My best friend moved to California on Monday. Gasp! I know. Why would you want to leave Chicago?! I suppose a handsome gentleman had something to do with it, so the Windy City takes no offense. But I digress.
In order to give her a proper send-off, we wanted something intimate and special. Enter the Violet Hour.
The clinking of glasses; the hum of private conversations and laughter; and the warm hues of candlelight set the scene at this 1920s-style speakeasy in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood.
And this is exactly the type of atmosphere architect Thomas Schlesser intended to create with the placement of high wing back furniture and stunning long drapes that make you feel as if you've fallen down the rabbit hole.
The elegance and grace of the 1920s comes with a level of respect that each patron is expected to abide, including the abandonment of the cell phone. Go ahead. Gasp again. No...they won't take it from you, but please leave it in your pocket or purse. And let me tell you, there is something refreshing about undivided attention.
A series of other witty House Rules (e.g. No O-Bombs. No Jager-Bombs. No Bombs of any kind) are listed on the website and inside the entrance door, which is inconspicuously located on Damen Ave within an ever-changing muraled wall.
Now let's get to the good stuff. The Violet Hour is known as a cocktail mecca with house made bitters, tonic and syrups. You could spend hours pouring over the menu; let your server be your guide. Perhaps it was lamenting the move of my friend, but I went straight for the tequila. The League of Nations: Lunazul Blanco, Lemon, Saigon Cinnamon Syrup, Bonal, Peychaud's Bitters. Now I'm no expert; so I can't tell you what that all means, but boy was it delicious.
We also indulged in a few appetizers. The Spiced Nuts with coriander, fennel, cayenne and maple syrup were delicious and hearty and the Carmalized Onion and Creme Fraiche Dip with onion salad, grilled green onion soubise and chips was delectable.
Needless to say, we refined our palettes at the Violet Hour. And nothing about the place felt pretentious. It was a comfortable and sophisticated way to wish my dear friend Bon Voyage. How very Chicago.
TIP: The Violet Hour does not take reservations. Arrive early if you'd like to avoid lines.