If Frank Lloyd Wright Had Designed a Cocktail Bar?

This cocktail bar only lasted eight months before closing but it must have been something to see. JP

02 November 2017 |  Kathryn O’Shea-Evans | Architectural Digest (original link)

Once you’ve seen Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 Fallingwater, consider raising a glass of the Falling Water cocktail at Prairie School, a bar in Chicago that opened this fall by Heisler Hospitality and Jim Meehan, of Manhattan’s James Beard Award–winning speakeasy PDT (Please Don’t Tell).

“I wanted our bar to celebrate Chicago and the Midwest,” Meehan says. “I grew up in Oak Park and River Forest, where Wright built his early homes, and few things epitomize what’s world-class about the city and region more than Prairie School architecture.”

Designer Kevin Heisner fabricated nearly everything you’ll see in the the Fulton Market neighborhood space at his Chicago studio with help of local craftsmen, taking many of his cues from Frank Lloyd Wright designs.

“Even the ceiling was influenced by one our team saw at Robie House—we placed oak beams in similar lines,” says Heisner, who traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, just as the Midwestern starchitect did, to garner ideas. The steel barstools are fitted with decorative stained glass bases and leather seats from Chicago’s Horween Leather Company, established in 1905; the entry doors are modeled off of Wright’s window patterns. Even the two-by-two-inch ice cubes in the cocktails are etched with a motif, one taken from original architectural details in the former cold storage building the bar is located in.

“I didn’t want to make it a Frank Lloyd Wright replica, but a balanced, modern approach,” Heisner says.

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A pair of cocktail tables at Prairie School. Photo: Anthony Tahlier

Unsurprisingly, the cocktails are every bit as detailed as the interiors: The Gin Blossom includes Midwestern gin from J. Rieger & Co., vermouth, and apricot eau-de-vie, and is garnished with a pickled baby peach; the Falling Water is made of slow-drip “falling water” cold brew of Ethiopian beans, Chicago’s own Rhine Hall plum brandy, Cardamaro, and egg white.

Wright himself may have just asked for Irish whiskey with a water chaser—his before-dinner drink of choice, according to his interview with The New York Times in June 1958.

“A man is a fool if he drinks before he reaches the age of 50, and a fool if he doesn’t afterward,” he said. prairieschoolchicago.com

This bar has been permanently closed.

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The Tall Boxes cocktail. Photo: Jackie Gillum
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Clusters of wing chairs near the bar. Photo: Anthony Tahlier
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The Whiskey Highball cocktail. Photo: Jackie Gillum
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Custom metalwork and glasswork in the entryway. Photo: Anthony Tahlier
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Even the mixed nuts have the Wright vibe. Photo: Jackie Gillum


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