Giant letters spelling L-U-S-H overtake the front window, their bulb-filled interiors glimmering like a showgirl's dressing room. If that doesn't drag you in, you're clearly no fun. And Lush certainly brings a little fun to the sniff, swirl and sip.
This boutique wine shop is absolutely lovely. It's got the supporting details down pat—rich purple walls, clever wineglass chandeliers, to-the-ceiling bins of wine fronted by a sliding ladder and a small library corner with an armchair, should you want to get your Wine Spectator on. So you can only imagine how well it does when it comes to those wine and spirits.
With a mission to source items "that cannot be found elsewhere in Chicago," the shop's 300 or so bottles have been described as "exclusive" and "eccentric." And considering it had a full selection of Bell's beer for sale six months after it disappeared from the city's shelves, it's clear Lush is doing a fine job. Beer is sold by the individual bottle; one unit houses precious spirits like lavender and Brazilian cherry liqueurs; and the wine selection is full of quirky, artistic names and labels, which makes it easy for impulse buys based on look alone. But if you're looking to make a more educated selection, just ask for some help. You'll be offered a mini-avalanche of suggestions, which more often than not include an invitation to step up to the stool-less bar and try something that's open and recommended.
Lush promises to only carry what "we genuinely enjoy drinking," so rest assured that the well-stocked under-$10 selections are reject-free. And if Lush enjoys drinking something that the masses might not, prepare to learn a thing or two—via signs like the one that proclaims, "Stop wine racism. Enjoy rose today." Free tastings are held every Sunday from 2-5 p.m. and occasionally during the week.
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz