Chicago! Lorri & I had only done the cocktail scene there once a few years ago, the most memorable stops being the Goat and the Girl (casually excellent) and the mad scientist mixology shrine the Aviary (stunningly original from top to bottom but with drinks that impressed the head more than the heart) and we’d always wanted to return. A 36 hour business trip gave us just enough time to hit 5 joints … IF we planned carefully and didn’t overdo it!
MIchaela and Chelsea from Ritcey East had just come back from Chicago and gave us a nice rundown of the latest scene there – 4 of the 5 places we visited were from their list. Thanks guys!
Young American was our first stop, being open at 4 pm and located in bar-rich Logan Square within super-easy walking distance of our next two stops, Lost Lake and The Ladies Room. The building itself was the antithesis of a gloomy speakeasy – it felt more like a corner diner done up elegantly retro in glass, metal and marble.
The whimsical menu featured fearless originals and a section of non-alcoholic selections with optional CBD drops, a theme we’re starting to see more and more. For the uninitiated, CBD is cannabidiol, one of the compounds found in the cannabis plant. While it has a calming effect on most people, CBD doesn’t have the euphoric (i.e. get high) properties of the other dominant compound (THC) so it’s much less regulated and much more available for uses in food and drink.
I immediately gravitated to the port and sherry based Creature of Love, which came across as a sherry cobbler gone to graduate school in a foreign country for 2 years longer than its parents expected. Tawny port and Amontillado sherry for savory fruit and just enough sweetness, bourbon for backbone, lemon for acid … you always know a drink is an excellent original when you’re compelled to reverse engineer it as soon as you get home.
Lorri went for the Cold Hands, Cold Heart, another complex yet refreshing combination with Rye and red Spanish vermouth (not so much that it knocked the drink out of Lorri’s wheelhouse) combined with cranberry & lemon frothed up with egg white.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Young American’s famous Goth Bread, a freshly baked cheesy bread creation with egg and a delicious mysterious Nighttime Sauce that gets its intimidating black color from activated charcoal. I’d like to think the charcoal helps slow down the absorption of alcohol, making it the ultimate bar appetizer … but even if it doesn’t, it’s still a knockout.
We reluctantly called for a check at this point (you gotta pace when you’ve got three more joints to hit that night) but we’ll definitely plan for a longer visit next time. Young American is everything we look for in a modern bar – brash, fun original cocktails, perfect bar food selections, all served in a classy yet whimsical environment – a seriously great bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously
Next stop: the eagerly anticipated Lost Lake