At 5 p.m., a doorman and rope will appear outside Burke's Bacon Bar adjacent to David Burke's Primehouse in the James Hotel. If you get in, Lono Brazil will lead you into an unmarked door in the back, through a set of metal curtains, and into Jimmy, the new "speakeasy with a 70s vibe." It opens to the public tonight.
Jimmy is a brand expansion from New York, helmed by Big Apple nightlife-king David Rabin, Larry Poston, and Johnny Swet. Whereas the New York location is a rooftop lounge with aerial views of Manhattan, the new Chicago outpost is a small, hidden room in the bowels of the hotel with no clocks, windows or street noise; and dim lighting. James Beard Award-winner Thomas Schlesser designed the space.
The menu focuses on artisan cocktails crafted by co-manager Craig Hiljus: two pages for house cocktails, two pages for classic. Items include the "Baby Bird" (Hendricks, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain, lemon, thyme ice) and their version of a Rusty Nail (Yamazaki 12yr Scotch, Drambuie, violet ice, lavender bitters). The rest of the menu is filled with wine, sparkling, eight craft beers, and one page of small bites.
Jimmy, which isn't marketed to hotel or restaurant guests, is as much about the atmosphere as it's about the drinks. Brazil, who you last saw at Drumbar, is charged with "curating the clientele," which he calls "the next wave."
"This is not about bottle service or the celebrity thing," he says, "atmosphere is more important. If you know about it that means you should, if you don't know about it that means you shouldn't."
But even if you know about it, the sheer size might make it tough to get into. The interior holds 35 seats (couches and tables) and the bar holds just four.
The rope and doorman will appear tonight.
· Jimmy [Official Site]