Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right The Bar at the Peninsula | Cocktail bar report card

The Bar at the Peninsula | Cocktail bar report card

Is this Michigan Ave lounge just for tourists?
The Bar at the Peninsula
By David Tamarkin |

History For more than a decade, the Bar at the Peninsula has been a dark den of debauchery for Chicago’s wealthiest tourists. The warm lighting and Art Deco decor give the place its timelessness; the older men sitting in corners and whispering in the ears of much younger women give the place its sense of intrigue.

Noise Remixes of Phoenix and Frank Ocean. Also: “Gangnam Style.” Shouldn’t there be jazz?

Minutes to get a seat on a weekend night Zero. But arrive after 11pm and you might be standing.

Minutes to order/receive first drink 3/10

Quality The classics are taken seriously. Order a martini, and you’ll be asked, “With what kind of olives?” (Get the ones stuffed with blue cheese.) A gin fizz is creamy enough to be a milkshake.

Value Some cocktails are $9 (fine); others, like a brandy old fashioned, are $21 (not cool).

Food The sushi is solidly executed but at $21–$35 per roll, not worth the money. Stick to the complimentary cocktail nuts and crackers.

Final evaluation Places like this could be running on reputation, but the Bar at the Peninsula shows no signs of lowering its standards. The service is still better than at almost any other bar, the place still feels luxurious, and the bartenders don’t blink when asked to make a Vesper.

Still iconic? YES

More to explore