The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Review: Scofflaw

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 10, 2012 7:00PM

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Scofflaw is one of the few in Chicago. Open since early March, the west Logan Square bar boasts gin as its drink de Coeur, though the cocktail menu offers enough options that gin detractors should not be deterred. And this is one of Scofflaw’s greatest qualities as a “Gin bar.” It reckons philosophy with service: all drinkers are not gin drinkers. With Victorian inspired décor and back lounge plucked from the pages of Jane Austen, Scofflaw’s high-minded philosophy remains casual and approachable.

Mixologist and Partner Danny Shapiro heads Scofflaw’s knowledgeable staff. When asked, “Why gin?”, Shapiro replied, “I wanted to do gin because it’s underrepresented in the Midwest market. And we’re passionate about it, it’s the spirit to be mixed.” Our favorite gin cocktail was the Rocket Frost. The mix of gin, lime, and pear liqueur, “frosted” by egg white foam, is sweet and refreshing.

But for those looking for something other than gin, there are plenty of other things to drink. Our favorite was the Scofflaw Swizzle #1. The tropical drink was the highlight in an array of great cocktails.

The Swizzle, a drink that originated in Bermuda, is strong but easy to drink. With two types of rum, a housemade Orgeat Syrup (almond syrup) and pineapple, the drink goes down dangerously smooth. A generous dose of Angostura bitters coats the crushed ice atop the drink, the coated ice reminiscent of a snow cone. The Swizzle shifts from nutty sweetness to dry with a spice kick of Jamaican rum as you drink it down, the bitters melding in the cocktail, drawing out the spice flavors of the rum.

It’s a tribute to the Swizzle to beat out the Rocket Frost. The Swizzle was simply the most active and enticing drink we tried. It’s flavor shifted with each sip, the texture turned over on itself- even the color changed shade as the auburn bitters cut through the khaki-colored Orgeat.

With all the liquor in which to indulge, you may want some nosh to soak it all up. Scofflaw’s focus on cocktails does not mean food has been forgotten. The small food menu keeps pub fare in mind, offering sandwiches and small plates, but look elsewhere for cheese curds. You can choose from pork cheek or pork belly, scallops or goat cheese soufflé. If you want something light, try the chicken liver mousse plate.

However, for those patrons up for a challenge, ask for the off the menu sandwich, the Guapachoza. A gargantuan creation, the Guapachoza combines all the meats offered on the menu, even adding the chicken liver mouse as a sandwich spread. It’s a great way to taste the entire menu in one bite.

Even if Scofflaw doesn’t spark a gin revolution, it’s still a chance to enjoy great craft cocktails at low cost—all house cocktails are $8, and that goes for food prices as well. So enjoy yourself, just don’t ask for a gin bucket.

Scofflaw Swizzle #1
1oz El Dorado Rum 3 year
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum
.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
.5 oz Pineapple Juice
.5 oz lime
Angostura Bitters

Combine rum, syrup and juices in a shaker over ice. Shake to combine. Strain into a tall glass over crushed ice and top with a generous helping of Bitters.

Scofflaw is located at 3201 W. Armitage Ave.

By Kyle Thacker