The Chaser

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No Rest for the Chilly

Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

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My own stunning BlackBerry photography of the view from The Signature Lounge at the 96th. Oh, Chicago. Wonders never cease.

Every day I wonder why I feel like I need a nap at 11AM, and then I remember: last night. Over the past week alone, I've visited (all in the name of research) the following Chicago bars: Quenchers Saloon, Stanley's Kitchen & TapRootstock Wine & Beer BarThe California ClipperSimon's TavernHopleafUncle Fatty's Rum ResortCunaThe Signature Lounge at the 96th, and, on the agenda for tonight, The Tasting Room (for a Vital Bridges fundraiser). 

Want me to pick two places off that list for you to go this weekend? Okay, no problem. First, if you haven't already been, try Rootstock. Yes, I'm a little late to the game on this one, but last week was my first visit, and I was charmed. The Humboldt Park space is warm and cozy, with engaging bartenders, cool art on the walls, delicious food, and plenty of interesting bottles lining the shelves. It's a bar for grown-ups, of which I apparently am one. 

Next--and no anti-tourist sneers, please--The Signature Lounge at the 96th, in the John Hancock Building. I was there for a special event last night, and it was my first visit in three years. I found my own pane of glass and stood as close as I could, leaning forward (champagne cocktail in hand) to touch my forehead to the window, Ferris-Bueller-style. I let my eyes unfocus to create a serene twinklesphere of the city lights below, and, for a minute, forgot the freezing, salty reality of the street-level scene a zillion stories down. 

In other news, here are three bits of nightlife news for now, later and even later: 

1. The Exchange will have its soft opening for friends, family and whoever else can find their way onto the list in the old Lava Lounge space this weekend. Promising to "bring back the real American bar" with a vintage cocktail parlor vibe, The Exchange will showcase the craft creations of mixologist Peter Vestinos. The official opening is slated for next weekend. 

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A preview of the renovation at the old Chaise Lounge, soon to be known as The Southern.

2. I'll admit I rolled my eyes at the revelation that Bucktown's Chaise Lounge (1840 W. North Ave.) is re-concepting as The Southern, a go-to spot for small-batch bourbons and grits. I mean, here we go again...more brown liquor. Luckily, I've always been on board with the Kentucky bourbon concept, so I guess I'll have to make my way over there to see the transformation unveiled on February 5.  

3. There are many commendable Haiti-related fundraising efforts going on at bars around the city, but this is one of my faves (especially since I was such a fan of Snoop's Haterade bit in his Doggie Fizzle Televizzle days): 100% of proceeds from the Haiti-Ade Rum Cocktail (made with Kraken Rum, cranberry and orange juice, $6.50) will go to the American Red Cross. At 10 Chicago bars, including a smattering of spots in the Rush-and-Division area and my own neighborhood standard, the River Shannon. 


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