If you don’t have the time, money or inclination to travel downtown this upcoming holiday weekend, my suggestion for a quick escape is going for a cocktail at The Robey in the heart of Wicker Park.
The Robey, 2018 W. North, is easily accessible by the CTA Blue Line, Damen stop. There are several options for dining and drinking — some with majestic skyline views without the hassle and hefty price tag of downtown’s rooftop bars — and access to a swimming pool without having to book an overnight hotel stay or pay for a club membership.
That’s right. There’s a pool! Recline on lounge chairs and get resort-style service as you soak in some vitamin D.
Located on the 6th floor of the hotel, Cabana Club is open until early September. It features 180-degree views of city skyline and a cocktail menu that’s all about chill and summer vibes.
“It’s open to the public, so anybody can come in, dip their feet into the pool, have a great-tasting refreshing cocktail and relax on a Saturday afternoon,” said Vanessa Beaderstadt, Cabana Club’s general manager. (Come during the week for a more tranquil ambiance; the pool opens at 11 a.m.)
What should you drink while lounging in the sun? Something frozen of course!
The Miami Vice is a swirled pina colada (spiced rum, coconut, orange, lime) with strawberry daiquiri (rum, strawberry, lime). Made You Blush is a slushy drink of rose, elderflower, aperol and lime. There are also margaritas, of course and all frozen drinks can be purchased by carafe for sharing. (If you need a pick-me-up, skip the coffee and order the frozen Red Bull.)
Club cocktails include the popular Burn Baby Burn — featuring smokey notes from mezcal, citrus notes from lime and grapefruit juice, and the “burn” from jalapeno agave and firewater bitters.
Pisco punch has a bright purple color sure to brighten any dull mood. The tiki-style drink has a base spirit of pisco infused with lavender, raspberry green tea and pineapple.
“Since Fourth of July is just kicking off you can see all the people letting off fireworks in the neighborhood,” said Beaderstadt. “You can even see the Navy Pier [fireworks] downtown, definitely some great rooftop views up here.”
“Cabana Club is about summer [and] refreshing mixed drinks and frozens to sip on by the pool as you take in the views,” said Danny Park, The Robey’s food and beverage director. “Up Room is our year-round bar on the 13th floor, offering more traditional mixology that’s perfect for after-work drinks, a date, or after-dinner drinks.”
Up Room features a beautiful wrap-around terrace with breathtaking, unobstructed views.
“When you get up here it’s almost like [being in on] a secret,” said Laine Peterson, general manager of the Up Room. “You have pretty much a 360-degree view of Chicago. You can see all the way north to Wrigley Field; you can see pretty far down south on a clear night. The Chicago skyline is incredible.”
Peterson said the majestic view lends itself to guests celebrating special occasions. The venue is sleek and intimate, and the more-refined drinks have to live up to the backdrop.
“It’s a challenge we accept and we’re excited about. It keeps us being creative, innovative, we have the ability to use ingredients that are definitely upper-echelon,” said Peterson.
Take for example, the Bird Walks Into a Bar cocktail — a modified tiki drink with maple syrup to round out the bitterness of Cynar. It’s rum-based but not too sweet.
April Showers Bring May Flowers is as pretty to look at as it is to drink. It features the unique ingredients of cachaca (fermented sugarcane spirit), celery bitters and salt, fresh cucumber and chareau (aloe and cucumber liqueur) topped with soda water and garnished with edible pansies.
Another favorite is Blondes Have More Fun — the vibrantly colored drink features rum, passionfruit puree, vanilla and tobacco, garnished with pink peppercorns.
Peterson recommends Oaxacan on Broken Glass for a cocktail that engages all the senses. This mezcal drink is garnished with a rosemary sprig that is lit on fire.
“There’s the spectacle [of the smoking rosemary sprig] and the whole room smells it and makes it interactive, draws attention to it,” said Peterson.
Burn Baby Burn from Cabana Club
- 1.5 oz Banhez Mezcal
- 2 oz Grapefruit
- 1 oz Jalapeno Agave (approx. 1 sliced jalapeno to 1 deli agave, cook to temp; taste for spice)
- 1 oz Lime
Shake with ice
Serve on ice
Blondes Have More Fun (courtesy of The Up Room )
- 1.5 oz Rum Barbancourt
- 2 oz Passion Fruit Puree
- Vanilla simple syrup (vanilla bean paste simmered in simple syrup, cooled)
- Tobasco (a few dashes)
Shake with ice
Serve in a coupe glass
Garnish with pink peppercorns