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The Barrelhouse Flat
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    Post #1 - October 24th, 2011, 12:53 pm
    Post #1 - October 24th, 2011, 12:53 pm Post #1 - October 24th, 2011, 12:53 pm
    I'm not sure Chicago has anything else quite like The Barrelhouse Flat (which officially opens tonight)...an apt analogy has so far failed me after spending several hours at a pre-opening service last week*. I have been looking forward to this place for the better part of a year, and was excited by what I saw.

    The main floor space features a long bar and open kitchen along one side, with wood-benched booths opposite them. We breezed through the space, so I don't have a great picture of it in my mind, but I got the distinct impression that it's a good many notches above the average look/feel for bars in the area. We headed to the back of the building and up a flight of stairs, where we found perhaps the coziest, most alluring set of rooms in Chicago. A gorgeous back-lit bar, dark wallpaper & beadboard, plush red couches, leather club chairs, fireplaces and even a pool table in the front room overlooking Lincoln Avenue (if ever there is Chartreuse Pong, I call winner). We chose to sit at the bar, which is short compared to the overall size of the space and will likely be a tough seat to score, but I can't imagine being disappointed sitting anywhere up there.

    Cocktails, for now, are classics...somewhere close to 50 of them, the menu is sorted by base spirit and then characteristic (shaken/stirred/bubbly/egg), some are familiar but more than a few are not. Everything we tried was executed to the exacting standards I've come to expect from spending a lot of time sitting across the bar from Stephen at The Violet Hour, though he was not making our drinks himself that night. I believe the plan is for an additional evolving menu of specialty drinks (bi-weekly, with the occasional guest bartender upstairs, perhaps?) and a housemade soda program (a passion of Stephen's) is in the works.

    The food menu could start and end at Pig's Face Poutine, and I'd be happy, but with seasonal dips/spreads, obligatory deviled eggs, savory beignets and other haute bar snacks, I'm sure that I will venture past the fries topped with cheese curds and porcine gravy, eventually. Based on what I saw land further down the bar, I'm looking forward to branching out, but not before one or two more servings of the poutine.

    Walking in, I thought it was an ambitious plan...a huge space with a massive menu, with the potential to philosophically clash with the neighborhood or maybe even itself, but by the time we left I felt as if they'd pulled it off without a hitch. It's an amazingly inviting space, with two aesthetics that are vastly different but exceedingly complementary, such that they should appeal to a broad range of the public without experiencing much if any conflict with each other. Whether you're looking for a couple beers and some snacks in Lincoln Park (but without the typical scene) or an evening of impeccably made classic cocktails in refined comfort, I think you'll be pleased.

    The Barrelhouse Flat
    2624 N Lincoln Ave
    Chicago, IL 60614

    *We were invited and welcomed warmly by our friend Stephen Cole, a partner in the venture, and were told in advance that checks would be 50%-off during the pre-opening (which they were). Take that for what it's worth...I have no other relationship with anyone involved.
  • Post #2 - October 25th, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Post #2 - October 25th, 2011, 12:49 pm Post #2 - October 25th, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Excellent, this is just what I came here to look for!

    I'm glad to hear things have come together - Stephen left TVH around the time I moved here, so I have only encountered him on the other side of the bar. I'm going to have to work on my drinking radius to make it up there, though!

    kl1191 wrote:We chose to sit at the bar, which is short compared to the overall size of the space and will likely be a tough seat to score, but I can't imagine being disappointed sitting anywhere up there.


    I hope this just means relatively - as an almost-always solo drinker, not getting a seat at the bar is pretty much a dealbreaker for me...
  • Post #3 - October 25th, 2011, 2:16 pm
    Post #3 - October 25th, 2011, 2:16 pm Post #3 - October 25th, 2011, 2:16 pm
    I was there last night and had a fabulous time. There are long bars on both spacious floors. The downstairs holds the kitchen in the back corner, a few tables and the longer of the 2 bars, which is actually an "L." The upstairs room features a shorter bar, a large salon with several furniture groupings and a front room with a fireplace, hide-away video screen and several large windows overlooking Lincoln Avenue.

