BEST PRECIOUS INSTRUMENT
A favorite of Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, the Gibson Les Paul Standard “Burst” model of the late ’50s and early ‘60s is a treasured rock relic. That’s why the 1960 edition at Chicago Music Exchange (3316 N. Lincoln Ave., 888.686.7872, chicagomusicexchange.com), known there as Scarface, has a price tag of $285,000. “It’s the Stradivarius of guitars,” says Andrew Yonke, CME CEO. “The centerpiece of our vault.” Only 1,200 of these instruments were produced, and the distinctive wood grain pattern sets this one apart from the pack. Rock on.
BEST MEN'S ACCESSORIES
The most important element of any outfit just may be the final touch you add before walking out the door in the morning. At Gold Coast menswear boutique Burdi (58 E. Walton St., 312.642.9166, burdiclothing.com), refinement and rarity come with each purchase. Most accessories offered are sourced by owner Rino Burdi himself and handcrafted in Italy in limited quantities. Consider this pair of impossibly soft crocodile-skin gloves ($1,225), available in both brown and black, or a handcrafted umbrella with silver finishes and a handle made of carved deer horn ($755) for blustery Chicago afternoons. There are 24K rose gold-plated cuff links inspired by ancient Ottoman architecture and encrusted in black quartz ($525), or vintage Japanese cuff links shaped like lion door knockers ($935). With any piece you choose, the outstanding level of craftsmanship will stand out in a crowd and elevate your look.
BEST NEW-GENERATION JEWELER
Gemologist Christine Razny is heir to the throne at Razny Jewelers—the local company that’s been owned and operated by the family for over 60 years—and has already begun helming business at its soaring new location in the Gold Coast
(109 E. Oak St., 312.663.8500, razny.com). But craft isn’t the only thing being passed from generation to generation here—the products are too. According to Razny, watch-wearing is all about “choosing a timepiece that is guaranteed to stand the test of time—to be in the family for many years to come.” That shouldn’t be too hard to find, considering the three-story store exclusively houses only Rolex and Patek Philippe. The brands signify “hard work, dedication and status,” in Razny’s words, which we’d argue also speak to her family’s legacy.
BEST SPORTY TIMEPIECE
Richard Mille produces “the most expensive and exclusive sports watches in the world,” says Alex Kats of Geneva Seal Fine Jewelry & Timepieces (112 E. Oak St., 312.944.3100, genevaseal.com), the city’s sole authorized dealer of these extraordinary machines. “They are simply the best.” The maker’s recent release of the RM 67-02 ($120,500) takes its commitment to durability to new heights—literally. High-jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, a world-class competitor from Qatar, wears the watch (with its extraordinarily light 32-gram band), produced in his nation’s hues, while competing—giving new meaning to the phrase “flying the colors.”
WINE & FOOD
BEST ROOM TO TOAST SOMETHING SPECIAL
There is no written requirement that you must drink Champagne in the Champagne Room, the stunning space on the second floor of BLVD (817 W. Lake St., 312.526.3116, blvdchicago.com), the latest Fulton Market sensation. Feel free to order a Pinup Queen ($14), a refreshing and pretty mix of Aylesbury Duck vodka, crème de pêche, tonic syrup and orange bitters with a mezcal spritz. There’s an expertly made BLVDier, naturally—its Old Forester bourbon, herbes de Provence, Gancia Americano and saffron bitters an apropos update on the classic. You could drink those, sure. For a nibble, you could put in an order of brandade croquettes with kombu remoulade, if you must—elevated comfort food at its finest. But listen: You’ve come this far to this gorgeous room. You are properly attired. You have climbed the elegant curved staircase and admired the chandeliers and gorgeous old Hollywood ambiance of the establishment. What you really need is the seafood tower ($145), lobster, king crab, shrimp and oysters with all the fixings, or perhaps the Iranian Pearl Asetra 000 caviar service ($220), a grand treat. And with those, it’s only fitting that you’ll order the 2004 Dom Pérignon rosé ($625). Fitting, yes—though not required.
BEST COCKTAIL TIME MACHINE
Paul McGee’s quest for rare aperitifs and spirits is undiminished. Two years in, the beverage director for the tiny Milk Room and its bigger sibling, the Cherry Circle Room, in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (12 S. Michigan Ave., 312.792.3515, chicagoathletichotel.com) and his staff continue to source the limited, the rare and the impossible-to-find. Their newest cocktail is the Boothby ($150), named for a turn-of-the-last-century bartender. “His cocktail was a Manhattan topped with Champagne,” McGee says. “It took some time to find the right vermouth and the right whiskey and the right Champagne, but we finally found out.” The result? Elijah Craig 18-year, 1960s-era Carpano Punt e Mes vermouth, a dash of angostura bitters and—wait for it—a topper of Charles Krug brut, resulting in what McGee describes as an effervescent Manhattan. Cheers—it’s 1906 all over again.