behind the curtain: A weekly guided Cocktail Tasting

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In the early days of the craft cocktail resurgence, The Violet Hour’s Head Mixologist and founding partner, Toby Maloney, worked at the original Milk & Honey on New York’s Lower East Side. One of Toby’s rituals in that era involved collecting an array of intriguing and unique ingredients as he made his way through Chinatown on his way to work. Toby would then beguile his guests at Milk & Honey’s tiny, four seat bar with cocktails concocted from the treasures he’d picked up on his wending walk. Those guests would be treated to what amounted to a cocktail tasting menu telling the story of that day’s walk to work.

In the spirit of those walks and those original, four, intimate seats, The Violet Hour is pleased to introduce a new series offering guests the opportunity to step into the obsessive mind of a bartender.

Each week, we’ll be saving four to six seats at the bar in front of one of our bartenders who has something they want to say in cocktail form. The lucky folks in those four to six seats will be treated to a unique cocktail experience. Trusting their palates to the hands of the bartender, they’ll be treated to a progression of cocktails focused around the theme chosen by that bartender.

It’s a guided tasting menu with the bartender leading the way through their inspiration and thought process. The theme might be a city or country, a specific ingredient or group of ingredients, an abstract concept, or a really excellent set of bourbons—each case offers a unique opportunity for a dealer’s choice dialogue, with guest and bartender getting to geek out and really dig into a topic.

Toby himself will be at the helm for many of these sessions, while we’re fortunate enough enough to have him in town a bit longer than normal. However, other Violet Hour bartenders will take the reins for themes of specific interest to them.

You can reserve one of those very select seats for yourself by purchasing a ticket through Eventbrite. In order to distribute those tickets as equally as we can, we’ll make them available one theme at a time.

Each Tuesday, we’ll release the tickets for the following week’s theme—watch our instagram story (@violethourchicago) to get the link as soon as the tickets are made available, or just keep refreshing this page on Tuesdays!


UPCOMING THEMES (follow us @theviolethourchicago for notification of tickets going live!)


Tuesday, 11.27.18, Digestifs & Leftovers $100

The best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers and what you need most after all of that food is a good digestif. This week Toby will be digging into all manner of amaro and herbal liqueur while exploring the best bits of Thanksgiving in the form of cocktails.

Tuesday, 12.4.18, Warming Drinks $75

It’s December and the days keep getting shorter. Time to warm up! But ‘warming’ in reference to a cocktail doesn’t have to mean endless hot toddies. Spice? Escapism? What makes a ‘warming’ drink. Come find out!

Tuesday, 12.11.18, The Antique Collection $200

Every year, Buffalo Trace Distillery releases their Antique Collection: George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Eagle Rare 17 year old, Thomas H. Handy, Sazerac Rye 18 year old—those in the know anxiously await each year’s release. We tend to hang onto good bourbon, so we’ve got various antique collection bottlings from a few years back. This will be a very special opportunity indeed for whiskey fans!

Tuesday, 12.18.18, Celebratory Drinks $100

Cocktails for the holidays! Decadent, indulgent, festive, and all in good cheer!