There’s no smoking indoors, but fans of the hit show Mad Men can satisfy just about every other jones at Vertigo Sky Lounge (2 W. Erie St.), the new 1960s-inspired hot spot on the 26th floor of the Dana Hotel and Spa. The bar is too subtle and sophisticated to qualify as a sixties theme park, but we did spot a few period touches—blazing firepit, glowing orb light fixtures—on the outdoor patio, which will stay open as late in the season as possible, providing drinks to those relegated outside for their nicotine fix.
Inside, the 2,100-square-foot space feels more like your rich buddy’s penthouse than a bar, save for the waitresses in catsuits and hot pants. “Chicago didn’t need just another bar with bottle service,” says Jody Pennette of CB5 Restaurant Group. Hence the mobile cocktail carts stocked with airline-size bottles of booze and servers clad in Emma Peelesque getups evoking Pan Am flight attendants. On any given night, the cocktail girls might mix six different variations of one drink; on a recent visit, mojito options included the Barbarella ($11), made with tequila instead of rum. The vibe is complemented by a slick soundtrack, with DJ Disko Kitty on the turntables most nights. “We try to lean more toward a crowd that enjoys the Velvet Underground or David Bowie,” Pennette says.
Amid the crush of pretty people munching sushi sent up from the ground floor’s Ajasteak, we spotted Miami Ink’s Ami James, a fitting guest for a space decked out with tattoo-inspired artwork. When—if—the eye candy gets old, this living room in the sky also provides a panorama of the city via floor-to-ceiling windows. Even the bathrooms offer big views. We’re as voyeuristic as the next nightlifer, but seeing into near-by condo dwellers’ units might be taking the people watching too far.
Photography: Chris Guillen