Chicago's New Meadowlark Cocktail Bar Names Its Drinks For Midwestern Birds

Speakeasies are having a moment right now. From the exclusive bar at Lydia on H to the if-you-know-you-know backroom at NYC's Sel Rrose, folks are searching for cocktails a little off the beaten trail. Today, the hunt for the ultimate small, little-known bar takes us to the Windy City. Not only is Chicago a hot spot for fine dining and iconic deep-dish pizza, but it's also home to some of the best speakeasies a wandering barman can find.

Meadowlark just opened to the public on October 3, but already boasts 4 ½ stars on Yelp. The Logan Square cocktail bar comes from Steve Lewis and Chris Thompson, owners of café/wine store Lardon and beer spot Union, says Eater – both of which are also located in Logan Square. According to What Now Chicago, Meadowlark is located directly behind its two sister stores via a secluded side entrance. The Infatuation says Meadowlark "feels like a secret clubhouse," with the sign out front being just a wordless bird silhouette. 

The 825-square-foot building is 110 years old and only has enough seating for 30 guests at a time. Meadowlark boasts a yellow-lit, wood-paneled interior filled with vintage glass lamps, exposed brick, bookshelves, dark leather, and old framed photos. Steve Lewis spent over a year personally compiling the antiques that decorate Meadowlark. So, what's on the menu? Spoiler alert: it's bird-themed.

A nod to aviary spirits

Abe Vucekovich, Meadowlark's beverage director, created 16 cocktails for the bar's "inaugural menu," which is called "Field Guide Vol.1 – Birds of the Midwest" via an Instagram post. Kicking things off is the eponymous "Western Meadowlark," a rye-based cocktail with yellow chartreuse, pineapple amaro, and house-made Old Fashioned bitters. There's also the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, with brandy, sherry, amaro, and orange bitters (via Eater), and the Cedar Waxwing, with gin, amaro, sotol, green chartreuse, lime, and mint. Let's not forget the Snowy Owl, which features a shaken egg — very ornithological. To really drive home the theme, Meadowlark's physical paper menus are designed to look like a vintage ornithology field guide.

Rotating themed menus will be an ongoing feature at Meadowlark. Vucekovich reportedly has plans to bring the 1970s New York punk scene to Chicago with a CBGB-inspired cocktail lineup. But, for the bar's debut menu, the local bird theme seemed like an obvious choice: "It's our 'taking-flight' moment, and what better way to honor the journey that we've been on these past few years building Meadowlark Hospitality than to show our reverence for the name behind it," says Lewis, via What Now Chicago. In addition to cocktails, Meadowlark also offers small plates for snacking while sipping, including a charcuterie board, potato chips with caviar (yes, really), and grilled skewers.