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March 19, 2009

In Fine Spirits Lounge

by gastronomicbypass

Location – 5420 N Clark S (between Balmoral Ave & Catalpa Ave)

In One Word – Unexpected

Food – In Fine Spirits Lounge is an extension of the In Fine Spirits wine store that’s right next door. Rather than the “In Fine Spirits Wine Bar,” “Lounge” seems appropriate because the menu boasts just as many unexpected, creative cocktails and craft beers as it does delicious wines.

IFSL is mainly a place for drinks, but they do have a small plates menu that offers foodie nibbles. While I mingled at the birthday party hosted in IFSL’s private room I sampled the House Flatbread ($11) which was served with slices of salty, pungent blue cheese and spicy apple preserves, and complemented my sweeter cocktail very nicely.

Drink – I was surprised by IFSL’s expansive cocktail list that included both classics and imaginative originals. I tried the Poire Rose ($9) which was a crisp rose champagne with dry vermouth and Poire Williams liquor. It was served in a very tall champagne glass and garnished with a fat lemon curl. I thought the tartness of the grapefruit juice balanced the honey-ed pear taste of the Poir Williams nicely, but my Trusty Sidekick thought it was far too sweet for him. During the party he tried the Cloister ($8), which was gin with grapefruit juice, orange bitters, and chartreuse. It was a great cocktail because it was strong but had subtle flavors and ended with a delicious spiciness. After the Cloister he moved on to a juicy South African Pinotage ($6.50).

Service – The service was great for a private party. The bartender was quick and friendly; she took our order and invited us to sit down while she made our drinks, then brought them to our table. I appreciated the fact that we got to spend more time chatting with friends rather than wait around the crowded bar.

Scene – The décor is vaguely Pier 1; simple, contemporary, and a little commercial. Because IFSL’s interior doesn’t have the strong personality that lounges like Violet Hour have, it makes for a much more casual night as far as “happening lounge experiences” go. If you’re on a date, this would be a great after dinner destination.

Dress –We’re in Andersonville, not Wicker Park; with IFSL’s more laid-back feel there’s no need to gussy up. Go with jeans and a t-shirt. You could throw on a statement necklace to show that you made an effort, or not; this is not a stuck up crowd.

Cost – $30 bought us three large drinks with tip, and because it was a party the nibbles were free. Not bad!

If you like, try… Joie de Vine, Bin 36

written by hungry yuppie

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