    As kl posted above, the artfully-printed cocktail menu -- curated and written by Stephen Cole and Greg Buttera -- is extensive and divided into sections by base spirits -- Whiskies, Rums, Gins, Brandies & The Rest. Those sections are further divided into subsections such as Stirred, Shaken, Bubbles and Egg. Food menu is small but mighty, with offerings like Pig Face Poutine, Double Deviled Eggs and Sweetbread Bites. Having just come from dinner, we didn't eat but we did drink and the cocktails -- made by Jess -- were tasty and well-prepared. Most of the whiskey cockails are made with bonded product. House bourbon is Old Heaven Hill Bottle in Bond but the selection on the back bar is vast and there were plenty of old friends in view.

    I'm thrilled that such qualified gents have taken it upon themselves to put Barrelhouse Flat on the map and I look forward to stopping in on a regular basis. It'll be great to have another legitimate cocktail bar in the rotation.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #4 - October 25th, 2011, 6:39 pm
    Post #4 - October 25th, 2011, 6:39 pm Post #4 - October 25th, 2011, 6:39 pm
    With this place and Barn so close to my house, I've got a very dangerous one-two punch on my hands. Glad to hear the initial positive reports. It will be nice to have someplace in the neighborhood to get a good drink.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #5 - October 26th, 2011, 2:46 pm
    Post #5 - October 26th, 2011, 2:46 pm Post #5 - October 26th, 2011, 2:46 pm
    Great to hear positive initial reports.

    This is around the corner from me as well and my wife and I have always said :"What this neighborhood needs is a good cocktail place for old geezers like us!"


    Hopefully, this will fill the void. I can't wait to check it out.
    "Your custard pie, yeah, sweet and nice
    When you cut it, mama, save me a slice"
  • Post #6 - October 31st, 2011, 9:19 am
    Post #6 - October 31st, 2011, 9:19 am Post #6 - October 31st, 2011, 9:19 am
    Last minute decision to head over to Barrelhouse Flats Saturday night after the WSP show at the Chicago Theatre. Met up with a buddy there and really enjoyed the Old Fashioned I drank as well as the overall space. The upstairs was cool, a little quieter than downstairs, the whole place had a nice laid back vibe at the hour we were there.

    I can see heading back for sure for some more cocktails.
  • Post #7 - October 31st, 2011, 1:52 pm
    Post #7 - October 31st, 2011, 1:52 pm Post #7 - October 31st, 2011, 1:52 pm
    Sounds like there was a sizable LTH contingent at BF on Saturday - we ran into a few folks upstairs, but unfortunately didn't see you there, Jim.

    I love this place. I liked the downstairs room's casual, friendly, slightly rowdy atmosphere with just a bit of an upscale vibe - like Old Town Social without the frat party element. We opted to sit upstairs, which I thought was fantastic. Comfortable, dim, spacious, a little hushed but still abuzz...it's what I imagine private "social clubs" looked like in the post-Prohibition era.

    The cocktails were all excellent - between the two of us, we tried the Toronto Cocktail, Lion's Tail, Ford Cocktail, Japanese Cocktail, Aviation, Jimmy Roosevelt, and a cup of the house punch. All were smooth, balanced, and went down way too easy (I think I make a better Aviation, but that's neither here nor there :P ).

    To soak up the booze, we ordered a deviled egg, the blue cheese and mushroom beignets, and the dip/spread trio (we went with roasted red pepper and chorizo, smoked trout, and snappy cheese), and were very happy with all of them - all of the plates went back just short of licked clean, in fact. I thought it was a nice touch that the dips/spreads were accompanied by a very generous basket (8-10 slices) of hearty, warm, toasted, buttered bread.

    Service was friendly, gracious, and helpful, and the wingback chairs were clearly designed by an ergonomic specialist at the behest of some dark, underground tavern owners' cabal, because after three hours in one, my back felt great. I need to enjoy those chairs as much as possible while they're still crisp and new, before the lumbar support has been mashed by hundreds of customers (I might have to find out where they got them so I can get a couple for my house and, once my kids are old enough to mix & serve me drinks, have my own BF-like setup ;) )

    My review of BF might seem over-the-top glowing, and that might partly be attributed to the fact that it was our first night out in a long time, and pretty much everything seemed extra-awesome that night ("OMG, this cab's pine tree air freshener smells AMAZING!!!" and the like), but I really do feel that BF is not only exactly what Lakeview is missing, but also exactly what I want in my 'hood. If they keep on doing what they're doing and don't go down the same sad-but-lucrative road as Old Town Social, I look forward to it become a regular destination for us.


