Roofs on Fire

Street-level patios are so 2011. This summer, it’s all about rooftop dining and drinking, from dizzyingly high watering holes to scenic 2nd-floor restaurant decks. Get a taste of the high life at these nine hot destinations.

ROOF.
A sexy oasis of fire pits, indoor/outdoor areas and killer views of the Marina City towers, this 7,000-square-foot space on the 27th floor of the Wit Hotel was recently named one of the top 10 rooftop bars in the nation. New for 2012: an LED light system, 6-by-12 HDTV monitor and fully retractable roof for year-round revelry. 201 N. State St., 312-467-0200, www.roofonthewit.com

DRUMBAR. The speakeasy gets the South Beach treatment at this brand-new Gold Coast hangout atop the luxe Raffaello Hotel—so new that it’s not set to open till June 8. Expect cozy corner alcoves, a 1,500-square-foot outdoor garden terrace and a drinks program focusing on whiskey, bourbon, and scotch. 201 E. Delaware St., 312-943-5000, www.drumbar.com

III FORKS. Tucked away in the new Lakeshore East neighborhood north of Millennium Park, this comfy steakhouse is literally a hidden gem whose location can leave even cabbies scratching their heads. Thanks to the restaurant’s super-roomy, ultra-comfortable rooftop lounge—think cabana-style seating, flat panel TVs, and lovely city and park views—that’s not going to last long. 333 E. Benton Pl., 312-938-4303, www.3forks.com

THE TAVERN’S TREEHOUSE. Tavern at the Park already has primo location a stone’s throw from Millennium Park. Now the upscale-casual American spot has the neighborhood’s hottest new rooftop destination, a just-completed addition whose retractable roof, food and drink offerings and stunning views of Grant Park are catnip for fans of the al fresco scene. 130 E. Randolph St., 312-552-0070, www.tavernatthepark.com

C-VIEW. Twenty-nine floors up, sip craft cocktails under the stars at this intimate Streeterville destination, whose warm, inviting decor of handsome stained wood tables and glowing light cubes pops with bright orange accents. 166 E. Superior St., 312-787-6000, www.c-houserestaurant.com

ESTATE ULTRA BAR. On the former site of legendary dive Slow Down! Life’s Too Short, this newcomer has spruced up the place with dark woods, plush leather booths and red velvet accents. One thing hasn’t changed: the sprawling roof deck, with its 360-degree view of the city and the Chicago River. 1177 N. Elston Ave., 312-582-4777, www.estateultrabar.com

VERTIGO SKY. Nightly DJs, craft cocktails, and stunning River North views draw a club-ready crowd to this 26th-floor Dana Hotel spot, whose fittingly vertigo-inducing outdoor patio features an open fire pit and glowing orb lights. 2 W. Erie St., 312-202-6060, www.vertigoskylounge.com

ZED451. It’s not exactly sky-high, but there’s still plenty to love about the 2nd-floor rooftop lounge at this River North restaurant, from the sophisticated crowd to the much-coveted cabanas and couches to the yummy ginger bourbon lemonade. 739 N. Clark St., 312-266-6691, www.zed451. com

EPIC SKY. In search of some intimacy? Settle into one of the private cabanas at this brick-accented, always-buzzing rooftop bar in the heart of River North. 112 W. Hubbard St., 312-222-4940, www.epicrestaurantchicago.com/sky