Benjamin Schiller is a cocktail magician and he’s been saving his best tricks for Apogee, the Gold Coast’s newest rooftop bar. Located on the twenty-sixth floor of the Dana Hotel (formerly Vertigo), the cocktails at Apogee are what dreams are made of — they almost don’t feel real. Which came first, the drink or the dream? Each libation is brimming with imagination and everything has a purpose. Whether it is a single flake of watermelon salt or a golden 1-up coin, there is intention behind every ingredient. To drink something created by the mind of Benjamin Schiller is to experience ethereal art.
The heart of the sleek and modern space is of course, the bar. With brass finishes throughout, 360-degree views and luxurious blue velvet couches, it is an ideal space to expand your boozy horizons. Just through the interior door lies an exquisitely designed patio with pops of lush greenery and a second contemporary bar. A brilliantly curated menu sits on each table and features images of every aesthetically stunning libation. It is broken up into sections including individual cocktails, large format (meant for sharing), bottle service, wine, beer and other various spirits.
Served inside a glowing glass blown toadstool and topped with shaved ice and golden 1-up coins, it is no surprise that this sharable drink is Super Mario inspired. Absinthe, Sipsmith gin, Chartreuse and oregano are mixed together to form the herbal but palatably pleasing concoction. I’m confident Mario, Luigi and the gang would have no problem tipping this back in celebration after rescuing Princess Peach.
As delicately beautiful as the name suggests, this Tito’s Vodka cocktail is presented with an edible butterfly garnish made from wafer paper (with the word Apogee written on its wing). A long ice cube containing frozen flowers sits inside of the glass (an ode to Schiller’s grandmother, Doris, who was an avid gardener) and is engulfed by vodka, British cucumber soda and St. Germain. A raspberry powder topping acts as the pollen.
Sancerre is Schiller’s favorite region in France and this gin-based cocktail is a culmination of local French flavors. Each of the three ice cubes includes regional tastes of lemongrass, pear and grapefruit. As the ice melts the flavor of the drink shifts, increasing in complexity. Sancerre is known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grape varietals, which is why as another nod to the region the drink contains a sprinkle of Pinot Noir salt. It’s as gorgeous and well thought out as it is delicious.
Fibonacci is a numerical sequence where each number is the sum of the two previous numbers (and is probably one of the only things that ever caught my attention in math class). Frequently found in nature, the Fibonacci sequence can also describe natural shapes such as Nautilus shells, flowers and pinecones, to name a few. To bring it to life in the form of a cocktail, Apogee’s Fibonacci is served in a tiger Nautilus shell that sits in a silver bowl of ice. Ignite Glass Studios’ glass blown straws accompany the sharable drink.
Raspberry syrup is sous vide at a temperature consistent with the Fibonacci sequence and is mixed with Flor de Cana Rum, aquavit from North Shore Distillery, a splash of lemon and a few earthy spices. This cocktail is a purposeful celebration of mathematics in nature. Who said drinking couldn’t make you smarter?
Mr. Nice Guy
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Mr. Nice Guy. Aptly named after Thurgood Jenkins’ marijuana business in Half Baked, this cocktail is served in a glass water bong. The base of the drink is copper distilled Elyx Vodka made in Sweden and its crisp and toothsome flavor is complimented by the pineapple and dehydrated blackberry.
Smoky white sage lives inside to produce an enhanced aromatic effect reminiscent of something you may or may not have done in college. Two rocks glasses are served alongside the bong that contain a slice of citrus sprinkled with a little something special that creates a smoky bacon flavor. There are many elements at play that make this drink extraordinary.
Every cocktail has a story and every story contains a piece of Benjamin Schiller’s heart and soul. He finds a whimsical way to pair style and substance to create an enchanting experience from start to finish. Apogee is one of the most revolutionary cocktail lounges to ever appear on the Chicago bar scene. You have not tasted a real craft cocktail until you have tasted one made by Benjamin Schiller.
2 West Erie Street, Chicago, IL 60654 | (312) 202-6060 | www.apogeechicago.com