From the outside, King of Cups could pass for an antique shop. The only marking to let you know you’ve found it is a full suit of armor. But you don’t want to miss trying out this royal dive.
From the man that brought Chicago karaoke hot-spot Brando’s Speakeasy, Dino Vulpitta’s latest venture is a fun and funky mix of craft cocktails and Renaissance lounge.
The small space is dark and lush, with dark walls, a gold throne, fortune teller corner, and framed televisions that display famous “royals,” both real and legends like Elvis. While it might seem like a gimmicky Game of Thrones bar, or a Medieval Times’ knock-off, King of Cups delivers an enjoyable, intimate experience that is a welcome shake-up to the usual post-work drink scene.
My friend Rakela and I went right after work to check out the scene. We were too early for the tarot reader or weekend burlesque shows, but right on time to try some good drinks. King of Cups does not serve food.
The cocktail list is extensive, with almost two dozen choices (each priced $12, with large format cocktails coming soon). We deferred to the bartender, who was more than happy to lend his expertise. Rakela got the Grand Poobah, which has vodka, aloe vera liqueur, watermelon, lime, and mint. It was a light and refreshing cocktail that tastes summery and fresh.
I ordered Smerch’s Swizzle, a beautiful drink with apple brandy, Pimms, blueberry cordial, lemon, blueberries, and pinot noir. The red wine added a nice balance to the drink. It was not overly sweet or bitter and was easy to sip while catching up.
Our bartender gave us the secret formula behind all good cocktails– which is a ratio of 2:1:1. King of Cups plans to host cocktail classes, which will allow you to learn the wizardry and master a good drink. This would be a great class to take with your girlfriends or significant other and finally put that bar cart to use.
The bartender also let us sample a few other drinks, urging us to leave our comfort zones. This resulted in me ordering a Rocco Rush. This cocktail has coconut-infused rum, chardonnay, bitters, and absinthe. It has a toasted coconut nutmeg rim. It tasted smokey and a bit licorice-y, and while not a drink I would have selected for myself, is definitely something I’d order again. I fully recommend talking to the staff of Kings and going beyond your usual order.
All in all, this cocktail lounge is a great spot for an intimate happy hour or visit later in the evening for a lively burlesque show fit for a king.