It's hard to believe that we're just a few months from the 15 year anniversary of The Violet Hour, the seminal speakeasy which is widely considered the founding father of Chicago cocktail culture.
While having a "craft" cocktail program is practically table stakes at most bars these days, the thrill I experienced the first time I stepped into The Violet Hour back in 2007 has never really been replicated anywhere else.
The long line leading to a nearly hidden door. The list of house rules, including "No O-bombs. No Jager-bombs. No bombs of any kind" - the no cell phone rule! The entire experience seemed so foreign to a 24 year old who had spent most of his drinking career in Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville up to that point.
Then we got to our tables. Overwhelmed by the comprehensive menu filled with ingredients I'd never heard of, I started asking our server questions. She responded simply by asking me what I liked. After gathering info from my date and I, she disappeared for what felt like an impossibly long time, returning with two cocktails that were exactly what we wanted - we just hadn't known it yet. Perfectly balanced, delicious, pretty to look at creations that would forever change the way I approached drinking. It wouldn't be long until VH changed the way the entire city, then country, drank as well.
The Violet Hour was opened in July 2007 by now-legendary mixologist Toby Maloney, in partnership with One-Off Hospitality. Alumni of the bar include industry luminaries such as Robby Haynes (Apologue Liquer), Brad Bolt (Bar Deville), Stephen Cole (Barrelhouse Flat), Mike Ryan (Sable) and Jane Lopes (Eleven Madison Park). Many of those alums moved on and built the cocktail industry in Chicago from the ground up, eventually spreading their wings to establish the culture in Nashville, Louisville, Brooklyn, New Orleans - and plenty more.
All this is my way of saying it was an honor when Abe Vucekovic, the current GM, reached out and asked us to create some custom aprons and pins for their bar staff.
There's nothing particularly fancy or high-design about the items we've created for them. There's no need for them to be - the drinks are the stars of the show. Our goal was to provide the mixologist a tool to help them with their craft, and nothing more. A simple Ranch Tan bib apron adorned with an enamel pin of their "unicorn" mascot (Abe's idea, actually) is the entirety of our Violet Hour collection.
We're happy to leave the real art to the folks running the show on this one.