    Edited to clarify that it was the downstairs room I was describing as casual & a little rowdy.
    Last edited by Khaopaat on October 31st, 2011, 3:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #8 - October 31st, 2011, 1:59 pm
    Post #8 - October 31st, 2011, 1:59 pm Post #8 - October 31st, 2011, 1:59 pm
    Khaopaat wrote:Sounds like there was a sizable LTH contingent at BF on Saturday - we ran into a few folks upstairs, but unfortunately didn't see you there, Jim.

    We opted to sit upstairs, which I thought was fantastic. Comfortable, dim, spacious, a little hushed but still abuzz...it's what I imagine private "social clubs" looked like in the post-Prohibition era.


    exactly how I feel about the upstairs,

    nice post about your visit, great detail.

    too bad we missed you, I got there around 12:30 a.m., and hung out for about an hour before trekking home. Planning on going back tomorrow night for some of that punch or another Old Fashioned.
  • Post #9 - October 31st, 2011, 3:28 pm
    Post #9 - October 31st, 2011, 3:28 pm Post #9 - October 31st, 2011, 3:28 pm
    Nice running into Khaopaat and his lovely wife out on the town--I was part of the other group of LTH'ers that night. I can't agree more with his assessment--our neighborhood NEEDS this--the vibe is perfect. The drinks were delicious and balanced. Selection was good. We didn't try the food but I will next time. We walked up to Chizakaya afterwards and had another great meal. And the drinks are good there too! Posted more about dinner in the Chizakaya thread.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #10 - October 31st, 2011, 3:39 pm
    Post #10 - October 31st, 2011, 3:39 pm Post #10 - October 31st, 2011, 3:39 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:We didn't try the food but I will next time.

    Fwiw, on my second visit, I got to taste the Pig Face Poutine, which my friend had, and it was delicious.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - October 31st, 2011, 7:03 pm
    Post #11 - October 31st, 2011, 7:03 pm Post #11 - October 31st, 2011, 7:03 pm
    Is there any sort of beer menu? I'm being tasked with setting up an after dinner place for an upcoming bachelor party and I think this place would be ideal. Unfortunately most of the guys are not cocktail drinkers like myself.
  • Post #12 - October 31st, 2011, 7:34 pm
    Post #12 - October 31st, 2011, 7:34 pm Post #12 - October 31st, 2011, 7:34 pm
    TCK wrote:Is there any sort of beer menu? I'm being tasked with setting up an after dinner place for an upcoming bachelor party and I think this place would be ideal. Unfortunately most of the guys are not cocktail drinkers like myself.

    Yes, beer on tap and in bottles is available, however there are not any taps upstairs.
  • Post #13 - November 1st, 2011, 10:39 am
    Post #13 - November 1st, 2011, 10:39 am Post #13 - November 1st, 2011, 10:39 am
    My wife and I were also at BF last Saturday night. Earlier, between 7 and 8 PM.

    We loved the look and feel of the place.
    Drinks were excellent.
    I had the Old Fashion and another Bourbon drink called the Cajun-something?
    My wife had the Elk's Own and the Whiskey Sour.
    We also shared the Old Bay Chip, Deviled Egg and three spreads. (Trout, Cheese, Red Pepper)
    These were fantastic!
    Service was great. It was not too crowded at that time. We were upstairs.
    As we got deep into our second cocktail, we found ourselves hoping that BF can keep it’s vibe and not become another twenty-something booze bar.
    A great addition to our neighborhood.
    "Your custard pie, yeah, sweet and nice
    When you cut it, mama, save me a slice"
  • Post #14 - November 1st, 2011, 12:32 pm
    Post #14 - November 1st, 2011, 12:32 pm Post #14 - November 1st, 2011, 12:32 pm
    I'm going to add to the noise about Barrelhouse. I was one of the convention of LTHer's who showed up to try this place out on Saturday and came away very impressed. The downstairs didn't interest me, but seemed to be lacking the large number of bros and dudes that lurk in my neighborhood which is a good thing. The upstairs had three defined spaces, the bar, the adjoining area with several seating groups that allowed you to have your own space away from you neighbor and the pool (or front) room with a pool table and several alcove seating areas.

