With drawn curtains and only a simple neon sign in the window, passersby might mistake Bokeh (4716 N Kedzie Ave.) for another random shop. But a quick look through the front door reveals Albany Park’s newest cocktail bar — a cozy affair that hopes to woo local imbibers. Bokeh combines the twin passions of owner Rick Weber, a hospitality industry veteran and onetime professional photographer. The word Bokeh is common parlance to photographers, a Japanese term that refers to the quality of the out-of-focus areas in a photo — the blurry background that makes a portrait pop.
The photography motif continues with 10 signature cocktails all named for popular photography terms, like the rum and Angostura Hot Shoe — the part of the camera where an external flash is attached — or the bourbon and ginger Golden Hour (pictured), the nickname given to the time of day when the setting sun makes everything glow golden. Ten more traditional cocktails and a selection of wine and beer round out the drink menu. Bokeh also offers a surprisingly extensive food menu, with a large selection of seasonally inspired small bites and fresh-baked desserts. And best of all, the kitchen is open until 1 a.m., making Bokeh a great place for quality late-night eats.
Bokeh makes the best of its small space, with a couple compact couches up front and a few tables beside the bar, and manages to feel intimate without being cramped. Opposite the bar is a gallery wall adorned with works from a local artist, and Weber hopes to host monthly art shows in the bar. While you might not describe this cocktail bar as “blurry,” it is definitely a subdued spot, from the dim lighting to the lo-fi DJ spinning chill vinyl tracks. With the front curtains closed, it’s easy to forget where you are and while away a night.