NYC’s Favorite Barbershop Speakeasy Arrives in the West Loop

Classic cuts meet classic cocktails

By Michael Nolledo

Barbershop Etiquette, Courtesy NYC’s Favorite Barbershop Speakeasy
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22 September 2017

So a barber walks into a bar …

There’s no punchline.

That’s just the run of show at Blind Barber, a hip new joint for premium trims, now taking reservations in the West Loop.

They come by way of New York, and past all the buzzing and snipping, you’ll find a sexy, low-lit haunt for cocktails and conversation of the non-tonsorial sort.

For the uninitiated, Blind Barber started in 2010 with a simple, albeit genius premise: classic cuts and straight-razor shaves in the front, cocktails and elevated bar grub in the back. In addition to three locales in New York, they’ve also got an outpost in Culver City, California.

Naturally, they also hawk some fine grooming products.

Now they’re in Chicago in a charming white-washed space in the heart of Fulton Market. Across the way: The Aviary. Right down the street: Google. And around the corner: the Ace Hotel. In other words: it’s occupying a little corner of Chicago that’s on a steady buzz.

Which makes it the perfect venue for a surprise cocktail bar. If anything, it’s the perfect wild card to keep in your back pocket if you ever find yourself around these parts.

You’ll have to go through the barbershop to enter. Wander down the hall, past the vintage cigarette machine, and you’ll find yourself in the sexist backrooms in Chicago: a wood and leather-clad lounge that looks the part of a 1970s rec room, with plenty of seats and space to linger.

Hours? Opens at 5 p.m. every night. On the menu: grilled cheeses. Lots of ‘em. As for cocktails, Your Best Guess will treat ya right. It’s a stiff mix of mezcal, Damrak, Dolin Blanc, Becherovka and black tea bitters.

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But as handsome as the backbar may be, it’s easy to forget that this place is, first and foremost, a barbershop. And of all a man’s monthly appointments, the barber should be at or near the top of the list. And when he does, he must come prepared.

In that spirit, a few rules of chatting with your barber to keep in mind:

Pledge your allegiance. When you find a barber, follow him (or her) to the ends of the earth. But how do you find one and when do you know? Referrals are the easiest. We’ve been here. We cannot recommend these guys enough. And remember, you’re not looking for a conversationalist, you’re looking for an exceptional cut. Keepers always have a great memory. If they understand your hair by the second visit (i.e., growth patterns, the way it falls), and the cut is noticeably better than the first, you’re well on your way.

Show up early, expect a wait. On barbershop etiquette: a man’s haircut takes time. A man’s haircut is important. And therefore, a man should not be perceivably sore if their barber is behind schedule. Likewise: show up early. Respect their schedule.

Be overly descriptive. “Just a little off the top.” “Uh, clean me up.” “Whatever you want. Something simple.” These are things no barber wants to hear. Get personal. Tell ‘em what you don’t like and ask how they can fix it. Ask them if there’s a term for that. And do not be abashed by bringing a picture. Ten out of ten barbers say it really does help.

Tip well. Tip always. Goes without saying. Standard is $5. Anything more, they’ll remember you and take note.

Photos: John Stoffer

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