By Staci Hauk
The ultimate Guy’s Night Out starts with an iconic location steeped in history, while also offering modern-day, luxurious touches in downtown Chicago. Built in 1893, the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is an extravagant Venetian-Gothic style building designed by the well-known, Chicago-based architect Henry Ives Cobb. It once served as a private club to the elite, and its founders included AJ Spalding of Spalding Sporting Goods, Marshall Field of retail empire Marshall Field and Company, and Cyrus McCormick of McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. The club opened its doors to 3,000 members and a 10-year waiting list.
One of the Hotel’s famous features includes its grand marble staircase with beautiful ironwork railings. Near the staircase is the Drawing Room that retains its original purpose for drinking and socializing. It is a gorgeous, masculine space that boasts German mill work and several fireplaces. The Chicago Athletic Association underwent a major renovation in 2015, which transformed the building into a 240-room luxury hotel for all. The many intricately designed spaces within its walls make for a high-end night out with friends or coworkers, complete with unique offerings in dining, ambiance, and activities.
Located on the second floor of the hotel, the Milk Room, is a distinct destination that was once a speakeasy used by club members during Prohibition. The Milk Room has a hidden eight-seat microbar meant for sipping rare vintage spirits, including an immense selection of curated whiskies. Each cocktail is made to taste, and many rare creations can be viewed on the establishment’s Instagram page.
“Milk Room has a brilliantly curated inventory of allocated and vintage items, ranging from a Rhum Agricole distilled in the late 1800s, to decades-old Armagnacs, high-priced rare bourbons, and beyond. After guests enter our antique, stained glass doors into our intimate eight-seat bar, our bar team will guide you on a tour of our rare and vintage offerings in both specially crafted cocktails as well as curated spirit flights,” said Milk Room’s Bar Manager, Sam Parrie.
To best blend a dining experience with a Milk Room visit, the James Beard award winning Cherry Circle Room is the perfect fit. A tasting menu is led by the guest’s spirit of choice, and the more intimate group setting is a retreat from the crowd, which can help the guys delve into conversation while reveling in fine cuisine.
If the indoor setting doesn’t suit the occasion, Cindy’s vaulted glass and steel rooftop atrium is unparalleled for a summer catch up. Take in the sweeping views of the city and lakefront, while indulging in the “Not So Secret” Burger, topped with pimento, gouda, bacon jam, and cherry bomb aioli. The full bar is laced with local favorites from surrounding brew masters—but the signature Old-Fashioned, made with Russell’s reserve 10-year bourbon, demerara, Ango, and bitters is a must for gathering with friends. Much like the Milk Room and Cherry Circle Room, Cindy’s curates a menu that is meant to be enjoyed with a drink of choice for a flavorful experience that will make this a regular stop for a weekend meet up.
If the crew is looking to keep the night going after dinner and drinks, or the guys are looking for an afternoon jaunt, the Hotel offers a TopGolf Suite, featuring two advanced indoor golf and interactive gaming simulator bays. The suite accommodates eight and food and drinks are available. On the second floor, the Game Room provides shuffleboard, foosball, bocce, billiards, checkers, and chess. Along with its own food and drink menu. Check out the original red, white, and blue ‘C’ logo for the Chicago Athletic Association at the back of the bocce court. Look familiar? Longtime member William Wrigley, Jr. adapted the signage for his beloved baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.
For exclusive ways to celebrate the everyday, Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is a one-stop destination when planning a night out.
Chicago Athletic Association
12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago