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  • The Violet Hour

    Post #1 - June 26th, 2007, 3:22 pm
    Post #1 - June 26th, 2007, 3:22 pm Post #1 - June 26th, 2007, 3:22 pm
    Saw this thread over on eGullet:

    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=104181

    Sounds perhaps overly precious, with 8 kinds of ice and Wicker Park location.

    But I am tremendously intrigued by a bartender asking if anyone knows a good cooper.

    Looking forward to trying this place out.

    The Violet Hour
    1520 North Damen Avenue
    Chicago, IL
    (773) 252-1500

    Edit to post correct phone number.
    Last edited by Aaron Deacon on May 13th, 2009, 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - June 26th, 2007, 4:07 pm
    Post #2 - June 26th, 2007, 4:07 pm Post #2 - June 26th, 2007, 4:07 pm
    Sounds like a lot of fun. I thought the chapulin was a clever update of the grasshopper (I haven't had one of those in close to 30 years). Asking for the cooper is interesting, I agree, but the literary bent appeals to me even more. That and the fact that it sounds like the drinks are likely to be pretty tasty.

    I wonder how the eight ices differ.

    Food sounds a little heavy, but it's clear that they are trying to make this better than average.

    I look forward to hearing your report once you've tried this place.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #3 - July 16th, 2007, 10:54 am
    Post #3 - July 16th, 2007, 10:54 am Post #3 - July 16th, 2007, 10:54 am
    I finally had a chance to visit the Violet Hour, a new cocktail-focused bar on Damen, near Milwaukee/Damen/North Avenue. If you like cocktails, you'll definitely want to give this place a try.

    The first issue is finding the place. As far as I could tell, there is no sign or address and the door is somewhat camouflaged within a wildly painted wall. The bar occupies a space that was formerly Del Toro, if that helps, and is just south of the CTA Blue Line station. I was tipped off to the entrance when a bouncer opened the door to let some others out. The Violet Hour just opened and perhaps a sign or address is coming. Otherwise, I can only imagine that the hidden door trick is meant to say the Violet Hour is just oh-so hip and you have to be in the know to find it. (According to Time Out, the lack of a sign and an unpublished phone number are intentional.)

    Once inside we were greeted by a friendly hosted who asked us if we had a preference about where to sit. The Violet Hour occupies a long space that is divided into three roughly equal size rooms. Each room has a bar along the north wall. The south half of each room has a different configuration of chairs and tables, while the space between the chairs on the south and the bar on the north is left open in each room. The first room has small tables with two or three chairs configured around each. The chairs are tall and it appears that one would have to sit quite upright to be comfortable, perhaps making it difficult to hear others at your table. The middle room has traditional booths. The third room is set up more like a lounge, with tables and small chairs scattered about. We opted for the middle room, in part because we wanted the table space for some food. The walls are light blue with white trim, which my significant other noted somewhat evokes Restoration Hardware.

    The main event here is the cocktails. The menu is dividing into sections based on the main ingredient, gin, rum, rye, and other liquors (prehaps Apple Jack had its own section-I don't recall). Each section has four cocktails; some are takes on classics while others are (to my knowledge) original creations. All cocktails on the menu are $11. There are also a few beers on the menu; I don't recall if there is wine. There are also some finger foods.

    We had the Blue Ridge Manhattan, which contains (according to the post at eGullet) rye, Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat, Peychaud bitters, house-made peach bitters, and rinse of Laphroig. It tasted great, but was served a little warm for my taste. We also had the Summer Sidecar, which contains (again, according to the eGullet post) cognac, lemon juice, Cointreau, house-made limoncello, and orange bitters. Fittingly, the Violet Hour also has one of the few - if not only - cocktails that originates in Chicago: the Southside Cocktail. Their rendition is excellent, and featured the waitress slapping mint sprigs between her hands above the drink to release its flavor gently over the top of the drink (and around the table).

    There are number of finger foods available. We had the chorizo croquettes, which were very good. My carnivore side was expecting chunks of spicy chorizo, which these did not have. We also had a plate of finger sandwiches that were also nice.

    Some of the cocktails are served in small rounded cocktail gasses, with a small container of "extra" cocktail. Since the whole drink is perhaps 3-4 ounces, I would have preferred to be served the whole thing in a traditionally-sized glass, rather than 2 ounces in the glass plus another ounce in second jar. But this set-up did remind me of getting a milk shake at a classic soda fountain, where you get your shake, plus a little extra that remains in the mixing tin.

    Violet Hour opens at 8pm. I enjoy going for drinks before dinner and the late opening precludes that here. Perhaps, if things go well, Violet Hour will find it can profitably open earlier in the evening. Or, the late opening, like the hidden door, is part of the allure.

    At the risk of overgeneralizing, one can usually find a small number of high quality, original cocktails at some of Chicago's more innovative restaurants. One can also find interesting variations on classic cocktails at many bars and fine restaurants. Violet Hour seems to take these ideas to a new level, with an even stronger focus on original and off-the-beaten path cocktails, plus variations on classics. As noted in the drinks above, many of the ingredients are house made. Now if only one could marry the focus on cocktails with the more laid-back atmosphere of the Map Room, I'd have my place.

