WHY HERE: The Violet Hour, a true modern speakeasy, jump–started the classic-cocktail craze in Chicago under the tutelage of partner and head bartender Toby Maloney. With its attention to mixology with the freshest ingredients, its policy is to only serve as many people as there are seats. Many have tried to copy its gorgeously elegant “Alice in Wonderland” aura, but no one can replicate it.
WHY NOW: After more than a decade, the James Beard Award–winning cocktail lounge continues to innovate and develop some of the industry’s top talent. (Its alumni list is truly impressive.) On Tuesday evenings, house bartenders (and occasionally Maloney himself) lead a handful of guests through a specially inspired tasting on a topic of their choice.