Grange Hall Burger Bar (Chicago): A down-home West Loop joint features country-style refreshers

Grange Hall Burger Bar's beverage menu focuses on nostalgic and microbrewed beers, country cocktails and "grape farmer" wines. Photo by Alex Janowski

Grange Hall Burger Bar is dedicated to country comforts — from its fresh-baked pies and house-spun ice creams to its cozy farmhouse design.

So it’s natural that the West Loop eatery’s beverage menu follows the same rural road.

Owner Angela Lee has planted her drink list with country cocktails, Midwestern beers and farmer-produced wines.

The restaurant features craft spirits from small, mostly Midwestern distilleries.

In several cases, the restaurant’s mostly Midwestern base spirits come from small towns.  Journeyman Distillery, for example, produces organic W.R. Whiskey, Billberry Black Hearts Gin and Road’s End Rum in tiny Three Oaks, Mich.  And their spirits are featured in some of the restaurant’s libations.

Grange Hall’s beverage list kicks off with “Good Ol’ American Beer” — cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Old Style and Old Milwaukee ($3).

“They’re beers that glorify the good old America,” Lee says.    “They’re very nostalgic and inexpensive.”

The restaurant also carries a changing selection of Midwestern microbrews ($6-$9).  The current list includes selections from the Wild Onion Brewing Co. (Lake Barrington, Ill.), Bell’s Brewery (Galesburg, Mich.), Dark Horse Brewing Co. (Marshall, Mich.) and Atwater Brewery (Detroit).  During my visit, I enjoyed a cold Atwater Dirty Blonde — an unmalted wheat beer with hints of coriander and orange peel — which paired well with my veggie burger.

Grange Hall’s seven craft cocktails ($10) “are all inspired by the country,” Lee says of the burger bar’s whimsical takes on popular drinks.

A Dirt Road Rum Collins takes the Journeyman rum and blends it with soda and lime, while a Hound Dog mixes Detroit’s Valentine Vodka, grapefruit juice and brown sugar in a play on the classic greyhound.

“We just have fun with this stuff,” Lee says.

Owner Angela Lee prefers to feature a line of varietals from a single winery rather than offer wines from multiple vintners. Photo by Alex Janowski

Rather than featuring multiple varietals from numerous wine producers, Lee prefers to showcase several wines from a short list of wineries.

“I’m dealing with one winery at a time, and I’m dealing directly with the grape farmer,” says Lee, who researches wineries and seeks out their products.

Presently, Grange Hall carries seven wines from Good Harbor Vineyard (Lake Leelanau, Mich.), as well as a Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir from Firelands Winery (Sandusky, Ohio).  The Good Harbor collection includes Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay and some red and white blends.  All wines are singularly and affordably priced at $32/bottle and $8/glass.

Also worth noting, the restaurant offers a selection of bottled Faygo sodas, a Detroit brand that is historically popular with Michiganders and a drink Lee fondly remembers from her childhood in rural Michigan.

Lee went to great lengths to bring her favorite childhood soda pop to Chicago. Photo by Alex Janowski

The classic “original flavors” line —Rock & Rye, orange, vanilla creme, root beer, Redpop and grape — is made with 100 per cent cane sugar.  Grange Hall is apparently the only place serving it in Chicago.

“I called the Faygo headquarters in Detroit, Michigan to learn that Chicago ‘is not their market,’” says Lee in The Farm Report, her Grange Hall blog.

“I then decided to ask them if I committed to an entire pallet of Faygo, would they ship it to Chicago and allow me to pick them up at a warehouse where they shipped other brands.  They agreed and that’s how we get it here.”

Served with or without ice and a bendy straw, the colorful “pop” adds some old-fashioned fun to the burger bar’s beverage menu.

Grange Hall Burger Bar
844 West Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607

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