    I'm told that Chicago is behind the rest of the country's newfound love of cocktails. Although I didn't know cocktails ever went out of style, I'm glad the Violet Hour has opened. My minor quibbles above shouldn't suggest that we didn't have a great time. It's a fun place and I look forward to working my way through the menu.

    The Violet Hour
    1520 North Damen Avenue
    (773) 770-0184
    Last edited by Darren72 on July 16th, 2007, 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #4 - July 16th, 2007, 12:11 pm
    Post #4 - July 16th, 2007, 12:11 pm Post #4 - July 16th, 2007, 12:11 pm
    Darren72 - Thanks for the great review. I look forward to trying this place out.
  • Post #5 - July 17th, 2007, 9:22 pm
    Post #5 - July 17th, 2007, 9:22 pm Post #5 - July 17th, 2007, 9:22 pm
    Darren72 wrote:It tasted great, but was served a little warm for my taste.

    Must've used the wrong kind of ice.

    Darren72 wrote:Fittingly, the Violet Hour also has one of the few - if not only - cocktails that originates in Chicago: the Southside Cocktail.

    Thank you for mentioning that. As I said in another thread, I hope to try my first Southside this summer. I'm looking forward to trying the Violet Hour too, so I can kill two birds with one stone. I'm still curious, though, what other Chicago bars are known for Southsides (or maybe it's one of those ubiquitous things that I never noticed). Anyone?
  • Post #6 - July 18th, 2007, 8:29 am
    Post #6 - July 18th, 2007, 8:29 am Post #6 - July 18th, 2007, 8:29 am
    the violet hour also happens to be a joint venture by Donny Madia and Terry Alexander. They don't usually lose.
  • Post #7 - July 19th, 2007, 10:06 pm
    Post #7 - July 19th, 2007, 10:06 pm Post #7 - July 19th, 2007, 10:06 pm
    The alchemist beckoned; we followed blindly, like the children of Hamelin. We approached a wall of mumbled jumbled colored newspaper, a nameless, papered storefront, dead to the world, to our world. In the heart of urban cool, the hip of the hipster paradise, a soft yellow light is the lone token of our destination.

    A lone sentinel verifies our credentials, whispering with a voice no clearer than the papered windows, his placid countenance measuring the scene, selecting those who heed the call. We pass the first test, but to what end? Should I laugh, or fear? I want to giggle.

    Our greeting is warm, our options arrayed. Tall, ghostly chairs cozily arranged for a clandestine rendezvous.

    What’s behind the curtain?

    The bar stretches on. We pull up our stools, at the far end. Behind the curtain. The first curtain. We settle in and look at the menu, like Gulliver among the Brobdingnagians. They brought in ringers from New York. Those boys can play.

    The two agents next to us talk in hushed tones, quiet, confident, cool. It’s dark and they’re wearing sunglasses. Their suits are stylish. Something big is happening. I don’t understand their language. These two may be ringers too.

    The menu is laid before us. Ambitious yet modest. White spirits or dark? Who will guide us? Vergil leaves us alone.

    The alchemist’s potions line the wall, a medicine cabinet of homemade elixirs. The spirits rise behind the bar. But it’s not about them. “Here, it’s all about the ice,” drifts down from the other end of the bar.

    For me, it’s Manhattan, Blue Ridge, not quite Manhattan. I’m not in Kansas anymore.

    The native barkeep tries his hand, a game effort. Alas, the Laphroig (that’s right here) came too late. The alchemist’s acolyte keeps a watchful eye. My drink is whisked away, poured down the sewer, left to feed the souls of the less fortunate.

    The Laphroig must come first, dropped carefully around the clock of my glass--crushed ice (#1)— 3, 6, 9, and 12. The rest of the potion is mixed carefully, expertly. The acolyte has learned well. The ice is stacked like blocks (#2), like a child’s plaything, stepping up to the edge of the glass. The potion waits. It needs the wait. It needs the ice, thick, solid, perfect cubes, clearer than translucent. It’s shaken in a flash and released into my goblet, smoked, ready, and willing, purged of ice #1 and ready to receive. The remainder rests in a beaker at my side.

    R chooses the Corpse Reviver, # 2, gin, no bitters, but it will open up your eyes, I guess. He went white. The native barkeep succeeds here, almost. He has trouble coaxing the oil from the orange. The acolyte convinces the fruit to give up its soul for the sake of the drink. It seems an even trade, the orange sacrificed to revive a corpse.

    Our tab has begun, but our journey is short. We forgo food…the drink sustains us on this journey, and our bodies remained nourished by our earlier meal, when we were back home (his home, not mine, my former home).

    There is only one more stop. I move to the whiter spirits, R moves to the darker. We want to be treated rough. (“Good cocktails aren’t rough around the edges.”) Give us the good stuff. Give us home. Where are we anyway?

