With some in Chicago worried corner bars and taverns are becoming endangered species, it is no wonder there is a hint of nostalgia in many new neighborhood drinking spots. The carefully crafted atmosphere of Sportsman’s Club in the Humboldt Park / Ukrainian Village area is a good example. Wall-mounted antlers, off-menu shots, and a collection of to-go packaged goods evoke the bygone days of the dive that originally occupied the space.
The design is by Kevin Heisner of Heisler Hospitality, the group behind Bar DeVille, Nightwood, and Trencherman. The 35-seat interior has been spruced up, with wood and leather booths, a fire-lit backyard, and chess and checkers boards set in some wood tables. They retained the original art deco bar, along with the name. Heisler said the design was “inspired by a French hunting museum.”
Classic cocktails will change daily and “focus on balance and simplicity.” Just a few beers, including Chicago’s standby Old Style and a wider array of craft brews, comprise the beer list. It is not all old school, however. An amaro machine cranks out bitter aperitifs. Originally a gathering spot for Polish immigrants, the new Sportsman’s Club is a fitting update to a corner of the Ukrainian Village that continues to attract new bars and restaurants. Its clientele may be different, but Heisler has taken pains to preserve the bar’s style.