TIKI at Lost Lake to TEA at The Drake

I had been wanting to go for a while. Once, a couple of years back, we even made an attempt but after seeing a line outside, it was decided we’d come back some other time.  So when I was making plans on where to celebrate my birthday this year, the Saturday before the actual day, I chose that particular tiki bar. It’s so close to home, easy to get to and oddly, although I’m not a big fan of rum, I AM a fan of the tiki bar; one of my favorites being Three Dots and A Dash. Also, I just really like the name: Lost Lake. The idea was to get there when they opened at 4 p.m.  One of my friends thought I was being a little nutty when I said I wanted to get there early before the crowds. Bars don’t usually get that crowded at 4 p.m. But I had an inkling this one would. Besides what I’d seen outside before, this place has good reviews. Both the owner bartender (I mean mixologist) and the bar have gotten quite a bit of press and awards. Lost Lake, according to their website is a place that:

“….evokes both the glamorous tropical escapism of 1930s Hollywood and the rugged nautical, island aesthetic of the world’s first tiki bar — the original Don’s Beachcomber Café.”

I was hoping.

I’m not sure I got that vibe.

Even though we arrived only a little later than planned, my feeling was correct, it was pretty crowded already.  The place itself is fairly small so maybe there weren’t really that many people? but between having to stand elbow to elbow and wait almost 30 minutes to get our drinks, it was hard soaking in the ambiance.  It wasn’t too long after we got our drinks though, we were able to get a small table in the back.  Ah, much better. We ordered one of those smoky drinks to share then headed off to another party.  Some of us agreed we would try this place again. But only on an “off” night.  In the meantime, if I’m looking specifically for a tiki bar, I’ll stick to Three Dots….. which, by the way, still gets very crowded also. It’s just a bigger place with many more tables. And if I’m being really honest, better drinks. I’ll save Lost Lake for a weekday when I want something a little different and don’t want to travel too far from home.

On my actual birthday, the weather was gloomy and it started to snow. Depressing because it’s mid April; but we didn’t let it get to us.  Instead, a dear friend of mine took me for afternoon tea.

I have always wanted to do a fancy afternoon tea.  Of the hotels I know that do it well, Palmer House and The Drake were my top two choices. The Palmer House’s fascinating history and the times I’ve enjoyed there: whether for drinks, dinner or events, has made it one of my absolute favorite places. Trader Vics, a tiki bar/restaurant that I used to frequent has long since closed (sad day). I adore the ornate, grand lobby and can sit there for hours taking it in. One day, I’ll get around to the tea.

The Drake Hotel is iconic, classic Chicago. Situated at Lake Shore Drive across from Oak Street beach. As many times as I’ve walked passed it, sat across from it at the beach, looked up at it with wonder and imagined what it was like back in the day, would you believe I have never really explored the building?

The tea was a lovely idea. We sat next to a beautiful limestone fountain in the middle of the room; tables decked out in white linens. The only thing missing was the harpist who plays later in the week and weekends. Our waiter from Bosnia, was also celebrating an anniversary… 20 years here in Chicago.  I was celebrating many more years than that here on earth. What an elegant way to spend a cold afternoon.

After tea we went to explore a little. The Gold Coast room was empty so we were able to go in.  What it must be like to have a wedding there! I just might have to find a way to get invited to an event. With splendid views of Lake Michigan, it was cool being able to see it from the other side……to look down at the lake rather than looking up at the building. I no longer have to wonder.


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