    Maloney Negroni, the alchemists namesake…powerful bitters, campari, beef eater. (Where is the hog butcher to the world?) It’s magnificent. Another orange has died. The native barkeep has disappeared, on the other side of the curtain. I vaguely wonder if he’ll return. We have the acolyte’s full attention.

    R goes off the menu. Off the map. He wants to go home. He orders tequila, like his father, and his father’s father before him. (Where are our fathers?)

    The acolyte leads him gently. He’s a good host. The mixture is secret, or at least forgotten (What’s the difference? The alchemist holds many secrets.) It’s poured into a double old-fashioned, and in the center is a thousand-carat ice jewel (#3), solid, indestructible, unmelting. Ice is forever. (“20—25%--of a cocktail is water.”) Purified water here. Double purified. Are we yet purified? The drink is whole. There’s no beaker.

    My beaker is empty, and the hour is late. Both of us work tomorrow, back in Chicago, the city of big shoulders, the Second City, the Windy City. We pass through the first curtain. (We never saw behind the second curtain. “It’s more intimate this way.”)

    We stumble out into the sensible lights of Wicker Park. It’s not windy after all. The sentinel nods, but he doesn’t smile. We’ve been served, we’ve been guided, and we’ve drunk very well. We can laugh now, but I don’t remember if we did. There are 5 kinds of ice left to try. And lots of drinks.
  • Post #8 - July 20th, 2007, 10:41 am
    Post #8 - July 20th, 2007, 10:41 am Post #8 - July 20th, 2007, 10:41 am
    How can I possibly follow up that review? I'll be briefer (and less other-worldly).

    A few years ago, in Lake Como, Italy, an Amer-Brit tourist mecca of generally bad Italian food and gelato, there toiled a lone bartender who made classic drinks in a classic hotel bar setting. He was precise (only four ice cubes per glass), each piece of fruit meticulously trimmed for the garnish and placed in the glass by the appropriate type of tongs. Never a straw was touched by hand, only by tong. An American businessperson's nightmare, in a sense -- each drink took him about 10 minutes to make. But, were those libations heavenly. In the vintage setting, they were transcendant. This guy was a diamond in the rough.

    Fast forward to July 19, 2007. Wicker Park. The Violet Hour. I didn't actually see if he was working behind the bar, but maybe his clones were, or at least his soul brothers. If I hadn't known beforehand that this was the old Del Toro space, I would have never found it in the dark.

    This is a highly polished operation -- not too slick by half -- but polished, and unpretentious, with an attention to every detail in the decor, mood setting, music and ice, yes, ice (more on that later). The walls and floor to ceiling velvet curtains are fittingly violet. (More like Benjamin Moore Lavender Blue, but who's keeping track?) The lighting is intentionally dark, meant for figures, silhouettes to duck in and out of booths, faces indistinguishable. The music avoids trendy, pulsing beats in favor of more heady Rolling Stones tunes (at least that was the playlist last night). Sky-high leather seats evoke images of Alice in Wonderland. The crown molding and chandeliers give it a rich feel. The whole place invites hushed illicitness, the type of place where the early 20th century bourgeoise slummed alongside fallen opiate addicts and high priced escorts. I could see the Duke of Windsor having his trysts with Wallace Simpson here prior to abdicating the throne.

    I, too, forwent food as my body, as well, remained nourished by an earlier meal. But the drinks were outstanding. The Bramble, which had Plymouth gin, lemon (?) and creme de muir and the Maloney Negroni were outstanding (although I prefer the Negronis at RL). Feeling lowbrow, I had the Southside, which tasted like a sweetened mojito, but with Tanqueray gin instead of rum, lime, mint and angostura bitters. The Dark and Stormy had rum, ginger beer and lime. (Please forgive me on some errors in the ingredients, I was drinking, after all.)*

    The various ice selections were interesting; laughable in some respects, but purposeful. My Southside had shaved ice which aptly kept the drink cool and melted at the appropriate rate so as not to water the drink down. The Dark and Stormy had a plank of ice the size of the glass, which kept the drink entirely cool but melted at a glacial pace. Clearly, the ice is meant to appropriately cool a drink but not water it down (you are paying $11 bucks a pop here). Your average corner tap G&T is barbaric, in contrast, where the bartender carelessly scoops half-melted ice to the top of the glass. What is he thinking?

    At this point in the Violet Hour's life, the room was only about 3/4 full, tops, last night. I can't imagine it would still have it's appeal if there were crowds huddling around everywhere. But for a weeknight respite, this may become my regular haunt.

    * For the record and so as not to appear like a falling down drunk, I only had tastes of all of these drinks. I only fully consumed the Southside and Bramble.
  • Post #9 - July 21st, 2007, 7:30 am
    Post #9 - July 21st, 2007, 7:30 am Post #9 - July 21st, 2007, 7:30 am
    Aaron Deacon wrote:The alchemist beckoned; we followed blindly, like the children of Hamelin. We approached a wall of mumbled jumbled colored newspaper, a nameless, papered storefront, dead to the world, to our world. In the heart of urban cool, the hip of the hipster paradise, a soft yellow light is the lone token of our destination.

