Private Drinker

Ran into The Lou's master sommelier-wannabe Chris Hoel at a wine tasting today and learned that he's no longer tending to Monarch's cave.

Hoel put in his notice two weeks ago, after lining up investors for a downtown "speakeasy": a new venture he's modeling after New York's Milk & Honey and San Francisco's Bourbon & Branch. The members-only lounges sport quirky rules like no cell-phone use, no wingmen, no networking. In the beginning only invitees knew the bars' addresses.

Hoel expects his joint to debut in four or five months. It'll only be open Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, leaving him plenty of time to mug up for his second crack at the master sommelier exam next spring.

-Kristen Hinman

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