If you thought Grant Achatz's innovative bar The Aviarywas exclusive, wait until you encounter the 16-seat VIP lounge underneath it. The Office — which requires advanced bookings through Tock, developed by Nick Kokonas, co-owner of the Alinea Group — lures patrons to the Chicago space with rare spirits and intriguing reinterpretations of classic cocktails. (The staff at this Illinois bar staff here are just as much historians as they are bartenders.) Whereas The Aviary pushes the envelope and is about presentation, The Office focuses on classically presented cocktails with exceptional ingredients. It is an eclectic mix of found art, beautiful leather couches and armchairs, and pawn-shop-sourced glassware. Patrons can admire décor from the 1920s that sits side by side with items from the 1980s.
The bar specializes in “dusty bottle cocktails,” which are classic cocktails made entirely of ingredients from a different era. An old fashioned is made with 1954 Old Fitzgerald Bourbon and Angostura that was bottled in the 1950s, and a White Negroni from the 1970s with vintage bottles of Beefeater, Cinzano Bianco, and Campari Cordial. Pick a drink from the 50-plus-page menu and enjoy it alongside a $25 ice cream sundae or $50 beef tartare. The Office’s over-the-top luxurious food leans toward classic French; the most popular dish is steamed mussels with roasted garlic, white wine, and Pernod Beurre Blanc with charred lemon and a crusty French baguette that is large enough for two to four patrons to share.
A second location of The Office, hidden behind the New York location of The Aviary on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, seats 40 and offers the same unique collection of spirits and exceptional experience. This bar is tops because the team is constantly refining and redefining its techniques and processes to give guests an experience they won’t have anywhere else in the world. Now that you’ve seen the best bars in the U.S., it’s time to toast the best bars outside the U.S.