    I was happy to see a mixed crowd of old and young ordering cocktails and appetizers. Our group tried the whisky smash, brooklyn, sazerac, toronto cocktail, holland's pride and lion's tail. We came away impressed, all were well made with the proper balance of flavors and none of the too sweet undertones that are the curse of a lot of bars trying to jump on the cocktail bandwagon. The only thing we ordered off the food menu was the daily popcorn with bacon and garlic. This was the only off item of the evening, someone took cold popcorn and threw chewy bacon pieces and half cooked garlic on it and it showed. I clearly ordered the wrong thing and I'll try the dips, chips, and poutine next time.

    Khaopaat, it was lovely to see you and your wife out, can't wait until you teach the twins to bartend. 8)

    I agree with DMChicago and hope this place doesn't become a 20 something booze bar because I'm really happy with BF as it is.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #15 - November 1st, 2011, 1:17 pm
    Post #15 - November 1st, 2011, 1:17 pm Post #15 - November 1st, 2011, 1:17 pm
    I was also there on Saturday night. As my companions can attest, I was very anxious about what the crowd would be like--I insisted that we get there shortly after opening--but it was very, very mellow upstairs. I could have lingered there a long while. The only thing I'd change about the experience is that there's a weird pillar that obstructs the view of the bar if you're seated in some of the non-bar seats. I wanted to see who was making the fantastic cocktails I was drinking!

    Unfortunately, my metabolism has been in overdrive lately and my drinking capacity vastly diminished, so I could only manage two cocktails. However, the Holland's Pride may be the single best drink I've had this year. In terms of cocktail places outside of my neighborhood, I'm very happy to have BF after two thoroughly disappointing visits to my previous standby, Sable.
  • Post #16 - November 1st, 2011, 3:07 pm
    Post #16 - November 1st, 2011, 3:07 pm Post #16 - November 1st, 2011, 3:07 pm
    Can anyone provide a link to a menu or a list of beers on tap or in bottles?

    Their website is apparently down or still under construction, and the Facebook page doesn't offer this information either.

    Thanks!

    Edited to say I found a link to a menu here:

    http://timeoutchicago.com/restaurants-b ... house-flat
  • Post #17 - November 2nd, 2011, 2:20 pm
    Post #17 - November 2nd, 2011, 2:20 pm Post #17 - November 2nd, 2011, 2:20 pm
    Lerdawg wrote:Can anyone provide a link to a menu or a list of beers on tap or in bottles?



    I hit Barrelhouse last night for a quick couple of drinks(top notch... an Old Fashioned and Remember the Maine(rye, sweet vermouth, cherry liquor, absinthe).... left feelin' allright.

    I think I have some pics of the current drink & food menu's, Ill try to get them up.

    edit: too busy to post/download pics:

    a few on tap: High Life, Victory Prima Pils, Great Lakes Elliot Ness, 3 Floyds Pride & Joy, Southhampton Double White,

    some bottles: Schlitz, Half Acre Daisy Cutter, Baird Angry Boy,
  • Post #18 - November 13th, 2011, 1:04 pm
    Post #18 - November 13th, 2011, 1:04 pm Post #18 - November 13th, 2011, 1:04 pm
    We stopped in last night around 11:30 and found a pretty packed house. We even had to wait outside for about 10 minutes before they let us in. Once inside we put our name in for a table upstairs, and managed to find some seats at the downstairs bar while we waited. At this point I was a bit nervous about the whole experience. Lines, lists...ugh.

    All of that went away with my first drink downstairs, a damn tasty Dark and Stormy. Right around the time we got our first round of drinks, some seats opened up at the bar upstairs and the experience only got better. That upstairs is a great room, and the barstools were way too comfortable. We settled in for another round and also enjoyed a basket of bacon popcorn while chatting with the two friendly (even while busy) bartenders.

