Oversized lamps loom over patrons at the Living Room Bar
Well-lighted place: W Chicago – City Center’s Living Room Bar

I’ve always liked the Living Room Bar in the grand lobby of the W Chicago – City Center. It’s an unexpectedly cool spot in the heart of the Loop for afterwork drinks, pretheatre drinks, postgala drinks—basically, any-occasion drinks on a block that’s otherwise dead come quitting time. But the lounge’s recent revamping and expansion—in conjunction with the opening of a new restaurant, IPO (short for Initial Public Offering, in a nod to the goings-on in the nearby office buildings)—has given me, and the downtown suits, a new reason to pop in.

The bar opened last Wednesday to a packed house and a surprise performance by the Miami-based pop star CeCe Segarra, but I recommend checking it out under more leisurely circumstances—say, tonight, at the end of a long workweek, when you’ve earned a drink or three.

As for the redo, I’m a little bummed about the three new 42-inch TVs above the bar. I’m sure these are a selling point for sports fans, but I’m not a fan of staring at the whites of my date’s eyes as he gazes over my head at the flashing screens, conversation at a standstill. But I do like the absurdly tall table lamps, the cozy armchairs, and the improved traffic flow. And then there are the drinks, including Half Acre Gossamer Golden Ale ($8). If a tipple isn’t in the cards for tonight, head over next week, when the bar unveils its new seasonal menu, including the Whiskey-n-Cherry, a mix of Death’s Door whiskey, cherry soda, vermouth, and bitters, with a brandied-cherry garnish ($13).