Drink of the week: Rosemary Gin Fizz
Where you can find it: Paramount Room
The damage: $11.
Why here? I'm not a big fan of organized bar crawls. The matching T-shirts, the plastic cup with your name written on it; it's all very summer day camp to me, you know, if the YMCA doled out Jager bombs instead of juice boxes. But an impromptu bar crawl—one that begins when you realize you're in a neighborhood filled with bars you've been dying to try—I most definitely encourage. That's exactly what went down last weekend, when I happened to be in West Town and remembered three attention-grabbing watering holes within a few-block radius. First up: Paramount Room, a fairly new bar opened by Jon Young, the guy behind Roscoe Village's Volo and the two Kitsch'n locations, on a bare stretch of Milwaukee Avenue.
How it went down: We walked into the narrow space, surveying the room for a place to sit. Lone locals sat at the bar, chatting up the friendly female bartenders, while coupled-off twentysomethings filled up the rest of the tables. We snagged the last seat available on the main floor, a black leather V-shaped bench next to the front window, and cracked open the drink menu.
Paramount is known for its quality beer, billing itself as having 'no crap on tap.' As much as I loved the slogan and found plenty of brews that caught my eye (Three Floyds, Two Brothers and one heck of a bottled beer list), I wanted to start off the night with a cocktail. A suds-focused place like this could've said to hell with the specialty drinks, but it ended up having a few innovative libations, including the Rosemary Gin Fizz.
A mix of Plymouth Gin, Grand Marnier, lime juice, rosemary sweetwater, soda and a hint of Campari is served on the rocks in a tall glass garnished with a lemon. The tangy triple sec (Grand Marnier) blends seamlessly with the smooth, sweet gin and lime juice, providing a nice bite of citrus at the beginning of the sip, which ends with a subtle touch of earthy rosemary. The overall effect tastes like a frothy piece of lemon meringue pie, followed by a shot of spice.
Would I want to become a regular? Even though I relished my cocktail and my companion had a deliciously stiff Mint Julep, Paramount's ambience is definitely more suited to a beer bar: It's rock 'n' roll meets modern art meets kitschy Goth, which is not nearly as over-the-top as it sounds. Rich, vivid paintings of everything from a robot to a voodoo doll and a big gold mirror hang on midnight-blue walls. A random bronzed angel lies between the bar and the semi-open kitchen, which churns out massive Kobe burgers that you can score for only 10 bucks along with a pint! We would've ordered a couple, but we didn't have time on our bar-crawl agenda. We were off to Richard's Bar down the block for $3 bottles and jukebox stocked with Sinatra.
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.