Milk Room is a speakeasy-style microbar nestled within the halls of the age-old Chicago Athletic Association, that provides you with a unparalleled experience from the second you lock in your spot at their bar. Classic cocktails are masterfully created before your eyes with spirits picked from a menagerie of rare bottles in this exclusionary, old-world revival.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Dakota Nate Contributing writer
Deciding where to unwind in the Windy City can be a daunting task. Daunting, as in, amongst the myriad of diverse, award-winning eateries and drinkeries in the 312, how could one choose? Lucky for you, CYTIES traveler, we’re always happy to send you off in the right direction. For instance, say you’re looking for an exclusive, candlelit evening splashed with the promise of rare liquor — boy, do we have the place for you. What’s bound to be your new favorite hideaway, Milk Room at the Chicago Athletic Association, is accepting reservations.
The CAA has a lot to offer to the famished, wide-eyed tourist and beyond. Within its century-old walls, you will find a series of Chicago favorites, like Cindy’s, a lofty rooftop joint that specializes in seafood and American fare, and Game Room, a casual adult arcade of sorts which used to be the billiards room of the old Association. The Venetian Gothic landmark that was solely created for the elite and ran that way for 122 years, opened it’s halls to the general public just three years ago. Filled with architectural echoes of the past and multiple recreational possibilities, you could spend hours at the CAA. What struck our eye as far as where to imbibe, however, was barely visible to the eye at all.
The small room once acted as an actual speakeasy to the members of the Chicago Athletic Association in the 1920s, and currently resembles what you’d imagine Dracula’s lair to look like.
Located in the hallway between the Drawing Room and Game Room lies a candlelit, eight-seat bar straight out of a cocktail connoisseur’s wet dream. The small room once acted as an actual speakeasy to the members of the Chicago Athletic Association in the 1920s, and currently resembles what you’d imagine Dracula’s lair to look like. The best part about this lair is, there are no bloodsuckers present—just many, many spirits. Milk Room, with its name deriving from a sneaky tactic used by bootleggers to smuggle booze into speakeasies during Prohibition, still holds an air of exclusivity. Although we highly recommend that you make reservations, the bar is typically left with two seats left open for walk-ins—so if you’re lucky, your spontaneity could still pay off. Tickets online stand at $50, but don’t sweat it, this ultimately goes towards your bill. Money may not necessarily buy happiness, but it can buy a glass of antique Bottled in Bond Whiskey, and the two come hand in hand.
From the moment you are swept into the room, you are guided through your experience by the knowledgeable hand of your expert bartender. The cabinets that line their packed back-bar are filled with an impressive stash of liquid history, and enough rare bottles of whiskey to make a grown man cry. Thumbing through the menu can be overwhelming unless you know exactly what you came for, but there’s no need to fret. If you’re one that can’t be brought out of your comfort zone, stick to what you know—but if you’re craving adventure, feel out what resides in the collection and pick your poison. This museum of libationary gold may have you sipping on an Amari that’s been in the bottle since the 1940s, or even a perfectly balanced Hanky Panky made with almost fifty-year-old Fernet Branca. Created by the first famous female bartender in London the early 1900s, Ada “Coley” Coleman, Hanky Panky isn’t just a term for a little harmless canoodling, it’s an excellent start to your booze-ridden journey.
A selection of appetizers is available during the evening to properly soak up your liquor and keep you going through your two-hour time slot — which you will find, is very necessary. We know, how is one only to stay just a couple of hours? But trust us, by the end of your experience, you will find yourself more educated, more relaxed, and maybe just a little befuddled. Milk Room is accepting reservations seven days a week from 5pm to midnight—all you have to do is find your way to their door.
Tiny space that packs a massive punch in the form of whiskey inspired cocktails that truly capture Chicago’s relentless spirit
Located on the second floor of the Loop’s Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
Inspired by an old sneaky space where patrons of the Athletic Club would dip out a glass of “milk”
Pick up the phone, the dark-wood, eight-seat bar is available by reservation only, we’ve got you covered here