Located on the first floor of the Sophy Hotel, Mesler Kitchen (1401 E. 53rd St.) offers a dining experience that can be as upscale or casual as guests like. Its name means “to mix and mingle,” and with five main seating areas, guests can do just that. Some walls feature built-in bookshelves, while others are decorated with art made by students from Hyde Park Academy High School. The bar’s best and coziest secret, however, is out back: the shrubbery-lined outdoor Sanctuary, complete with lounge chairs and firepits.
As a nod to its proximity to the University of Chicago, Mesler offers drink creations named for scientific concepts — like the Greenhouse Effect, which pairs tequila with honey-jalapeño syrup, or the hibiscus-and-blackberry-accented Surface Tension. Others are fresh takes on familiar formulas: The Hemingway Adaptation (pictured) tweaks the daiquiri of the same name by swapping rum for gin and adding a splash of Peychaud's.
Mesler also serves mocktails for those who want a fancy drink without the buzz. Try the Hyde Park Cooler, made with an in-house strawberry puree and lemon-lime soda, plus a hint of lime to keep it refreshing.