Photo: arnold klein
In the other side of the bottle cap to Chicago’s boom in craft beer, local entrepreneurs have ginned up several liquor distilleries in recent years. In addition to Koval, Few, and North Shore, this week CH Distillery (564 W. Randolph St., 312-707-8780) jumps into the mix. It's been open since Tuesday.
CH, which takes its name from the chemical symbols for carbon and hydrogen (two of the elements in alcohol), runs an on-site cocktail bar in addition to its stills. The food and beverage director, Krissy Schutte, says the cocktail list will cover about five classic cocktails and six original concoctions with CH liquors. She says beer will not be served. “We only serve what we make, and we don’t make beer.”
The food menu at the bar goes beyond pretzels and beer nuts, although it’s produced within strict limits. “It’s not a normal kitchen,” says chef J.P. Doiron. “We don’t have an exhaust system. We don’t have a range. [Only] a very small oven. A lot of our food is not served hot. But we have our menu set up for foods that are delicious that way.”
For example, a corned duck and liverwurst sandwich, served with lemon and herbs on black rye leads Doiron’s recommendations. Schutte likes the smoked-whitefish spread, made with hard-boiled egg, capers, and fines herbes. The plates run $7 to $14, except for two caviar dishes at $18 and $55.
One of CH’s original drinks, The Tradition, is a shot of cold vodka with rye bread and pickles. Schutte says it nods to an Eastern European toast where drinkers sniff the bread, shoot the shot, and eat the pickles. “I have a degree in sociology,” she says. “It sort of relates to bartending. Actually, it relates very well to bartending.”