Drink of the week: Spooked Cider at Manor; available through Thanksgiving.
The damage: $12 on the rocks or $15 as a martini.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? A clubbing streak hit me early on in my going-out years. It was a time of curfews and under-18 dance parties, when my friends and I would bust out to Jay-Z at places like The Generator or other clubs that sounded like something you'd buy at Menard's. By mid-college I had overdosed on the dance scene, and continued to stay away from clubs after moving to Chicago, a city rife with discotheques that would've made my 17-year-old self giddy with all their glitz. Last weekend, though, I once again heard the clubs calling, so off I went to Manor, a sleek, castle-themed nightspot in River North.
How it went down: Clad in heels and a dress that hadn't left my closet in ages, I felt my grand return to the club scene warranted a commemorative cocktail. Manor's got the kind of drink list that'll make your head spin faster than a strobe light, with its refreshing takes on classics like the Yorkshire (Grey Goose La Poire, Midori and sour). With Halloween just around the corner, I zeroed in on the festive libations and ordered up the Spooked Cider, a 50-50 blend of chilled Southern Comfort and apple cider, served on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale.
The only thing I found spooky about the Spooked Cider was its potency of SoCo; I've had more than a few frightening run-ins with whiskey-flavored liqueur. Surprisingly, though, the cinnamon and vanilla notes of the booze blended seamlessly into the spicy, sugary cider. The resulting mix warmed my belly with its peppery aftertaste and undercurrent of cloves, a combination that seemed as fitting for an apple orchard as for a dance floor.
Would I want to become a regular? I was struck by two vast differences between Manor and the clubs I used to visit way back when. First of all, the female dancers at Manor rocked skimpy underthings as they shook like mad on the platforms surrounding the V.I.P area, a far cry from when my teenage cohorts and I would amateurishly groove in The Generator's cages. And, most important, the decor at Manor, with its sort of ominous-looking red screen prints behind the bar, mod-inspired light fixtures and classy, dark wood walls, is decidedly attractive, whereas the gritty clubs of my past had all the ambience of a garage, which, come to think of it, is precisely where you'd store a generator.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.