The New Nautical

By Matt Kirouac |

Discuss >



Whether it’s fueled by our lack of ocean or our newfound obsession with all things tiki, nautically inspired bars and restaurants are in.

On the heels of tiki hot spots Three Dots and a Dash and Lost Lake, a new crop of nautically minded restaurants have begun cropping up around town. One notable entry was Sink|Swim, the first restaurant-focused concept from the Scofflaw Group. Here, the contemporary seafood spot rounds out its oceanic inspirations with an interior design that looks like a chic captain’s quarters, complete with ropes, model ships, aquatic artwork, and folded up menu boats topped with saltwater taffy, used as check presenters. Even the mirrors in the bathrooms look like portholes in a ship. The omnipresence of light colors and white in the design lend a beachy motif throughout, especially at the bar, consisting of an enormous light wood anchoring the restaurant. The Scofflaw Group likely isn’t done with their nautical inspirations either; the company has been planning a tiki bar of their own.

A far cry from the Caribbean vibes of tiki bars, Wicker Park’s forthcoming Queen Mary borrows inspiration from another side of the world for its nautical layout. The British Navy-inspired bar hails from Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner, the duo behind nearby Pub Royale, Sportsman’s Club, and numerous other spots in Chicago. For this new venture, the duo hone in on the British Royal Navy for what they’re billing as a sailor’s tavern. It’s housed in a long-dormant bar space on Division Street, which should start serving sailor-friendly libations like grog, gin martinis, and Navy-strength Old Fashioneds by November. English beers will also be on tap, ideal for mixing into black and tans.

Later this year, it’s back to the tropics for a Cuban-inspired bar and restaurant in River North called The Flamingo Rum Club. This one is a joint venture between restaurateurs Phil Stefani and Adolfo Garcia, with promise of tropical cuisine, rum cocktails, and pink tuxedo-clad bartenders. Palm tree wallpaper, a brass bar, gold leaf oval ceilings, and tiles imported from the Dominican Republic lend the feel of a mid-century Caribbean island. Look for Flamingo Rum Club to open later this year.

3213 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago
(773) 486-7465

Queen Mary
2125 W. Division Street, Chicago
(312) 374-3013

The Flamingo Rum Club
601 N Wells Street, Chicago

window to the world