the VIOLETHOUR, the hour of hush and wonder.

 To Cemo… for taking me back to good old days in lovely Chi-town. 

“This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.” – Bernard DeVoto “The Hour”

4 years in Chicago, followed by a 3-year longing, I decided to pay a quick visit early May. No need to say how much I missed it of course – and Evanston, the town I will always remember in my best memories. Cem, my younger brother, who took over the Chi-town residency, took me to an uber-cool lounge in Wicker Park: the VIOLETHOUR.

With no exterior sign or whatsoever, a yellow lightbulb high above a door welcomes you. The raw entryway, which states forbidden cell phone use, gives way to a breathtaking bar scene. As my brother said, it’s Alice in Wonderland – only, with alcohol. The 19th century English Georgian/French styled lounge, which takes its name from a line in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land”, is not so loud. There is nobody standing up or running around; admittance stops once every seating group is full.

The size of the menu, the second you hold it, says something is different in this place. Drinks are divided by spirit, and focus on gin, rum and whiskeys. The glasses they’re served in change accordingly. Do not expect to have a Black Label on the rocks, or something as boring as a Grey Goose and tonic. House standouts included Blinker, the Airmail, Amaretto Fizz, Blue Ridge Manhattan, Hotel Nacional, Iron Cross, La Paloma and Southside (with mint spanked tableside to release flavor and aroma).

If you’re around Chi-town, this is a must try.

the VIOLETHOUR  1520 North Damen Avenue Chicago 60622

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