The owners of Beatnik and Porto have completed their three-venue compound in one of Chicago’s most high-profile dining neighborhoods, an unabashedly escapist new nightlife spot promising spirits, spectacle, and a sumptuous space.
Opulence is the name of the game at Kashmir, set to open Thursday, June 29 at 1436 W. Randolph Street across from sister spots Bambola, a restaurant tribute to the Silk Road, and Coquette, a French bar channeling ‘60s-era mod aesthetics. The lavish new club space may be the edgiest outpost from Daniel Alonso, founder of Bonhomme Hospitality. He drew inspiration from the hedonistic 1980s club scenes in New York and London.
“Our goal and job is to titillate and provoke, to make people react with the music and performances,” Alonso says. “We’re trying to hit the ‘holy trinity,’ which I think is pretty rare: a great cocktail bar with a vivacious, lively environment where 100 of your closest friends can drink comfortably and have fun.”
The in-house design team Maison Bonhomme swaddled the 5,000-square-foot space not with cashmere, but with nearly a thousand yards of rich, plush designer Spanish fabric inspired by France’s influential Ye-Yé movement of the 1960s and filled it with velvet lounge furniture and vintage leather Terrazzo sofas. The bar, made entirely of green onyx, is lined with 30 carved teak bar stools imported from Nicaragua and Murano crystal chandeliers twinkle from the ceiling. A stage, visible from nearly every seat in the house, will feature both conventional and unusual performances, ranging from cabaret-style sets to acts that Alonso dubs “erotica.”
The visual centerpiece of Kashmir, however, is a collection of eight paintings by Spanish neo-expressionist Domingo Zapata, whose work is currently on display in a group exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. Zapata, who told reporters in 2022 that he dreamt of a sexual relationship with da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, is focused on themes of “sexuality, opulence, and vitality” says Alonso, who has been friends with the artist for 25 years. “These are themes that inspire and drive my work, so it’s a perfect match,” Alonso says. “I cannot imagine the space without Domingo’s singular pieces inside.”
Amid all the visual stimuli, there is indeed a bar menu from Bonhomme partner Brian Sturgulewski and bar veteran Wade McElroy (Estero, Sportsman’s Club) where revelers can find familiar, crowd-pleasing cocktails that the team can turn out quickly. The pair have a particular affinity for agave spirits, seen in the Space Cowboy (tequila, coconut, rectified pineapple juice, edible strawberry glitter) and yuzu margarita (anejo tequila, fortified wine). In anticipation of late nights, they’re also offering shots like Colada Sna-quiri (pineapple rum, coconut tequila) and Oaxacan Slipper (mezcal, Midori, sal de gusano).
Bonhomme’s cluster of West Loop venues was no accident. In Alonso’s ideal world, patrons would have dinner at Bambola, pop next door to Coquette for an after-dinner drink, and then venture over to Kashmir for cocktails, dancing, and live performances. Owners are hoping for a rebound after the speed bumps Bambola incurred shortly after opening.
“The vision was to create our own corner with all the things that a discerning clientele in Chicago would be interested in doing,” says Alonso. “These three concepts are completely independent but [create] a harmony… To do it right, we needed to create all of the facets of a night out on the town.”
Kashmir, which has been in the works for over a year, is named after Led Zeppelin’s thunderous 1975 hit but appears to have no relationship to the Kashmir region, a flashpoint between India and Pakistan that has endured political turmoil for more than six decades.
Kashmir, 1436 W. Randolph Street, Open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday; 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday.