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New Cocktail Bar Opens Soon, Back Room Dive Bar Also Coming

The long-awaited opening of the craft cocktail bar Public Domain is finally about to happen at 119 Washington Avenue North (where Haute Dish used to be) toward the end of this month.

It will be a place where guests won’t choose drinks from a menu; they’ll just describe what they’re in the mood for and let the bartenders take it from there. Owner Stefan Van Voorst will be among the bartenders who’ve memorized countless drink combinations.

Van Voorst making an Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig bourbon, banana liqueur and other ingredients

“We go through the rolodex of drinks in our head and usually there’s several that fit the bill,” he said. “We really want to start with what do guests like, where are they starting from? And as they describe that, we help facilitate that process.”

Public Domain will also have Caribbean-inspired small plates from chef Nettie Colón.

“We wanted to be a bar that had great food vs. being a restaurant that had a great bar,” said Van Voorst. “And so she’s done an incredible job of bringing food that fits the cocktails and fits the vibe.”

He is also now revealing for the first time that he’s building out an “elevated dive bar” known as Neon Tiger with its own entrance in the back alley, which will be ready to open in early November.

Future entrance of Neon Tiger

It’ll feel more urban, a little artsy, dark,” he said. “We wanted to have a great slushie program but also have a nice, cheap cold beer and frozen marg kind of thing.”

It will be a place they can steer people if Public Domain is already full (there’s no standing room) but he also expects it to become a destination all its own. “It’s going to be a fun, chill place,” he said. “It’ll still have the same food menu.”

Van Voorst said he took care to honor and respect the historic aspects of this 122-year-old building, while offering a “modern take on an old classic, much like many of our cocktails.”

Each drink, regardless of the combination of ingredients, will be $16.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer

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