Chicago >Arts & Entertainment > The Violet Hour
1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6062241.908902 -87.677415
Neighborhoods: Wicker Park, West Side
It's almost impossible to find without specific instructions, but the effort is more than worthwhile to get into this one of a kind cocktail bar, whose strong and imaginative drinks fuel the sexy, romantic, secretive vibe here.
The Violet Hour is like Alice finding Wonderland: magical, mystical and extremely hard to find.
Great Cocktails – Love this place! The cocktails are amazing and the room feels GREAT!
This is the spot to go when taking an evening of cocktails to the next level!
Excellent place for drinks! – My husband and I visited the Violet Hour a couple of months ago and this is a place that if you go solely on outward appearances you'll probably pass up a gem. From the outside it resembles some type of wooden shack. Inside the decor is nice with a mysterious feel to it. Was very impressed with the bartender, who created a fabulous drink for me based off of a poor description of what I thought I liked . Appetizers were tasty, and the music was right on target. Lighting could have been a little brighter but overall the Violet Hour is a very nice place to go and have really really good drinks with friends or a significant other!
Customer Service NIGHTMARE!!!! – I was at the Violet Hour not too long ago. I was in town visiting my sister and she suggested we go. The website made the place seem mysterious, and the entrance to the bar was no exception. I was impressed upon entering.
Since it was a Friday, there was a wait. Which was fine, so this doorman comes out with a clipboard to take your name, # in your party and a cell #. We were a party of 3- he said the wait was probably 20 minutes. Fine. So there was another party of 3 ahead of us and then one came about 10 minutes after we did. He comes out and gets the group of girls that arrived AFTER us! Which was baffling because they weren't even cute people. They were wearing Gap sweaters frome like 2002. I digress.
One of the people I was with decided to approach the doorman and ask why we were overlooked- apparently she had this issue twice before with the same doorman. He seemed really uneasy that a customer was voicing concern, like he didn't know what to do- so he just apologized. We finally get inside and the person who was voicing concern asked the hostess the manager's name because she wanted to relay her displeasure to them. The hostess said she couldn't give out that information- she wouldn't even give out the phone number. So then my partymate says she will just call the Btr Bus Bur. and ask them the information. The hostess who was about to seat us tells us to hold on. The doorman reappears and says "We have talked about it and suggest you find another bar to go to". This irritated me because I'm from out of town and really wanted to go here. I pull the hostess aside, explain the situation and pretty mch begged her to seat us. So she gives us this big ottoman in the back room. Of course I heard her tell our waitress we were "difficult" and service was the worst I have ever had ANYWHERE.
I just found it odd that if you are voicing displeasure with an establishment, they would kick you out.
Excellent cocktails though.
Best drinks in the city – It's quiet, dark, and intimate. If you want to get a drink with a friend and not be annoyed by loud people AND you want to get the best drink you have ever had, go to Violet Hour. If you are an idiot, do not.
Not great on the wknds, unless you want to stand in a line.
It's great if you've never been to the real deal – I visited the ?Violet Hour? and experienced several different reactions. At first, the place was difficult to find and obviously designed to be that way with the speakeasy concept. The boarded up entry is I?m guessing the way to stand out so I was curious. As we entered the place it had a very nice feel. Nice decor, nice music, and a bit dark. So far, so good.
Cocktails were order and despite claiming a ?full? bar, the selection of liquors was somewhat limited. I have read other opinions about the prices but not too bad for the concept they were trying to achieve. The bartender took pride in the fact that they were different and not aware that he was annoying. He actually told a lady at the bar that they didn?t have her type of vodka and but she could get it across the street and some other place.
The space provided for the party was not large enough and so six of us sat at the booth and the others stood near the bar. Because we were sat at the last booth and near the end of the bar, this didn?t appear to be a problem. Apparently they have a no standing rule there. I?m just glad I didn?t have to line up to use the washroom with the other kids in my class.
The menu was a version of a chef driven home economics class. Deviled eggs, waffle fries, deep fried green beans, etc. It was comfort food but at the lowest level. Very ?County Fair? comfort.
As the first hour progress, the service got worse, the music went from classy 1960?s Basa Nova to Waylon Jennings, and the attitude got nasty. For a place in Bucktown that wants to have the atmosphere of the Four Seasons or the Park Hyatt, it?s really missing the mark. The part that is missing is at those other places, the customer is the main focus. I?ve never received a bad attitude or poor service at the five star venues this place is desperately trying to mimic. This part of town is great and if you want intended pretentious, you can find it all over but with good service and food.
This place is great, if you don't like it go somewhere else – If you are looking for a generic drink go elsewhere. If you are looking for loud music, a crowded scene or fast service, find another bar.
I had a great experience. There is no standing or cell phone usage, love it!
