Chicago, Illinois, may be best known for its architecture, baseball, and deep-dish pizza. But whether you’re a local or have only briefly visited the city, you’re aware that the people of Chicago know how to make a mean cocktail. From noteworthy beers on tap to high-end culinary science, the bar scene in this city ranges from one end of the spectrum to the other. When planning your next night out, refer to this list of the 10 Best Bars in Chicago.
10. Ada Street
Ada Street seamlessly blends American and Mediterranean dishes in a cozy candlelit atmosphere, but it’s their drink menu that really stands out. The cocktail ‘A Well Respected Man’ is made up of basil-infused gin, Dolin Blanc, lime, and pink peppercorn. ‘All Your Favourite Bands’ features aged rum, Lemonhard 151, orange curacao, amaretto, and lime. To top it all off, Ada Street donates $1 of each cocktail sold to The League of Chicago Theatres.
9. Lost Lake
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Tiki bar Lost Lake will make you feel as though you’re on vacation, in the middle of the city of Chicago. As one Yelp reviewer puts it; “This place is like traveling back in time and straight into Hawaii.” The cocktail ‘Some Days Last A Long Time’ consists of Scotch whisky, sherry, coconut, lemon, and absinthe. ‘A Lonely Island Lost In The Middle Of A Foggy Sea’ is made with blackstrap rum, aged Trinidadian Rum, Rhum Agricole Blanc, coffee, pineapple, lime, and Demerara.
8. The Violet Hour
Upscale bar The Violet Hour has some very serious house rules; “No O-Bombs. No Jaeger-Bombs. No bombs of any kind. No Budweiser. No light beer. No Grey Goose. No Cosmopolitans. And finally, please do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday dinner.” Their ‘Juliet and Romeo’ cocktail is made up of Beefeater, mint, cucumber, and rose water. The ‘Yo, Banana Boy’ contains Lunazul Blanco, lime, Giffard Banane du Brésil, Ramazzotti, and orange bitters.
7. The Aviary
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The Aviary is as classy as a bar can get, serving up drinks unlike anywhere else in town. Some cocktails utilize slingshots, others liquid smoke. The ‘Rob Roy’ is served sealed in a bag and surrounded by lavender scented air. ‘In The Rocks’ has your cocktail inside of ice, instead of the other way around. The food at The Aviary is just as creative, think a foie gras stuffed Snickers bar and fried cod with wildflowers. It’ll cost you to enjoy an evening at this upscale establishment, but the imaginative and artistic drinks and small dishes are well worth it.
The cocktails at GreenRiver are inspired by the Irish Americans who made the city of Chicago what it is today. ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ is comprised of tequila, Campari, botrytis, and bergamot. ‘Peace Frog’ contains rum, amontillado sherry, and black trumpet mushroom. ‘Hinky Dink’ is made up of Belvedere polish rye vodka, beet, pistachio, horseradish, chipotle, and lemon. GreenRiver also features an extensive beer and wine list.
5. Three Dots and a Dash
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Tiki bar Three Dots and a Dash is known for it’s vibrant and fun atmosphere. Aside from delicious dishes including coconut shrimp, pork belly buns, and crispy sesame seed chicken wings, their drink menu is unparalleled. The ‘Bikinis After Dark’ cocktail features aged Jamaican rum, aged rhum agricole, overproof rum, smoked pineapple, and lime. The ‘Painkiller No. 639’ is made up of Virgin Island and Jamaican rums, lemon, passion fruit, mango, and coconut cream. ‘Zombie Punch’ consists of Jamaican, Nicaraguan and Overproof rums, lime, pomegranate, grapefruit, and cinnamon.
4. Milk Room
Located at the Chicago Athletic Association, Milk Room has a unique concept; utilizing rare and fresh ingredients when making their signature cocktails. If you want to order off menu, the staff will be more than happy to cater to your preferences. In regards to the atmosphere, one Yelp reviewer claims, “You walk into a Game of Thrones looking set”. It’s a pricy place and you have to make reservations well in advance to attend, but you’re definitely getting what you paid for. More of an experience than a regular night out, you won’t find mixologists like this anywhere else in the city.
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If you’re looking for a chill place to grab a beer with friends, Skylark is the spot for you. Their website goes as far as claiming “You probably won’t have to deal with any sleazeballs at this joint.” Aside from a widespread beer list, Skylark’s dinner menu features many drool-worthy dishes, including pierogies, panko breaded chicken breast, and a black bean burger. A relaxed atmosphere, beers from all over the world, and top-notch pub grub, what’s not to like?
At Dusek’s Board & Beer, you’ll find good food and great drinks. The décor is casual yet cool and the staff is super friendly. Aside from their eclectic draft list, you’ll find cocktails like the ‘Corpse Reviver’, made with gin and absinthe. The ‘Board & Beer Bloody’ contains vodka, house bloody mix, salami, pickles, and comes with a Miller highlife pony. They even have a beer mimosa, made with honey and grapefruit. With so many options to choose from, Dusek’s is sure to please anyone and everyone.
1. Band of Bohemia
Brewpub Band of Bohemia is beloved by locals due to their creative cocktails and gypsy spirit. Surrounded by local art work, you’re sure to enjoy the bar’s quirky beer flavours like roasted beet thyme or grilled apple tarragon. Their ‘A Good Break-up’ cocktail consists of rosemary-infused Kappa Pisco, macerated strawberries, rose water, sparkling wine, lemon, and egg whites. Don’t miss out on their small plates either; including bison tartare, grilled lamb neck, scallops with smoked mushrooms, and coffee roasted carrots.