“When entering Stookey’s Club Moderne, we want patrons to feel a hint of the magic of stepping back in time,” says owner and bartender Tim Stookey.
And indeed you do, except that instead of crossing into the age of speakeasies, as has been the trend with many local cocktail bars, Club Moderne ushers you into the post-Prohibition golden era of the 1930s and 1940s. The decor, furniture, music and architectural accents are straight from the Streamline Moderne design period, an evolution of Art Deco that sought to remove some of the ornamental elements and instead focus on form and function.
While the Great Depression shifted industrial design toward austerity, cocktails of this time were more like hopeful daydreams. The menu at Stookey’s Club Moderne is flush with these classic drinks, from Aviations to Corpse Revivers, but it’s the 20th Century Cocktail that captures this optimistic extravagance.
Named after a luxury overnight train that ran between Chicago and New York, the 20th Century reads like a hodgepodge of boxcars — lemon juice, Kina Lillet (more herbal and bitter than the common Lillet Blanc) and crème de cacao — all pulled by a gin-fueled engine. Stookey’s steady hand engineers a sleek and opulent ride, and keeps the complex drink from becoming a train wreck.
Each sip is vibrant and lush, with the cacao and Kina winding around each other’s dark and dusky flavors, but kept on the rails by just enough acidity and sweetness.