A new English football pub and chic upstairs cocktail bar are coming soon to Lincoln Park

The veteran publicans and spouses behind one of Chicago’s top football bars are set to launch a new English-style tavern this month, bringing their popular take on the country’s pub culture to the edge of Lincoln Park.

Partners Jamie Hale and Julia Shell are aiming for an early March opening for the Albion Manner and its upstairs cocktail bar, the Parlor at the Albion, at 1480 W. Webster Avenue. Drawing on their industry expertise and elements of their existing businesses – beer and football hotspot AJ Hudson’s Public House in Lakeview and stylish cocktail bar the Dandy Crown in River West – they plan to treat the new pub as a mixture of both.

“We’re going to merge the two concepts into one and see how it goes,” says Shell. The couple hadn’t planned on embarking on a new venture, but when English-born Hale stumbled across the former Distilled Chicago space, he was struck by its location on the edge of the massive Lincoln Yards development in Chicago. The co-owners were also pleased with its large size, as they are often forced to turn away AJ Hudson’s customers on game days.

That probably won’t be a problem at Albion Mansion, which has two floors of 1,500 square feet each. The long bar on the first floor crosses more than half of the room and offers a few dozen seats throughout the ground floor space. As well as a handful of high tables, diners can also snuggle up inside five snuggles – small, cozy rooms seen inside English and Irish pubs that were once designed to preserve the anonymity of those at inside – built by the son of Hale and Shell. Each is named after one of the couple’s children and (so far) only grandchild, and houses its own television. There will be between 10 and 15 additional TVs mounted on the walls around the bar.

Albion Manor will have a full bar, offering 12 draft beers and 50 kinds of bottled and canned beers. Bar-goers can expect a similar selection to the Lakeview pub, including Carlsburg’s Danish import – AJ Hudson’s sells the most Carlsburg in the whole country, Shell says – as well as Guinness and a slew English beers. Naturally, executive chef Mark Hill (AJ Hudson’s) will present a menu with riffs on British pub fare like a cold ploughman’s lunch, mussels and clams cooked in Guinness and coconut milk, and a sloe butter cake trifle. Once operations run smoothly, the team hopes to serve a traditional Sunday lunch roast, likely consisting of beef, potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.

Over time, Shell expects the Albion mansion to accumulate sports memorabilia like scarves and signed posters (at AJ Hudson these are usually gifts from clients), but for now drinkers can snooze. expect dark blue hues, textured wallpaper and framed street photographs of fashionable British teenagers in the 70s, 80s and 90s that Shell and her daughter picked from the Museum of Youth Culture in London.

Upstairs in the Parlor at the Albion, however, the vibe will be completely different, says Shell. In keeping with its sister location in River West, the Parlor will take an eclectic approach to design with pops of color, textured wallpaper and custom floral murals by Chicago artist Cyd Smilie. The space includes a fireplace, a small bar that seats eight, and sofas and lounge chairs that seat about 24 people. Although there is a TV, the screen adjusts to look like wall art when not in use.

While it can serve as a handy overflow area for particularly busy matches, the lounge will typically be devoted to cocktails created by beverage director Sarah Syman (the Dandy Crown). A menu is yet to be finalized, but Shell promises a wide selection of craft drinks that are interesting rather than intimidating. “Like the Dandy Crown, [the drinks] aren’t too affected, they’re not super pretentious,” she says. “These are just good cocktails that we are proud of.”

The Albion mansion and the living room at Albion1480 W. Webster Avenue, scheduled to open early March.

About Jonathan Bell

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