The Violet Hour

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Speakeasies have a sexy mystique about them--and that's exactly what you'll find at this Wicker Park cocktail lounge from Terry Alexander and crew. There's no sign except for a yellow lightbulb, and it's hard to find the entrance in the wood paneled exterior. Once inside, you'll spy a framed note requesting bargoers to refrain from cell phone use. But the decor is what's really striking: cornflower-blue walls, white crown molding, crystal chandeliers and gorgeous hardwood floors give the space an elegant ballroom-like feel. Extremely high-backed blue leather chairs clustered around tiny white nightstands illuminated by candlelight add an Alice-in-Wonderland air. Now let's get serious: The classic cocktails (gimlet, negroni, paloma) are superb. Bartenders make each with painstaking precision, using housemade simple syrups, bitters and twice-filtered ice cubes. But expect to wait a bit for each beverage as bartenders lovingly labor over their shakers--no doubt you'll find it worth it.