Comfiest Barstools is almost as good as Bar of the Year, right?
  • Bit House Saloon has the most comfortable barstools in town.
In my review of Bit House Saloon in today's paper, I praised the bar's attention to detail and commitment to its own high geek factor. (Granted, I didn't call it Bar of the Year or anything.) Earlier this week, the badasses behind the bar at BHS, led by Jesse Card, gave me a last-minute preview of their new menu, which is, improbably, even geekier than the last. I mentioned a few of those drinks in print, but there are two more that perfectly encapsulate that balance of off-the-wall ideas and fresh takes on people-pleasing classics.

A flip is a cocktail with a whole egg in it, which can turn people off. But as the season turns toward the holidays and egg nog madness grips the nation, hopefully the flip will see a boost in popularity. This one, of course, features Fireball, and down to its name—Flip Cup—it embraces the bro'd out stereotype associated with flavored whiskeys. With the sweet heat of cinnamon whisky and Allspice liqueur, that noggy egg, all sharpened a bit by some pineapple and lemon, it tastes like Christmas at the club.

"Some bars want to say, 'We make our own Fireball' or 'We don't have Red Bull behind our bar'—stuff like that," says Card, palming a bright red candy like a kid magician palms one of those magic-kit foam balls. Card has a throaty, mischievous, and deeply infections laugh, and as he grates a dusting of Atomic Fireball over the top of the light froth of the cocktail, that laugh seems to fill the enormity of the busy bar. "I like money too much for that. They want a Fireball cocktail? I'll make a Fireball cocktail."

Of course, customers like money, too, and Card's transferring the savings he gets from not having to make his own Fireball to our side of the bar, not to his. For a menu this thoughtful and creative, the cocktail prices at BHS are refreshingly low—most are well under ten dollars.

And it's not like Card won't make his own ingredients if they aren't commercially available. For instance, the Jinx & Sway, probably the weirdest cocktail I've had this year, features a black sesame orgeat made in house. Card's simply giddy describing the cocktail, repeatedly calling it an "umami bomb" and delighting at is entirely unappetizing color, a swirling thundercloud gray.

The Jinx & Sway gets its notable lack of color from a house black sesame seed orgeat.
  • The Jinx & Sway gets its notable lack of color from a house black sesame seed orgeat.
Card says it started as an experiment: "We were thinking, 'What if a classic drink was made somewhere else?' Like an Indo-Asian Mai Tai. What would that be like?" the answer was this tall, ash-gray drink, with a sprig of mint and pair of takeout chopsticks clutching a black sesame cracker (a happy byproduct of the orgeat process), which looks like something out of central Oregon's Lava Cast Forest and tastes, well, confusingly good. Rum and shochu rice liquor give it an alcoholic backbone, while lime, blackstrap bitters, and a touch of absinthe keep it from getting bogged down in its sesame oiliness. I still can't tell what candy it reminds me of, but it's something between pretzel m&ms and what I imagine Men's Pocky tastes like.

Card's a lover of longshots, a gambler who every year puts $50 on a Cubs World Series win ($100 this year, banking on the accuracy of Back to the Future 2), and while he might never see that particular white flag over Wrigley Field, he's got an unlikely winner with the Jinx & Sway.

The cocktails aren't the only part of the BHS drinks menu that's changing and expanding, though. That already impressive list of single-barrel spirits is seeing a few new additions as well. Among them is a limited edition single-barrel, single-grain millet whiskey from Chicago's Koval. Blessed with a strong gluten tolerance, I've never had to become too familiar with millet, but this pretty little liquor has piqued my interest. It's a unique flavor, almost seedy or nutshelly—like tasting a different part of a plant you already know the flavor of, with a tannic dry-ice dryness that makes its alcoholic burn feel cold, rather than hot. It's the kind of new and nerdy thing Bit House is quickly becoming the go-to place for. If you want to geek out on drinks, but still have fun doing it, without breaking the bank, I can't think of a better place.

I'm a believer—the smart money's at Bit House Saloon. So let's go, Cubbies.