IN 1949, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM was published. The hard-hitting novel told the story of a low-level hustler and card dealer, Frankie Machine, who returns home from World War II to one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country: Chicago's Division Street. Dreaming of someday becoming a professional drummer, Frankie is saddled by a crippled & controlling wife, Zosh, and a secret "thirty-five pound monkey” on his back in the form of a morphine addiction. This tragic story was the public's first peek inside the neon wilderness of Wicker Park. And so honest and poignant was the telling that the novel was awarded the first National Book Award in 1950. While the neighborhood has changed, the ghosts of hustlers, thugs, drunks, and addicts linger.
This season, Bordel pays homage to our neighborhood's past. Cocktails on this menu are inspired by the novel THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (Nelson Algren, 1949) that showed the world the beauty and flaws of our neighborhood and city. It’s a town that the author Nelson Algren rightly described as, "an October sort of city even in the spring."
All cocktails are made to order and draw inspiration from the last golden age of cocktails, with exotic garnishes that follow a no-waste sensibility utilizing ingredients found in the cocktails they adorn. The cocktail list is comprised of perfectly executed classics combined with house cocktails made in a "classic style." The list includes punches, aperitif cocktails, swizzles, "strong but not silent" stirred cocktails and "shaky, shaky" cocktails with citrus.
A bastion of our menus has always been Punch, presented in Royal Albert “hidden-in-plain-sight” tea sets and handblown glass Porrones from Spain. We love celebrating with Punch, as the first "mixed" drink, Punch was a staple of high society; where there was a party there was Punch and vice versa. It found its way to the US, and in our own way, we made it democratic: we turned a shared drink for the wealthy into a single-serving cocktail for everyman. As a cocktail bar influenced by the Bohemian Cabarets of Europe and the speakeasies of the States, it was natural to celebrate not only the current cocktail culture, but also the classic Punches of Europe. And as before, where there is Punch, there will be a party.