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Mike Ryan - Head Bartender

A typical bartending career path usually begins and ends behind the bar. Mike Ryan, however, started his career in the kitchen, worked his way up to Sous Chef, and branched off into the world of beverage with experience at cutting edge cocktail concepts like Violet Hour, before ending up at Sable Kitchen & Bar, one of the most innovative gastro-lounges not only in River North, but all of Chicago.

Ryan's Passion for Bartending

The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago graduate, former Otom Sous Chef, and self-described "shot and a beer guy" became accidentally enamored with bartending while working as a cook at Fulton Market molecular gastronomy restaurant Moto between 2005 and 2008 "He [owner Homaro Cantu] wanted a cook behind the bar," remembers Ryan. "I was literally looking up recipes in a book." Soon, Ryan became interested in the possibilities presented by unusual spirits, classic mixes and new flavor profiles.

In 2008, he was asked to join The Violet Hour team. "My mentor is [Violet Hour head bartender] Mike Rubel," says Ryan. "He's incredibly knowledgeable about spirits and their history." Ryan spent his time at The Violet Hour "banging out drinks, tasting, learning, really understanding the relationships between sweet, sour, bitter and booze." At the same time, he continued to hone his hospitality skills. "How great is it when you can give somebody exactly what they're looking for, even if they don't know exactly what they want?"

His Contribution to Sable's Bar

At Sable, Ryan's behind-the-bar approach leaves guests feeling both at home and constantly engaged. As far as mixology goes, he says, "I'm a fan of bright, loud, vibrant flavors. I like to use egregious amounts of bitters, bold whiskies and try cool savory ingredients while utilizing my kitchen background to 'raise the bar.'"

It's exactly what you'd expect from a creative chef who just happens to command Sable's bar.

Sable's Cocktails