A wholesome experience that seems to bloom before your eyes, Young American stands out in moderately mod fashion against the booming static of the city. With neon accents and technicolor cocktails against a chef-driven menu of small, yet exciting dishes, a night out in the city is nothing without a little playful mischief.
Against a backdrop of skyscrapers amongst the stars, with all of the transient passersby leading busy foot traffic down below lies the verdant, close-to-its-roots neighborhood of Logan Square — where beloved bars and restaurants stack up famously behind brick walls along Milwaukee Avenue. If you take the circle interchange around to Kedzie Avenue, you may be surprised at what you find. Now, before you get David Bowie stuck so deep in your noggin that you can’t think straight enough to get through a few paragraphs, let’s step to it.
The brainchild of Wade Hall McElroy and Jeff Donahue of Leisure Activities Group, the creative geniuses behind classic neighborhood watering hole Ludlow Liquors, Young American is a neon-clad breath of fresh air for it’s down-home dwellings. The space, which was formerly a popular neighborhood diner and mezcal bar, Johnny’s Grill & Mezcaleria las Flores, boasts natural light against brickwork in the daytime and backlit bottles across the bar by night, following Jonathan Dysello’s whimsical, yet contemporary design.
Julia McKinley runs an ultra-violet beverage program focusing on flavorful, straightforward libations highlighting seasonal ingredients with a few star guest appearances from off-kilter ingredients and fortified wines across the cocktail list. Cutting her teeth at of one of our favorite Downtown Chicago speakeasies, Milk Room, as well as retro-Polynesian haven Three Dots and A Dash, McKinley doesn’t need all that cocktail industry fluff to prove her chops as both a badass mixologist and lead behind the bar. Needless to say, McKinley is fluent in the ways of tiki and from what we’ve heard, also happens to be an avid lover of Madeira. Play for Keeps, a bright cognac-based concoction that graces Young American’s cocktail list, is made blackberry, angostura bitters — and of course, a nutty and well-rounded Madeira. Forefronting the beverage menu, you’ll find a lineup of enticing treats tied in under punny names, as well as spirit-free creations such as Ginseng Along, made with white ginseng, hibiscus, lemon, and aquafaba (which is a fancy word for chickpea water). These N/A options can easily become healing elixirs with the addition of CBD, the millennial’s cure, which is bound to subtly mellow you out while also easing those dull aches and pains that come with the struggles of everyday life.
You know, familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, especially in the case of Chef Nick Jirasek’s place in the kitchen at Young American. As head chef of Leisure Activities’ Ludlow Liquor’s in-house eatery Old Habits, Jirasek was brought on as the perfect candidate to add even more colorful flare to the place. With his laid-back, unpretentious culinary philosophies, Jirasek keeps things approachable when it comes to his dishes, but that doesn’t mean he’s not one to play with his food. Even the lamb tartare shines with pops of pastel, and on the darker side of the spectrum, Young American’s signature Goth Bread has to be one of the most instagram-worthy dishes we’ve ever seen. Also, an absolutely killer brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11am every week. Shrimp and Grits? Yes. Cloud biscuit? Extra yes. Actually, count us in on any dish with “cloud” in the name.
As the sort of place you could bring even the stuffiest bargoer to and still see a smile stretch across their face the second they indulge, there’s really no question as to whether or not you’ll be happily spending some extra time upon your bar stool at Young American. Join this stellar team of individuals the next time you find yourself sauntering about Logan Square. The Goth Bread beckons.
Brunch is 11am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday. Repeat, brunch is 11am- 3pm Saturday and Sunday. We said this twice for a reason.
If you’re lookin’ to make a night of it, there are plenty of other CYTIES bars around Logan Square. Hit the Chicago map for more.
Play for Keeps is our #1 recommendation here, bright cognac-based concoction that is made with blackberry, angostura bitters and Madeira
If you get down with the Cannabidiol, they’ve got a CBD drink for your liking
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