Carriage House for Cocktails…and Everything Else

Low Country Gin Gimlet at Carriage House

Much like the words “avocado,” “cilantro” and “truffle oil,” the word “celery” on a menu makes my mouth water. Actually, only when spotted on a cocktail menu. Celery is stalking cocktails all over town, showing up in infusions, bitters and garnishes..and not just serving as spoon for a Bloody Mary. The latest I saw was at Carriage House in Wicker Park, where the Low Country Gin Gimlet has gin, sweet pearl-onion dry vermouth (also, yum) and celery bitters. I love the way the ingredient keeps sweetness at bay, and adds a bit of bite and savory-ness. But don’t stop at the cocktails at Carriage House. The modern low-country Southern restaurant is probably my favorite right now, with crispy, crunchy fried chicken thighs smothered in local and served with house sweet potato hot sauce, the low-country boil bubbling over with shrimp, clams, sausage, red potatoes and grilled lemons and the mushroom, truffle and egg with grits and oyster mushrooms were all serious standouts..and we didn’t even get to dig into shrimp and grits, pork and beans or the buttermilk marinated rib-eye. This is modern southern food, and the type that’s not so smothered with gravy and heavy sauces that they take center stage on the plate…you can taste the juiciness of the chicken, the sour of the house pickles and sweet meat of the Carolina shrimp. Besides the cocktails and the menu, I love the vibe in the room which is packed, not huge, and miraculously not so loud you have to yell over your fried green tomatoes. 1612 W. Division Street


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