Even Victor Bar’s exterior tells you you’re about to enter another world. The drawn window shades and elaborate vintage streetlamp keeping sentry over the entrance are just the beginning; walk in and you’ll be transported to a sultry space with exposed brick walls and dusky lighting.

If this cocktail bar, which opened in the heart of North Center (4011 N. Damen Ave) in 2016, feels like something out of a Victor Hugo novel, that’s the point. But you’d be wrong about the bar’s namesake: That honor goes to Victor Noir, a 19th-century journalist murdered by Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew. (Oh, and he posthumously became a sex symbol, but that’s a longer story.)

The fin de siècle Parisian theme might seem slick, but one look around and it's clear Victor Bar is no import, but a beloved neighborhood mainstay. The ambience is lively, but still talkable, and the inventive cocktails — like On the Grass, made with aquavit, celery, and basil — endlessly sippable.