History When the Drawing Room opened in late 2007, revelers who stumbled down the stairs off Rush Street into the small, dark lounge had no idea the slim guy with a cocktail shaker would go on to be named America’s best bartender on an NBC reality show (2010’s On the Rocks). Charles Joly remained at the Gold Coast spot until summer 2012, when he was tapped to head the bar at the Aviary. Successor Cristi DeLucca, who worked under Joly for years, seems well primed to keep up what this bar does best: riffs on classic cocktails, plus a few wild cards.
Decor Tables boast inviting brown velvet armchairs that shimmer gold in the light, but the eight-seat bar, lit by a chandelier, is the centerpiece of the room.
Crowd Late thirties and above
Minutes to get a seat on a weekend night Zero, but we settle for a table since the bar is packed.
Minutes to order/receive first drink 6/10
Creativity Points for ingredients (rooibos-infused Bruichladdich Scotch, herbal bitters from the Czech Republic) and drink names (the Old Man, the Monk, and the Sea; Shrub-a-dub-dub)
Quality The O’Leary’s Cow, a bitter mix of Old Weller 107 bourbon, Campari, Fernet and coffee liqueur with a rinse of peaty Laphroaig, is—like most drinks here—perfectly complex.
Value $13 a drink isn’t shocking in the Gold Coast.
Food Favorites from the modern American menu include steak tartare with pungent marrow mustard.
Final evaluation Joly’s legacy lives on in more than just the Charlie’s Manhattan, a Templeton Rye cocktail named for him. Like their former boss, DeLucca and her team are eager to chat about the bar’s unusual spirits—and use them to put out killer drinks.
Still iconic? YES