Broken Shaker Chicago Brings a Bit of Miami to the Windy City

Broken Shaker Chicago opens
Broken Shaker Chicago opens
Photo by Adrian Gant

The Broken Shaker has officially opened the doors to its new Chicago home. The bar, located at the Freehand Chicago at 19 E. Ohio St. in the city's River North neighborhood, combines the bar's Miami vibe with a bit of Chicago cool.

The property itself is steeped in history. Designed by architect Ralph C. Harris, the 17-story building made its debut in 1927 as the Devonshire Hotel. The Devonshire closed and reopened as the Tokyo Hotel in 1978, operating as a budget hotel for backpackers and students. Now, the hotel gets a new life as the Freehand.

The bar's decor pretty much recreates the flagship Miami bar, complete with vintage wallpaper and bottles of house-made bitters and elixirs. This time, however, palm trees are replaced by pines in a nod to the geographic region of this new incarnation of the cocktail lounge.  

Broken Shaker's Gabriel Orta says of the Chicago location, "The main message is that we didn't want to create a Miami bar. We wanted to created our own story here and to embrace the culture, tradition and pride of this beautiful city."

The Freehand Chicago
The Freehand Chicago
Photo by Adrian Gant

As such,  Orta and partner Elad Zvi have developed a cocktail menu that offers some of the Shaker's favorite drinks from Miami, along with a collection of Chicago-inspired libations. The Chicago location also won't see as much of a rotation of its drink menu. Unlike the Miami bar, which changes its core cocktail list every three weeks, Broken Shaker Chicago's drinks will change only four times a year, to reflect the seasons. As in Miami, local ingredients will drive the menu.

The current iteration of the menu features a Chicago-inspired list of cocktails like the Godmother (roasted corn reduction, Amontillado sherry, citrus, and Vida mezcal, dressed with chapulin herb salt); the Devonshire Fizz (rare tea cellars Sicilian blood orange blend, local honey, Campari, grapefruit soda, sweet vermouth, and Milagro tequila); and Chicago Politics (spiced coconut crème, citrus, Szechuan peppercorn, Fino sherry, and Absoult Elyx vodka). Miami cocktails that made the trip to the Midwest include the Cocoa Puff Old Fashioned and the Al Pastor Margarita.

Palm trees are replaced by pine trees at Broken Shaker Chicago.
Palm trees are replaced by pine trees at Broken Shaker Chicago.
Photo by Adrian Gant

In addition to drinks, Broken Shaker Chicago offers a small menu of bites and bigger plates by executive chef Jonathan Meyer and sous chef Daniel Diersen. Offerings include seared Spanish octopus with charred ramp salsa verde, hickory, sunflower seeds, fingerling potatoes, caraway and black sesame brittle ($15); fish and chips of fried smelt, yucca, cornichons, preserved lemon, and malt vinegar powder ($14); pan roasted quail with potato confit, cucumber and radish salad, house-made piripiri sauce, and local yogurt ($20); a burger with double Wagyu patties ($15); burrata with cardamom roasted baby carrots and curry pickled fennel ($12); and a sunchoke salad with local sorrel, chicory, Fresno chiles, orange, fermented black garlic vinaigrette, and sea salt ($13). 

The Broken Shaker joins a thriving cocktail scene in Chicago, including world-class heavy hitters like Grant Achatz's the Aviary, Paul McGee's Three Dots and a Dash, and Bernard's Bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Of course, after winning several awards, including semi-finalist nods from James Beard and a spot on the World's 50 Best Bars list, the Broken Shaker boys will feel right at home in the Windy City. 

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