- Aimee Levitt
- An old-fashioned old-fashioned
There’s no Henry at Henry’s Swing Club. The name comes from a 1947 John Lee Hooker song called “Boogie Chillen'” about a blues club in Detroit. The Henry there I imagine as a hepcat mixing drinks in his shirtsleeves for men in zoot suits and women in elaborate hats. You will not find any of these things at DMK Restaurants’s Henry’s Swing Club, a cavernous, garage-like space in River North where youthful investment banker types in ties play pool and clusters of young women in ponytails with expensive bags gather for postwork drinks.
- Aimee Levitt
- The terrifying plate of giant nachos
But contrary to its cold, downtown facade, Henry’s is, at heart, a 70s wood paneled basement with shag carpeting (either mustard-colored or avocado). You can see hints of this in the large video screens that play crappy footage of a merrily burning fireplace, in the collages in the wall which combine icons of 60s and 70s America with photos of naked 70s hippie chicks just chilling in the woods, and, especially, in its menu, which features delicious sliders—not just burgers, but also those Ford-era classics, the Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, and banana) and fried bologna. For $8 you can also order up a game of Uno, a staple of many long nights in wood paneled basements. (There are also enormous, decadent nachos, french fries with various toppings, an assortment of tacos, and oysters if you’re feeling classy.)
You can most see the spirit of Henry’s in the cheerful, friendly, funny service, exemplified in this Cocktail Challenge video in which beverage director Michael Rubel concocts a drink with three-penis wine.
These things, though, are probably not the reason why Henry’s is the sort of joint that’s packed on a Tuesday evening after work. Well, maybe the little sandwiches do help. But if Henry’s is serious about one thing, it’s the drinks. They are strong, not watery, and well mixed, and the syrups and bitters and other flavors stand up well to the alcohol: the ginger in the Picnic Basket, a rum concoction, tickles the throat so thoroughly, it’s perilous to drink with nachos. It’s probably just as well that there aren’t actual beanbag chairs and sagging couches here. Since the cocktail menu tops out at $10 (and beer and cider will set you back far less), you could easily move in here and eat little sandwiches all day long.
Henry’s Swing Club, 18 W. Hubbard, 312-955-8018, henrys-swing-club.com