Royalty-themed Rococo cocktail lounge King of Cups opens today in Lincoln Park at 2238 N. Lincoln Avenue, with an eclectic cocktail menu, over-the-top decor, and a suit of armor. Father-son team Dino and Brandon Vulpitta, who also own Brando’s Speakeasy in the South Loop, and collaborator Taylor Kravitt hope to keep drinkers in the neighborhood with an experience that stands out from the crowd of neighborhood sports bars and taverns.
King of Cups’ decor makes a statement: candelabras and busts stand on the long, dark wood bar and maroon fabric draped regally overhead softens the metal fixtures and exposed brick wall that backs it. Gilded chandeliers hang from the ceiling and cozy-looking leather booths and banquettes fill out the intimate 1,000 square-foot space that seats 60. An elevated throne along a side wall faces the bar, flanked by a full suit of armor. Elaborate framed portraits and monitors feature royals — by blood or fame — including “the King” Elvis, Queen Victoria, and interplanetary prince David Bowie.
Festivities begin tonight and will continue beyond grand opening weekend, which includes burlesque performances, live music, and tarot readings. Paranormal researcher, medium, and television personality Chris Fleming (son of Chicago Blackhawks player Reggie Fleming) will make an appearance at King of Cups on Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and has plans to drop in around 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Owners describe the cocktail list as “approachable,” and hope it appeals to both newbies and connoisseurs. 20 drinks named for performers and local industry figures make up the detailed menu — “Smerch’s Swizzle” honors the space’s original owner Bob Smerch, the self-proclaimed “king of dive bars.” Drinks cost $12 each and Vulpitta said larger cocktails for two-to-four people are coming soon for a few more ducats, and has plans to add a zero-proof cocktail list at the end May. King of Cups will not serve food.
The full drink menu is available below:
- Smerch’s Swizzle: Copper & Kings apple brandy, Pimms, corn/blueberry cordial, lemon, blueberries, pinot noir
- Rococo Rush: coconut-infused rum, chardonnay, demerara, tiki bitters, absinthe, toasted coconut nutmeg rim
- Grand Poobah: Sneaky Fox vodka, Chareau (aloe vera liqueur), watermelon, lime, mint
- Ginger Grant: Apple-infused Chivas whiskey, dry vermouth, pomegranate balsamic shrub, orange bitters
- Tuff Gong: Plantation pineapple, rum fire, Crème Yvette, orgeat, lime, Gosling rum
- Old King Cole: Bourbon, Averna, Punt e Mes vermouth, root beer bitters
- Glass Eater: Silver tequila, gin, beet, lime, cinnamon, aromatic bitters, cinnamon dust
- Lady Jack: Sneaky Fox vodka, Aperol, plum syrup, lemon, prosecco
- Maximilian the Imposter: Banana-infused mezcal, bourbon, Lustau PX Sherry, chocolate bitters, Angostura bitters, applewood smoke
- Crimson Butterfly: Pisco, green jasmine tea syrup, lemon, egg white, Peychauds bitters
- Virtuous Queen: Bluecoat gin, Campari, Lillet Rose, rosemary lavender tincture
- Lady India: Bourbon, Carpano Anitca, lemon, IPA beer syrup, Angostura bitters
- Madam Lennox: Gin, Salers Aperitif, lemon, Fever Tree tonic, floated Peychauds bitters
- Boss Daley: Rye whiskey, apple brandy, Carpano Antica, Cynar, rhubarb bitters, Angostura bitters
- Heavy Diva: Plantation 3 Stars rum, Santa Teresa rum, Crème De Banane, pineapple-orange cordial, lime, toasted coconut tincture
- Son of Corleone: Copper & Kings brandy, red wine syrup, lemon, egg white, Peychauds bitters
- King of Make Believe: Silver tequila, Cointreau, lime, bell pepper cordial, controlled habanero, black lava salt
- Old Fashioned, On Tap: Bourbon, demerara syrup, Angostura bitters, orange swath, cherry
- Absolute Rule, On Tap: Bourbon, Central Standard brandy, Guinness syrup, Angostura bitters, applewood basil tincture
- Mr. Valentino: Mezcal, yellow chartreuse, Campari, pineapple, lime
King of Cups, 2238 N. Lincoln Avenue, open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Wednesday through Sunday.