From Krug to Cristal, champagne has long been the drink of the wealthy and well-heeled. But even they get their fill of Magnums and Methuselehs. Eater contributor Catherine De Orio is a blogger, writer, entrepreneur, and TV and radio personality. She scoured the city to find the best bevvies, fit for a whale, where bubbly takes center stage.
RM champagne: If you are a purist, this is where you take your champagne straight. Tucked away in a West Loop alley, this champagne parlor is the city's reigning queen of bubbly bars. Candlelit and oozing old world elegance, it provides a cozy setting for sipping a single estate champagne from the carefully curated list. Some top whale picks are a magnum of Jacques Selosse Brut 1999; Egly-Ouriet Grand Brut Prestige 2002; Vilmart & Cie "Grand Cellier Rubis" Brut 2006 and David Leclapart "L'Apotre" Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV, ringing in at $1500, $450 and $405 respectively.
312.243.1199 | 116 N. Green Street |
Henri: Bar Program Director Clint Rogers puts a creative spin on classic cocktails at this chic French-influenced, American restaurant. For his Champagne Cocktail, he soaks a rough-cut white sugar cube in a blend of Regan's and Fee Brothers orange bitters and then gives it a modern touch with the addition of Grand Marnier 'caviar' before adding the champagne.
312.587.0763 | 18 South Michigan Avenue
The Bar at Peninsula Hotel: This dark and sultry boite just off the Peninsula lobby is a mecca for high-rollers and the swans that pursue them. For those dreaming of warmer weather, the unique Coral Reef brings a bit of the beach to your bubbly with a preserved hibiscus flower that resembles coral as its petals are gently coaxed open by the champagne's bubbles.
312.573.6766 | 108 E. Superior
Sepia: Although a French 75 can be found on most any cocktail menu, there is something about head bartender Josh Pearson's rendition that makes it obsession inducing. Maybe it's the intimate setting in which its served, its blushing hue or the care with which he approaches his craft, but this heady blend of Hendrick's gin, Fee Brothers orange bitters, fresh lemon juice kissed with simple syrup and a topper of Gruet Sparkling rosé is one of the best drinks in town.
312.441.1920 | 123 N. Jefferson
Rebar at Trump International Tower: This trendy, upscale bar within the Trump International Tower serves the crown jewel of champagne cocktails. Effervescent and light, A Pink Affair is a medley of fresh mixed berries dancing around with Laurent Perrier rosé champagne and St. Germain elderflower liqueur—it's so intoxicating you won't even notice its $32 price tag.
312.588.8000 | 401 N. Wabash
Pops for Champagne: There are nearly 200 champagnes and sparkling wines on offer, but the sparkling cocktails are where things get interesting. Templeton Rye, Fernet Branca and Maurin Quina give the usually sedate champagne cocktail a boozy bump in the Devil Anse.
312.266.7677 | 601 N. State Street
Bavette's Bar & Boeuf: The Champagne Smash at Brendan Sodikoff's supper clubby restaurant is like a spiked snow cone. An overflowing glass of crushed ice chills a mix of champagne, Small's gin, Lillet rose, fresh mint and lemon to provide a refreshingly light libation.
312.624.8154 | 218 W. Kinzie
The Office: Located in a small room below The Aviary, this is a hotbed of cocktail creativity. Sous chef of the Aviary, Jason Cevallos' Betty Draper is a decadent, winter-driven blend of Dos Maderas Aged Rum, Averna, Nocino della Christina Walnut liqueur, claret syrup with dashes of brioche and tonka tinctures and expressed lemon peel that is stirred and topped with champagne. It's about time Betty got interesting.
312.226.0868 | 955 W. Fulton
Paris Club: Esteemed mixologist Paul McGee gives us France in a flute with his French Exit cocktail. Enjoying this bubbly blend of Pierre Ferrand cognac and champagne mixed with house made strawberry syrup is the next best thing to flying to Paris.
312.595.0800 | 59 W. Hubbard
Pump Room: A longtime meeting place for the city's movers and shakers, it's only fitting that champagne cocktails abound on their cocktail list. The Cherry Yuzu Champagne Cocktail made with Moet champagne, cherry-yuzu puree, splash of soda and a bourbon infused cherry is a tart, but sweet sipper.
312.229.6740 1301 North State Parkway
Barrelhouse Flat: With its vintage feel and old school drinking establishment vibe, it's only fitting that one order a classic cocktail here. Essentially a Manhattan (bonded bourbon, sweet vermouth and angostura bitters) with a champagne float, the Boothby Cocktail is an elegant marriage of boozy and bubbly.
773.857.0421 | 2624 N. Lincoln Avenue
Catherine De Orio dishes on all things cuisine, cocktail and cosmopolitan for editorial and broadcast outlets locally and nationally. You can follow her on twitter @CatCalls