Charcoal Bar in River North Is the Place to Get Your Next Cocktail

That is, if you can snag one of the 11 seats at this Japanese-style underground hideaway.

Matthew Lipsky

Photograph: Anna Knott

Matthew Lipsky

If you’re among the fortunate 11 admitted to Charcoal Bar, a candlelit underground cocktail hideaway, head to the bar.

That’s where you’ll find the soft-spoken spirits guru Matthew Lipsky, who recently helped develop the whiskey program at the clubby Untitled.

Lipsky invests himself wholeheartedly in your experience, and he is in his element practicing the Japanese style of bartending (you’ll witness him meticulously chiseling ice blocks into perfect spheres, as is common in that country).

Charcoal, nestled under Sumi Robata Bar, pours seven signature cocktails. Try the Frozen Pond, a snow-white mix of citrusy vodka, sake, grappa, and grapefruit bitters. Then surrender your spot so others can partake—or (the wiser choice) move on to the sake list.

Charcoal Bar, 702 N. Wells St., 312-988-7864.





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