Chicago has 77 neighborhoods, but tourists seldom make it out of the downtown area to explore them. 360 Chicago, which operates the 94th floor of the building formerly known as the John Hancock Center, is aiming to provide a taste of what they have to offer with a $2 million update centering on a new bar.
“Central to all of our decisions around investments and concepting in the space is trying to find the opportunity to amplify Chicago's neighborhoods,” said Nichole Benolken, managing director of 360 Chicago’s parent company Magnicity. “We did that by identifying partners out in the neighborhoods that could bring influence to our food, our merchandise, and our cocktails.”
The menu at CloudBar, which had its grand opening on September 14, lists a neighborhood inspiration for every dish and drink. Some are broad, like quesadillas and carnitas for Pilsen or margarita flatbread ascribed to Little Italy, but others are based on partnerships with local businesses. The cocktail menu features two exclusive cocktails from Lakeview’s Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club including the Heavenly Martini, a blend of lemon vodka, Alize and blue curacao topped with dry ice to provide a cloud effect. CloudBar already has a menu of eight more Kit Kat drinks that they will roll out slowly.
“We have a broader vision for both the cocktail menu and the food menu that will expand and evolve over the next two or three months as we learn more about what our guest is looking for and what works well in our space,” Benolken said.
Bronzeville’s Moody Tongue Brewing Company provides all the draft beers including an exclusive Magnicity pilsner. Visitors arriving earlier in the day or just looking to avoid alcohol can try an excellent oat milk latte from Hyde Park’s Kikwetu featuring cold brew coffee sweetened with rose or lavender syrup. CloudBar plans on adding hot drinks from Kikwetu to the menu later this year.
“Their coffee is a life changer,” Benolken said. “They have grand plans to grow in the city and if we can help people be aware of what they're offering, then that's a privilege.”
CloudBar also features a small grab-and-go area featuring packaged food from local companies including Roscoe Village’s Vosges Haut-Chocolat and Northbrook’s Carol’s Cookies. That area may be the only space open to the public some days as the venue is designed to be carved out into several configurations to accommodate private parties. Part of that separation is done through panels depicting the neighborhoods, people, and iconic structures of Chicago created by muralist Lauren Asta.
The space offers spectacular views of the city, particular from the long tables situated on the perimeter. New decals added throughout 360 Chicago list the neighborhoods in view to provide extra context to visitors while artists from Bronzeville, Lakeview and Pilsen provided works on display near TILT. For $45, visitors will get admission to 360 Chicago, a ride on TILT which creates the sensation of falling from the giant windows, and a drink at CloudBar. In October or November, 360 Chicago plans to announce discounted rates for Chicago residents.
“We really want to continue to build our relationship with Chicago residents and encourage them to think of 360 Chicago and CloudBar as somewhere that they would want to spend their Thursday night and not just somewhere to bring their friends from out of town,” Benolken said.
Part of that effort involves offering entertainment three nights a week including DJs, magicians and performers from the Kit Kat Lounge. 360 Chicago may also bring back the neighborhood takeover nights they ran in 2019 that featured performances and samplings to raise money for local nonprofits.
“We're blessed with an incredible canvas in this space,” Benolken said. “We're 17,000-square-feet on the 94th floor of one of the most iconic buildings in the world with the best views of the city. When that's your background, it becomes really fun to think about how you design the space so that it can be one thing during the day for a school group and another thing at night when you have a party of 300 people and you're welcoming the divas from Kit Kat Lounge.”
CloudBar (875 N Michigan Ave) is open Wednesday–Thursday from 9am–9pm, Friday–Saturday from 9am–11pm and Sunday from 9am–9pm.