Rick Bayless and daughter Lanie Bayless have plans for a small “jewel box” cocktail bar underneath Frontera Grill in River North. This unnamed 50-seat spot will serve small plates and drinks curated by Lanie Bayless. The younger Bayless came up with the idea after she joined the family business in 2016 when Leña Brava opened in the West Loop and works as the restaurant group’s spirits director.
The opening timeline isn’t set. Bayless told the Tribune that they’re pushing for a November 1 opening, but if they don’t hit that date the opening would be pushed until the spring. There’ll be a speakeasy vibe as the main entrance will be in the back alley. Cutomers can also enter through the restaurant.
Herbs will power the drinks at the new lounge, and not just the kind used in cooking. Rick Bayless mentioned several bars in Mexico that use medicinal herbs in their drinks. Now, some of these herbs are also used in cooking. They’re sold at Mexican markets for medicinal purposes and many Mexican bartenders have appropriated them for their drinks across the border. Rick Bayless’s curiosity piqued when he was offered a cocktail at a Mexican bar that used an herb he had never heard of and the Baylesses now plan to use that inspiration in Chicago. It’s unclear which herbs may be used, as Bayless didn’t divulge in his interviews.
The small plates will be unlike any other dishes served at Bayless restaurants. He described them to Food & Wine as “adventurous” and “cool.”
Check back for more information as the Bayless family shares.