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Violet Hour's 2014 Spring Cocktail Program Continues To Innovate

By Paul Leddy in Food on Mar 31, 2014 3:20PM

You could excuse a bar like Violet Hour to play it safe with the cocktails that appear on their seasonal cocktail menus. After all, they are the bar that people point to as the epicenter of the craft cocktail movement in Chicago. It would be easy for them to do simple riffs on classics and not take the risks that put them on the cocktail map in the first place. The cocktails would be balanced and well executed, but there wouldn’t be much creativity.

Where’s the fun with that approach?

The process behind creating a new cocktail can take dozens, sometimes hundreds, of hours as bartender’s workshop ideas and experiment with new spirits and bitters. The bartenders need to always keep in mind that cocktails should do more than just taste good. “The most important parts of a cocktail are texture, aroma, balance, surprise or comfort and lastly, flavor,” says Violet Hour founding partner Toby Maloney.

They are obviously doing something right, Violet Hour was just nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program.

A couple weeks ago, Maloney guided the staff of Violet Hour in the tasting of the new cocktails that will appear on the Spring 2014 menu (debuting tonight). This was the first time that Violet Hour opened its doors to journalists (Julie Thiel from The Reader was the other journalist in attendance) to join the staff as they tasted the cocktails, discussed how to describe them to guests and to ask questions about the ingredients and/or garnishes. It also gave everyone the opportunity to hear directly from the bartenders who created the drinks on what their inspiration was.

After tasting the 33 cocktails (with straws!) we can report that Violet Hour is continuing to make cocktails that are interesting, creative and most importantly, delicious.

We include a little sampling of a few cocktails that caught our eye and taste buds that day. Check out the full Spring menu below.

The Violet Hour's Spring Cocktail Menu by Chicagoist