CHSO June 2013 : Page 102
WAYS TO SPEND YOUR SUMMER NIGHTS From chic rooftop lounges to scintillating outdoor performances, our city has a host of white-hot ways to celebrate the night. Summer took its time getting here, but now that it has, you won’t want to miss a minute. | By Lisa Shames | 20
20 Ways To Spend Your Summer Nights
20 ways to spend your summer nights
From chic rooftop lounges to scintillating outdoor performances, our city has a host of white-hot ways to celebrate the night. Summer took its time getting here, but now that it has, you won’t want to miss a minute.
1 Tiny Bubbles
If you think about it, the lovely patio of RM Champagne Salon is actually in an alley. But, boy, what an alley it is. Or, as partner Chris Dexter puts it, “It was the reason we took the entire venue.” After spending a few evenings there ourselves, it’s easy to see why. The courtyard is tucked away, giving the space a mysterious air. And we love the way the quaint cobblestone walkway leads to the 3,000-square-foot two-tiered space. Then there’s the way the lounge was lovingly decorated with strings of tea lights hanging overhead, tables inlaid with Moroccan tiles and charming murals on the surrounding brick walls. Not least of all there’s the incredible selection of Champagnes and delicious French-inspired small plates. Taken altogether, we’re just grateful city o cials nally granted RM its patio permit late last summer. “They had never seen anything like what we were doing,” says Dexter of the delay. We plan to make up for that lost time ASAP, and we suggest you do, too. Rmchampagnesalon.com
2 Laugh In
Tap into the lighter side of life with TBS Just for Laughs Chicago when it hits town June 11-16. This year’s funny fest features a mix of living legends (Bob Newhart), master satirists (Bill Maher, Seth Meyers) and rising stars (John Hodgman). Just try to keep a straight face. Justforlaughschicago.com
3 High Spirits
Vodka may be the Rodney Danger eld of the spirits world, but Tremaine Atkinson and Mark Lucas hope to change that with CH Distillery & Cocktail Bar. Scheduled to open in late June, the 8,000-square-foot West Loop micro-distillery will be home to CH Vodka, a premium liquor made with raw grain grown in Illinois. The Randolph Street space will also feature an intimate cocktail bar with small plates created by former Avec chef Jesse Katzman. So why vodka? “It’s always been my drink of choice,” says Atkinson. “I love it.” We’ll drink to that. Chdistillery.com
4 Chill Out
Handcrafted ice cubes are de rigueur at any cocktail bar worth its swizzle stick. The next hot, er, cold trend we’re excited about is fl avored ice cubes —like the cranberry ones below from Drumbar mixmaster Craig Schoettler (previously of Aviary). We predict those are just the tip of the iceberg for the creative cocktail wiz. Drumbar.com
5 Music to Our Ears
While we’ve got nothing against seeing our favorite acts at Chicago’s music clubs, we’re convinced they sound even better when performing outdoors. And once warmer temps hit, the Windy City is happy to oblige, with plenty of options to choose from.
Head to Highland Park’s Ravinia (ravinia.org) for its famously lush lawn and lineup of all-star performers such as Sting, Jewel and Sheryl Crow.
Those who like their tunes served with a hefty side of eats can head to Taste of Chicago (cityofchicago.org), where this year’s lineup includes Robin icke, Jill Scott and Robert Plant.
With some 126 artists performing, ranging from big names like The Killers and Mumford & Sons to up-and-coming groups like Chicago’s own Wild Belle, Lollapalooza (lollapalooza.Com) has something for every music lover.
