The Optima

Billy Idol-Themed Cocktails and 36-Hour Short Ribs in Old Town

Two Floors of Mezcal, Burgers and Presumably Damn Good Times

By Sarah Freeman ·
None 15 Photos The Optima

Consider your next night in Old Town a play in two acts.

Act one: double cheeseburger in the company of rock stars.

Act two: bottle service in a secluded velvet booth.

It's all happening at the Optima, Old Town's newest two-faced bar and nightclub that opens on Monday. But you can take a look around now.

Your evening starts on the first floor, where a bar is filled with, well, a lot. You're greeted by a giant painting of an orange telephone booth that's hung on one of the many walls covered in photographs of famous musicians. Make your way to one of the leather booths, under the neon Optima sign or to the golden bar. Just when you think you've seen it all, look closer at the back bar and notice the old cassette tapes tucked between bottles.

Don't go staring for too long, though. There's pierogi and stout dipping sauce to attend to. It's a nice way to start the part of the evening dedicated to digging into bowls of risotto topped with prosciutto crisps and very slow cooked, cajun-rubbed short ribs. To say nothing of the ice cream cone trio that will be difficult to resist after a couple of Malört-spiked Rebel Yell cocktails.

In case it hasn't registered yet, there's somewhat of a music theme going on here that extends to cocktails like the mezcal-forward I Wanna Be Sedated. And the Buena Vista Social Club made with rum, of course. These are best enjoyed upstairs in the Marquee, where a wooden bar gives way to a fireplace and secluded corridor filled with tables for two. Oh, and that aforementioned velvet booth.

Matters of velvet typically bear repeating.

Sarah Freeman

Sarah Freeman is often accused of hiding secrets in her hair. She can make any cocktail, as long as that cocktail is a rye Old Fashioned, and has never met a saison she didn’t like.


The Optima
1252 N Wells St
(between W Scott St and W Goethe St)
Chicago, IL, 60610


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