Winter may be winding down, but in Chicago, fireside dining and drinking help to bridge the frigid gap between February and March. Fortunately, there are cozy respites all over town, specializing in everything from champagne and oysters to burgers and whiskey.
The Violet Hour
Chicago’s premier craft-cocktail lounge is named for the so-called “hour of hush and wonder,” to which historian Bernard DeVoto pledged homage in his mid-century martini work, The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto. In other words, these are serious cocktails. The aesthetic falls somewhere on an Alice in Wonderland spectrum with heavy blue curtains and high-gloss white molding. And the tall velvet armchairs, their backs warmed by the massive fireplace, encourage lounging for hours.
RM Champagne Salon
From its exposed-brick framed with gallery-style portraits, aglow with warmly lit chandeliers dripping with crystal, RM evokes a French provincial look that’s especially inviting during winter. Its stunning marble fireplace is the literal hearth of the room, the crackling fire complementing clinking of glasses of bubbly. In true salon fashion, dinner is casual and plated small, from oysters to macaroons.
Housed in a former gentlemen’s club, this masculine tribute to American fare offers an incredibly indulgent menu and setting, all of which is presented without pretense. The main dining room is vastly spread out, marked with rich leather banquets and white tablecloths. But the adjacent parlor, with stunning red walls and handsome fireplace, is the sweet spot during winter.
The debut property of lifestyle stalwart Ian Schrager’s newly launched brand of affordable, luxury boutique hotels, the Public is home to the most comfortable lobby in town. Up a few steps from the concierge is the Library & Coffee Bar, whose fireplace roars year-round, warming a collection of fur-covered, low-slung reading chairs. Coffee hour transitions seamlessly to cocktail hour with a full menu of drinks and bites.
This simply named sandwich shop is anything but. More than 100 mouth-watering iterations, from deli-style sandwiches to top-heavy burgers, line the menu at this modern Chicago institution, and the Wicker Park location boasts a sturdy stone fireplace warming a small room full of booths and tables. The tavern feel extends to Jerry’s thorough beer list, rivaled only by its wow-worthy book of whiskey.
Photos Courtesy of Public Hotel, Tortoise Club, RM Champagne Salon and Violet Hour