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Where does a Chicago gangster go when he needs to cool his heels? Madison, of course.
Roger “The Terrible” Touhy, a Chicago bootlegger and mob boss, was one of Al Capone’s biggest rivals. In 1929 he built Eddie’s Wonder Bar, a mobsters’ hideaway on Madison’s East Olin Avenue. For nearly two decades, his brother ran it as a steakhouse. The joint changed hands (and names) several times since the 1950s, finally becoming the Wonder Bar Steakhouse once again in 2009.
The cocktail menu is dominated by martinis but makes no claims to authenticity (unless gangsters drank strawberry vodka). Still, with names like the Marilyn, Bogart and Dean-O, it’s easy to have fun with the drinks here. One customer favorite is the Godfather, a vodka martini that plays nicely with the restaurant’s signature rib-eye and scallops.
“People like that drink because it’s not too strong and it’s not too sweet,” says manager Rick Shafel. “Plus, people like saying ‘The Godfather.’”
If pineapple juice isn’t your thing, though, just ask for a rye whiskey—that was Capone’s drink of choice.
RECIPE: The Godfather
2 1/4 oz Belvedere vodka 3/4 oz Chambord Splash pineapple juice Garnish: Lemon twist
Shake all ingredients except garnish with ice. Strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Recipe courtesy of Wonder Bar, 222 E. Olin Ave., 256-9430, wonderbarmadison.com.