    This place opening up in my neighborhood is either the best or worst thing that could have happened to me. On the one hand, it's great to be so close to a bar serving such great drinks. On the other hand, well, it's dangerous being so close to a bar serving such great drinks. Not having to travel downtown or to other neighborhoods will certainly be both awesome and dangerous at the same time. Looking forward to working my way through more of what looks like a great menu.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #19 - November 13th, 2011, 1:52 pm
    Post #19 - November 13th, 2011, 1:52 pm Post #19 - November 13th, 2011, 1:52 pm
    jesteinf wrote:We stopped in last night around 11:30 and found a pretty packed house. We even had to wait outside for about 10 minutes before they let us in. Once inside we put our name in for a table upstairs, and managed to find some seats at the downstairs bar while we waited. At this point I was a bit nervous about the whole experience. Lines, lists...ugh.

    All of that went away with my first drink downstairs, a damn tasty Dark and Stormy. Right around the time we got our first round of drinks, some seats opened up at the bar upstairs and the experience only got better. That upstairs is a great room, and the barstools were way too comfortable. We settled in for another round and also enjoyed a basket of bacon popcorn while chatting with the two friendly (even while busy) bartenders.

    This place opening up in my neighborhood is either the best or worst thing that could have happened to me. On the one hand, it's great to be so close to a bar serving such great drinks. On the other hand, well, it's dangerous being so close to a bar serving such great drinks. Not having to travel downtown or to other neighborhoods will certainly be both awesome and dangerous at the same time. Looking forward to working my way through more of what looks like a great menu.

    Yeah, I've now been 3 times and I think it's gotten better each time. Last Tuesday, I stopped in for a few rounds right at the open and Jeff turned out a fantastic Old Fashioned and an even better Brooklyn. I'm scared to go there (or any bar, for that matter) on a weekend but your post makes me feel like it might be worth a shot at BF.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #20 - November 17th, 2011, 12:04 pm
    Post #20 - November 17th, 2011, 12:04 pm Post #20 - November 17th, 2011, 12:04 pm
    I checked this place out last night, and it is definitely in my rotation for go-to places for drinks. We sat at the pool table ledge upstairs as it was busy. The upper floor looked great and I wished we had comfier seats, but it served us well.

    We had a Pisco Sour and the Pegu Club. Both really balanced tasty drinks. The level of execution is top notch , and the selection is great. They did not have a hot toddy that evening, but do offer them. I wish I could have had more but we just had dinner and wine at Volo earlier.

    We did sample the double deviled eggs and the pigface poutine. Really good, you could taste the deviled egg, and a hint of heat and an undertone of the ham. The pigface poutine fries were friggin delicious. I could have more of that all day, every day.

    I can't wait to go back, and this place joins The Violet Hour, Whistler, Sable, and Aviary as my go to placea for drinks..
  • Post #21 - March 23rd, 2012, 3:41 pm
    Post #21 - March 23rd, 2012, 3:41 pm Post #21 - March 23rd, 2012, 3:41 pm
    Earlier this week, I had what was unquestionably my best session yet at Barrelhouse. I arrived at the open (6 pm) and sat downstairs, where Jeff Donahue was behind the stick.

    I had 4 cocktails from the new, House Cocktail menu, which -- to my good fortune -- was debuting that night. Each one of them was delicious and thoughtfully-composed. I like the concept behind the House Cocktail menu because it features drinks created by several of the bartenders at Barrelhouse (among others), which incents the bartenders to experiment. It also creates a diverse aesthetic across the menu.

    Tasty Waves (Greg Buttera)
    Scarlet Ibis, Lemonhart, Amaro Nonino, House Falernum, Vanilla-Tonka syrup, Grapefruit, Lime, Angostura bitters, Absinthe
    Greg really knows his way around Tiki and this drink was a nice example of how, in the right hands, tropical can be nicely balanced. There was a touch of sweetness but it was mitigated nicely by the amaro and the absinthe. There was a long, dry finish here that was really excellent.

    Cape Suzette (Mark Brinker)
    Famous Grouse, Neisson Rhum, Aperol, Marie Brizard Apry, Vanilla-Tonka syrup, Lime, Peychaud's bitters
    I really don't like Scotch but I ordered this drink because I wanted to branch out and because the other components all appealed to me. I was rewarded for my adventurousness. Aside from being delicious, it was also a gorgeous, pale red color. I could taste Scotch but it married up so nicely with the other components, I really appreciated it.

