Basement bar moves on up

Between the ages of fifteen and say, thirtyteen, there's no cooler venue than your basement, but at some point, you've got to give those stairs one bold, final climb. Growing up and stepping into the light: the new Mad Hatter.

Leaving behind the beloved cave that was its original locale, the new Hatter's a sprawling duplex split up into an upstairs back bar, a first-floor tippling room w/ ridiculously long wooden bar, plus a grand dining room with teacup place-settings and luminous vaulted ceilings ringed with Alice in Wonderland oil paintings and one massive floating metal top hat -- either a tribute to their namesake, or they're simply holding it for metal James Van Der Beek. Ever-boozy, they've got 13 rotating suds bottles, 14 taps (Goose Island Honkers Ale to Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout), and six new signature cocktails including the bourbon/amaretto/white cranberry/muddled cherry "March Hare", the gin/lime/raspberry puree "Cheshire Cat", and the Morello cherry-infused bourbon "Mad-hattan", which has never not been late for a very important date. For grand dining, their overhauled menu covers manly "tea" sandwiches like melted muenster Maple Pork Steak Sliders; "Taps and Apps" like caramelized onion Skirt Steak Tidbits and coconut/garlic/Gorgonzola PEI mussels; and "Mad Dogs" from the chili/cheese Tweedledee & Tweedledum Dog, to the pineapple/cheese Psychedelic Dog, which Cesar Milan would train to fetch with calming whispers and a mesmerizing glowstick.

If you hate meeting new people, there are several reservable private dining rooms, and a rentable backroom with a fully set table affixed to the ceiling and turned completely upside down -- how your little subterranean world felt when Mom mentioned that "Rental Todd" was moving in, and you were moving out.