I'm a big eater. I'm a big drinker. But I usually combine the two. I rarely go to a bar/club/lounge just to sit back w/ a good drink and no eats. Well, a few weeks ago I made an exception and boy am I sure glad I did!
After dinner w/ two women who are much younger and cooler than me, they suggested we head to the Violet Hour. Now I don't live under a rock so I had heard of the place. I knew it was this sorta secret, hard to find place (dubbed a "modern-day speakeasy") that was super popular w/ the hipsters. Oh, the hipsters.
Anyway, I wasn't sure if we needed a password or a secret egg or something to get into the Violet Hour, but I knew it was a bit off the beaten path. In fact, it's right in the middle of Bucktown, very close to my favorite nail salon (Pinky's) and favorite pizza hang-out (Piece), but it's hidden in that there is no sign and it looks like a construction site (see above, the door is right behind that white minivan at the end of the letters).
Before I met my friends inside, just to clarify that I'm a complete dork and will never be cool, I ran my quick daily mile so I wouldn't have to do a tipsy mile later on. (If anyone wants to give me the benefit of the doubt, you could say I'm a dedicated runner, instead of a dork. Anyone? Anyone? Didn't think so;( )
So is this place worth all the hype, including being called the "country's most exciting bar" by Food & Wine magazine? Yes. When you enter, you walk through this super dark hallway lined w/ thick velvet curtains. Apparently this is where the line forms on the weekends. When you part the curtains you see this candlelit world that looks like it's straight out of Alice in Wonderland, complete w/ all the weird characters from the story. The chairs are super high wing back and configured to make each grouping seem intimate.
The Violet Hour is really fun, unique, good for people watching with amazing drinks concocted by skilled bartenders--oops, I mean mixologists- using daily pressed juices and house-made bitters. Try the Juliet and Romeo, a blend of beefeater, mint, cucumber and rose water, it's to die for. My only (small) critique of the place is the absolutely ridiculous quote on top of the menu. While the place is really cool, no place is cool enough to pull off a silly quote that that. ;)
(Menu quote, in case you can't resist: "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." What??!!??)