"When we first sat down and tried to come up with the idea of Dove's (Luncheonette), we wanted it to be related to Big Star yet totally separate," One Off Hospitality partner Terry Alexander says. "Whereas the focus of Big Star was bourbon, the focus of this restaurant is mezcal and tequila—and the caliber and range that are on hand is unlike anywhere else in the city."
While Dove's Luncheonette, slated to open next week (according to a sign on the door), is "a restaurant first and foremost," One Off has put together an interesting beverage program for the highly-anticipated Tex-Mex diner next to Big Star. Mezcals, tequilas, and cocktails made from them will reign supreme inside a restaurant that will mostly be a daytime operation. "We're prepared to be making some cocktails in the morning," Alexander says.
Ben Fasman, former beverage director and assistant manager at Big Star, is largely basing the program on travels south of the border in Jalisco, Mexico, as well as chef Dennis Bernard's Mexican-inspired diner food.
The crux of the cocktail menu will consist of "a Bloody Mary plus four (cocktails)" that will change seasonally and lean towards light, refreshing and drinkable. Fasman predicts that Bloody Marys will Dove's top-selling drink and is working on multiple variations, including a "green Bloody Mary" built on a tomatillo base with jalapeno-infused tequila.
An interesting cocktail that will always be on the menu is a replication of a "Cantaritos," a traditional cocktail served in clay cups at roadside stands that dot the Mexican countryside. Fresh lime, orange, and grapefruit juice go into the cups, imported from Mexico, followed by salt, tequila, ice and a Squirt floater. "This is our equivalent of a Big Star margarita," Fasman says.
The "Uptown Shakedown," named for the classic Chicago soul record by Syl Johnson, is an effervescent cucumber, blanco tequila, green chartreuse, lime juice, Cocchi Americano (an Italian white wine apertif), and celery bitters cocktail.
But the real draw will be the selection of tequilas and mezcals—there will be 70 types at opening and the list will grow. Prices will range from $3 shots ($5 neat) up to $25 selections in the beginning. Like they did at Big Star, reserve selections are in the works down the line.
For non-tequila or mezcal drinkers, reach for four draft beers, eight bottles and cans, three red wines, three white wines, a rose, and one selection each of the major types of spirits.
The diner concept really only plays into one aspect of the beverage program—the coffee and tea. Dark Matter coffee will be served either drip or iced. Tea bags are designed by Roderick Markus (Rare Tea Cellars).
"The atmosphere at Dove's will be really dissimilar to Big Star," Fasman says. "What we really want this to be is kind of an oasis."
An oasis of tequila, mezcal, Bloody Marys and Tex-Mex diner food between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.
· All Dove's Luncheonette Coverage [-ECHI-]