Think of it as the ultimate Lake Shore Drive conundrum: How can a bar that hangs chiffon drapes all over the place still find itself not only relevant but nearly essential to the Chicago bar scene? Whiskey Sky, the W Hotel's penthouse bar, not only manages to defy the Lake Shore Drive riddle, but gives rise to a new one: How can a place with reasonably priced drinks, no cover and a primo view of the skyline be so achingly ignored?
Compared to the revolving door that is the W's restaurant-cum-LCD-wasteland Wave and its low-key, first floor lobby-bar (both crammed with excess Armani on any given Saturday night), Whiskey Sky may feel a little slighted and forlorn. A clean, matchbox of a watering hole, the entire place bathes in hues of midnight blue and teal. And with the help of wraparound windows, it stretches out confidently—if solitarily—into the glittering cityscape.
The bar itself is fairly basic: no kitschy martinis or unpronounceable Scandinavian brews here, just everyday liquor served at prices way below normal 312 levels. Expect to spend about $8 a drink. Bar-seating is limited, but fear not, stiletto-wearing women; there is plenty of spare space to go around. Despite the overall dearth of mushroomy-looking leather chairs, most remain vacant as the vast majority of patrons opt for the stand-around look, using the chairs as footstools if nothing else.
The mostly soft-rock music feels oddly out of place at this smooth, Euro lounge. Still, the volume is kept to a minimum and conversation is entirely feasible.
Centerstage Reviewer: Adam White