Blink and you might miss Kumiko (630 W. Lake St.): No exterior signboard announces its presence on its West Loop street corner. But head inside and you’ll be greeted by a tastefully minimalist interior and impeccable hospitality that immediately makes you feel like you’re in a bar in Japan.
Kumiko’s concept is rooted the life of owner and bartender Julia Momose, blending her Japanese heritage and adulthood in the U.S. The small-service spot only has eight seats up for grabs and operates on a first-come-first-serve basis, but the drinks are well worth the effort. For example, the Seaflower — made with Nikka Coffey Gin, Drapo Vermouth Bianco, Yuzu Kosho, Kabosu, lime, and served with a rim of ‘ocean dust’ — is one of the bar’s most popular cocktails and plays on a mix of juicy and earthy flavors. Just be warned: you may not be able to stop after just one cocktail.