Thursday, January 17, 2008

Microsoft's 'technology lounge' uploads into Hotel Sax

Microsoft's "technology lounge" is only for guests of Hotel Sax.
(Photo: Hotel Sax)

This is as sleek as it gets.

Hotel Sax's (333 N. Dearborn St., 312-245-0333) The Studio—Experience by Microsoft is a new entertainment lounge catering to guests who want to experience the newest technologies from Microsoft.

It's on the fourth floor of the hotel, so it's only accessible to the hotel's guests, who get hooked up with high-end laptop computers, Microsoft Zune MP3 players, Xbox gaming consoles, HD television screens, surround sound, movies and more. There's no extra charge, it's open 4pm-midnight, and a Hotel Sax "technology butler" is at your beck and call to troubleshoot or take orders for food and beverages from the hotel’s first-level Crimson Lounge.

Far from the usual gamers' atmosphere, in this lounge you'll find white cushions and dark wood paneled walls to create an intimate and modern space. Suede couches and leather chairs, along with plenty of pillows, offer a comfortable, classic lounge look.

Look for the hotel to host regular movie nights, as well as competitive Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Scene It events in the lounge. And since its opening, celebrities Kanye West, Samantha Ronson and Eddie Van Halen have already experienced the lounge during their stays at the hotel.

New bar is so scandalous that . . .

. . . I can't even post the photos.

It's called Filthy Libertine (1615 N. Clybourn Ave.), and if that address looks familiar to you, then you probably frequented it when it was called Glow.

Going back to its Glow roots, Filthy Libertine is owned by the guys who first launched the legendary Crobar (1543 N. Kingsbury, 312-266-1900) brand. They've teamed up with nightlife impresario Jerry Suqi, who is best known for igniting Chicago's upscale lounge craze with Narcisse, Sugar and most recently La Pomme Rouge (108 W. Kinzie St., 312-245-9555). They've also brought aboard nightlife vet and deejay Tommy Z to handle promotions and entertainment.

The bi-level lounge offers a speakeasy feel, featuring a VIP room that I'm sure will live up to its "Filthy Libertine" name in months to come. You'll get progressive and old-school dance music, plus an award-winning culinary arts specialist who has designed an appropriate late-night menu featuring items like the mini Crab Puppies. Now open.

Opened recently:

Bottle Bar (440 N Aberdeen St., 312-850-2266). There are actually 99 bottles of beer on the wall at this Lakeview joint.

Peek-a-Boo Lounge (440 N Aberdeen St., 312-850-2266). Hidden neighborhood chill-out spot in West Town.

And coming soon:

New Wave Coffee (2569 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-682-8688). Coffee shop and cafe set to open in Logan Square in the spring.

Cheers to these craft beers

Sam Adam's Utopias is the most expensive beer in the world.

After a year of waiting, I finally got my hands on Samuel Adams’ Utopias this week. Wrigleyville’s beer-focused spot Risqué Café (3419 N. Clark, 773-525-7711)—which appears to be the only bar in the city serving it (let me know if I’m wrong!)—sells the rich, port-like beer for $30 for two ounces.

This is truly the king of beers, with 25 percent alcohol content and every beer connoisseur’s dream. Sam Adams only makes 12,000 bottles a year of what’s considered the world’s most expensive beer (it starts at $125 a bottle). Curious?! Check it out for yourself.

Specialty beer is also the focus at Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W. Hubbard St., 312-645-6000), which recently changed its weekly TasteIt Mondays to focus on America’s finest craft beers. Through June, The Beer Dudes (read Chicago magazine columnist Sarah Preston’s interview with them here) and Rockit Sous Chef Amanda Downing pair suds and supper. In January, they’re featuring various beers from Colorado that complement a three-course dinner of a cheese-and-sausage plate, baby green salad with dried figs, and a surprisingly amazing buffalo meatloaf with white cheddar mashed potatoes. Guests can order the featured beers only or the three-course dinner paired with beer for $40.

More beer-focused options:

Bluebird (1749 N. Damen Ave., 773-486-2473). The Bucktown newcomer (owned by the husband-wife team behind Webster’s Wine Bar) offers a lengthy list of beers from around the world to drink while you chow down on flatbread pizzas and charcuterie. Word to the wise: Plan to wait awhile on weekends for seating; weeknights are easier.

Custom House (500 S. Dearborn St., 312-523-0200). The bad news: The Unibroue all-inclusive, ale-pairing seminar and tasting menu happening Sunday, Jan. 20 is sold out. The good news: They’ve added another date, Monday, Jan. 21 at 6:30pm (yay!). So make those reservations today if you don’t want to miss out! Chef de Cuisine Richard Camarota prepares a special menu to complement that includes a rabbit stew, smoked pork loin and braised lamb shoulder. $35.

