Visitors won’t find cheap, plastic cups up on top of the Dana Hotel’s new rooftop bar. Bartender Benjamin Schiller won’t allow flimsy glassware as vessels for his new creative cocktails his staff will mix up at Apogee, opening on Friday, May 5 in the space formerly known as Vertigo Sky Lounge. Schiller is known for his whimsical and lavish beverages at The Sixth in Lincoln Square and The Berkshire Room inside the ACME Hotel in River North.
Schiller is all about adapting to the situation, and that includes his surroundings. The needs of a rooftop drinker differ from a visit to a swanky cocktail bar. The main attraction are the large-format drinks. Some drinks will serve pairs while others are sizable enough to serve groups of eight. The bar is a collaboration between the Dana and Fifty/50 Restaurant Group.
While drinking can make math harder, math inspired one of the drinks. The Fibonacci is not only named after the numerical sequence, but Schiller said they’re using the sequence as the temperature used to sous vide the drink’s raspberry syrup. In addition to the raspberry flavor, it also has citrus from the lemon and molasses from the rum mixed with aquavit from North Shore Distillery. There’s also a spiced backdrop of cumin, cilantro, and caraway. The drinks will be served in pearl or tiger nautilus shells for added flair.
These are atypical rooftop elixirs, but Schiller doesn’t want to be seen as pushing a particular philosophy onto drinkers. If he had his druthers, customers wouldn’t be less intimidated at cocktail bars and order more wine. Or even crushable beer for folks who feel that they’ve been dragged to Apogee by their cocktail-loving pals.
“I don’t want to convince anyone else,” Schiller said. “I think people kind of have an idea of what they like at this point.”
If guests want to order a gin and tonic or vodka soda, more power to them. They’ll serve the drink with custom ice cubes from Clinebell machines that are cut over at The Sixth. The cubes are also branded with the Apogee logo. Some of the cubes will hold edible flowers. There’s also a drink called the Nymph with vodka and St. Germain that uses edible butterflies made of wafer paper. Raspberry powder takes the place of pollen in this nature scene.
Service at rooftops can be a problem, as no one wants to wait long for a drink. Given the intricacies of Apogee’s drinks, Schiller is aware of the need for speed, and he’s working on ways to improve drink-making. Staff will include two rooftop bartenders, four at the main bar inside and a few service bartenders tucked away. The roof has room for 200 people. The challenge is consistency. “Anyone can make an individual cocktail and make it gorgeous,” Schiller said.
There wasn’t any pushback in using glass versus plastic from management, Schiller said, but he’s also using glassware from Ignite Glass Studios. Schiller said the futuristic design of the bowls will “blow you away.”
Come back in the coming weeks for more details.