Uptown drinkers now have a much-needed new cocktail bar helmed by two of Chicago’s most-acclaimed barmen. Larry’s, a cozy neighborhood spot inspired by a classic hotel bar, opens today in the historic Lawrence House, the restored residential building at 1020 W. Lawrence Ave. that feels like a throwback hotel. Heisler Hospitality vets Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue, Eater Chicago’s co-bartenders of the year in 2014 that are most known for their work at Sportsman’s Club, designed the menu and oversee operations of the bar.
While Uptown is home to Chicago stalwarts including The Green Mill and Aragon Ballroom, the North Side neighborhood doesn’t have many good cocktail bars. McElroy and Donahue hope Larry’s can be that for the hood. "Uptown was appealing to us," McElroy says. "There are some rock-solid places, but places for a great cocktail or beer are few and far between. We’re happy to bring this to the neighborhood."
Bar owner Michael Salvatore, who owns Heritage Outpost coffee shop inside the same building, has had an idea for the bar for three years and partnered with McElroy and Donahue. Larry’s is connected to the Lawrence House’s main lobby and is open to the general public. It holds four four-top tables, a five-seat bar, and a long communal table that runs down the center of the space. It’s decorated with artwork sourced from Scout, the urban antique shop up the street in Andersonville, whose owner coincidentally is named Larry. The bar itself is named after the building, however. Patrons can also bring their drinks out to the lobby and sip on them while relaxing on its many couches and other seating options.
To drink, McElroy and Donahue put together a menu filled with house cocktails and takes on classics, as well as local craft beers and a few wines by the glass. "(The menu is) about experimentation and finding cool new combinations," McElroy says. Case in point is the house cocktail, Larry’s, a twist on an old fashioned with salted coffee flavor and Elijah Craig bourbon that’s also a nod to Heritage. The "Rainbo" (pictured below) is another highlight, made with Dewar’s Scotch, Campari, beet, grapefruit, raspberry and ginger beer. Cocktails cost between $9 and $14, while beers range $4 to $8. Read through the full menu below.
While Larry’s may indeed serve some of the best cocktails in the neighborhood, McElroy and Donahue hope it’s simply known for its cozy, comfortable, nostalgic space, in addition to good cocktails made by knowledgable bartenders. "At the end of the day it’s just a really solid neighborhood bar," McElroy says. Take a look around below.
Larry’s, 1020 W. Lawrence Ave. inside The Lawrence House, open 5 p.m. until midnight on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4 p.m. until midnight on Fridays through Sundays, currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, (773) 245-3005.