Well I may as well just come out and say it off the top. This place is fabulous. Ab-so-lute-ly fabulous! I loved pretty much everything about it. We all did, and I have a pretty good idea you will too. Here’s why.
Sable is located in the Palomar Hotel located in River North. It’s definitely what I would consider one of the newbies since it’s only been opened since March 2010. The newness is certainly obvious upon entering through the revolving door. Not because it lacks maturity, but because of the space itself. The bar room is long and open with plenty of seating space. As always, there’s the bar itself which is a really great length without being obnoxious. I’d say it likely seats approximately 20 people. There are also plenty of high top tables or large chairs to choose from. Some areas more intimate than the others, so you won’t lack privacy if so desired. Now, lets establish something. I’m sure it’s obvious, but clearly I am not an interior decorator. I don’t assume that most of the readers here are either. Therefore, I am going to describe the interior just like I see it, without the professional knowledge and vocabulary of an interior decorator. The space is sleek and modern, but its not cold. The lighting is warm, but not overexposed. Enhanced by the the practically six foot long virtual fireplace on the far wall, you can’t miss it.
Per usual, we bellied up to the bar where we quickly met Nate, the bartender. Nate and his bar back Alex totally rock, but I’ll get back to them later. Trust me, they deserve it. There’s a lot that separates Sable from the rest, but most significantly it boasts the ability to call itself a creator of ‘craft cocktails’. What’s a craft cocktail you ask? No worries, I did too. Nate took the time explaining to us what he considers a craft cocktail, but I don’t think we paid much attention. I think we were distracted by everything going on behind the bar. You know, that whole shiny object thing. From the insane amount of liquor bottles, vast array of bitters, homemade house syrups, to the crazy copper wire ice melter that created the perfect orb of ice for a rocks glass. I’m not kidding, find some sort of drink you would like that comes with the ice orb. I promise, it won’t disappoint. So, back to the craft cocktail. Nate summed it up as a well thought out drink that uses seasonal ingredients and is specific to whatever certain flavor you’re looking for. No matter how you define it, it’s easy to see why these guys were not only invited to “Tales of the Cocktail” – the world’s premier cocktail festival, but also came home with the People’s Choice Championship Belt for their Ramos Gin Fizz.
OK, so atmosphere. The atmosphere is upscale and classy, without being arrogant. The weekend crowd mostly consists of burbanites and tout-of-towners all looking for a fabulous city experience. Any other weeknight you’ll find some happy hour seekers and industry friends who are just looking to appreciate a great cocktail, a craft cocktail if you will. As far as dress code, I think you get the idea given the photos and review, thus far. I’m all for dressing however the hell you want, no matter where you are. Therefore, I’m not going to take an authoritative stance on this subject. Ummm, what else. OK, price point. Well, it ain’t cheap. Lets just say that. Be prepared to pay low double digits, but it’s worth it.
You’ll find the bathrooms hidden behind a huge leather door nestled in between the bar and the grill. A real quick honorable mention for Executive Chef Heather Terhune who will be featured on the next season of Top Chef: Texas which begins in November (2011). OK, back to the bathrooms. You won’t find an attendant (phew) but you will find a sleek clean restroom that maintains the same agenda as Sable itself… a great first impression.
This is most definitely an ideal location. You are reading this, so clearly you dig hotel bars. Whether or not you’re staying at the Palomar, you need to check this place out. Whether you live/work in the city, you need to check this place out. If you’re lucky enough to meet and have a cocktail created by Nate (or any bartender, I’m sure), just be sure not to call him a ‘mixologist’. He’ll politely tell you he’s not a mixologist, he’s just a bartender. No you’re not, Nate. You’re a god damn supremely talented… bartender.
PS – forgot to mention… this is also the only place in the country that has Carpano sweet vermouth on tap. Yes, you read that correctly. Now that is a fine how do you do.