6 Season’s Greetings
Nothing says summer like an ice-cold beer. Upgrade yours with Latin-inspired local brewery 5 Rabbit Cerveceria’s newest creation, Missionario. This wheat beer has hints of almonds and Muscat grapes, and pairs perfectly with crab tamales, duck empanadas and —we think—fl ip-fl ops. 5rabbitbrewery.com
7 Right on ’Que
Country music lovers and fans of nger-lickin’ barbecue (that’s pretty much everyone, right?) Won’t want to miss the rst annual Windy City Smokeout (July 12-14), which combines live entertainment with plenty of Southern-inspired fare in the heart of River North. At the threeday outdoor event held between Hubbard and Illinois streets and Rush Street and Wabash Avenue, you’ll find food from Bub City, Smoque and Lillie’s Q, as well as dishes from other barbecue experts, including TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters’ Myron Mixon. Of course, there will be plenty of beer to wash it all down. On the music front headliners include country crooner Jerrod Neimann (Fri.), soulful David Nail (Sat.) And Texas chart-topper Pat Green (Sun.). Don’t miss other performances by emerging talent such as Michele McGuire, Chase Rice, Clayton Anderson and Tyler Reeve. Cowboy boots optional. Bubcitychicago.com
8 Play Time
It received stellar reviews when it opened in New York in March, and now Belleville, the new play from talented writer Amy Herzog (4000 Miles, The Great God Pan), nally arrives in Chicago at the Steppenwolf eatre (June 27-Aug. 25). While set in the City of Light, a carefree American in Paris this isn’t. Rather the psychological thriller tackles the downward slide of a marriage in crisis of two American expats. Intense, sure, but Belleville’s pitchperfect dialogue and nailbiting story make it so worth it. Steppenwolf.org
9 Animal House
Channel your inner Dr. Doolittle and head to the Lincoln Park Zoo on July 12 for Zoo Ball, which features a gourmet dinner, dancing and live entertainment. e annual black-tie fundraising gala, themed Wild at Heart this year, never fails to attract Chicago’s top movers and shakers. Talking to the animals is encouraged. Lpzooball.org
10 Shop Talk
As original concepts go, it doesn’t get much better than Chicago Chop Shop (2033 W. North Ave.), which, when it opens in July, will feature a butcher store, bar, restaurant and event venue dubbed the 1st Ward. Encased meats, cocktails and live entertainment: What’s not to love? at’s exactly what the three guys behind it are counting on. Nick Moretti (founder of NYC-based KOR Project, which showcased up-and-coming artists), Mario Minelli (whose family has owned Minelli Meats in Niles for the last 50 years) and Matt Woodburn (founder-creator of the Art Institute’s After Dark series) are the masterminds behind the 9,300-square-foot two-story space at the six-point intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North avenues. With their diverse backgrounds, we think they’re just the right guys to pull it o .
11 What’s Brewing
The craft beer scene shows no signs of drying up as new Lakeview brewpub DryHop proves. Look for seven brewed-in-house beers plus a seasonal small plates menu from Charlie Trotter’s vet Pete Repak, no less.
12 Top Chefs
Start your week off with a bang at Barcito’s biweekly Amigos of Pinxto event. Chef/partner Ryan Poli and a rotating assortment of the city’s best chefs—think Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges, Bill Kim, Phillip Foss—load up the bar every other Monday with platters of all-you-can-eat tapas, a mix of creative ourishes from the guest culinary wizards and Barcito’s signature dishes. The eats pair perfectly with Barcito’s on-tap cocktails, wine and beer. We love that the “amigos” take charge of the music playlist (note: Kahan is a big fan of classic rock and indie bands) —and that a portion of the proceeds go to charity. Now that Barcito’s lovely patio has opened, the party will only get bigger. Consider yourselves warned. Barcitochicago.com
13 Change Is Good
Who says if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? The following spots were already among the coolest in town, but have recently received makeovers to make them even better.
On the 26th floor of the Dana Hotel, Vertigo Sky Lounge (vertigoskylounge.Com) has ditched its casual aesthetic for a more upscale one, with chic white couches and a stainless steel fire pit. Consider yourself lucky to snag one of the six seats at the new customdesigned outdoor bar, which features a five-course cocktail tasting menu.
How do you celebrate your 10th anniversary? Well, if you’re Japonais (japonaischicago.com) you renovate your riverwalk and lounge areas, adding in high-top communal and regular dining tables (all the better to enjoy signature dishes such as tuna ceviche and black cod sliders). But don’t worry: Those lovely cabanas surrounded by sheer curtains haven’t gone anywhere.
It’s hard to beat the up-close views of the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue Bridge from Rebar on the mez level of Trump Chicago (trumphotelcollection.com). Now there’s more to love with the addition of 1,500 square feet, including a corner bar and 46 more seats to take it all in.Thank you, Donald.
