Bitters and orange flower water at the Violet Hour
Bartender Ballet at the Violet Hour
Wicker Park’s hidden Violet Hour is a dark, sumptuously appointed retreat from the harsh world outside, attended by nattily dressed barkeeps who exhibit a balletic facility with jigger, shaker, and glass. “Head intoxicologist” Toby Maloney in particular is a blast to watch, building his complicated potions with an aggressive grace and dexterity, his showmanship tempered by a chef’s palate and a historian’s depth of knowledge. His seasonal cocktail menu employs his own bitters (seven at last count), fresh juices and garnishes, and seven types of ice in different shapes, sizes, and temperatures. The bartenders are warm, well-versed in cocktail culture, and happy to guide you through the menu of exotic tipples. Maloney, who hates vodka, has even included a “hamburger” on the menu, a vodka cobbler with Lillet and fresh fruit, for those vexed by the more challenging libations. 1520 N. Damen, 773-252-1500. —Mike Sula
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