Tarot Cards and Burlesque Sideshows, Make This Bona Fide Speakeasy Stand Out

On this episode of On Foodable Side Dish we meet Liz Pearce, the managing partner at The Drifter, an authentic speakeasy from Chicago’s Prohibition era. The bar is hidden behind a door that poses as a decorated, wooden shelf on a wall inside a restaurant called The Green Door Tavern. Even the restaurant’s name alludes to the fact that there was a functioning bar inside of the establishment during the 1920s and 1930s. Back then, painting a restaurant's door green indicated the presence of an illicit liquor store or nightclub.

When describing the bar, Pearce, who is an alumna of The Aviary and Drawing Room, smiled and said “I created a fun atmosphere for bad tinder dates.”

She was referring to the unique sideshow entertainment acts that are featured throughout the evening, which average out to five performances total on Wednesdays and Thursdays and seven on Fridays and Saturdays. Also, the interesting format each drink is presented in— there are a total of 95 cocktails in Pearce’s tarot card drink menu arsenal— along with the ever-changing, drink options offered each night gives the bar an edge and prevents it from becoming dull and repetitive. All of these elements play against a bona fide backdrop of prohibition-era decor that would be hard to replicate.

When Pearce is not preoccupied making sure things run smoothly at The Drifter, which has a total capacity of 37, she is directing the beverage program for Bonhomme Hospitality Group, a company focused on memorable dining and beverage experiences across various concepts, including a Spanish tapas bar, an art and music focused restaurant, and a four floor, multi-concept nightclub and lounge.

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The Drinks

  • Bye Felicia - “...it’s light, it’s approachable, it’s easy… you can have like eight of them if you really want to and it’s not going to totally knock you out,” said Pearce, about her goal for this cocktail.

Ingredients: Pistachio infused vodka, Pistachio Liqueur Earl Grey syrup, Lemon, Caramelized pineapple juice, club soda.

  • Spruce Jenner - “...very clean and refreshing… so, that’s super easy drinking,” said Pearce, about the cocktail.

Ingredients: Spruce Infused Gin, Chareau Aloe liqueur, Mastiha, Lime, House tonic.

  • Upstate Cocktail - “...kind of a riff on a Manhattan, but this is for when you go upstate in the winter and you’re hanging out with friends by the fire…” said Pearce, about the inspiration for the drink.

Ingredients: Rye Whiskey, Punt e Mes, Walnut Liqueur, Apple Bitters, Walnut Bitters, Demerara