In Land and Sea Dept.’s plans for the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, the micro detail of the micro bar Milk Room (Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Ave., 312-792-3535) intrigued a lot of people. Here are the final details to sate our curiosity: After some delays, the bar will officially open November 16. If you’re hoping to find your way onto a stool, you’ll have to plan ahead, as the bar will be using the Nick Kokonas–backed restaurant ticketing system, Tock. Starting Friday at noon, you can snag a two-hour slot for dates from the opening through December 30 on the bar’s website. Paul McGee, the bounteously bearded beverage director of Land and Sea Dept., shared more details a while back.
Why is it called Milk Room?
It used to be a speakeasy. It used to be called the Milk Room because during Prohibition that’s where you got your “milk,” [a drink] spiked with undercover booze.
How big is the bar?
It will end up with eight seats. There will be a bartender [exclusively] for those eight guests. We will do a very specific cocktail menu in there.
What will the menu be like?
There will be a printed menu. A really small one, though, four to five drinks. It will change as bottles are depleted. If we just get one bottle in, [x number of] people order a cocktail, and it’s gone. We move on to something else. We’ll have maybe 65 to 70 bottles total at any one time and are always acquiring more.
Who’s buying the bottles?
I’m buying the spirits. We’ve got some cool American whiskeys and Scotch whiskeys, and some pretty old cognac. I’ve got some distributors here in Chicago that have a really cool portfolio of spirits. They are not really that mainstream. People who have had Johnnie Walker Black—a blend from a bunch of different distilleries in Scotland—we let those people know that we can get some from single distilleries that source to Johnnie Walker.
How much will these cocktails cost?
They’re priced dependent on the bottle. [They will start] at about $18, but I think you could have something that’s $40, $50, or even a $100 cocktail. Want a rum from pre-embargo Cuba? We would make you a daiquiri with that.