Photo courtesy of Free-Photos/Pixabay

Imagine walking into a swanky, sultry bar with nothing but a single nondescript door to the street to denote its entrance. Upon entering, you’ll quickly notice the stylish atmosphere finished with leather chairs and tables, with candles and crystal chandeliers setting the tone for the evening. Here, you aren’t allowed to drink light beer or wear baseball caps. Instead, you’ll quickly be transported to the pre-Prohibition era where vintage decor and strong drinks are readily available. The Violet Hour, located just off the Damen Blue Line stop, is a departure from most Wicker Park bars in the neighborhood. This unique spot is the ideal destination for notable cocktails and a captivating speakeasy vibe that is sure to lure you in.

Open daily from 6pm to 2am, The Violet Hour is a short 20-minute train ride on the CTA from our downtown Chicago apartments and well worth the trip. Expect well-crafted cocktails sure to provoke your palate. With a drink list that’s constantly changing, pick from some of the classics, such as the Juliet and Romeo or the Midnight Stinger, which is created with Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, Fernet and mint. For those interested in spicing things up, the Wink Wink includes a mix of bourbon, lemon, Aperol and spiced berry. If none of the specialty cocktails spark your interest, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a variety of wine, beer and non-alcoholic drink options.

In order to fit in with the ambiance of this stylish bar, be sure that you’re dressed to impress. There are a wide variety of house rules that must be followed, or there’s a chance that you could be denied entry. Clearly stated on their website, The Violet Hour asks that you “do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday dinner.” Other, more formal rules include items such as no cell phone use, no reservations and no baseball caps. Proper attire is requested, and don’t even think about ordering a light beer or cosmo, they won’t have it.

Apart from the typical bar night, The Violet Hour also offers private and public events for your convenience and entertainment. That being said, this is a great option for those of you looking to ring in your birthday with friends or celebrate that promotion you’ve been working months for. Private events are completely customizable for your party and can accommodate between four and 30 people, while public cocktail classes are 90 minutes long and cost $125 per person. These classes are interactive and hands-on, teaching you the skills that the lead bartenders use behind the pine while creating some delicious drinks in the process. Also offered at The Violet Hour is the Behind the Curtain series. This weekly guided cocktail tasting has extremely limited availability, where only four to six lucky participants will be able to sit at the bar while the bartender creates specialty themed cocktails for the evening. Tickets for both events are available on Eventbrite, be sure to check out their website to learn more.

And while The Violet Hour knows the importance of a good drink, they also pride themselves in knowing the importance of giving back to the community. Started in 2015, Eden Lauren used his leadership skills at The Violet Hour to his advantage and created a not-for-profit organization titled The Drinking Fountain. This organization works towards the “betterment of communities worldwide through travel, education and direct action.” More specifically, The Drinking Foundation works diligently to help in providing clean water to communities in need. To aid in giving back, The Violet Hour created a special line called The Violet Hour +, which is an Old Fashioned mix made with all natural ingredients, making for a delicious cocktail or shaken beverage. For every bottle of this line sold, 25 cents is donated to The Drinking Fountain. What does that mean? You can enjoy a drink while simultaneously giving back. Can’t go wrong with that!

Don’t forget—this place doesn’t take reservations and tends to fill up pretty quickly. We’d recommend getting there on the earlier side to secure your spot. And remember—leave the phones at home, or at least off and in your pocket!

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