to be a very cool addition to the Logan Square drinking scene.
3143 W Logan Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60647
I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try. --Todd SniderTwitter: ronniesuburban