Lauren Viera’s Logan Square home is decorated with a graceful minimalism—solid colors, tidy arrangements, and lots of straight lines. In stark contrast, her liquor collection is anything but minimal, and an evening of imbibing in this Victorian house may have you walking out in less of a straight line than the way you came in.
Once a features writer (with a focus on cocktails) for the Chicago Tribune, Viera left her job to write about spirits full-time. “Then the booze just literally started pouring in,” she says. In fact, she’s acquired so much booze that she hired a contractor to remodel her basement to accommodate the overflow. The walls are lined with shelves custom-built to house a few hundred bottles of liquor—246 at the moment—and 25 bottles of bitters. (Yes, there’s a spreadsheet to keep track of inventory.)
On the main floor Viera has three antique liquor cabinets; one is dedicated exclusively to gin. “Gin was my first love,” she says. “My favorite cocktail is the Tom Collins.”
Viera occasionally opens her home to fellow aficionados, too. Named after her street, the Central Park Cocktail Club focuses on classic cocktails. She founded it when she first started writing about drinks: “This was new territory for me, and I didn’t know a lot about spirits; I was doing a lot of research,” she says. “I thought I should be sharing this wealth of information with other people.” Cocktail enthusiasts meet to learn about the history of a featured cocktail and how to make it via tutorials, complete with PowerPoint presentations. “It’s pretty nerdy,” she says.
Viera’s penchant for cocktails spills over into her backyard and mixes with her favorite pastime: gardening. Her blog, the Glass & Garden, is dedicated to, well, drinking and gardening. This is not a blog about drunk landscaping, mind you, but rather “an ode to cocktails and horticulture”—it incorporates growing ingredients to complement your drinks while simultaneously beautifying your yard.
Inside and out, Viera’s home has organically fused with her passions and work. “This house has definitely evolved with my life.”