Coq d'Or at The Drake
Inside the Coq d’Or at the Drake, before renovations. Go sip for yourself and see if you can spot the changes.

There’s only one Gold Coast bar I haven’t tried yet, so after a party last night at the Hermès flagship on Oak Street, I tried to enlist a few friends to help me check out the neighborhood’s only Cancun-themed spot. “Who wants to go to Paradise Cantina?” I proposed brightly as we stood on the sidewalk, debating our options.

“I’ll go!” said Isaiah, my young, stylish, and delightfully easygoing friend. Tim, a veteran of many a Chaser outing, held his ground. “No. I’ve been. It’s tragic.”

My attempt at horizon-broadening thereby squashed, we traipsed down the block to our old standby, The Drake, which turned out to be not so old after all: The hotel’s 78-year-old lounge, the Coq d’Or, had just reopened after a month-long renovation, its first since 1950.

“Do you know what Coq d’Or means?” our friend Sean asked as we opened the bar’s newly polished door. I glanced at the golden rooster painted on the glass windowpane and took an educated guess. Giggles ensued.

At first glance, Coq d’Or looked so much like it had on my last visit that I had to ask our waiter, Scott, for a rundown of the changes. “See the carpet? That’s all new,” he explained. “The lighting’s much brighter, and we can control it better. Sixty years of smoke and wear were polished out of the woodwork. The striped wallpaper’s gone. And behind the bar there are new cabinets, new coolers. It’s much easier for the bartenders to move around.”

Oh. Come to think of it, things did look pretty spiffed-up.

As usual, I was surprised by the Coq d’Or’s weeknight crowd. The place is almost always hopping, even though you have to navigate the hotel’s maze-like arcade level to stumble upon it. We sipped, we people-watched, and we each provided a topic for discussion:

Tim: His class of first-grade students was putting on an octopus-inspired, Tim-choreographed dance performance at 9:30 the next morning, and our attendance was requested.

Isaiah: He wished he had ironed his black jeans that morning. An annoying wrinkle had bothered him all day. Furthermore, he was moving to an apartment in the Gold Coast soon and was hoping to discuss other nearby spots we thought he should try.

Sean: He was canning the idea of a sit-down birthday dinner for 40 guests—with a belly dancer for entertainment—in favor of a kegger.

The Chaser: I strongly suspected St. Patrick’s Day was invented by Guinness and was considering skipping it entirely this year.

Speaking of green-tinged festivities, Coq d’Or is celebrating its reopening by offering five St. Patrick’s–themed cocktails—the Paddy’s Girl, the Irish Highball, the Shamrock, the Irish Manhattan, and the Irish Gold Rush—all made with Jameson Irish whiskey (a brand firmly in cahoots with Guinness, I bet) and all priced at $9 through March 19th. Order one and raise a glass to 78 more years of elegant lounging.