If one were to choose two words to describe Lincoln Park’s nightlife scene, "craft" and "cocktail" would doubtfully make the top of anyone’s list. Fortunately, Barrelhouse Flat, opened in 2011 by former Violet Hour mixologist Stephen Cole, is changing this preconception with their extensive cocktail menu, consisting of over 70 combinations made from whiskies, gins, rums, tequilas and other specialty liquors like cognac and pisco. You won’t find vodka on Barrelhouse’s menu due to a strict yet fully appreciated dedication to their pre-Prohibition Era inspiration.
On top of their vast permanent cocktail menu, Barrelhouse also offers a healthy number of specials per season. One highlight from the current list is the Agree to Disagree, made with St. Germain, Gran Classico, R. Franklin Malort, Green Chartreuse, lemon, and soda, perfect for fans of bitter and herbaceous cocktails. Popular beverages from the permanent menu include the tame and refreshing Papa Doble, with rum, lime, grapefruit, simple syrup, and maraschino liqueur, and the smoky Bizzy Izzy, with bonded rye whiskey, dry sherry, lemon, pineapple syrup, soda water, and orange bitters.
If you are a fan of the Old Fashioned, Barrelhouse’s is one you absolutely must try. Created from The Barrelhouse Flat select Elijah Craig 12-year Bourbon, demerara, angostura bitters, and orange bitters, this cocktail cashing in at a whopping $16 is assuredly worth the steep price. Barrelhouse also prides themselves on their alcoholic punches, which can be purchased in a pitcher or a bowl for the table.
The Barrelhouse Flat has modest food offerings, with a very limited amount of options in comparison to their drink menu. Most items are small plates, with the Herb Frites and Pan Roast Cauliflower with chilies, pine nuts, capers and hen egg as two popular options, however, their food menu generally leaves much to be desired.
Barrelhouse fully immerses diners in their pre-Prohibition atmosphere with décor and layout facilitated by Los Angeles-based Patry + Kline. The vintage and forbidden ambiance allows diners to feel truly transported into another time. One or two strong $12 cocktails at the Barrelhouse Flat can be a classy way to start a night out on the town, or a perfect opportunity for you and your significant other to experience some of the best drinks in Chicago.