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A fried chicken sandwich beside a cocktail.0
Mother’s Ruin aims to pack a punch in a small space on Milwaukee Avenue.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

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Bombastic New York Cocktail Bar Mother’s Ruin Finally Arrives in Chicago

Explore the long-awaited Chicago outpost of a crowd-pleasing Manhattan drinking den

It was December 2019 and spirits were high for Mother’s Ruin, the crowd-pleasing New York City bar known for spiked slushies and large crowds since debuting in 2011. The team had announced plans to open a Chicago outpost, and they set to work replicating the Big Apple vibe at 2943 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Avondale. That excitement — and their plans for a Midwestern debut — was shelved four months later when the pandemic hit.

But two years later and spring on the horizon — and the city’s latest mask and vaccine mandates in the rear-view mirror — Mother’s Ruin finally debuted last week in Chicago. That means a rotating cocktail menu with seasonal spiked slushies. As Chicago has dropped its COVID mandates, it appears the Mother’s Ruin team is ready. Helpfully, the team’s landlord is also a partner in the business and its contractor — an unusual scenario that allowed for significant flexibility.

“We always knew we were going to open regardless, but there was no need to rush this,” says chef and partner Nick Pfannerstill.

A narrow cocktail bar with wooden floors and a low, white pressed tin ceiling.
A simple bar space with white walls and dark wood furnshings.

Mother’s Ruin seats 65 inside.

Patrons can also order off the bar’s food menu, which includes favorites from the New York original like a spicy chicken sandwich and smoked trout caesar salad alongside new dishes such as green chile beer cheese nachos made with tortillas from local brand El Milagro, vegan falafel burgers, and French onion soup grilled cheeses. Staff plan to roll out a daily brunch menu in the next few weeks.

A round plate of nachos.
Green chile beer cheese nachos (carnitas, cheddar, black beans, tomatillo salsa jalapenos)

Partners were particularly excited about the Milwaukee Avenue space because of its strong resemblance to the space that eventually housed the New York original. Those qualities — exposed brick, original wooden floors, oversize mirrors, and menu boards — are all on display in the completed 1,2000 square-foot space that seats 65 under a low pressed tin ceiling. When reliably warm weather returns, the bar will add a dozen more seats on an outdoor patio.

The new Avondale bar marks the third opening for the Mother’s Ruin team, which in late 2019 opened its first satellite location in Nashville. Though they want the business’s festive, high-energy ethos to remain central in each venue, the partners hope each will develop its own distinctive qualities by osmosis with the neighborhood.

“We want [Mother’s Ruin] to be totally recognizable with the exact same vibe, but all the spots have unique twists which keeps it fun for all of us,” says Pfannerstill. “We’re not tryng to do a big brand expansion, we just had a ton of friends here.”

Mother’s Ruin Chicago, 2943 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Friday; 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday.

Cocktails will change early and often.
A close shot of a salad.
Crushed beet salad (sunflower seed tahini, kale, feta).
A basket with a fried chicken sandwich and waffle fries.
Mama’s McFish sandwich with Old Bay waffle fries.

Mother's Ruin Chicago

2943 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 Visit Website
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