The Signature Lounge Gives a Stylish View of Chicago
There are a several opportunities to get a bird’s eye view of Chicago, but none of them beat observing the dazzling display with a great cocktail in one hand than the one we took in at the Signature Lounge inside the Signature Room at the 95th (875 North Michigan Avenue, 312-787-9596, SignatureRoom.com) on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center in Chicago.
Perched one floor below 360 Chicago, the observation deck formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, the Signature Room is sophisticated Chicago.
Located a couple of blocks from The Drake Hotel and Lake Michigan near the North Side of Chicago along the famed Magnificent Mile, you know you are in the classy historic part of the city. It was the perfect spot to take Babes for a night cap and a farewell drink to my childhood stomping ground (thanks to a tip from the boys over at Best Gay Cities).
I had never been up to the Signature Room, much less enjoyed Chicago much as an adult until this adventure. I left for California when I was 18. In the past 25 years or more I’ve only returned for quick visits to see my family and friends and once for the Gay Games. Returning to Chicago to tell people why they shouldn’t pass up my hometown was never on my list of things to do, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was proud to show off this place I once called home.
My girl and I cozied up to a spot along the communal bar against the window to look out over Chicago sprawling into the surrounding suburbs. The lights sparkled against the vast Midwestern night sky stretching out into a dark horizon providing a spectacular view.
We weren’t the only couple enjoying the site with an after-dinner drink in hand. The Signature Lounge is a popular spot for couples and friends to gather to take in the lights. Other couples local and visiting saddled up to the open seats next to us with drinks in hand to take in the lights twinkling beneath us.
Babes eyed one of our neighbors’ Godiva Chocolate martini. A decadent desert cocktail with Dorda Double Chocolate and White Chocolate Godiva liqueurs with Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, but she settled on Newton’s 2010 “Red Label” Cabernet Sauvignon from back home in Napa.
I wasn’t ready to go home. In fact I was in the mood to travel more by ordering the “Paris to Rome,” one of the Signature Room’s signature cocktails, a concoction of St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur with Lemoncello and Prosecco.
Sitting back waiting for our drinks Babes and I played a game of picking out where we were high above the city and to see if we could spot some of the places we had been down below us. It’s an impossible attempt but fun.
We got a little nervous about how high up we were when we saw some clouds pass below us, but our nerves were quickly quelled when our drinks arrived. We sat back and chatted about our favorite parts of Chicago and the people we met, friends we hung out with, and my experience of Chicago now than as a child growing up while looking out at the city.
It was a memorable night and well worth the cost of the drinks, which were slightly higher than what we would pay in San Francisco and New York, but we were definitely paying for the spectacular views and atmosphere.
We didn’t have dinner at The Signature Room, but the menu offers a tempting glimpse of what you would expect at any high-end restaurant. Hello, it’s a Michelin and AAA Approved Diamond rated restaurant and lounge among winning other awards it’s won this year alone. It definitely gave me a moment to pause and consider returning for more than just a late night cocktail.
If you are in Chicago, I highly suggest stopping by The Signature Lounge and Room. It can be difficult to get in at the Signature Lounge. Babes and I got lucky, slipping in during a lull in the crowd, but that lull was very brief. We suggest having an early dinner and going before the regular dinner crowd heads out for a night cap and the younger set kick off their night at one of Chicago’s many speakeasies.
THE BOTTOM OF THE GLASS
The Signature Lounge, 875 North Michigan Avenue, 312-787-9596, SignatureRoom.com
TYPE OF BAR: Classic Chicago, touristy, but still a local favorite
RATING: 4 = black
(Scale of 0 – 5, 0 being the worst and 5 being the best)
AMBIANCE: Classy, sophisticated and modern.
SCENE: Dress up for a night out on the town, while you won’t be turned away for being in jeans this is definitely a place where you want to look your best.
SERVICE: Our server wasfriendly and chatty about the drink specials when asked, however service was slow due to the crowds. When someone spilled their drink, we ended up cleaning up the mess until we were able to get our server’s attention, which took a while. Other than that we felt welcome and not rushed.
NOISE LEVEL: The noise was very well controlled. We chatted with each other and our neighbors easily.
RECOMMENDED DRINKS/DISHES: The drinks were perfect. What we expected from high quality cocktails and liquors and there was a good selection of wines.
SIP: Babes wants to try the Godiva Chocolate martini, I would have the “Paris to Rome” again but I plan on trying [drink name] when I return to Chicago soon.
THE TAB: $$ = $10 – $20
(price of average drink for one person)
ANOTHER ONE BARTNEDER: Hands down, it’s the spectacular view.
WORTH THE NIGHT OUT?: This bar rocks! = ♪♪♪
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