The West Loop is a great drinking neighborhood, but most top spots are reservations-based (Kumiko, the Office), are casual (Estereo, Lone Wolf), or fill up with diners (Sepia, Rose Mary), leaving no good options for a martini before dinner. Bisous changes that.

The cocktail spot, which opened in January, is from Peter Vestinos, a longtime barman and the Footman Hospitality partner behind the Gold Coast rum bar Sparrow. Here, he takes inspiration from 1960s France, which means brandy drinks, martinis, French wines, and an overall fun, lounge-y vibe. Where to begin? L’Jardine, made with basil brandy, vodka, and Cocchi Americano and poured straight from the freezer, is a good place to start. So is a tradition-eschewing French 75: “I love combining brandy and gin,” Vestinos says. “It’s a technique from cocktail books in the 1800s.”

Culinary director Jeannie Carlson offers some solid bites, from free truffle popcorn during happy hour to macarons for dessert. Which is fortunate, since Bisous works just as well for nightcaps (try a Pink Squirrel or the Norwegian Wood, a boozy tipple with Calvados, Scotch, and maraschino) as for afternoon imbibing. The bar opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays and even earlier on weekends, at 2 p.m. “I had been second-guessing myself on that, but as soon as we opened the doors, people came in and started drinking martinis,” Vestinos says. That makes Bisous just right for those of us who love our 5 p.m. dinner reservations but still want a cocktail beforehand. 938 W. Fulton Market