    Knifey Spooney (Mark Brinker)
    El Dorado 5-yr, Cruzan Blackstrap, Zucca Amaro, Averna, Angostura bitters, orange bitters
    I loved the combination of rums here and appreciated the way the blackstrap was integrated judiciously.

    Tipsy Bar (Jess Keene)
    Hayman's Old Tom gin, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Luxardo Amaro Albano, lemon, soda water
    A tasty finisher, which again demonstrated some nice balance. This was light -- effervescent -- in texture but intense in flavor.

    My previous experiences at Barrelhouse have all been positive but also, somewhat variable. This makes some sense as they haven't even been open for 6 months and are still tweaking things but after this session, I feel like the place is really hitting its stride. Steadily, it's going from a new bar with a great pedigree to genuine destination for cocktails. I look forward to seeing how it continues to progress over the next few months.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #22 - July 3rd, 2012, 1:01 pm
    Post #22 - July 3rd, 2012, 1:01 pm Post #22 - July 3rd, 2012, 1:01 pm
    I have found a new favorite cocktail: Taking Care of Fizzness (Jess Keene) - Old Fitzgerald Bourbon, Cynar, Maple, Habanero Syrup, Pineapple, Lemon, Soda

    Sweet, spicy, bitter, boubony, wonderful.

    And to top it off, BF regularly has some very interesting beers on tap, and the staff is highly engaging and generous.

    Between BF and Scofflaw, I have a hard time deciding where to go for after dinner (or pre-dinner, or late night) cocktails.
  • Post #23 - July 3rd, 2012, 1:30 pm
    Post #23 - July 3rd, 2012, 1:30 pm Post #23 - July 3rd, 2012, 1:30 pm
    jfibro wrote:I have found a new favorite cocktail: Taking Care of Fizzness (Jess Keene) - Old Fitzgerald Bourbon, Cynar, Maple, Habanero Syrup, Pineapple, Lemon, Soda

    Sweet, spicy, bitter, boubony, wonderful.

    And to top it off, BF regularly has some very interesting beers on tap, and the staff is highly engaging and generous.

    Between BF and Scofflaw, I have a hard time deciding where to go for after dinner (or pre-dinner, or late night) cocktails.

    I tried that drink a little over a week ago and really enjoyed it. As I posted above, I really dig the concept of the Featured Cocktails menu, which changes about once a month. Being able to taste some of the bartenders' new creations every month is exciting. At that last session, I tried a few other drinks that I also thought were tasty, including Mark Brinker's Cumulonimbus, which my wife ordered (Flor de Cana 4-year, falernum, ginger syrup, allspice dram, lime, champagne) and Jessica Tessendorf's Lady Macbeth (Old Weller 107, cardamaro, amaro Montenegro, Lustau Amontillado sherry, Peychaud's bitters).

    I also really liked the Escargot Fries (escargot, hand-cut fries, garlic, parsley and parmesan). I haven't eaten very much here but what I've had has been uniformly enjoyable.

    I try to get in a couple of times a month, and if they opened at 5 (instead of 6), I'd probably be in even more often. The 6:00 open doesn't sync up with my work schedule quite as well as a 5:00 open would, as I'm often done with work by 4:30 or so.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #24 - September 1st, 2012, 1:57 pm
    Post #24 - September 1st, 2012, 1:57 pm Post #24 - September 1st, 2012, 1:57 pm
    I recently moved to this neighborhood and have been to Barrelhouse about 3 or 4 times now. Overall the cocktails and food have been great, its great to have this kind of a place within walking distance.

    My only complaint is I think they need to somehow enforce a dress code. It really kills the vibe/atmosphere (especially upstairs in the more loungy area) seeing 6 Lincoln Park "bros" all with baggy shorts, t-shirt, and baseball caps on. Am I getting old, or do you think this is inappropriate? Maybe they have no choice but to allow this due to the neighborhood it's in.
  • Post #25 - September 3rd, 2012, 1:06 pm
    Post #25 - September 3rd, 2012, 1:06 pm Post #25 - September 3rd, 2012, 1:06 pm
    bnl wrote:
    ... baggy shorts, t-shirt, and baseball caps ...



