Here’s something that should make you happy: Happy hour isn’t just an hour or two — it’s all day, every day, a policy instituted by our Head Bartender Dan Rook. Dan’s also our Cicerone® (aka certified beer expert), and the brains behind South Water Kitchen’s killer bar program. He scours Chicagoland’s burgeoning brewing scene to find the best craft beers for the Tavern menu, and, just as the kitchen updates its food menus seasonally, Dan is constantly revising his cocktail selection to ensure your carefully crafted drink showcases the freshest juices and garnishes.
A Bit About Dan Rook, Head Bartender
An expert on the local craft beer movement, Head Bartender, Dan Rook, brings a wealth of knowledge and artistry to the craft cocktail and beer program at South Water Kitchen.
Rook grew up just outside of Chicago in Oak Lawn, where he spent his high school weekends bussing tables and bar backing at a family friend’s Irish pub called the Goal Post. After graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in English Literature, Rook pursued a full-time marketing career, but didn’t stray from the Goal Post, where he began bartending in his spare time as well as serving at South Water Kitchen. Eventually tiring of marketing, Rook’s passion for craft cocktailing led him to assume a professional bartending career at South Water Kitchen.
During his first few months at South Water Kitchen, Rook staged under Sable Kitchen & Bar’s critically-acclaimed Head Bartender, Mike Ryan, while also bartending part-time at Tiny Lounge, a beloved cocktail bar in his Lincoln Square neighborhood. It was around this time that Rook became captivated by the craft cocktail movement, reading every book he could find on the topic, and honing his skills under Ryan’s guidance. Later intrigued by the local craft beer movement, Rook enrolled in the Cicerone® Certification Program. He delved back into the written word and intensely studied the world of craft beer until he earned his Cicerone® Certification in 2013.
After taking over as head bartender in late 2013, Rook has transformed South Water Kitchen’s beverage program. His cocktail menu showcases a variety of classic and signature pre-prohibition era cocktails, while keeping the focus on local, fresh ingredients. Rook also worked closely with local craft brewers to introduce a new craft beer program to South Water Kitchen. His menu boasts eight handpicked Midwestern craft beers on draft, nearly 20 bottled and canned options, a seasonal “Beer Cockt’ales” menu and craft beer flights. Rook’s work has garnered national attention from Cheers magazine, Zagat.com and SeriousEats.com. Eventually Rook plans to join the beer elite and pursue Master Cicerone® Certification.