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'High Energy' Ping Pong Bar Will Have Great Cocktails By Peter Vestinos

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 23, 2016 3:16PM

A rendering of the interior of AceBounce Chicago. Courtesy of AceBounce.

Apparently, Chicago is in the midst of a burgeoning ping pong bar trend. Hot on the heels of SPiN, the Susan Sarandon-backed Ping Pong bar that opened in a few months ago, comes AceBounce. It's a "high energy" bar and restaurant opening in June that will feature ping pong till midnight and a cocktail menu by local bar star Peter Vestinos.

Vestinos, who cocktail fans will recognize from his work on a ton of Chicago spots, including The Betty, The Sparrow, Naha, the Roof at the Wit and more, is the head Beverage Consultant on the project. His participation means that AceBounce will be, at least for cocktail fans, more than a random club that happens to have ping pong tables.

According to Vestinos, the owners of the project are particularly concerned with having an excellent food and drink program. The kitchen, helmed by Chef Rick Gresh (David Burke's Primehouse, Virgin Hotel Chicago), will turn out fancy pizzas, crudos and meatballs, while Vestinos has been tasked with creating great drinks.

"I've been saying for years that we need to elevate our bar game," Vestinos said. "It shouldn’t just be a craft cocktail spot or a fancy restaurant where you can get a great cocktail. The people behind Bounce want to surprise Chicago."

How do you design cocktails that work in such a fast-paced, high-traffic venue (the capacity is 550) in the Loop? First, you think about how people will use the space.

"It’ll be a wide mix of people. They’re going to be moving in a very lively environment. They’re not going to be tucked away in the corner on a romantic date," said Vestinos. So, the cocktails have to be more "visually appealing," and be a little "taller and longer, so they aren't consumed so fast."

While he's particularly concerned with making sure that the standards, like margaritas and mojitos, always come out perfect (his bartenders are doing "bartender boot camp" to hone their craft), he's got a few surprises that will be unique to this spot.

Vestinos has partnered with CH Distillery to create a special "Old Fashioned" liqueur, which contains all the flavors of an Old Fashioned, including cinnamon, clove, citrus and tannins. The Old Fashioned cocktail will be presented as a pitcher of whiskey and a smaller pitcher of this liqueur on a wooden plank tray, and guests can mix up their own drink to their preference.

Expect plenty of local spirits ("It is a London concept, but we want to still honor Chicago producers.") and a robust beer and wine program as well.

AceBounce has locations in England, but this will be its first location in the United States. The bar will occupy 230 N. Clark St., right off the river.