The WISCH LIST
By Dave Wischnowsky
I like to think of Chicago as Summer’s Favorite City.
For my money, there’s no town in America more beautiful during the year’s warmer months. And I’d bet big money that there’s no town on Earth that cherishes its sunny days more than the Windy City.
We can thank our wicked winters for that.
With that in mind, there are few better ways to enjoy Chicago’s architectural beauty and sunshine – or moonlight, for that matter – than atop one of its many downtown rooftop venues.
This summer happens to be a banner one for such hotspots with new ones opening, while existing ones have upgraded their offerings. So, if you’re looking to “top” off a summer day in Chicago soon, consider these.
Cindy’s at Chicago Athletic Association
12 S. Michigan Ave.
Once an exclusive Venetian Gothic palace that served as a private playground for Chicago’s business elites such as Marshall Field and William Wrigley, the Chicago Athletic Association has been transformed into a resplendent hotel for all that just opened this past Wednesday.
Atop its 13th floor of sits Cindy’s, a new indoor/outdoor space sporting a beach-house feel with picnic-style seating and two fire pits. Facing the lake, Cindy’s offers gorgeous views of Millennium Park and the Art Institute, all from beneath a glass rooftop framed by steel.
Cerise at Virgin Hotels Chicago
203 N. Wabash St.
As another newbie to the downtown scene, Virgin Hotels Chicago opened in January after Sir Richard Branson & Co. finished a massive renovation of the Old Dearborn Bank Building. It wasn’t until a month ago, however, that Cerise, the trendy hotel’s rooftop spot, welcomed visitors.
From all accounts, Cerise is worth the wait. Featuring Far East bites and a variety of specialty cocktails and craft beers, the venue faces away from the lake, but still offers a 180-degree panorama of skyscrapers spreading out across the Loop and River North.
Chicago Magazine also reports that Cerise’s interior décor of exotic art and curiosities from around the globe serves as much of a visual attraction as the views.
J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln
1816 N. Clark St.
Perched atop the funky Hotel Lincoln, where the Rolling Stones reportedly stayed during their 2013 visit to Chicago, the J. Parker is named after an infamous historical figure: John Parker, the D.C. security guard who fatefully snuck out of Ford’s Theatre for a drink in 1865 and left Abe Lincoln’s box unattended.
As a rooftop bar, the J. Parker is much better at its job than its namesake, offering spectacular views of Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan. This winter, the venue unveiled a new retractable glass rooftop covering that now makes the J. Parker great even on a rainy summer afternoons.
Drumbar at Rafaello Hotel
201 E. Delaware Place
In September 2014, GQ Magazine dubbed Drumbar as the best spot for skyline views in Chicago. It’s tough to disagree. Especially when you’re seated beside the patio’s open flame fire pits with a cocktail in hand.
But you really should see for yourself.