Paramount Room (415 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-829-6300). Every day the new River West tavern offers a daily beer flight of three for $7, which is selected by the bartender. Try it with small plates like the Scotch Egg (hard-boiled egg rolled in Italian sausage) or delicious hand-cut fries, or do a main entrée like the hand-dipped fish and chips.

Offbeat chef to appear on 'Sound Opinions'


The Food Chain reports that wildly outspoken chef Anthony Bordain will appear on Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot's Sound Opinions show on WBEZ-FM next week.

Party like a king—or queen—this weekend

The legendary house music vocalist Barbara Tucker performs at Club 720 on Sunday. (Photo: Bacci Bros.)

Let’s take a moment and give props to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (who would’ve turned 79 on Jan. 15), who fought for equality and peace for us all.

And with Monday, Jan. 21 going down as the national celebration of Dr. King’s Day, most of you have a three-day weekend. And of course that means the weekend will be off the hook more than usual.

Don’t mind the cold; these events are certain to keep you warm:

Room21 (2110 S. Wabash Ave., 312-328-1198). And speaking of b-days, tonight would’ve been notorious gangster Al Capone’s 109th. This swingin’ South Loop eatery—which incidentally still has a secret room where he took shelter—fetes the occasion with complimentary cocktails and appetizers (5:30-7:30pm), and local author and Chicago historian Richard Lindburg will discuss the history of the building. Room21’s staff will be dressed in period attire and antique cars will be displayed in front of the building. All evening, guests will be able to toast to the legend with Capone specialty cocktails, including the Sidecar, Scarface Barcardi cocktail, Old Fashioned and Capone’s Champagne cocktail.

Landmark Grill+Lounge (1633 N. Halsted St., 312-587-1600). Also happening tonight is the Art in Action: A Revolutionary Painting Party. The event includes “live” art by Chadwick, bodypainted models and an opportunity for guests to also get in on the action and do some painting themselves. Drink specials by Belvedere. 9pm-2am. No cover.

Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222). More unique style can be found at this sleek Warehouse District lounge as Scoop NYC hosts Twenty Looks, featuring 20 chic runway looks with hair by Marianne Strokirk Salons. One lucky guest will win "the ultimate spring wardrobe" from Scoop NYC. Complimentary Veuve Clicquot will be served from 8-10pm; party happens tonight 8pm-2am. $10.

Bella Lounge (1212 N. State Pkwy., 312-787-9405). Another installation of Music & Martinis happens tonight in the Gold Coast bar. Miracle Entertainment’s popular party for urban professionals will include drink specials and music by deejay Malik Shabazz. 5pm-2am. for complimentary admission.

Luxbar (18 E. Bellevue Pl., 312-642-3400). Winter Classic Cocktails, hosted by Lincoln Park Young Professionals, takes place tomorrow in the Gold Coast. For $25 ($30 at door), guests get a buffet of booze, including cocktails, whiskey, wine and more. Appetizers and mini-cheeseburgers will be passed around. Call 312-642-5097 for more info. 6-8pm Friday.

Plan B (1635 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-252-2680). Movie lovers may want to check out this hip Wicker Park tavern for Keep It Reel: Untraceable. Guests will be able to pick up advance screening tickets to the new Sony Pictures film, "Untraceable," featuring Oscar nominee Diane Lane. (The special advance screening is by invitation ONLY on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at the AMC 600 N. Michigan Ave at 7pm.) During the event guests can enjoy a complimentary cocktail and rock out to a sexy blend of vintage hip-hop, rock and classic 1980s hits. 8pm-2am Friday. No cover.

La Pomme Rouge (108 W. Kinzie St., 312-245-9555). Internationally known house music deejay Bear Who? celebrates his birthday, and it’s hosted by Music 101 and Effen vodka during the weekly Radio Paradiso. Get your $5 Effen drinks and $175 Effen bottles all night. Expect tons of local nightlife royalty to come through. 10:30pm-3am Saturday. No cover.

DeLaCosta (465 E. Illinois St., 312-321-8930). Get ready for Great Grape Night every Sunday, with all bottles of wine—including bubbly and sparkling wine—half off. They’re also featuring a mojito for $8. Deejays spin Latin-influenced lounge music. 7pm-2am Sundays. No cover.

Hotel Sax (333 N Dearborn, 4th Floor, 312-431-8801). Sippin on Sunday returns with its MLK Edition—one of its most popular parties of the year. Get ready to dance and mingle to the sounds of hip-hop, house and R&B with this mostly urban professional crowd. 9pm-3am. Free 9-10pm; $20 after.

Club 720 (720 N. Wells St., 312-787-8720). One of the best-kept secrets in town, this all-out dance party features the amazing vocals of legendary house music diva Barbara Tucker ("Beautiful People," "Stay Together," "I Get Lifted," “Love Vibrations”). Deejay Ron Carroll spins his infamous "live" deep house set. Hosted by BMC Entertainment Family. Sunday 10pm-4am. $20.