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Last month Robbie Guevara made us a Bloody Mary that involved Cheez Whiz, but what he and his colleagues are serving at the Wicker Park cocktail lounge where they tend bar is a sight subtler. Open since August where Empire Liquors used to be, the Revel Room is a clubby, luxurious space that was exceedingly crowded—and noisy!—on a recent Friday night. It's no Violet Hour, in other words. But the thoughtful cocktail program, overseen by Ronnie Higgins (Bangers & Lace, Bar DeVille), nonetheless establishes it as a drinkers' destination.
The unfussy concoctions we sampled here tasted, surprisingly and pleasantly, somehow like Christmas, characterized by warm, rounded flavors and just a hint of sweetness: for instance the Atholl Brose, a combination of scotch, honey, cream, and nutmeg that, though it's served cold, you'd be happy to sip before a blazing fire. Likewise the Revel Rum—a nuanced thing whose chai-infused rum, coffee heering, maple syrup, lemon, and winter ale lent it bitter undertones—and the Vanisher, which tasted of old-man booze and spice: apple brandy, cognac, vermouth, cherry heering, and vanilla bitters. The Revel Room also boasts a respectable and reasonably priced list of "Fine Canned Goods," a much shorter list of simply "Canned Goods" (Budweiser, et al), and cocktails on draft.
1566 N. Milwaukee, 773-278-1600, revelroom.com