Heisler Hospitality's formula for Sportsman's Club was a simple one—take an old bar and spruce it up and add a few friendly bartenders. The result was a new-school bar with old-school charm that kept people coming back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. Estereo will bring the same welcoming vibe with menu of Latin American spirits (yes, including agave), sprawling concrete bar, plus daytime coffee service.
"Jeff [Donahue] and I, for a long time had wanted to not only do a bar that was the opposite of Sportsman's—had a focus on agave spirits, and brighter, more refreshing cocktails year-round—but also build a really, really amazing all-day bar," says managing partner Wade McElroy. Opening on July 7 at 2450 N. Milwaukee Ave., Estereo brings the feeling of a Cuban cocktail lounge to Logan Square.
Heisler bar veterans Ben Fasman and Michael Rubel developed the drink list and will run the bar. The cocktail slash coffee bar was inspired by several trips to Mexico and Cuba that exposed the team to vibrant bars filled with fresh fruit juice cocktails and live music. "There's sort of a different feel to bars that are in warmer, tropical locations. It's a bit more laid back and loose and fun," Donahue says. Estereo will feature the mid-century aesthetic of brightly colored-tiles, copper and concrete accents, as well as light wood paneling to capture that Old Havana vibe. An extensive vinyl collection with be utilized nightly in a raised DJ booth and natural light will fill the space during the day thanks to retractable windows on two sides of the space.
When guests enter the space—starting as early as 11 a.m.—they are welcomed by a Modbar espresso machine offering Dark Matter coffee drinks. Food will be limited to freshly baked pastries, but ample outlets and seating will encourage lingering. "Coffee was another thing that was prevalent everywhere during out travels. We definitely are taking that seriously here," McElroy says. "I think when all of the windows are open, it'll be a really incredible place to hang out during the day, even if you are just having a cup of coffee and working on your laptop."
Make no mistake; this is first and foremost a drinking establishment. The triangle-shaped bar that takes up the majority of the 1,700-square foot space screams that. Cocktails displayed on a menu board will mostly be citrus-based cocktails. Each will showcase a different spirit, specifically, pisco, cachaca, mezcal, tequila, rum, and rhum agricole. There will also be a rotating frozen and coffee drinks, plus single-stirred cocktails. The house highball, dubbed "The Breezy," pairs a spirit of choice with Yerba Mate, falernum, soda, and lime. While the house beer will be Victoria—one of the most popular beers in Oaxaca—with four draft beers, four canned beers, and one cider also served.
"At the end of the day, we didn't want to have a single focus," McElroy says. "By creating an all-day bar, a bar that really focused on light pouring though the windows and bright, expressive drinks, we can have that same kind of energy that Sportsman's Club has, but flip the environment on its head, which is, I think, what we're trying to do here."