    Aaron,

    Not sure if your post motivates me to visit the Violet Hour or submit it to the Poetry Foundation. Maybe both.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #10 - July 22nd, 2007, 1:51 am
    Post #10 - July 22nd, 2007, 1:51 am Post #10 - July 22nd, 2007, 1:51 am
    Darren72 wrote:

    I'm told that Chicago is behind the rest of the country's newfound love of cocktails. ... I didn't know cocktails ever went out of style,


    partly due to the mild retro trend that is not so much sweeping the country as gently dusting it, partly due to the war on drugs* - "hmm, smoke a joint and go to prison for 20 years ...? nah, I'll just have a Manhattan."


    *when we win, will the nation celebrate VD day?
  • Post #11 - July 27th, 2007, 9:29 pm
    Post #11 - July 27th, 2007, 9:29 pm Post #11 - July 27th, 2007, 9:29 pm
    My husband and I made our first visit to the Violet Hour last night. As fans of the Pegu Club, Angel's Share (NYC), and Bourbon & Branch (SF), we were eager for the cocktail revival to hit Chicago and so we were thrilled when we first heard about the Violet Hour (on e-gullet alas, not LTH).

    As others have noted, The Violet Hour is speakeasy stealthy. No sign marks its location. As you approach the facade, well covered with tattered posters, you will notice a door-handle on an otherwise featureless wall, with a well-dressed gentleman standing by. If you reach for the doorhandle, the gentleman will approach you, politely ask for id and then recite the house-rules--no smoking or cell phones. Both rules which I heartily endorse and am only sad that today's civility requires that people must be told how to behave politely. As both my husband and I were dressed for polite company, I can't vouch for a dress code, but, based on the Violet Hour's ambiance, I'm assuming that flip-flops, shorts and other slip-shod sportswear would be discouraged.

    Beyond the doors, the Violet Hour's interior is best described as Velvet Warehouse. Concrete walls are softened by long drapes of bluish-purple velvet, and the high lofty ceilings are illuminated with crystal chandeliers. Dim and shadowy, with music that is not too objectionably loud. We arrived around 9 pm; the bar was about 75 percent full. A hostess led us past various tables and booths and seated us at the end of the bar, which is my personal choice spot, as I like to see the bartenders perform their magic close up.

    There were two menus, one for mixed drinks and one for beer and small plates. I'm afraid that my memory is not exact enough to list all the drinks; suffice it to say that they ran the gamut from the familiar (Sazarac, Dark and Stormy) to the obscure (the Golden Age & the Iron Cross). They were categorized according to principal ingredient. The small plates were mostly sandwiches or light appetizers. I believe a ham croquette was listed, as well as deep fried olives. And a fried peanut butter sandie, as well.

    It was hard to decide between all the delicious drinks. The bartender was patient. Eventually--promising that we would come back--I ordered a Golden Age and my husband ordered the Iron Cross.

    The Golden Age contained Cheery Heering, Rum, an Egg Yolk and Lemon Bitters. I have to admit that when I made my decision I was so captivated by the Cheery Heering (I have a bottle at home I've never known what to do with) that I completely ignored the egg yolk. So when I saw the bartender crack that egg into the Boston shaker I began to regret my decision. However, the final drink was delicious and not at all eggy--the yolk lent a nice thickness to the drink, which was served in a high ball glass and garnished with one of the most delicious maraschino cherries I've ever had. (The bartender told me the brand but I couldn't quite hear her over the music, which tho' not as loud as in some bars was still louder than these punk rotted ears could manage).

    If I recall correctly the Iron Cross was a variation of the Pisco Punch, containing pisco, lemon, egg white, orange flower water, house-made summer bitters. The bitters were applied with an eye-dropper and the drink was deliciously frothy. In fact, tho' I enjoyed my Golden Age, I have to say that the Iron Cross was superior.

    The drinks were served in 3 ounce-ish glasses, with one additional serving in a bumper on the side. Small drinks seem to be a signature of the neo-speakeasy, a fact which I personally appreciate. I'm not particularly good at holding my liquor and small drinks mean that I can have two without being in danger of sliding under the bar in a very unladylike manner!

    We also ordered a "sammie" selection, which had two small cubano-type sandies and a grilled olive and goat cheese panini. The sammies were good, and their grease was a nice counterpoint to the bugjuice.

    After my Golden Age, I was feeling daring, so I ordered a Maloney Negroni. Ever since the WSJ ran a column on the sinister nature of the negroni, I've wanted so much to make that my drink of choice, but my one other experience with it (at North Pond) was marred by too much vermouth and since then I've stuck with Campari and soda. Once my vermouth-a-phobia was made clear to the bartender, she assured me that the sweet vermouth used by the Violet Hour was quite palatable, and to prove it, poured me a small cordial glass. She was right--this vermouth was much better than any I've had before--sweet but not sicky and without a glycerine mouth feel. Alas, once again I'm do not recall the exact brand. Anyway, we were handed over to a new bartender, who assembled the Negroni carefully, going light on the vermouth. The result--finished with a nice flame of orange oil--was wonderful--bitter-sweet and a gorgeous red color, and I was very sad that I reached my limit before I reached the bottom of the glass.

