From cocktailing with chocolate chasers, hehe, at AIDS Foundation of Chicago's (AFC) World of Chocolate annual fundraiser to bringing in the New Year at The Drake, the season has even got my momma shouting, "Oh, you fancy, huh?" No Mom, not fancy, just lucky!
AFC's annual World of Chocolate fundraiser invited guests to an evening of fine chocolates, exclusive raffles, and above all supporting AFC's mission of improving the lives of those affected by the AIDS/HIV epidemic. The International Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago hosted top names such as RL Restaurant, Terry's Toffee, Talbott Teas, and other major brands for guests to sample each restaurant station's fine take on chocolate. This was actually my first time at the chocolate affair and certainly will not be my last and is now definitely one of my fave LGBT benefits. World of Chocolate had a certain low-key elegance that didn't try to hard to impress but still left me with quite the impression. Also, our newly minted mayor Rahm Emanuel made a special appearance as well.
Ian Schrager's newest real estate import, Public Chicago, brings old-time Hollywood to Chicago. I was given an exclusive tour of the property previously known as the Ambassador East hotel, which now features The Pump Room, The Library, and my new go-to destination The Screening Room. During my tour, I learned that The Pump Room was a celebrity hang-out frequented by Frank Sinatra (he had his own booth; Booth #1), Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and other A-listers at the time. The Pump Room takes a laid-back approach to refined nightlife cocktailing but still retains its old Hollywood ambience. However, I must say that the highlight of my tour was the Screening Room. Semi hidden away behind a large wooden door in The Library, a cocktail lounge located across from the Pump Room, the Screening Room ventures guests off to a more private, intimate evening experience complete with comfy couches and oversized pillows. The Screening Room is perfect for a cocktail after a major event or for an escape from craze of Division street or other neighboring, lively streets. In fact, some friends and I hit up the Screening Room after World of Chocolate and had a blast. If you're up early enough, revisit your childhood on the weekends as the hotel invites guests to the Screening Room for cereal and cartoons on the weekend. Founder of Headphones and Hemlines, a fashion and music blog, Amanda Maloka welcomes the new hotel to her hood.
"I was pleasantly surprised with the hip factor of the hotel seeing as how the Ambassador East was a little more old world. I definitely plan to keep the hotel in mind for people looking to mingle a timeless sense of class with the current. They had me at the chucks on the doormen, the music selection in the bar, and the wall of iconic figures that visited the hotel in it's previous incarnation," said Maloka.
The Women's Board of the Joffrey presented the Nutcracker Family Dinner at the State and Grand Ballrooms of the Palmer House Hilton. I must say that I had the cutest, little date too. He was energetic, very engaging, a snazzy dresser, and overall a big hit among the other guests. He was my little, three-year-old nephew Skyler. Guests were treated to a family style dinner, entertainment for the little ones, and of course a classic performance of Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker. This was truly an event for the kids as there were plenty of pink ballerina dresses and light-up, high top gym shoes with black slacks. Fun candy, dessert and arts and crafts stations invited kids to decorate their own cupcake or create adorned with candy jewels in honor of The Nutcracker performance. I loved the decorate your own cupcake station and even walked away with three cupcakes adorned with gummy bears, vanilla frosting, and the works – ya know, for Skyler and all. After dinner, a trolley whisked guests away to an evening performance of The Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. The Nutcracker was just as I remembered it as a child, so it was great to share such a well-known, special performance with my nephew, since it was his first time. Co-chairs, Sonya Y. Jackson and Cindy Burns of the Women's Board did an A+ job on creating an evening just for the kids. And those cupcakes were delish too, according to Skyler of course.
I was honored and excited to be invited to bring in the New Year at The Drake's Annual Black Tie Dinner Party inside the Palm Court. The classic five-star treated guests to live entertainment and a three-course dinner complete with a bottle of my favorite champagne - Veuve Clicquot. For all you Gossip Girl fans, this would definitely be a party that Blair Waldorf would be spotted at. Although Queen Bee didn't attend, the crowd was just as chic with an elegant, seasoned spin. To the backdrop of a 1920s ambience and some good friends, I was happy to bring in the new year with ease, sophistication, and let's be honest, a few bottles of Veuve Clicquot. Palm Court and Club International special events manager Shaun Rajah was happy to host Chicago's elite at one of the city's most historic hotels.
"If you want to ring in a new year in style, you have to do it right. The Drake is known for throwing spectacular balls and this one was no exception – a real Chicago experience," said Rajah.
Cheers to the New Year and let's all have a toast for continuing fancy in 2012!