Acclaimed bartender Paul McGee to tend bar at Milk Room for the 1st time since it opened

by Joseph Hernandez

Heads up, cocktail groupies: Paul McGee, owner of Lost Lake and beverage director of Land and Sea Dept.’s Cherry Circle Room and Milk Room in the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, will be tending bar at the latter for the first time since it opened.

Once a month, the cocktail wizard will hold court behind the stick at the intimate eight-seat Milk Room to mix and serve cocktails from his favorite vintage cocktail books. These drinks will be served alongside the normal menu, but when McGee’s around, why settle for the usual?

The first of McGee’s bartending shifts is Tuesday. He’ll be mixing drinks — made with vintage spirits — from “The Gentleman’s Companion,” a cocktail tome by Charles Baker first published in 1939. A taste of what’s to come: The Remember the Maine will feature 1970s Cherry Heering and 1950s Abbott’s Bitters, while the Ile de France gets a dose of rare 1980s Yellow Chartreuse.

These cocktails are a time-capsule twice over, and McGee will only be behind the bar, mixing drinks and sharing stories about the book and booze, for the first two blocks of seating, until 9 p.m. Book now via reservation site Tock, or miss out.

“a bolsy move”

1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Bitters (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
(*) Originally, the recipe was crafted with wormwood bitters. To make it more accessible, the recipe was changed to a dash each Angostura and peach.

After the Fernet Branca Barback Games at the Royale, I returned to the Downtown Crossing area and stopped into J.M. Curley. Obviously it was a popular post-games destination since I recognized a handful of people from the event were there catching a nightcap. And there were a few others I did not recognize but knew from where they got their fresh new Fernet hats or shirts. For a drink, I asked bartender Tracy Latimer for A Bolsy Move.

The cocktail offered up a malty aroma with a hint of fruit. The lemon joined the richness of the cherry brandy on the sip, and the swallow showcased the rest of the Cherry Heering flavor along with botanical notes from the Bols Genever and Yellow Chartreuse.

Nightlife Photos: Trenchermen Pop-Up at Logan Square Kitchen

Their upcoming Wicker Park venture, Trenchermen (40 percent bar, 60 percent restaurant—at least according to the seat allocation), is on target for a late March opening in the old Spring space. But brothers and chefs Michael (Blackbird) and Patrick Sheerin (Signature Room at the 95th) aren’t holed up testing recipes under top-secret lockdown until then. By tonight’s end, the Sheerins, along with partners Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner (the guys behind Bangers & Lace and The Anthem) and beverage director Tona Palomino (WD-50), will have hosted six pop-up dinners—with cocktails pairings, naturally—since Sunday evening at Logan Square Kitchen. The menu features dishes such as aged duck breast with cornbread and yuzu apple sauce; drinks include the Slippery Slope (rye, Cynar, Heering cherry liqueur) and the Para Todo Bien (mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, pineapple).

Browse our photos from Monday night below. And good news for Valentine’s slackers: Tickets are still available for two of tonight’s seatings, at 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.; $120 gets you a five-course dinner with drink pairings, tax, and tip.

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