After spending more than a month recuperating from knee surgery, I finally kicked the couch last weekend and hobbled back onto the scene—and I couldn’t have picked a better spot to remind me just how much I love nightlife in Chicago: Rebar. You might have heard of it. It’s that little joint from Trump and his kids in a building they’re putting up along the river. Opened last month, the bar—whose name nods toward the more than 50,000 tons of rebar, or reinforced steel, used in the tower’s construction—is gilded and sceney, with an over-the-top drink menu. In short, it’s everything we want a Trump bar to be.
Food and beverage director Philipp Posch bills the space, located on the tower’s mezzanine level, as a “liquid kitchen,” where edible flowers, herbs, and spices come together in a drink list that reads like the contents of a medicine man’s pantry: There’s the Bull Nose (Bacardi Limón, rose nectar, fresh sour mix, and soda; $14); the Redline (rhubarb, Absolut Mandarin, Aperol, and fresh OJ; $14); and the Teco (Stoli Raz, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and Champagne, garnished with 24-karat gold; $14). Yes, we’re talking real gold, people. “It is shaved very, very thinly, and as it is a metal from Mother Earth, you can consume it in moderation,” Posch says.
And what would a Trump property be without the biggest potable indulgence of all? An impressive Champagne list breaks the stuff down into full and half-bottles, from $47 for a half-bottle of Piper Heidsieck NV to $695 for a full bottle of Dom Pérignon Rosé 1996. But groups, especially those who score the 25-person VIP room overlooking the lobby, will want to forego bottle service for a new drink trend: the punch bowl. In a modern twist on spiked punch from proms of yore, the Dreams Punch Bowl consists of P.I.N.K Vodka muddled with strawberry and lime, topped off with rosé Champagne. You can order it by the glass ($17), but it’s a lot more fun to have it arrive at your table splashing around in a stainless steel 10-inch bowl ($225).
The room—outfitted with palm and banana trees, and set to a soundtrack of global beats—is curvy, as are the women we saw hovering around the glass-topped tables in the main bar. One female patron invited me to join her upstairs at a birthday party, strippers included, she was throwing for her “man.” (I politely declined.) I also caught a couple of European guys whispering about me—or maybe it was the sexy knee brace I’m sporting. If 4 a.m. bars are the ultimate late-night hookup scene, Rebar is where the heavily accessorized fashionistas, both male and female, come to flaunt their stuff beforehand.
To score a seat at the 75-person-capacity bar, come early (the bar opens at 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon on Sunday). Reservations are not accepted, so it’s a bit of a contest to grab a choice table overlooking the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue bridge. For the full experience, I recommend starting at the 16th-floor Sixteen, named one of the city’s best new restaurants in the May issue of Chicago—a fact servers proudly reminded us of several times during our own dinner. If you can’t score a coveted table (Saturday nights are booked solid for the rest of the year), you can always grab a drink at the restaurant bar. The view is different than that from Rebar, and I guarantee you, even lifelong Chicagoans—myself included—haven’t seen the city like this.
Photography: William Huber Photography