By Kate Bernot, @redeyeeatdrink
4:47 PM CDT, June 24, 2013
Day of rest? Please. Summertime Chi is about soaking up every precious ray of weekend sunshine and partying like Monday might never come. Downtown bars have taken this YOLO logic to the extreme with the launch of two new Sunday day-drinking bashes, plus the revamp of one of the city's most popular Sunday parties. On a near-90-degree Sunday, I checked out all three in succession—apologies to my liver—to find out whether Roof, Drumbar and El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria were best for relaxing or raging. The results? You're going to want to call in sick on Monday.
FIRST STOP: Roof Sundays at Roof
201 N. State St. 312-239-9501
The Wit hotel's 27th-floor Sunday DJ jam is back for another summer with an upgraded space that includes a catwalk, raised DJ booth and retractable glass ceiling. The party starts at 2 p.m.; by the time my friend and I arrived at 3:30, space along the two narrow communal tables at the center of the patio was already at a premium.
What you're wearing: For ladies, it was maxi dresses and 4-inch wedge heels as far as the eye could see. For dudes, attire ranged from tailored pastel chino shorts to summer-weight jackets to tank tops. Servers in hot pants and heels deliver Roof-branded sunglasses along with bottle service, making the plastic frames a sort-of VIP status symbol.
What you're drinking: Bottle service wasn't in the cards for me, so I stuck with the London Lemonade cocktail, an easy-to-drink, slightly spicy mix of vodka, Pimm's, ginger beer and lemon juice ($12). My friend's Angry Birds ($12), a take on the paloma with a mezcal base, was over-the-top smoky, but I was generous and let him sip my cocktail. I was surprised to see at least half the partiers, both guys and girls, starting the day drinking off with Coronas.
Where to post up: Many of the prime booths are reserved for bottle service groups, making the communal outdoor tables the place to be seen and mingle. There weren't any seats open when I arrived, but I had a fine view of the boozy flirtation and bikini-clad go-go dancers from my spot just inside the doorway that leads into the indoor portion of the lounge.
Sights and sounds: The DJ wasn't anything special, but the louder-than-background-noise beats had a few brave ladies playfully dancing with guys. Most women were dressed to impress, making a girl in jeans, a white tee and flat sandals seem out-of-place. As soon as I saw an intoxicated dude try to dump a pitcher of water on his bottle-service waitress's tank top, I decided it was time to head to the next party.
Fist-pump level: 3/5
SECOND STOP: Rosé Sundays at Drumbar
201 E. Delaware Place 312-943-5000
Most of the limelight shining on Drumbar, the 18th floor indoor-outdoor lounge in the Raffaello Hotel, falls squarely on beverage director Craig Schoettler, the recognizable former Aviary mixologist known for his one-of-a-kind cocktails. But beginning at noon on Sundays, rosé wine and DJ beats are where it's at. Dudes, take your cue from Rick Ross: The pink stuff isn't just for ladies.
What you're wearing: Older hotel guests are working the Tommy Bahama-linen-neutrals look, but the younger crowd has a bit more flair. Breezy, bright-colored dresses with funky jewelry make sense for ladies, while dudes might want to swap the T-shirt for something with a collar. There's a vintage feel to the indoor portion of the lounge, so daytime dapper is the name of the game.
What you're drinking: Rosé all day. A menu of still and sparkling varieties is heavier on options by the bottle rather than by the glass. Since bottles begin in the $38-$50 range and glasses at $10-$23, we went with the second-least-expensive bottle (Bonus: The silver pedestal buckets that chill your bottle are pretty swanky). Of course, if wine just isn't your thing, the full cocktail menu is also available.
Where to post up: When the weather's nice, the green-cushioned couches on the terrace are the place to be, though my server told me that a city ordinance prevents Drumbar from broadcasting the DJ's music outdoors. If showers threaten, or if the music is especially important to you, perch on one of the tufted leather seats inside.
Sights and sounds: Drumbar's Rosé Sunday was by far the most low-key of the parties I hopped to over the course of the day, with hotel guests and 30-something couples pacing themselves rather than pounding drinks. Still, a bottle of wine under midday heat is no joke, so it was fortunate that our server was as prompt in refilling our water glasses and in delivering a complimentary bowl of truffle oil-dressed popcorn to each table. The flush I sensed in my cheeks around 6:30 p.m. felt like a familiar case of wine tipsiness, but fortunately it dissipated en route to the third and final party.
Fist-pump level: 1/5
THIRD STOP: Sunday 4210 at El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria
15 W. Hubbard St. 312-548-6841
What does 4210 mean? That's 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Sunday party hours at this newly opened River North Mexi-club. What does El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria mean? I'm assuming it translates to "long [bleep]ing line," since that's where I found myself standing at 7 p.m. on a Sunday. While hulking guys with expensive sunglasses were cherry-picked for admission ahead of me and my friend, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated and momentarily abandoning the line to use a Starbucks bathroom. After 45 minutes, salvation came in the form of a friend of my companion—they had previously worked for a restaurant and nightlife group together—who recognized my pal and ushered us through the doors.
What you're wearing: Neon. Or black. And not much of it. That pretty much covers—or doesn't really cover—the super-smiley, dancing-all-over-the-place 20-something ladies at El Hefe. Even our bartender, herself clad in a navel-baring El Hefe tank top, studded black shorts and a glitter whistle necklace, was rocking out while she efficiently poured shots. Guys sported Bulls jerseys and fitted white tees so as to better display their exceptional triceps and/or fresh tans.
What you're drinking: Shots. (Shots! Shots!) The wall-to-wall energy at El Hefe was so frantic that I never saw a cocktail menu, instead relying on a list of a couple dozen shots painted on one wall. After ordering two shots named—seriously—Alligator Sperm ($7) and [Bleep] in my Panties ($7), I needed to drown my discomfort at shouting X-rated shot names to the bartender over pounding music with a 20-ounce Hefe House margarita ($12) the size of my head. It did the trick.
Where to post up: Tables? What tables? I hardly saw a chair or tabletop that wasn't being danced upon, giving the whole room a multi-leveled, spring break vibe. A few select booths are outfitted with personal beer and liquor taps, but I could barely see them through the crowd of clapping, head-bobbing bodies.
Sights and sounds: I saw, in no particular order and seemingly for no particular reason, a 5-foot-tall inflatable zebra, a bottle of vodka with a lit sparkler shooting out of it and at least five sombreros. Like a tipsy Alice in Wonderland, I squished my way through wriggling bodies and tried to take in as much of the confetti and craziness as possible. Even though I was irritated by standing in line and not being able to hear myself think, I had to admit that, with a bit of help from that fishbowl-sized margarita, the party's energy was infectious. When I stumbled onto Hubbard Street an hour later and discovered that the sun was still out, my mind was officially blown.
Fist-pump level: 5/5
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