When Three Dots and a Dash re-opened (“as soon as the first indoor dining ban was lifted, we opened the next day,” laughs beverage director Kevin Beary), superfans of the River North tiki bar noticed a bit of an absence. The Bamboo Room, the intimate cocktail spot that occupied what once was the Three Dots private dining room, didn’t open with the rest of the bar. Luckily for Chicago’s rum drinkers, The Bamboo Room is now open once again, though with a few changes.
Beary explains that a combination of staffing and logistics made it impractical to open The Bamboo Room until now. “We barely had the crew to get Three Dots open,” remembers Beary. “Plus, it’s a tiny room, so social distancing in there was not an option. If guests sat six feet apart, you’d have two parties of two.”
On the plus side, the time off gave The Bamboo Room an opportunity to gather even more goodies for drinkers. In the months leading up to the pandemic, Beary had been enhancing the bar’s single-barrel rum program, traveling to places like Guyana to source excellent rums. Those rums kept aging, and kept arriving, even while the bar was closed, and now The Bamboo Room’s rum collection is better than ever. Those bottles influenced not only the new cocktail list, but also a new set of rum tasting menus as well. “There’s an option for everyone — if you’re just learning rum, or if you want to try our single barrels, or if you want to throw caution to the wind and try our most exclusive stuff,” explains Beary.
The Bamboo Room’s basic concept hasn’t really changed, but Beary says that it has “focused” a bit in this new iteration. “Three Dots is a full-blown tiki bar, but Bamboo Room will do cocktails that showcase special rums. Simple isn’t the right word; these are more ingredient-focused rum cocktails, rather than big extravagant drinks in tiki mugs.” One example of this is The Bamboo Room cocktail, a new addition to the menu. While the Three Dots and a Dash was a classic tiki drink, and an easy addition to that bar’s menu, this drink is based on the classic Bamboo cocktail with the addition of “funky aged” rum. “It really shows off what we’re going for; it drinks like something rich and up like a Manhattan,” says Beary.
Another example on the new cocktail list is the Growers Ti Punch, a reimagining of the classic drink from the French-speaking islands of the Caribbean. This version showcases a biodynamically grown rhum agricole and includes dry Champagne and white port. “It’s still true to the original cocktail, and focused on the rum,” says Beary.
The last major change is a relief to customers — a change to their reservations system. Rather than having to book a particular cocktail flight or tasting, all diners just have to make a reservation through Tock with a $15 deposit, applied to your tab.
Beary is excited to share the fruits of his rum journeys with bargoers. “We are continuing to find the coolest rums out there. I’m more excited about these cocktails than anything in quite a while. We aren’t stopping traveling the world to find the best stuff.”