Cindy Rynning is a Chicago area resident, an avid wine blogger on her site, Grape Experiences and a contributing wine writer for numerous online publications.
Sip, Savor, then Sleep at These Favorite Hotel Bars in Chicago
Having lived in Chicago for many years, I’ve seen the metamorphosis from good hotels to great, from hotels with old school coffee shops to those with restaurants garnering international recognition, and from those with tacky bars (and the requisite sultry lounge singer) to many boasting the trendiest of décors and knock your socks off wine lists. It’s no wonder that Chicago is now recognized as a culinary destination (the 2015 James Beard Awards were held here recently) and a sommelier’s dream location in which to work. The overall food and wine scene continues to impress locals and tourists alike and frankly, I never have to find a reason to spend a weekend in Chicago where I can have a fabulous meal and memorable glass of wine.
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me happier than discovering a hotel with a beautiful and relaxing bar where I can enjoy a delicious small bite alongside an interesting, different, and absolutely satisfying glass of wine before turning in for the night.
Following are a few of my favorite hotels in downtown Chicago where I’ve been able to do just that…sip, savor, then sleep.
Intercontinental Hotel’s ENO Wine Bar - Located directly on Michigan Avenue, ENO Wine Bar is a jewel in the crown of the InterContinental Hotel. Cheese, truffles, and of course a lovely glass of wine await you in this intimate, relaxed, and unpretentious bar while you observe the hustle and bustle of the city. I love their sommelier led ENOversity, a monthly series exploring various wine regions, where wine lovers are able to explore and taste a variety of wines paired with regional cheeses and small bites. I recently enjoyed their fun and informative session focusing on Spanish varietals. Focusing on fine wines and beer (sorry, no spirits), the wine list is pages long and has a terrific representation of wines from around the world. If you visit during the summer, be sure to sip on the patio!
505 North Michigan
The Library at the Public Chicago – Years ago, I lived within walking distance from the Ambassador East Hotel and its famed Pump Room. Located on a quiet, leafy street in a chic Gold Coast neighborhood just minutes away from Rush Street, this iconic hotel has been given a facelift by Ian Schrager and renamed Public Chicago. Gone is the traditional Pump Room atmosphere where autographed photos of Frank Sinatra, Barbara Eden, and Ava Gardner were displayed; the Pump Room now oozes a cool, hip vibe. And to the right of the former foyer is the Library reinvented as an uber-trendy bar well populated by thirsty Millennials, neighborhood locals, and those staying at the hotel. Besides offering any cocktail or beer you may desire, this sexy, sultry lounge and wine bar prides itself on a terrific selection of international wines along with delectable small plates, desserts, and beautiful people watching. Going to this Library has never been more fun!
1301 North State Avenue
312.787.3700 or 888.506.3471
Travelle at The Langham – Sleek, contemporary, and perfect for a glass of wine before a show or last sip of the night, the bar at Travelle at the Langham Hotel is where I love to be for wine, a small plate to satisfy the foodie in me, and an overnight in this wonderful town. The last time I visited, I sat at the bar with a lovely glass of Pinot Grigio and a breathtaking evening view of the Chicago River from floor to ceiling windows while listening to a jazz trio. You could also enjoy your wine nestled in comfortable leather seating harkening back to the days of mid-century classic Chicago while viewing a modern 30 foot digital artwork display between swirls and sips. What I appreciate about the wine list is that it has everything I love…choices of light whites to bold reds from regions not often noticed but should be. Your experience at the bar at Travelle includes an expert staff of sommeliers who can guide you to the incredible wine you may not know you love.
330 North Wabash
NoMi Lounge at the Park Hyatt – Directly across from Chicago’s famed Water Tower is the Park Hyatt Chicago where you’ll be able to choose from a stellar selection of wines at NoMi Lounge before you say goodnight. Intimate, stylish seating and gorgeous views of the city will be yours at another one of my favorite hotel bars. I love its proximity to shopping and world class restaurants (award winning NoMi Kitchen is adjacent) and the casual sophistication this bar exudes. The smartly curated wine list represents varietals that for some may be unusual and for others familiar, but always satisfying. Don’t forget to try a sampling of small plates, salads, sushi, sandwiches, and desserts all served until 10:30pm.
800 North Michigan Avenue
Sunday – Thursday2pm-12am
Rebar at the Trump – What’s there not to love about Rebar? I always look forward to relaxing, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying one of many small plates while gazing at the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue Bridge, and beautiful skyline. Located on the mezzanine level of the bustling Trump International Hotel, the cool, contemporary Rebar is the place to unwind after a long day in the city. A constantly changing wine list featuring Champagne and sparkling wine as well as regional varietals is enticing and I’ve always been more than satisfied when I’ve tried a new wine recommended to me by their expert sommelier. I’ve attended several wine events at Rebar and continue to be impressed with the creativity involved in their wine and food offerings (But of course… Sixteen, one of the best restaurants in the world is an elevator ride away!). Savor a fresh salad, hot or cold appetizer, one of several unique flatbreads, or rich dessert with your favorite glass of wine. And don’t forget to stay for the music!
401 North Wabash