    The drinks were 11 dollars each,and I believe the sammie was 12 dollars. They were well worth every penny.

    My husband and I have found the Matchbox's drinks to be adequate and we were rather underwhelmed by Weegee's, despite high hopes. But the Violet Hour exceeded our expectations. I am unapologetic about being a bit of a cocktail snob--it seems to me that mixed drinks are best created by bartenders too proud of their craft to slop sweet and sour mix into a glass, add some brandy and call it a Sidecar, and best enjoyed in a leisurely fashion by convivial adults in agreeable surroundings. I do not wish to be wedged into a small space full of smoky swilling drunkards in denim and I am willing to pay to forgo that privilege. No offense to those who do like dive bars--they have their place, but they are not for me.

    Your mileage may vary!

    Lillafury
  • Post #12 - July 28th, 2007, 10:18 am
    Post #12 - July 28th, 2007, 10:18 am Post #12 - July 28th, 2007, 10:18 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.
  • Post #13 - July 29th, 2007, 11:10 pm
    Post #13 - July 29th, 2007, 11:10 pm Post #13 - July 29th, 2007, 11:10 pm
    If someone would please discern the brand of vermouth in the negroni I'd be very interested to know it. Always wanted to like that cocktail, but the cheap vermouth I usually buy just doesn't make the drink work.

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #14 - July 29th, 2007, 11:59 pm
    Post #14 - July 29th, 2007, 11:59 pm Post #14 - July 29th, 2007, 11:59 pm
    Giovanna wrote:If someone would please discern the brand of vermouth in the negroni I'd be very interested to know it. Always wanted to like that cocktail, but the cheap vermouth I usually buy just doesn't make the drink work.


    Carpano Antica
  • Post #15 - August 11th, 2007, 10:44 am
    Post #15 - August 11th, 2007, 10:44 am Post #15 - August 11th, 2007, 10:44 am
    i was there thursday night and tried many of the drink choices. i tasted 2 negronis, made by both bartenders and they were noticeably different. one was stronger than i'd like. i found several of the drinks would have been more palatable to me with ice, but many of the drinks i'd expect ice in, like the negroni were served straight up. the daisy 17, which sounded so promising(pomegranate molasses, orange bitters and rye(i think) was way too strong for me. i loved the place, the bartenders were great but overworked. my favorite drinks were the 'dark and stormy' (strong ginger syrup taste plus 2 rums) and the poor liza (intense, intense pear taste from poire william). i did not find it remotely pretentious- rather it was a place that took mixing drinks seriously. to my mind, those are not the same things. the closest i can come to summing the place up quickly would be to throw out the word "speakeasy". that brings up images of the right kind of drinks, i think, and well as explains(sort of) the unmarked door.( now that i found a little silly). i love the fact that they allow people in only when there is a place for them to sit. no herds of people crowding the bar. it's a truly civilized room.
    Last edited by justjoan on September 26th, 2007, 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #16 - August 11th, 2007, 12:02 pm
    Post #16 - August 11th, 2007, 12:02 pm Post #16 - August 11th, 2007, 12:02 pm
    justjoan wrote:i tasted 2 negronis, made by both bartenders and they were noticeably different. one was stronger than i'd like. i found several of the drinks would have been more palatable to me with ice, but many of the drinks i'd expect ice in, like the negroni were served straight up.


    Now, this is interesting, because I'm not sure how one could be made stronger than the other unless they were working from different recipes.

    The traditional recipe is equal parts gin, sweet red vermouth, and campari, though I've seen recipes with a scootch less vermouth than the other two liquors, and some people even put in a splash of soda (which is not usual or traditional, but serves to extend the drink a little). I would assume that if it's too strong, that means they had the proportions wrong and put in too much gin? The gin should not dominate.

    It is usually, but not always, served over ice. Often you will be asked your preference. I have been places where they put every drink in those martini glasses, but normally a negroni is in one of those shorter (highball?) glasses.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #17 - August 11th, 2007, 1:19 pm
    Post #17 - August 11th, 2007, 1:19 pm Post #17 - August 11th, 2007, 1:19 pm
    I've been there 4 times now in the last few weeks (since I got to town). I really love this place with very few criticisms. I get the feeling some bartenders really know their stuff more than others in the place, though each seems knowledgable about a few specific areas.

