Paul McGee brings a worthy tiki oasis to the Avondale/Logan Square border
Lost Lake is not Three Dots and a Dash. But it’s impossible to talk about the new Logan Square/Avondale tiki bar without talking about Three Dots, so we’ll get it out of the way. Both are from bartender Paul McGee, who ran Three Dots and a Dash before departing Lettuce Entertain You group in December to join Land & Sea Dept. (Longman & Eagle, Parson’s Chicken & Fish) to open Lost Lake and future projects for the restaurant group. On the surface, there are plenty of similarities—drinks that double as flower arrangements, lush tropical decor, Hawaiian print–clad bartenders and Americanized Chinese snacks. A couple of McGee’s Three Dots drinks, like Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri and Poipu Beach Boogie Board, even made the trip to Avondale.
But that’s where the similarities end, because one sip of the cocktails tells you McGee is going in a new direction. Where Three Dots was crowd-pleasing, and even the booziest drinks were fruit-forward, Lost Lake is more challenging—and more interesting. Sure, the banana daiquiri is easy-going, but Hula Hips of Heaven has a double dose of agave, with smoky mezcal and tequila providing a strong base for citrus fruits and spices, while the Scotch-based Cocoanut Grove Cooler has a punch of peat smoothed out with pineapple and lemon, plus Batavia Arrack, rum’s Indonesian predecessor. Both are good, but I prefer Pool Rules, perfectly balanced between rum and bourbon, with vanilla and nice warm spices; Tic Tac Taxi, a coconut-passionfruit-rum slushie that debuted at Three Dots’ anniversary party last year; and Lima Lima Scorpion Bowl, a large-format drink that's a fruity-but-dry blend of gin, apple brandy and various fruits.
Occasionally, the drinks don’t quite come together, like Ripples on an Evaporated Lake, which has rum, coconut and amaro, but coffee overtakes the other flavors and the coconut flakes are unpleasant to drink. The daily daiquiri ($8, while the other cocktails are $12) has also proven a gamble, since the rums and ingredients change every day; the one I tried, Flor de Caña 4-Year Gold with honey and lime, was weighed down with honey. But on the whole, the 17-deep cocktail list (which includes four punch bowls) has plenty to explore.
The food side is also worth exploring. At Thank You, a bright, white take-out counter at the entrance to Lost Lake, Gabriel Freeman (Mott St.) is turning out an array of snacks you can order from your server, take to go or, soon, have delivered to your house. If you’ve had at least one cocktail, you should eat something—spicy fried longbeans tossed with Chinese chili paste, greasy shrimp and country ham-packed egg rolls with plum dipping sauce, and a rich bowl of fried rice with pork floss, bacon and egg yolk are ideal to snack on while drinking. But the standouts are a cooling dish of cucumbers with mint and sesame leaves, a take-out container of crisp chicken wings that’s a glorious mess of sambal and soy, and a $3 peanut snack, chewy nubs of black garlic and slices of bird’s eye chili tossed with salty-sweet peanuts, which I’m going to order on all subsequent visits.
Lost Lake is highly stylized, with leaf-print wallpaper, house glassware and neon signs, and if you’re not tempted to grab a stack of bird-print coasters to take home, you’re a better person than me. But the location means it follows the model set by the area's other cocktail bars—great drinks, relaxed ambiance, fellow patrons bedecked in plaids. This is tiki at its chillest.
|Venue name:||Lost Lake|
3154 W Diversey Ave
|Cross street:||at Kedzie Ave|
|Opening hours:||Sun-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 4pm-3am|
|Transport:||El: Blue to Logan Square. Bus: 56, 76.|
|Do you own this business?|
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Lost Lake always manages to pull off one of the most epic holiday pop-up bars in all of Chicago. The tiki bar gets into the holiday spirit with tinsel, string lights, festive glassware and a menu full of themed cocktails that will leave you giddy like...Until Tuesday January 1 2019
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Any cocktail enthusiast worth their rum should surf over to Logan Square's own trendy, yet kitschy tiki joint helmed by Paul McGee. Think of Lost Lake as a more low-key, somewhat less expensive cousin of Three Dots and a Dash. Large format cocktails, a new food menu, and the fact that its palm covered interior served as a backdrop to Orlando Bloom's episode in the Netflix show "Easy" give this place a definite cool factor. Fun fact: My first date with my boyfriend was at Lost Lake, and we're going one year strong so I'm just sayin' - bring that cute guy or gal you've been subtly flirting with from accounts payable and let the island vibes work their magic. Bear in mind, weekends tend to bring lines to get there early or come on a weekday if you're not trying to wait for your buzz.
Now that the initial hype has died down, Lost Lake is an awesome neighborhood spot. It usually doesn't take too long to get a table, but it's worth the wait, anyway. The drinks are super delicious and super strong -- the frozen daiquiri is probably the simplest drink, but my personal favorite.
Lost Lake is an amazing bar with happy, delicious drinks and I totally recommend going if you can get a seat. I love that some drinks are made for two! (like the Bourbon Barrel, Bourbon Barreled)
OK. Lost Lake is just about everything everyone says—the drinks are amazing, there's a cute little Chinese restaurant you can order "take out" from (delivered right to your table) and the service is top-notch. Despite it being right in my neighborhood, I rarely find myself here due to the crowds. If and when you go, try for an off night, otherwise you'll be waiting in doorway, or worse—out in the freezing cold.
I'm buying into the tiki craze whole hog—er, whole bottle of rum—and Lost Lake is my favorite spot to participate when I'm in Chicago. It's kitschy without being over the top, the wallpaper is the stuff of tropical dreams, and the drinks come dolled up with all sorts of fruits and adornments in appropriately shaped cups. And those drinks are delicious and strong, friends. Some of them are frozen, some of them are on fire, and they'll all knock you on your ass, which isn't such a terrible place to be as long as you know in advance that's where you're headed. Cheers!
Hands down, best drinks I have ever had that put me on my ass! I only had two... but they were awesome and actually didn't break the bank. We already knew the wait would be long, but luckily there was just two of us and we got to jump a few larger groups. We order he wings, they had two versions and both were great but I prefer the chile lime. Side-note, I was surprised how clean the bathrooms were and appreciated that! Def going back very soon, this time with a few ladies! #partytime
Lost Lake is an oasis just off the beaten path in Logan Square. Prepare for a wait if you want a table, but seriously, once you're seated (or even hovering near one of the bar stools), you won't want to leave. The drink presentation alone makes the cocktail prices worth it. It's basically free entertainment as you sit there and watch in awe as the garnishes fill your quirky cup to overflowing. Oh, and not to mention that the tiki drinks are absolutely delicious and the space itself makes you feel like you're right on the beach. It's the kind of place you definitely want to bring visiting friends to. And don't worry, if you don't like fruity drinks, you can still grab something else from the full bar.
The tiki craze is on the verge of being played out, but it's hard to deny that Paul McGee knows how to mix up some tasty rum drinks. The drink prices are a little steep (by Logan Square cocktail bar standards) but those colorful garnishes probably aren't cheap. A word to the wise to those who can't handle their liquor: Just one of these drinks can make your head spin. Thankfully, there's an adjacent Chinese food restaurant (called Thank You, naturally) that allows you to soak up the booze with fried rice and other greasy, take out dishes.
Lost Lake is my absolute favorite bar to grab drinks. I've been there several times and each time has been a blast. It's a great place to escape to when the Chicago weather isn't cooperating and you feel like you need to get away from the cold and/or rain for a bit. The drinks are fantastic, the food from Thank You, the American Chinese restaurant next door, is delicious! And what seals the deal, is they deliver food straight to your table.