The Hidden José Andrés Cocktail Bar Devoted To Jamón Ibérico

One would think José Andrés has enough on his plate, swooping in to provide food to residents displaced in war-torn Ukraine and partnering with local chefs to offer meals to people stranded during the deadly Buffalo blizzard (via World Central Kitchen). But the Michelin-star chef known for his humanitarian efforts has also been busy establishing a presence in Chicago. It's a return to his roots of sorts. Since debuting Jaleo in mid-2021, Andrés has added The Bazaar (Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar) and Café by The River (via Chicago Tribune) to his Chi-town roster.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Andrés has long had a soft spot for the Windy City. It's among the first American cities he visited after immigrating from Spain in 1992 at age 23. So it should come as no surprise that, when the time was right, he brought Jaleo to Chicago with the intention of sharing the diversity of Spanish food, from traditional favorites to new combinations of classic ingredients, in a setting that encourages tapas-style, shared-plate dining.

But when he opened Jaleo in 2021, following a number of pandemic-related delays, Andrés promised he had yet another trick up his sleeve. A few months after Jaleo debuted to rave reviews in Chicago, Andrés made good on his promise, opening Pigtail: Pig & Cocktail, a speakeasy-style eatery located directly below Jaleo.

It's all about the pig

Secret Chicago reports the lower-level speakeasy, designed by Barcelona-based Capella Garcia, is an intimate, dimly lit space that functions as a more casual counterpoint to Jaleo, making it a hotspot for pre-or post-dinner drinks in addition to being a destination in its own right. As its name implies, Pigtail: Pig & Cocktails showcases two things Andrés professes to love: ham and cocktails (via Food & Wine). That's ham in the form of jamón ibérico, an age-old delicacy harvested from black pigs native to Spain. The pork-forward menu of sharing plates includes dishes like Cono Ibérico (ibérico tartare, shallot, cucumber, Pedro Ximénez sherry vinegar, and cured egg yolk) and Ibérico Smashburger (ibérico patty, aioli, romesco, caramelized onion, and cheese espuma on a housemade brioche bun). But the pork theme extends beyond food with drink offerings like the Consome Cocktail (pork consomme, palo cortado, amontillado, and egg foam) and Andrés & Cooper (Del Maguey ibérico mezcal, Yzaguirre gran reserva 1884 vermouth, amontillado, Cynar, ibérico ham, and kalamata olives).

Patrons should expect a bit of mystique, too. Just prior to the grand opening Miguel Lancha, cocktail innovator for Andrés' parent company, ThinkFoodGroup, told Food & Wine, "There will be some whimsical, theatrical, tableside action where you're getting frozen things with a hot espuma on top, for example, or where we're making aromatic clouds. It's a very fun menu for both the table and the bar."