Located in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood, Ludlow Liquors serves a seasonal menu of comfort food and cocktails with portion options, and beer & shot combos. It’s stupid good hospitality done good, stupid.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Joe Demes Contributing writer
The essence of a neighborhood bar is comfort. This is why we call each of them a “watering hole”: they are simple and sensible and meant to bring people together to drink. Craft cocktail bars are well and good, and we love them, but sometimes less is more – unless you know what to do with it. Enter Ludlow Liquors.
Run by Jeff Donahue and Wade McElroy of Leisure Activities (who’ve done work for Sportsman’s Club, Estero, and Larry’s), Ludlow occupies the space (ha ha) where previously was Orbit Room, whose concept you can probably guess from that pun. What ties the past and present iterations of this bar together is a similar focus on comfort and hospitality in a smaller neighborhood.
Fans of drinking on the cheap will appreciate the Ludlow Life: your choice of Hamms, High Life, or Old Style accompanied by a shot of bourbon, Fernet, or Malört.
The featured cocktail menu is exemplary of this, with six stirred drinks done three ways: one-, two-, and three-ounce pours. First-timers can choose to work their way through more of the menu (at a potentially safer pace) with shot-sized portions, or do a standard sized drink served up. Regulars who know what they want and returning guests, on the other hand, can hunker down with a big boy on the rocks. Besides this, the bar also offers classic riffs, a rotating draft and packaged beer menu, and an abbreviated wine menu with both glass and bottle options. Fans of drinking on the cheap will appreciate the Ludlow Life: your choice of Hamms, High Life, or Old Style accompanied by a shot of bourbon, Fernet, or Malört.
Along with the more-is-more ability that guests have here are the food options. Old Habits Dine Hard, run by Nick Jirasek (who’ll be heading the menu at the forthcoming Logan Square bar & restaurant Young American), serves a menu of cross-cultural comfort food, a good portion of which can be made vegetarian or vegan. The first iteration of the menu included rib tips, mostaccioli (with meat or vegetarian bolognese), lumpia (meat or vegetarian options as well), fries served with sides of gravy and ice cream for dipping, and a pot roast sandwich named The Beefy Boy.
Let us take a moment to say this: we love The Beefy Boy with all our heart. We love it more than most people; we definitely love it more than you. We screamed when new menu options—ramen bowls, nori fries, vegetable tempura, and salad, all delicious nonetheless—replaced some previous choices and our beloved Beefy Boy was not spared. We wish you could have watched us unhinge our jaw like a snake as we took massive, abhorrent bite after bite of that sando, friend-o, but alas you are not worthy of such sights.
Anyway. Further accouterment include a DJ booth, a killer patio with bar service and setup to play Cornhole/Bags, and a couple TVs for game night. This is a bar for most any kind of drinker or eater, for whatever kind of night you want; that’s the point, and that’s why we love it. Ludlow Liquors forever.
Sunday the bar & kitchen open at noon so you can get your lunch on
Utilize the Order By The Ounce menu, especially the shot option; all of their drinks are delicious and this will afford you a chance to taste them all, or make a hard decision easier if you’re a bit picky
Ludlow isn’t in the immediate vicinity of an L stop; the nearest Blue Line stations are a mile away. With that in mind, plan time to walk around and explore the neighborhood before arriving