Cocktail bars are scarce on the Northwest Side, but Moonflower, which recently opened in Portage Park will help fill the void. Founded by three industry veterans, Moonflower offers craft cocktails with unusual ingredients, such as Milkis, a milk-based soda from South Korea, and Goldsaft, a German sugar beet syrup, plus snacks and an extensive soul music soundtrack.
The three owners, Zach Rivera, Christina Chae, and Marvin Boeving, all met while working at the Machine Hospitality Group (Headquarters Beercade, Machine), and decided to open a bar together. Their landlords, Marcus and Robert Sulejmani, offered them a break on the rent on the space formerly occupied by their own bar Hops & Barley. Carlos Cruz, the former culinary director for 16” On Center (Dusek’s, Saint Lou’s Assembly), signed on as a consulting chef.
The bar bears the stamp of each of the three owners. Many of the plants used in the decor come from Chae’s personal collection. The menu contains sandwiches because Boeving is a fan. And Rivera, whose father was a jazz drummer, assembled the Spotify playlist that customers hear in the background. The cocktail ingredients reflect things they grew up eating and drinking: Boeving is from Germany, Rivera is Puerto Rican American, and Chae was born in South Korea.
There’s also an extensive food menu with soups, dips, salads, and sandwiches.
Moonflower is just the beginning of a larger project. Later this winter, Rivera, Chae, and Boeving plan to open a second cocktail bar in the basement called Nightshade. It will be more intimate, and both the drinks and the music will be more experimental: corn chip and poblano martinis and a gin-based cocktail with coconut, purple rice, and lime, and a lot of deep cuts on the sound system.
Moonflower, 4359 N. Milwaukee, Open 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.