What do we look for in our ideal drinking den? First-class cocktails, of course, along with beer and wine. A space with true character, the kind of venue that really invites you in. And a menu that lets you snack, nibble, or dine as the night calls for it.
Celeste, housed in a 1888 Louis Sullivan building in River North, has all these things and more, well into the night -- open until 4:00am Tuesday through Friday, and 5:00am on Saturdays, it earned a listing in Chicago Magazine as "River North's Sexiest 5:00am Bar."
Ambitious cocktails are just the beginning, but they're awfully impressive. The list includes original libations such as "My Two Years' Notice" (peppercorn gin, dry vermouth, lemon, chamomile, lavender) and "Good Cop, Bad Cop" (apple brandy, lemon, black walnut, spiced pear) -- as well as a roster of classics both modern (El Diablo) and traditional (gimlets, a White Lady, a Lion's Tale). More than 350 bottles grace the back bar, of every spirit you can imagine.
Before the cocktails go to your head, peruse the food menu, which ranges from enticing snacks (caramelized onion fondue, "popcorn" sweetbreads) to serious meals (a burger, perhaps, or a whopping 50-ounce steak frites to share). Even late night, there's fried chicken, grilled cheese, and much more to sate your appetite.
And with four distinct spaces, each with their own signature vibe -- The Pub, The Deco Room, DISCO, and The Roof Garden -- any kind of private event is possible, from intimate dinners to weddings and holiday parties, whether eight guests or 350.
[Photo: Celeste Chicago]