An evening in The Violet Hour: Uncovering a secret bar in the Windy City

It’s an ode to prohibition minus the kitsch, Al Capone without the Scarface and Gatsby steered clear of any ‘I hope she’ll be a fool’ Instagram captions. Located right in the heart of the busy, colourful neighbourhood of Wicker Park, The Violet Hour encompasses Chicago speakeasy cool.

The outside of the bar is painted with a bright mural which constantly changes throughout the year, making it all the more difficult to find! An unassuming old-fashioned street lamp lets people know whether the bar is open or closed, right next to a very out of place looking door handle. After opening the door into the mural we were ushered into a pitch black waiting area and then taken behind heavy velvet curtains to the main bar fit with tall high-backed blue leather chairs, a beautiful sweeping marble bar, light blue walls, extravagant chandeliers and hushed tones. We were also met with the bar’s tongue-in-cheek ‘House Rules’ which include the following: 

No cell phones inside

 

No baseball hats

 

No reservations

 

No Jager-bombs

 

No bombs of any kind

 

No Budweiser

 

No Grey Goose

 

 Please do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday Dinner.

This was music to my ears after studying in the USA and attributing all American bars with watery beer, backward caps and loud frat boys, albeit unfairly so.

We were handed a cocktail menu and the dapper waiter convinced us to try his favourite, Fox’s Socks, a marvellous mix of gin, celery root and lime bitters…safe to say it didn’t take much persuading…at all. We would recommend trying the scrumptious Ricotta Gnocchi, Pommes Frites with roasted garlic aioli and the Autumnal Flatbread. With no phones allowed, time ran away with us and of course more drinks in fabulous glasses were ordered and we filled up on the Cheeseburger Sliders (we were in the USA after all)! The service was top notch and the bartenders had serious passion and knowledge about every drink they were serving.

The Violet Hour is a top spot in the city and brings all the glitz of Chicago yesteryear with an amazing menu of drinks including locally distilled spirits from the surrounding areas (sampling the gin from North Shore Distillery is a must). At the end of the evening, rather than using my phone torch to find my lipstick for my exit, I used one of the many candles on the table which made everything seem gorgeously more glamorous.

Oh – and Absinthe Happy Hour is from 6-8 from Monday to Thursday. Cheers to prohibition!

The Violet Hour is located at 1520 North Damen Avenue, Chicago. For more information visit www.theviolethour.com or @violethourchicago.

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