It’s a shame it’s taken Chicago so long to realize our skyline is begging for more rooftop bars. For years we’ve had little more than the few-stories-tall Rock Bottom, Plymouth, Citizen, and Twisted Spoke to keep us in the sunshine. But the rash of way-up-there openings in the last year—including C-View, Roof, and, as of today, the Terrace at Trump—has all but erased my memories of summers spent slumming on sidewalk patios. Welcome to Chicago’s new summertime bar scene. It’s pretty fantastic.
Whereas C-View pulses with a sultry Ibiza buzz and Roof screams Miami Beach, the Terrace at Trump, which I snagged a sneak peek of at last night’s media event, has a slightly more distinguished feel. It’s a place where you can picture older businessmen—sporting ties from the Donald’s line, no doubt—lounging over happy-hour cocktails, the perfect location for Bruce Wayne’s next well-heeled party. The babbling zen fountains struck me as odd, but I suppose that’s to be interpreted as “relaxing yet classy.”
Ultimately, though, view trumps vibe. The 16th-floor vista is stunning—for my money, the best in the city. Whereas C-View and Roof wall you in, albeit via glass, here there’s nothing but a railing between you and the great beyond. The deck faces Michigan Avenue and the lake, providing an eagle’s-eye view of the Wrigley clock, the Trib, and, on Wednesdays and Saturdays through summer, the Navy Pier fireworks (a tip: Don’t forget to turn west, look up, and take in the staggering tower soaring above you).
The drinks measure up, too. As an admitted rosé fiend, I was surprised to find it was the cocktails and not sommelier Steven Lee’s rosé-laden wine list that got my attention. The $14 options come saddled with silly nautical names but include the standout Bon Voyage: a blend of Grand Traverse cherry vodka, fresh sour mix, and cayenne pepper that tastes like a kiddie drink with a wallop of heat. The sugary concoction was a bit of an unlikely fit for such a high-rolling spot, but, boy, did I love every sweet and spicy sip.
And, quite simply, I loved this bar—which surprised me, considering my lukewarm reaction to Rebar. But what Terrace does right is a no-brainer. It plays up its best feature: Chicago.