The Violet Hour
May 11, 2018
Chicago’s The Violet Hour – the name comes from TS Eliot’s The Wasteland is acclaimed with good reason. This place is far more than just another speakeasy style bar, it’s an institution and one that needs to be experienced. There’s no sign outside, just a bulb above the door marking the entrance; the interior is dramatic, all gorgeous blue walls, velvet drapes and crystal chandeliers. Candles flicker on tables and the sound of low, happy voices fills the room. But impressive as all of this is, it’s the drinks that people flock here for and it’s easy to see why. To say they are superbly well executed is an understatement. These guys really know what they’re doing. The attention to detail is impeccable and recently the bar’s famed mixologist Toby Maloney gave the menu an overhaul, adding over thirty new creations. The new drinks contain plenty of gin and whiskey-based concoctions. Of the former The Root of All Evil is a complex mix of cardamaro, green chartreuse and root beer bitters, while the cognac-based Interloper is blended with lemon, raspberry syrup, and their house orange bitters. A set of house rules no cell phones, no light beer, a request not to bring anyone with you who you wouldn’t take to your mother’s house for dinner – ensure the atmosphere is always civilised, allowing a welcome focus on conversation and, of course, the contents of your glass.
What their peers say
“Toby Maloney took his penchant for nuanced, bitter drinks and high wire cocktailian theatrics (that he perfected at Milk & Honey and the Pegu Club) to the windy city first. The man knows how to train: the Violet Hour is now one of the most dynamic cocktail bars in the world and Chicago is steadily establishing itself as a cocktail drinker’s destination.” Jim Meehan of PDT, New York