Adalina, the glitzy Italian restaurant that made a big splash with its fall 2021 debut in Gold Coast, has a sleek new cocktail bar for late-night revelers who are willing to shell out for seriously fancy drinks. Rose Lounge, the ground-floor lounge where beverage director Aaron Pollack plays late ’90s hip hop and gets to show off his deep knowledge of cocktail culture, began serving last month at 912 N. State Street in a space that previously housed a library-inspired bar within Walton Street Kitchen & Bar.
Despite the temptation to adopt Adalina’s Italian focus, Pollack (High Dive) has seized the opportunity to use the new drinking den as a platform to explore luxury liquors not seen at many bars. “We’re trying to let what the spirits want to be come out,” he says. “ I didn’t want it to be an extension of Adalina. [Rose Lounge] is bustling, high volume, big energy.”
That bold approach is clear in the cocktail menu, divided into two sections: modern classics that serve as riffs on post-Prohibition drinks, and “big, boozy, baller classics,” spendy selections made with high-end spirits. The former includes the Centerfold (Del Maguey Vida mezcal, aperol, yellow chartreuse, and pineapple), a play on a Naked & Famous, and the Madam Broker (Broker’s gin, St. Germain, cocchi rosa, grapefruit, and prosecco), Pollack’s spin on a French 75.
Those looking to splurge, however, can peruse the latter offerings for options such as the Island Manhattan (Bowman Brothers port cask-finished whiskey, Santa Teresa rum, Chinato vermouth, and maraschino liqueur), which, at $22, aims to balance dry tart flavors with tiki bitters, and a $40 torched citrus margarita (Don Julio Primavera tequila, Grand Marner Cuvee Alexandre, agave, torched lime, and Thai chili bitters).
Rose Lounge is low-lit and intimate, with rich blue tones, textured wallpaper and ceiling treatments, and gold accents. It seats around 10 around a horseshoe bar and 40 more on the main floor and on couches in the lounge area. At 10 p.m., staff transform the bar into a standing-only party space, clearing the seating and switching the soundtrack from mellow R&B to louder, more energetic late ‘90s and early 2000s hip hop — Pollack’s nod to his earliest bar gigs near the University of Iowa.
“We’re not blasting it, but [the music is] different from other cocktail bars in the area,” he says. “At least once an hour, somebody goes, ‘Wow, I haven’t heard this in 20 years!’ It’s a conversation starter.”