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Photograph: Martha WilliamsPersimmon Pisco Punch at Sepia

Sepia | Cocktail bar report card

Expert cocktails meet Michelin-rated food in the West Loop.

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History Sepia opened in 2007, losing both its chef and lauded bartender in 2009. Enter new bartender Josh Pearson and chef Andrew Zimmerman—who received a Michelin star in 2010, was nominated for a James Beard award last May and beat Marc Forgione on Iron Chef America last September. Has Sepia’s food become its main attraction?

Decor Roaring Twenties meets gorgeous boutique hotel

Crowd Well-behaved young professionals, retired couples and dates

Noise Mellow jazz

Minutes to get a seat on a weekend night Zero

Minutes to order/receive first drink 1/10

Quality The old-fashioned and the R&R Smash, a whiskey smash made with pomegranate-infused rye, are solid. The winner: the Sepia Mule, the bar’s take on the Moscow Mule, made with ginger-infused vodka for a spicy-yet-refreshing sip.

Value Cocktails are served in beautiful glassware, but for $13 they could be more generously poured.

Food The modern American fare is hearty, inventive and lives up to the hype.

Final evaluation Come for the food; stay for the drinks. Start to finish, the experience is warm, inviting and satisfying—from the sweet hostess who takes our coats to the amber lighting above the bar to the bartender who gives us complimentary cookies once we finish our meal.

Still iconic? YES

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