It’s been about a year since Mordecai, Eater Chicago’s 2018 bar of the year, opened in Wrigleyville and there are changes at the venue inside the Hotel Zachary. The second-floor space has been given a name: Hush Money, and will focus more on drinks. Management made modest decor changes and will add a DJ two nights a week to create a different atmosphere across the street from Wrigley Field.
Mordecai was billed as a place for vintage whiskey pours when it opened. It was a relaxed spot where drinkers could browse a dense menu of rare spirits. The restaurant featured a menu from chef Jared Wentworth who presided over Longman & Eagle in Logan Square when the restaurant earned Michelin stars. The food earned positive reviews. But Wentworth quickly departed. With Hush Money, the ground-floor space can focus more on being a restaurant.
Matthias Merges and Folkart Restaurant Management has been rolling out changes to the space this month, but the biggest comes in May when they’ll add a DJ program, adding more energy to the atmosphere. The second-floor space is a narrow one, so there’s not much room for a dance floor, but they’ll have themed nights. Sundays will blend disco and deep cuts and Fridays will bring a mix of soul, old-school hip-hop, and funk.
Named for Cubs’s hurler “Three Finger” Mordecai Brown, a baseball player from the early 20th Century, Hush Money refers to Brown’s unfortunate run-ins with the Black Hand Mob, a criminal organization that sent that attempted to bribe Brown and later sent him death threats.
The bar features six draft beers and wines. The new 10-cocktail menu that goes way inside baseball. The cocktails aren’t all whiskey focused. “Tea Time Too” is mixed with pisco, agricole, hibiscus tea syrup, cacao, fennel, and lime. Another drink, “The Giant Killer” (rye, Campari, gran classic, vermouth di torino) is part of Cubs’s lore, named for pitcher Jack Pfiester, one of Brown’s teammates. Many of the drinks are references to a 1908 game between the Cubs and the New York Giants, a one-game playoff to make the World Series. That’s where the “Tiebreaker” (Highland tequila, aperol, soda) gets its name from.
Management always intended to open Hush Money with its DJs and new cocktails, but they wanted to wait until the Hotel Zachary launched, according to a spokesperson. They’ll wait and watch the crowds this baseball season to see if fans react well to the changes.
Hush Money is open on the second-floor of the Hotel Zachary. But expect more changes throughout May before the transformation is complete.
Hush Money, 3632 N. Clark Street, (773) 269-5410 open 5 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday and Thursday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday through Sunday.