Ever crave to be transported to a mid-1920s back alley brothel or opium den in Macau? That's the aesthetic the fine folks at Fat Rice are gunning for when they open their much-delayed cocktail room that neighbors the Logan Square restaurant. That 20-seat space also now has a name: The Ladies Room. The opening is planned for either January or February inside the tiny 500-square-foot space Fat Rice currently uses as a waiting room.
Fat Rice owners revealed even more details, as chef/owner Abe Conlon is creating a variety of in-house bitters sourced locally: Black-cumin cherry stem, chamomile-fenugreek bitters, lovage bitters (like celery), celtuce bitters (bitter-stem lettuce) and green-Sichuan peppercorn. Infused spirits will also be available as Conlon's working on a snap pea-infused vodka that he aims to serve with aqua fresca made from cucumber, jalapeño and dill, sipped through a straw made of lovage. They're tentatively calling that creation "Drink Your Veggies." They'll also feature house-preserved fruits and vegetables for cocktails.
There's also a collaboration between Seedling, CH Distillery and Fat Rice's Transylvanian janitor: Tuica, a strong plum brandy sipped in Romania. And fans of spice aren't left out as Conlon is working on a barreled-aged version of Dr Pepper, made with scorpion and Szechuan peppers with a homemade cherry juice infusion.
The Ladies Room will also expand on the same Portuguese wines Fat Rice showcases in the restaurant. Oh, and Conlon's making his own version of malört, mixing bitter melon, ginseng, mushroom and Chinese herbs. That last bit comes courtesy of Imbibe, which includes Conlon on the Imbibe 75, their annual list of prominent beverage folks that comes out in their January/February issue (the same issue that recognized Lost Lake). An appearance by a chef on that list is a rarity, but Imbibe recognized Conlon's "mad scientist" vibe. Conlon lacks any formal mixologist training, relying on his knowledge of flavors to create beverages. He said working with drinks has helped him become a better chef.
Here's more nuggets on the interiors: The walls will feature deep-red hues and banquette seating, as well as 1920s vintage pinup posters from China. They're also bringing antique Chinese pieces from Fat Rice partner Adrienne Lo's grandmother's house. The room was a spot to give Conlon extra space to house preserved kitchen ingredients, but it's evolved to loftier expectations. Keep it here for more details on The Ladies Room.