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These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel or high-rise that’s not topped with a trendy rooftop lounge. But there’s one spot that’s been slinging drinks in the sky since before most patrons at the hottest new penthouse patio were born. The Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Center has been around since 1993, which makes it practically geriatric in bar years. But it’s still going strong, so we popped in recently to soak in the scene. Even in the midst of a violent storm, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.

The view trounces that of any other bar in the city, and that alone is worth the price of admission. It’s a well-known insider tip that if you want to get sky high in Chicago, skip the lines and expensive entry fees at the observation decks and head up to the Signature Lounge for a cocktail and view that’s just as good.

The Signature Lounge has always had a reputation for being a swanky, pricey space, the kind reserved for special occasions or a one-of-a-kind tourist destination if you have friends in town. But while the drinks are normally pricey enough that it will never become anyone’s local haunt, a newly launched happy hour aims to make it a reasonable choice for after-work drinks. The condensed menu, which is available 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, offers a handful of signature cocktails, like a dirty martini, and bar bites for just nine bucks a pop. Epic views make the Signature Lounge one of the city’s “must experience at least once” establishments, and with prices on par with your neighborhood bar, you no longer have a good reason not to go.

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