    Pray for sleet.
    fine words butter no parsnips
  • Post #26 - October 2nd, 2012, 12:51 pm
    Post #26 - October 2nd, 2012, 12:51 pm Post #26 - October 2nd, 2012, 12:51 pm
    I think this place just keeps getting better and better. A session last week was a real pleasure. We started downstairs, then moved upstairs. Because I like natural light, I tend to sit downstairs until it gets dark out, then I move upstairs. I can confidently do this at Barrelhouse because I know that on either floor, the bartenders are skilled. I now see the same familiar set of faces behind the bar at almost every visit. Forgive the pun, but the bartending staff has been distilled down from the original, larger group and only the best remain.

    True to form, drinks on both floors were great. Downstairs, Mark Brinker mixed up one of his drinks from the current "Featured Cocktails" menu, a High Plains Drifter. It was a refreshing and bitter take on a whiskey sour, made with Old Fitz bourbon, Zucca, Amaro Abano, Lemon, house orange bitters and tonic water. Another of his featured drinks also looked great, the First Time Caller (Campari, Rittenhouse 100, Raspberry Syrup, Lemon, Weatherby's cola bitters), but we moved upstairs before I had the chance to ask him for one. Next time.

    Upstairs, Jeff Donahue stirred up a few rounds of dealer's choices for us, including an offbeat but very successful take on an Old Fashioned that included a new (to me) liqueuer from Combier called Kummel that, while sweet, was strongly flavored with cumin, fennel and caraway. This is a very fun, distinctive spirit and I thought he used it well in the cocktail. I'll probably buy a bottle. Not only will it be fun to play with it in some cocktails, but because of it's savory, herbaceous notes, I think it will probably also be great in a lamb sausage.

    I don't generally drink in bars on weekends and even when I do, I try to make it happen early. This session was on a Tuesday evening and the scene was entirely mellow and pleasant, as it always seems to be at that time on a weekday. The work environment, established by Stephen Cole and Greg Buttera, is one that encourages and rewards experimentation by its bartenders. I think that -- specifically embodied by the "Featured Cocktails" menu -- creates a dynamic experience for the customer, and one that reminds me of the early days at The Violet Hour. Barrelhouse continues to steadily become the special place that many of us hoped it would be when we first learned it would open.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #27 - June 21st, 2014, 12:52 pm
    Post #27 - June 21st, 2014, 12:52 pm Post #27 - June 21st, 2014, 12:52 pm
    Barrelhouse has re-opened after its brief remodeling and the drinks are still excellent. A session there earlier this week was as enjoyable as ever. Original cocktails -- conceived and mixed for us by Jess Tessendorf and Dan Smith -- were interesting, expertly made and delicious.

    As for the remodel, the upstairs is unchanged. The downstairs has morphed in a few ways. Booths that used to run down the center of the space have been replaced by 4-stool high-tops. Booths that line the west wall have been raised a bit. 2 flat-screen televisions have been installed on the east wall, above the corners of the back bar. In the long run, I'll probably find that last addition a bit of a distraction. I'm not being anti-tv judgey. I just know that if tv's are on, they tend to draw my attention away from everything else. On this particular day, though, I was kind of enjoying keeping an eye on the World Cup match that was going on. There are no tv's upstairs, so if they bug you, Barrelhouse still has a more-than-solid, tv-free option.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #28 - October 16th, 2014, 8:50 pm
    Post #28 - October 16th, 2014, 8:50 pm Post #28 - October 16th, 2014, 8:50 pm
    Barrelhouse Flat introduced a revamped "Featured Cocktails" menu last week. A friend and I sampled a few drinks and the real standout for me was the Freudian Flip (Averna, Maison Rouge, Fernet, Honey, Coffee Liqueur, Angostura Bitters, Chili de Arbol Bitters, and Whole Egg). But all the drinks were good and this place remains in the top tier of cocktail bars in town.

    The pretzel was truly dreadful - dense, soft and chewy with no textural contrast, devoid of salt, and served at room temperature with a disturbingly thick honey mustard and a flavorless white "cheese sauce." The chili dusted fries served with sriracha mayo were pretty good.
  • Post #29 - May 6th, 2019, 12:06 pm
    Post #29 - May 6th, 2019, 12:06 pm Post #29 - May 6th, 2019, 12:06 pm
    Barrelhouse Flat’s final call is in June

    https://chicago.eater.com/2019/5/6/1853 ... cktail-bar
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard

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