    By the way, if the owner or any of the bartenders are reading this, the reason you see me order a perfect manhattan with every single bartender as my first drink (and 2 of your bartenders have asked this) is that I think it's one of the best measures of how well a bartender understands the concept of balance. It's generally how I know how well a bartender understands his mixing abilities.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #18 - August 11th, 2007, 3:30 pm
    Post #18 - August 11th, 2007, 3:30 pm Post #18 - August 11th, 2007, 3:30 pm
    leek, i agree. every other negroni i've had in the past was in an old fashioned glass(short and wide) with ice. and, yes, i guess i'd have to say the quantity of one of the ingredients varied between my two drinks. if memory serves, i think the 2d was darker, so maybe it had more campari, and was just different rather than stronger. both were deliciously complex.

    we were never asked whether we wanted ice in any of the drinks we tried over a 3 hour period (i tasted drinks from 5 other people). i understand the idea of not wanting to dilute a 'perfect' drink with ice. but who's to say what is perfect. i dont enjoy really strong drinks and like a little melt in some of them. next time i go i think i'll ask for ice in those (few) drinks that i felt were too strong. if they act squirrelly about giving me what i want (and i think the bartenders are too professional for that), then i might get annoyed. but i really think this place is great. the bartenders were very happy to talk while mixing drinks and it was a pleasure to see people really enjoying their work.
  • Post #19 - August 11th, 2007, 5:15 pm
    Post #19 - August 11th, 2007, 5:15 pm Post #19 - August 11th, 2007, 5:15 pm
    justjoan wrote:leek, i agree. every other negroni i've had in the past was in an old fashioned glass(short and wide) with ice. and, yes, i guess i'd have to say the quantity of one of the ingredients varied between my two drinks. if memory serves, i think the 2d was darker, so maybe it had more campari, and was just different rather than stronger. both were deliciously complex.

    we were never asked whether we wanted ice in any of the drinks we tried over a 3 hour period (i tasted drinks from 5 other people). i understand the idea of not wanting to dilute a 'perfect' drink with ice. but who's to say what is perfect. i dont enjoy really strong drinks and like a little melt in some of them. next time i go i think i'll ask for ice in those (few) drinks that i felt were too strong. if they act squirrelly about giving me what i want (and i think the bartenders are too professional for that), then i might get annoyed. but i really think this place is great. the bartenders were very happy to talk while mixing drinks and it was a pleasure to see people really enjoying their work.
    Let's talk perfection in drink mixing for a moment- note that this isn't intended to be directed at Violet Hour, but to be directed in general.

    A perfect cocktail is one that demonstrates balance- it should not be too strong, but you should know there is alcohol in it- even sugary sweet drinks like a strawberry daquiri should have a touch of heat to them from the alcohol. That said, all the elements should mesh together much in the same way terroir comes through a red wine- you should be able to pick out elements and identify them (I'm a believer that one should never use more than 3-4 flavors in a drink + an aromatic or two as it's too difficult for the palate to discern), however no one flavor should so hevily overpower another such that you can't taste it.

    As far as ice goes, the purpose is to add water content through either shaking or stirring. The water content can have its own flavor dynamic, but often it is intended to add some muting affect to the flavors of the drink. It is also intended to chill the drink, but you don't want your drink TOO cold, else you taste virtually nothing or the flavors become too muted (to experiment with this go get a bottle of red wine, you can pick your favorite 05 pinot noir from oregon for this one or whatever other red you want. Chill it down to about 40 degrees. Now pour yourself 4 tasting glasses. Taste one, then wait about 10 minutes, then taste another, then wait another 10 minutes, etc. Bet you start to taste things that you didn't taste before).

    OK, I've gone on long enough, but I can continue as long as you want :P
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #20 - August 11th, 2007, 6:00 pm
    Post #20 - August 11th, 2007, 6:00 pm Post #20 - August 11th, 2007, 6:00 pm
    jpschust wrote:
    justjoan wrote:leek, i agree. every other negroni i've had in the past was in an old fashioned glass(short and wide) with ice. and, yes, i guess i'd have to say the quantity of one of the ingredients varied between my two drinks. if memory serves, i think the 2d was darker, so maybe it had more campari, and was just different rather than stronger. both were deliciously complex.

    we were never asked whether we wanted ice in any of the drinks we tried over a 3 hour period (i tasted drinks from 5 other people). i understand the idea of not wanting to dilute a 'perfect' drink with ice. but who's to say what is perfect. i dont enjoy really strong drinks and like a little melt in some of them. next time i go i think i'll ask for ice in those (few) drinks that i felt were too strong. if they act squirrelly about giving me what i want (and i think the bartenders are too professional for that), then i might get annoyed. but i really think this place is great. the bartenders were very happy to talk while mixing drinks and it was a pleasure to see people really enjoying their work.
    Let's talk perfection in drink mixing for a moment- note that this isn't intended to be directed at Violet Hour, but to be directed in general.

    A perfect cocktail is one that demonstrates balance- it should not be too strong, but you should know there is alcohol in it- even sugary sweet drinks like a strawberry daquiri should have a touch of heat to them from the alcohol. That said, all the elements should mesh together much in the same way terroir comes through a red wine- you should be able to pick out elements and identify them (I'm a believer that one should never use more than 3-4 flavors in a drink + an aromatic or two as it's too difficult for the palate to discern), however no one flavor should so hevily overpower another such that you can't taste it.

    As far as ice goes, the purpose is to add water content through either shaking or stirring. The water content can have its own flavor dynamic, but often it is intended to add some muting affect to the flavors of the drink. It is also intended to chill the drink, but you don't want your drink TOO cold, else you taste virtually nothing or the flavors become too muted (to experiment with this go get a bottle of red wine, you can pick your favorite 05 pinot noir from oregon for this one or whatever other red you want. Chill it down to about 40 degrees. Now pour yourself 4 tasting glasses. Taste one, then wait about 10 minutes, then taste another, then wait another 10 minutes, etc. Bet you start to taste things that you didn't taste before).

    OK, I've gone on long enough, but I can continue as long as you want :P


    Rather than speak hypothetically, why don't you go to the Violet Hour and report back? :)
  • Post #21 - August 11th, 2007, 6:07 pm
    Post #21 - August 11th, 2007, 6:07 pm Post #21 - August 11th, 2007, 6:07 pm
    aschie30 wrote:
    jpschust wrote:
    justjoan wrote:leek, i agree. every other negroni i've had in the past was in an old fashioned glass(short and wide) with ice. and, yes, i guess i'd have to say the quantity of one of the ingredients varied between my two drinks. if memory serves, i think the 2d was darker, so maybe it had more campari, and was just different rather than stronger. both were deliciously complex.

    we were never asked whether we wanted ice in any of the drinks we tried over a 3 hour period (i tasted drinks from 5 other people). i understand the idea of not wanting to dilute a 'perfect' drink with ice. but who's to say what is perfect. i dont enjoy really strong drinks and like a little melt in some of them. next time i go i think i'll ask for ice in those (few) drinks that i felt were too strong. if they act squirrelly about giving me what i want (and i think the bartenders are too professional for that), then i might get annoyed. but i really think this place is great. the bartenders were very happy to talk while mixing drinks and it was a pleasure to see people really enjoying their work.
    Let's talk perfection in drink mixing for a moment- note that this isn't intended to be directed at Violet Hour, but to be directed in general.

    A perfect cocktail is one that demonstrates balance- it should not be too strong, but you should know there is alcohol in it- even sugary sweet drinks like a strawberry daquiri should have a touch of heat to them from the alcohol. That said, all the elements should mesh together much in the same way terroir comes through a red wine- you should be able to pick out elements and identify them (I'm a believer that one should never use more than 3-4 flavors in a drink + an aromatic or two as it's too difficult for the palate to discern), however no one flavor should so hevily overpower another such that you can't taste it.

    As far as ice goes, the purpose is to add water content through either shaking or stirring. The water content can have its own flavor dynamic, but often it is intended to add some muting affect to the flavors of the drink. It is also intended to chill the drink, but you don't want your drink TOO cold, else you taste virtually nothing or the flavors become too muted (to experiment with this go get a bottle of red wine, you can pick your favorite 05 pinot noir from oregon for this one or whatever other red you want. Chill it down to about 40 degrees. Now pour yourself 4 tasting glasses. Taste one, then wait about 10 minutes, then taste another, then wait another 10 minutes, etc. Bet you start to taste things that you didn't taste before).

    OK, I've gone on long enough, but I can continue as long as you want :P


    Rather than speak hypothetically, why don't you go to the Violet Hour and report back? :)
    What would you like to know- I've been 4 times. I've had a variety of different drinks- mainly bourbon focused.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #22 - August 11th, 2007, 6:09 pm
    Post #22 - August 11th, 2007, 6:09 pm Post #22 - August 11th, 2007, 6:09 pm
    jpschust wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:
    jpschust wrote:
    justjoan wrote:leek, i agree. every other negroni i've had in the past was in an old fashioned glass(short and wide) with ice. and, yes, i guess i'd have to say the quantity of one of the ingredients varied between my two drinks. if memory serves, i think the 2d was darker, so maybe it had more campari, and was just different rather than stronger. both were deliciously complex.

    we were never asked whether we wanted ice in any of the drinks we tried over a 3 hour period (i tasted drinks from 5 other people). i understand the idea of not wanting to dilute a 'perfect' drink with ice. but who's to say what is perfect. i dont enjoy really strong drinks and like a little melt in some of them. next time i go i think i'll ask for ice in those (few) drinks that i felt were too strong. if they act squirrelly about giving me what i want (and i think the bartenders are too professional for that), then i might get annoyed. but i really think this place is great. the bartenders were very happy to talk while mixing drinks and it was a pleasure to see people really enjoying their work.
    Let's talk perfection in drink mixing for a moment- note that this isn't intended to be directed at Violet Hour, but to be directed in general.

