Aged to perfection at the Berkshire Room | Bleader

Aged to perfection at the Berkshire Room

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There's a cocktail on the menu at the Berkshire Room called the Old Money, and it's fine. Actually it's more than fine, it's splendid: bourbon, Aperol, walnut liqueur, a nice little hint of allspice, all aged to perfection, like Maggie Smith. But if you really want to know what old money tastes like, I submit to you the Weston, an aristocratic mixture of bourbon, coffee, and pipe tobacco, which induces in the drinker a sensation I imagine to be something like sniffing Hugh Hefner's smoking jacket, and I mean that in a totally complimentary way (the guy can afford nice stuff, you know?)—it's one of the best drinks I've had all year. When Berkshire Room beverage director Ben Schiller left his previous gig with the Boka group earlier this year, he told the Reader about his plans (separate from his work here) to open an "old-man bar." With this drink under his belt—and the Old Money, too, which it turns out Schiller's been serving for years—he's got a hell of a start.

The Berkshire Room seems engineered to hit the moneyed notes, starting with the Buffettesque name and continuing with the location, on the first floor of River North's boutique Acme Hotel, which is fronted by a West Town Bakery stand. The bar is loungelike, dark and shiny and, on a recent weekday evening, filled with hearty capitalists relaxing after a day's work, drinking from old-fashioned coupe glasses, nibbling off a short menu of snacks courtesy of chef Chris Curren. There are cucumber sandwiches, bison tartare, tuna carpaccio, oysters, and caviar, but the particularly hungry captain of industry might be wise to go in for the "Ploughman's Lunch," a copacetic selection of bread, cheese, and cold cuts from Publican Quality Meats (these vary; a generous cylinder of andouille, on the night we visited, was spicy and impeccable).

Three sections constitute the drink menu: cocktails, barrel-aged cocktails, and mix-your-own—you specify the hooch, the flavor profile, and the glass type, and the bartender does the rest. Schiller's drinks are unimpeachable, ranging from the classic (vieux carre, manhattan, and a "continuous negroni," its bitterness further sharpened with age) to the more imaginative, like the Antique, a rum base modified with spikenard, an aromatic Himalayan plant related to valerian, as well as Himalayan salt. I've never been so eager to grow up.

15 E. Ohio, 312-894-0945, theberkshireroom.com

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