The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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Page 45 of 132

W hen local tourist bureaus brand Chicago as "America's Summer City," the owners of alfresco- themed restaurants, beer gardens and patios might cringe. Why? Implicit in the phrase is that summer's leafy, sultry times are fleeting. During Chicago's transition seasons of spring and autumn, storms and blustery weather are common, while winter can turn even the sunniest bartenders surly. But at Chicago's theWit hotel, the spirit of the short warm season keeps its joy intact year round, with a pair of two very different entertainment venues: State and Lake Chicago Tavern and ROOF. Although located in the heart of Chicago's downtown Loop, the former offers a neighborhood atmosphere. And ROOF is a striking upscale lounge on the 27th floor with breathtaking views. Its retractable, all-glass panels can usher in the fresh night air, or seal in the good times from the wintry gale. THE TASTING PANEL's Endless Summer Speed Tasting of innovative summer-and-fall cocktails was recently held at ROOF on one of those precious Chicago summer days (see page 102). The glass was gracefully opened and a welcome guest—a breeze off Lake Michigan—made an entrance to pair with the innovative mixology. "We offer guests an opportunity to experience two aspects of the city of Chicago," says Linh Pham, theWit's Beverage Director. "State and Lake is a relaxing oasis in the middle of downtown, where you can unwind. And, to kick up the energy a bit, that's where ROOF is a destination for on- and off-site guests. Because it opened [with its all- season expansion] in the spring, ROOF has a summer getaway aspect. It will now be known as the ultimate escape—even in the winter months— because you're going to have an amazing view of the city; you'll be warm and sipping on some great cocktails. Our cocktail program will be adjusted for the fall and winter." Linh also credits Ben Galatz, Director of Entertainment and Nightlife Operations, as having a keen sense of what's hip in the music world. Galatz's penchant for trendsetting in entertainment—whether it's a DJ mixing booth, an acoustic program or fashion-focused shows called ROOF Runways—is getting noticed. "Ben puts an entertainment initiative in place, and the next thing you know, it's being replicated in Las Vegas or South Beach," Linh boasts. "He's really on the pulse, not only with music programming but also with beverage and champagne promotions with a specific event." At State and Lake, the beverage program emphasizes what's local, going beyond its neighborhood pub–like atmosphere and its quick transition into a sports bar. Recently, theWit has teamed up with a local microbrewery, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, and there are plans to collaborate on on-property beer brewing. "One of our strongest beverage programs is a focus on a fully craft beer list that's entirely Midwestern, with 16 taps flowing with beer from this region," says Nick Kuhns, Director of Restaurants. "We're seeing increased knowledge among guests about craft beer, and there's a demand for it." "We welcome the challenge of setting the bar even higher," Kuhns adds. "We always keep pushing to keep the support of the local base, and involve ourselves with the latest industry trends. This will keep us strong on the map of Chicago as a unique place in the city." We welcome the challenge of setting the bar even higher."

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