    A perfect cocktail is one that demonstrates balance- it should not be too strong, but you should know there is alcohol in it- even sugary sweet drinks like a strawberry daquiri should have a touch of heat to them from the alcohol. That said, all the elements should mesh together much in the same way terroir comes through a red wine- you should be able to pick out elements and identify them (I'm a believer that one should never use more than 3-4 flavors in a drink + an aromatic or two as it's too difficult for the palate to discern), however no one flavor should so hevily overpower another such that you can't taste it.

    As far as ice goes, the purpose is to add water content through either shaking or stirring. The water content can have its own flavor dynamic, but often it is intended to add some muting affect to the flavors of the drink. It is also intended to chill the drink, but you don't want your drink TOO cold, else you taste virtually nothing or the flavors become too muted (to experiment with this go get a bottle of red wine, you can pick your favorite 05 pinot noir from oregon for this one or whatever other red you want. Chill it down to about 40 degrees. Now pour yourself 4 tasting glasses. Taste one, then wait about 10 minutes, then taste another, then wait another 10 minutes, etc. Bet you start to taste things that you didn't taste before).

    OK, I've gone on long enough, but I can continue as long as you want :P


    Rather than speak hypothetically, why don't you go to the Violet Hour and report back? :)
    What would you like to know- I've been 4 times. I've had a variety of different drinks- mainly bourbon focused.


    I've been twice. I like the cocktails (see above report). Based upon your criteria, how did your experience at the Violet Hour rate?
  • Post #23 - August 12th, 2007, 10:47 pm
    Post #23 - August 12th, 2007, 10:47 pm Post #23 - August 12th, 2007, 10:47 pm
    snip
    aschie30 wrote: Based upon your criteria, how did your experience at the Violet Hour rate?

    /snip

    I think the Violet Hour is great. I've been all over and tried tons of manhattans and mine that were served there were stunningly good with one exception which was more my fault than anyone else's (I didnt' specify my rye and got Jim Beam Rye which I think is about as shitty a rye as there is out there). Service of a manhattan on the rocks with one large cube is excellent- it chills the drink especially well without making it watery.

    Their selection of bitters is excellent and used very effectively.

    Sorry brain is a little shot from a very long weekend, but I'll post more as I think about it. I'll be in there for a bit on Monday having a few drinks if anyone wants to join for a few. I tend to go on the earlier side.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #24 - August 13th, 2007, 3:30 pm
    Post #24 - August 13th, 2007, 3:30 pm Post #24 - August 13th, 2007, 3:30 pm
    ?[/quote]
    I'll be in there for a bit on Monday having a few drinks if anyone wants to join for a few. I tend to go on the earlier side.[/quote]

    i might wander over for a drink, on the early side. how will i recognize you? justjoan
  • Post #25 - August 13th, 2007, 3:33 pm
    Post #25 - August 13th, 2007, 3:33 pm Post #25 - August 13th, 2007, 3:33 pm
    justjoan wrote:?

    I'll be in there for a bit on Monday having a few drinks if anyone wants to join for a few. I tend to go on the earlier side.[/quote]

    i might wander over for a drink, on the early side. how will i recognize you? justjoan[/quote]

    HI,

    This would be a super idea for the Event's Board. :)

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #26 - August 13th, 2007, 4:08 pm
    Post #26 - August 13th, 2007, 4:08 pm Post #26 - August 13th, 2007, 4:08 pm
    its a little vague right now, cathy. i'll let jpschust post on the events board if he wants. if he does, can he please committ to a time? i'm not much for bars on my own and am more likely to go if i know when others will be there. justjoan
  • Post #27 - August 13th, 2007, 5:43 pm
    Post #27 - August 13th, 2007, 5:43 pm Post #27 - August 13th, 2007, 5:43 pm
    see thread in events forum :)
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #28 - August 14th, 2007, 5:51 am
    Post #28 - August 14th, 2007, 5:51 am Post #28 - August 14th, 2007, 5:51 am
    Anyone know if they have wines by the glass? My wife and I want to go this coming weekend but she's not a cocktail person.
  • Post #29 - August 14th, 2007, 7:16 am
    Post #29 - August 14th, 2007, 7:16 am Post #29 - August 14th, 2007, 7:16 am
    DMChicago wrote:Anyone know if they have wines by the glass? My wife and I want to go this coming weekend but she's not a cocktail person.
    Yes, and they are good- not great, but I'll cut them a little slack as this isn't their focus. My fiance had the rose last night and I had a sip- it was ok. There are 3 reds by the glass, 3 whites, a rose and a sparkling or two.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #30 - August 23rd, 2007, 1:24 pm
    Post #30 - August 23rd, 2007, 1:24 pm Post #30 - August 23rd, 2007, 1:24 pm
    I visited this place for the first time this week, and it was great. Excellent atmosphere as I just wanted to go out and talk to some of my friends, and the drinks were among the best I've ever had (between us, we had the Southside, Blue Ridge Manhattan and the Dark 'n Stormy).

    But I saw someone getting a drink that was finished with the ignited mist from an orange peel. Does anyone know which drink that is? Will it be on the fall menu, or will I have to head back soon to try it (and a shame that would be)?

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