A Familiar Face Returns To Longman & Eagle
Photo via Chad Hauge's Facebook page.
Hauge’s lifelong interest in the service industry started back in George, Iowa, a humble town of 1,000 where he worked at the Shade Tree Drive in seventh grade. His thirst for excellent cocktails came much later when he found himself tending bar in New York to support his then-passions: yoga teacher training and a fledgling theater company. After helping open a Mexican restaurant and tequila lounge, his eyes were opened and food and drink took the stage instead.
Hauge dove in to his new interests and honed his bartending chops at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants, JoJo and the now-shuttered Matsugen. Though a cocktail of Hauge's design never hit the menu until he left New York, it was a sign of good things to come.
In Chicago, Hauge was hired as MK’s head bartender but worked shifts at L&E at the same time—just after it opened in 2010. After three years of tending bar at L&E, the allure of running the beverage program and managing the bar at Mott Street took Hauge further down the road to the fine craft of cocktails.
“One thing I will take away from my time at Mott Street was the chef’s insistence that nothing would go on the menu that I didn’t think was amazing. He would ask if I thought a drink was good, and if I said yes, he wouldn’t let me be okay with that. He’d need a drink to be great.”
Hauge’s plan to expand L&E's cocktail program includes time each week to workshop new drink ideas, spirit by spirit. “When a bartender has a rough draft or idea, we will go over strengths and weaknesses [of the spirits] This way by the time we are ready to present drinks for the next season, each cocktail has been given a lot of love.”
One spirit you won’t find getting a lot of love is vodka. Hauge admits it’s not his thing: “The idea of neutrality in spirits is one that turns the art of cocktails into the utilitarian function of getting drunk. From the standpoint of making drinks, it’s lazy. I don’t have any inherent flavor to start with.” But his commitment to excellence remains. “Don’t get me wrong, if you come up to me and order a Moscow Mule, I will try to make the best one you’ve ever had.”
So, what’s Hauge’s favorite drink? The old-fashioned. “It may sound boring—I’ve probably made thousands at Longman, but I love how picky the drink is a couple drops too much or little of bitters or sugar can make or break the drink. It can easily be over- or under-stirred. Aiming for that precise mark on the drink is a fun challenge.”