The art of crafting cocktails is certainly making a comeback and in a big way at The Berkshire Room, which opened in late June 2013 inside the ACME Hotel.

ACME, which opened about a year earlier, filled a void in the vibrant but often uniform River North neighborhood, providing affordable and unique hotel accommodations. Naturally, the cocktail lounge housed inside the hotel’s lobby area had to follow suit.



A Fifty/50 Restaurant Group concept, The Berkshire Room delivers a speakeasy vibe with old school cocktail making to match. When Alexis and I (whiskey sisters) worked the grand opening event in late June, it was clear the space would be a hit with those looking for absolutely delicious cocktails and something new for the neighborhood. The menu goes something like this:

• Cocktails - all priced at $12 and created by Beverage Director Ben Schiller, formerly at Boka. • Barrel Finished Cocktails – priced at $15, all of which are batched in different rare spirit and wine barrels and “finished” inside those barrels on site. • “Dealer’s Choice” – arguably the most fun, guests can pick a spirit base (there’s about 20 different options!) a flavor profile and your glassware of choice for $13.

Cocktails not your thing? Shiller has curated a great selection of wines and international and domestic beers. Hailing its name from The Berkshire Hotel that once occupied the original space where ACME is now from the 1920s thru the 1950s, the cocktail lounge includes large whiskey crate walls, a bar front made from overlapping leather belts and the original and rare terrazzo composite flooring. Mixing both vintage and urban touches, the space is great for a date night or drinks with friends before or after dinner. I personally love the hundreds of vintage whiskey bottles on display throughout the space that the team collected at flea markets, vintage stores and offline.

The cocktail lounge also has some delicious lounge bites – which complement the unique cocktails – created by Executive Chef Chris Curren. The “snack” menu includes items from caviar to bison tartare to fresh-shucked oysters to Curren’s take on Cracker Jacks. OK, now for my/Zap’s recommendations: • For cocktails, try the Clean Break, a refreshing blend of gin, Apertif bitters, cucumber and your choice of ice (raspberry mint, grapefruit Riesling or unflavored) • For lite bites, the Zap office recommends (I haven’t personally tried because I’m a veggie), the “Cracker Jacks.” Carmel popcorn is paired with pork rinds, wasabi peas, honey-glazed almonds and spicy peanuts. I’ve heard it packs a little kick!

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If you’re in the mood for a killer cocktail, we strongly suggest you give The Berkshire Room a try. While you’re there, take a tour of the hotel. We guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the unusual art touches, design features and overall atmosphere of the space.

Stephanie Poquette Senior Publicist