Posted by: Jessie | January 18, 2010

Chicago, Day One

I still have a lot to say about absinthe, but I thought I would take a break from the absinthe series and write about Chicago for a bit.  On Thursday Eric said to me “We have a long weekend this weekend.  Wanna go to Chicago?  This is the best rate I’ve ever seen for the Palmer House.”  I told him “No… let’s get started on painting the dining room.  We’ve been talking about it forever and we haven’t done it yet.”   Friday morning when I got to work I realized what I had done.  What was I thinking?  Eric was offering to take me on a trip and I turned it down?    So when I got home I told him I had changed my mind.  I would love to go to  Chicago.

Eric has been watching a TV show called “No Reservations” on Net Flicks.  The cynical host, Anthony Bordain, goes around the world eating and talking about it.  One of the places he went was Chicago, and Eric wanted to find some of these places and try them for himself. 

I love traveling with Eric.  He always knows how to find the best places.  We stayed at the Palmer House, which was built in the 1871 to be a luxury hotel.  It burned down a few weeks after it was finished in the Great Chicago Fire.  Mr. Palmer immediately re-built it, only this time making it even bigger and fancier.  Famous visitors included presidential hopefuls James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley; writers Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde; and actress Sarah Bernhardt. It was completed in 1875.  By the 1920’s Chicago had grown enough to support an even bigger hotel.  Between 1923 and 1925, the hotel was rebuilt in stages so not a single day of business was lost.  At the time it was the largest hotel in the world.  In December 1945, Conrad Hilton bought the Palmer House.   It’s beautiful.  The ceiling is painted in a way that reminds me of the Louvre.  Painting and architectural details everywhere. 

Palmer House Lobby

We had dinner at Miller’s Pub, which is right next to the Palmer House.  I stole the following information from their website

It opened in 1935 and was sold to four Gallios brothers in 1950.  They spent all their money buying the pub and did not have enough money to change the name.  It became one of the most  famous late-night spot.   Almost any night of the week one might spot local and international celebrities. Chicago baseball  legends Bill Veeck and Harry Caray were regular customers and became lifelong friends of the family. Jimmy Durante never came to town without stopping by for a beer. Theatre stars and Bob Fosse dancers came for dinner after their shows.  Over the years there have been small changes to the decor, but signed celebrity photos from Arnold Schwarzenneger to Frank Sinatra, sports memorabilia and antique oil paintings still adorn almost every free inch of wall space. It has been written up with rave reviews in countless local and national publications.  As a Wall Street Journal writer said in an article from December 5, 2003 “..At the bar, the atmosphere is a bit like an episode of “Cheers”. Everybody but me knew the bartenders name and that he was about to go on vacation…..Miller’s is my idea of unself-conscious perfection.” 

Miller's Pub

The food was yummy.  I loved the art and atmosphere.  We did not have much time to linger, though.  We had tickets to see the Blue Man Group. 

The Blue Man Group had a wonderful display in their lobby.  It was full of pipes and tubes, each had a different type of music being played through them.  There were famous paintings with the Blue Men inserted into them.  There was a bar serving drinks and we were allowed to take our drinks into the show.

Art in the lobby of the Blue Man Group

The show was great!  What can I say?  They’re the Blue Men.

After the show we fled from the crowd and ended up at a gay dance club.  Lucky for us it was still early and things hadn’t started hopping yet.  Check out their website.  We left before the Bear Shower Contest started.

Tickets are only $10 to see the winner of Rupaul's Drag Race

We went back to the hotel and stopped at the bar for a drink before going to bed.  The whole  lobby is a beautiful bar.  I ordered a treetini, a cocktail they invented there.  They say they will plant a tree for every treetini ordered. 

Really? They're gonna plant a tree?


There is another  bar in the building called Potters.  Apparently it is also a beautiful, historical place, but we did not get a chance to have a drink there.  We tried to go Sunday night, but they were closed.


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