Watershed | River North | Bar/Lounge, Small Plates, Craft Cocktails | Restaurant
Comfy bar in the basement of Pops for Champagne, featuring craft beers and small plates.

Our Review

The jazz lounge once housed in the basement of Pops for Champagne has been transformed into Watershed, a dim, nautically themed suburban home barroom circa 1976—a setting for events as diverse as after-tennis cocktails, key parties, and teenage booze raids. Cushioned chairs at the raised bar encourage drinkers to sink in under the ministrations of looming bartenders handing down cocktails in colored cut-glass goblets. Those drinks, mixed predominantly with craft spirits from the Great Lakes region, weigh in on the sweet end of the scale, but a handful of nicely balanced potions—like the Italian Hurricane, made with Campari, mezcal, and Adam Seger's herbal Hum spirit, or the Shake in the Hay, gin and chartreuse with a bracing dose of celery bitters—stand out. Bartenders are well capable of going off list and mixing perfectly good adult classics like a boozy Sazerac or properly bitter negroni. The menu features snacks, small plates and shared plates, plus larger plates priced around $15, e.g., short ribs and a hanger steak. A curated selection of midwestern beers as well as the same cheese and charcuterie selection available upstairs seem secondary to Watershed's primary attraction; its womblike cuddle of stone walls, pillowy chairs, and high-backed booths, a great escape from the bustle outside Tree Studios.

Mike Sula

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Bar Details

The jazz lounge once housed in the basement of Pops for Champagne has been transformed into Watershed, a dim, nautically themed suburban home barroom circa 1976—a setting for events as diverse as after-tennis cocktails, key parties, and teenage booze raids. Cushioned chairs at the raised bar encourage drinkers to sink in under the ministrations of looming bartenders handing down cocktails in colored cut-glass goblets. Those drinks, devised by Daniel D'Oliveira (formerly of Boka and Mercadito) and mixed predominantly with craft spirits from the Great Lakes region, weigh in on the sweet end of the scale, but a handful of nicely balanced potions—like the Italian Hurricane, made with Campari, mezcal, and Adam Seger's herbal Hum spirit, or the Shake in the Hay, gin and Chartreuse with a bracing dose of celery bitters—stand out. Bartenders are well capable of going off list and mixing perfectly good adult classics like a boozy Sazerac or properly bitter Negroni. Watershed's primary attraction, though, is its womblike cuddle of stone walls, pillowy chairs, and high-backed booths, a great escape from the bustle outside Tree Studios. —Mike Sula

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