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20 Ways to Spend Your Summer Nights

From chic rooftop lounges to scintillating outdoor performances, our city has a host of white-hot ways to celebrate the night. Summer took its time getting here, but now that it has, you won’t want to miss a minute.

That one of the city’s hottest spots, RM Champagne Salon, is tucked out of sight only adds to its charm.

Cranberry ice cubs at Drumbar

Tiny Bubbles
If you think about it, the lovely patio of RM Champagne Salon is actually in an alley. But, boy, what an alley it is. Or, as partner Chris Dexter puts it, “It was the reason we took the entire venue.” After spending a few evenings there ourselves, it’s easy to see why. The courtyard is tucked away, giving the space a mysterious air. And we love the way the quaint cobblestone walkway leads to the 3,000-square-foot two-tiered space. Then there’s the way the lounge was lovingly decorated with strings of tea lights hanging overhead, tables inlaid with Moroccan tiles and charming murals on the surrounding brick walls. Not least of all there’s the incredible selection of Champagnes and delicious French-inspired small plates. Taken altogether, we’re just grateful city officials finally granted RM its patio permit late last summer. “They had never seen anything like what we were doing,” says Dexter of the delay. We plan to make up for that lost time ASAP, and we suggest you do, too.

Laugh In
Tap into the lighter side of life with TBS Just for Laughs Chicago when it hits town June 11-16. This year’s funny fest features a mix of living legends (Bob Newhart), master satirists (Bill Maher, Seth Meyers) and rising stars (John Hodgman). Just try to keep a straight face.

High Spirits
Vodka may be the Rodney Dangerfield of the spirits world, but Tremaine Atkinson and Mark Lucas hope to change that with CH Distillery & Cocktail Bar. Scheduled to open in late June, the 8,000-square-foot West Loop micro-distillery will be home to CH Vodka, a premium liquor made with raw grain grown in Illinois. The Randolph Street space will also feature an intimate cocktail bar with small plates created by former Avec chef Jesse Katzman. So why vodka? “It’s always been my drink of choice,” says Atkinson. “I love it.” We’ll drink to that.

Chill Out
Handcrafted ice cubes are de rigueur at any cocktail bar worth its swizzle stick. The next hot, er, cold trend we’re excited about is flavored ice cubes­—like the cranberry ones pictured from Drumbar mixmaster Craig Schoettler (previously of Aviary). We predict those are just the tip of the iceberg for the creative cocktail wiz.

Season’s Greetings
Nothing says summer like an ice-cold beer. Upgrade yours with Latin-inspired local brewery 5 Rabbit Cerveceria’s newest creation, Missionario. This wheat beer has hints of almonds and Muscat grapes, and pairs perfectly with crab tamales, duck empanadas and­—we think—flip-flops.

Click here to read more of "20 Ways to Spend Your Summer Nights" in the digital edition!