14 A Glass Act The Aviary didn’t need its recent James Beard Outstanding Bar Program award to prove its star power with us, but we’re just as proud that it did (congrats, Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas!). If you thought getting in was tough before... well, you know. Theaviary.com
15 Full House
While the details are still coming together on Tippling House (640 N. Franklin St.), slated to open in late summer, we feel con dent in saying it will be a hit. After all, it’s from the same team as the alwaysbustling Tavernita, Mercadito and Little Market Brasserie. That includes chef Ryan Poli with Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci who, as the Tippling Bros., have had a big impact on the mixology world with their inventive—and tasty!— cocktails on tap. Since their newest venture, located in the former Hop Haus space, has a 4 filiquor license you can bet all involved plan on making the most of those extra latenight hours. A couple of frozen drink machines and plenty of keg cocktails are in the works, says Tanguay, as well as a global comfort food menu. “We want Tippling House to be a great bar with amazing food,” says Tanguay. Sounds like a plan to us.
16 Lens Crafter
Get an up-close look at 25 stunning photos from renowned fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon at the Sofi tel Chicago this summer (July 26-Sept. 25) . Elles by Gilles Bensimon, a free exhibit, honors famous women from the arts and entertainment industry. Sofi tel.com
17 His Kind of Town
He wasn’t even born or raised here, but David Schwimmer nevertheless feels like one of our own. A big part of that has to do with his role as co-founder of Lookingglass Theatre Company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Rather than fade away from the innovative theater company once the Northwestern University grad hit it big in Hollywood (you may have heard of a little TV show called Friends), Schwimmer stayed involved, both acting in and directing a number of Lookingglass productions, including Trust, Race and The Jungle. That’s why we’re so excited for his newest directing endeavor for the multi-award-winning ensemble company, Big Lake Big City, which opens June 19 at the Water Tower Water Works venue. It’s a promising collaboration as the gritty noir thriller was penned by Keith Hu , the man behind A Steady Rain, and who also writes for House of Cards and Mad Men. “I’m proud and kind of amazed that, through thick and thin, we’ve managed to stay alive in a very competitive and not often lucrative profession,” says Schwimmer of Lookingglass’ longevity. “To look back on 25 years is pretty amazing.” We couldn’t agree more. Lookingglasstheatre.org
18 The Great Outdoors
Chicago’s outdoor dining and bar scene heats up this summer with some stellar new arrivals.
Located 12 stories above Chicago’s Mag Mile, the dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar (decarestaurant.Com) at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago features plenty of chic seating, a color-changing LED wall and a stainless steel sculpture. Quench your thirst with handcrafted cocktails, select wines and craft beers. A variety of fun eats—an old-fashioned ice cream cart anyone?—means you won’t go hungry either.
Sprawling Park Tavern (parktavernchicago.com) has become even bigger with the addition of a 3,000-squarefoot beer garden that includes an outdoor bar, 200 seats and a handful of fire pits to gather around on those cooler nights.
Well-known for its live entertainment, Joe’s on Weed Street (joesbar.com) adds a new rooftop garden to the mix with custom cedar booths and plenty of specialty cocktails.
As if 114 beers on tap, a globally inspired menu from Executive Chef Scott Walton and its location inside the historic Tribune Tower weren’t enough, Howells & Hood (howellsandhood.com) also features a 300-seat patio with granite-topped communal tables, a pavilion bar and terrific views of Michigan Avenue, including the Wrigley Building across the street.
19 Grape Nuts
Things have really taken root at City Winery Chicago since the winery/restaurant/ performance venue opened in August, and we don’t just mean the living wall of greenery on its facade. Rather, the NYC import has developed an identity of its own, from its mix of performers (check out Bebel Gilberto, pictured, on Aug. 11) to the lovely wines on tap to the space itself, including the outdoor wine garden with its fi lm and music events. Citywinery.com
20 High Notes
What do the Lyric Opera and The Second City have in common? Plenty it seems, as e Second City Guide to the Opera proves. For the entire month of June, these odd bedfellows team up once again—their initial collaboration back in January was a sold-out success—for performances that poke fun at the highbrow art form as only the world-renowned comedy troupe can. at means plenty of laugh-out-loud sketches and witty musical numbers that get additional funny fuel, we imagine, from the owing beer and wine. Add in cabaret-style seating with some audience members sitting on stage and we hope the fat lady never sings. Lyricopera.org
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