Sportsman’s Club (948 N Western Ave), the latest project from Heisler Hospitality (Trenchermen, Barrelhouse Flat), is in soft-open mode and officially opens on Friday. We talked with managing partners Wade McElroy (Trenchermen, Barrelhouse Flat) and Jeff Donahue (Aviary, Barrelhouse Flat) about what you’ll be drinking at the bar, which took over an old Polish dive of the same name and strives to be an “every person bar.” Here are five things to know.
The bar pays homage to the old Sportsman’s Club.
Heisler Hospitality is planning to open a series of new bars in old Chicago taverns. Sportsman’s Club is the first one, and it’s located in an old Polish bar. There’s going to be a Polish beer on the menu and Polish music playing on the reel-to-reel. The original bar is still in place, but the old bar used to have a “European feel,” which they’ve tweaked with lots of taxidermy and a tapestry of a French hunting scene to give it a “French hunting club feel.”
The cocktail list is short.
Every night there will be three to four rotating cocktails, including a house cocktail called the Sportsman's Cocktail, currently made with amaro, tart cherry and absinthe. The recipe will change, but it will likely always be an aromatic bitter drink. Other cocktails will be variations on classics. The pair intend to change offerings up frequently so they can “explore the back bar” and use a variety of spirits. Cocktails are $10 and the Sportsman’s Cocktail is $8. A shot and a beer will cost $5.
There’s an amaro machine.
During Tales of the Cocktail this year, McElroy and Donahue went to a New Orleans bar called Twelve Mile Limit, where they spotted chilled shot machines like the old Jäger machines. They decided to make blends of amaro and serve them as a shot or with soda as a high-ball. They’re playing around with combinations, and a recent pop-up at Trenchermen featured a blend of Averna, Fernet Branca, Cocchi Rosa and Angostura bitters.
Plus beer and wine.
Donahue has a background as a sommelier and he’s offering a couple wines by the glass that are “terroir-driven” and made with unfamiliar grapes from familiar regions or familiar grapes from unfamiliar regions. On the beer front, they went in a “worldly direction” and aim to represent lots of different styles and categories in bottles or on draft from eight taps. There’s also a carry-out booze program and all wines and beers on the bar menu are available to go from the store.
There’s no food, but lots of dining options.
Sportsman’s Club has a tavern license, but you can order food to be delivered. Or, McElroy and Donahue suggest stopping in for a cocktail and then buying a bottle of wine to take to a nearby BYOB restaurant. Bite Café and Kai Zan are located right nearby, while Leghorn Chicken, Element Collective’s new chicken sandwich shop, is slated to open at 959 North Western in mid-January.
Sportsman's Club is open Sunday–Friday from 5pm-2am and Saturday from 5pm-3am.