Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Perfect Chicago Saturday Night: The Drake Hotel & Kingston Mines

I've discovered the perfect way to spend a Saturday night with friends in Chicago: Start the night with cocktails at the Drake Hotel, and end the night dancing and drinking Coronas at the famous blues' bar, Kingston Mines. Why? The Drake is splurge-y, while Kingston Mines is dive-y, but both bars offer a unique Chicago experience. It's like getting two great nights for the price of one night at a middle-of-the-road bar.

The Drake is a historic Chicago hotel located in the Gold Coast with an iconic sign visible from the highway. It opened on New Year's Eve 1920, and has since welcomed famous guests like Frank Sinatra, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio (who supposedly carved their initials in one of the rooms!).  The bar, Coq d'Or, has a vintage speak-easy feel, with low lighting and live laid-back jazz music. It's the perfect atmosphere to relax and catch up with friends.

Instead of ordering a full meal at The Drake, which would be totally cost prohibitive, we opt for a round of classic cocktails and the Bookbinder Soup. It's a red snapper soup that is elegant and delicious and comes with a shot of sherry that you pour in yourself before eating. Yum!

Greg and I at the Drake
A Classic Manhattan

Next, we supplement our soup and cocktails with chicken fingers, greasy french fries and lots of Coronas at Kingston Mines. The bar features two different stages, and when a new performer comes on, people rush to the dance floor. It's definitely a dive, but the walls are covered in bright murals and funky neon lights, and the blues music is so catchy--you can't help but dance and play air guitar.

My favorite thing about Kingston Mines is the diverse group of people it attracts. There are students, older folks in wheel chairs, men in old-fashioned suits and dapper hats, and others in jeans and t-shirts. I even met a man who claimed to be a World War II veteran (although the veracity of that is questionable :) Everyone is welcome. It's the perfect place to dance like crazy and not worry about what anyone will think.

On the dance floor

So there you have it. Two different vibes for one great evening. Do you ever like to visit two different places in the same night? What are your favorite Chicago bars?