The drink menu is the drink menu. If you want a cape cod find a bar that specializes in stoli and cranberry juice. This bar specializes in serious mixed drinks.
For the record, I hate mixed drinks. My lady-friend and I tried most of the whiskey list. For starters, all I needed to see was the bulleit and buffalo trace to make me smile. I am a bourbon drinker. I was extremely skeptical. I drink my sauce straight, mainly because I am picky (you have no idea). I've had so many poorly made drinks that I decided to start drinking things that you can't screw up. These people make cocktails.
We started with the manhattan, it was lovely. Honestly I have no idea what the other drinks where called except for the chi-town flip. The flip is an eggnog and whiskey type drink, extremely rich which, generally I hate. This drink was wonderful, more of a (night) closer though.
The service is slow, real slow, deal. What do you expect from 2-3 tenders that serve a full bar with made from scratch super drinks. These people are mixologists, they make drinks right. Every drink was great. If you want a regular drink, this may not be worth the wait.
The server was nothing special.
Didn't try the eats though.
The low-down is the decor on the interior is a little on the lame side (aside from the bar), the service was ok (it wouldn't have hurt to come around a little more), the drinks where stellar, get there early or prepare to wait (and wait some more), the music was not loud- I could hear my date (on a friday from 8:30 to 10:30),
the high back chairs make the scene a little more private, the prices are really reasonable for the quality of drink that you get.
Go but don't be in a rush and trust that these people know what they are doing.
mmm Violet Hour. – What an original place! From the moment you walk in you are transported to a Victorian ballroom/Mad Hatter's tea party. The decor is great. Ambiance is very low key and romantic, but most of all the drinks are delicious (gimlets made with muddled raspderries and fresh herbs). They're $11 a pop but well worth it. However, this place is first come first serve and doesn't accept any reservations. Once the seats are filled you will have to wait. To avoid this I would check it out during the week.
Not worth the wait – My friend and I were very excited to hang out at this great new funky club that she heard rave reviews for, but when we got there, we ended up waiting in a dark hallway for 50 minutes. After the first half-hour, we decided that we couldn't turn back after investing so much of our night waiting - I mean, something great must have been in there if so many people were willing to wait, right? (Actually, two groups of people left during the 50 minute wait.) Once admitted to Oz, we were shown to our seats - basically two ottomans and a small square column in the middle of the room. Honestly, the room looked really modern and cool, but smaller than I had imagined. Some of the chairs in the seating area were high-backed and looked like they were from the set of Beetlejuice, but unfortunately, we weren't lucky enough to get seats with backs on them. Time to order drinks: my friend asked for a dirty martini, which the Stepford Wife-like waitress indicated was not available (come on....they have olives, vermouth and vodka....please!). I tried to order a cape cod. No cranberry juice. Really? Seriously? A bar without cranberry juice? We ended up ordering drinks off of the menu, which turned out to be quite tasty, if not what we originally asked for. I like a dash of prentiousness every once in while, but I was hip-checked so many times at that club without a single "excuse me," I felt like I was playing in a hockey game against a team of snobs. Overall, the service, ambiance, wait, people, everything...was good for a laugh. We definitely won't go back.
Inventive drinks in a great atmosphere – I went to The Violet Hour a few weeks ago, and had a great time. We went with someone who had been there before, and I certainly don't think we would've found it on our own. It was very cool to feel like you were walking into a prohibition-era speakeasy, and the atmosphere inside didn't disappoint. The doorman was incredibly polite, though we had to wait a few minutes by the door, which feels a bit like you've walked into an area that's still under construction. Once you step inside the doorway, though, it's hardwood floors, chandeliers, and a beautiful bar. The music was a great eclectic mix, spanning many eras, and the bartenders really seem like artists at their craft. They have one of the most creative drinks menus I've ever seen! I definitely recommend the Dark & Stormy. It tasted like they make their own fresh ginger syrup for their drinks. The fireplace in the back room was also great for a cold night. I think there are few places in Chicago with such a great vibe!
Sublime – I just came back from the Violet Hour, and must say my experience was sublime. Although the waitress was bit slow, I noticed that she seemed to be deliberately so, as if to give us more time to enjoy the atmosphere. I had the Mulled Syrah, and it was warm and tasty. Apparently, the chief mixologist and several other proprietors come to us from Freeman's, one of New York's trendiest restaurants/bars for over 3 years running. Was it trendy? Yes; the scale reminded us of a hotel bar in SoHo. The drinks were a tad bit pricey, but no more than any other place in Wicker Park. The high-baked chairs and curtain partitions made the experience cozy yet stylish, which is a change for The Park. Don't come into the joint wearing a fitted cap and Lugz because you will be frowned upon: such is the price of luxury in the 'Go. Oh, and one more thing: the entrance is hidden.
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