The perfect way to fend of the chill in Chicago is with an artfully crafted cocktail. There’s no shortage of hotspots in the Windy City. There are options for all tastes. If you’re into prohibition-era gin or whiskey based drinks, or if a tiki bar is more your style, or if you’re just looking to sip and enjoy some scenery, Chicago has you covered. Here’s where you’ll find some of the best drinks in Chicago.
Chicago is happily in the throes of a cocktail revival. In a world where spirits come stirred, shaken, jiggered, and infused, Chicago proffers choices. You can pick your evening’s ambiance from elegant lounges, cozy hideaways, gastro-pubs, tiki bars and fine restaurants that fashion molecular cocktails. Here’s a round-up of some of Chicago’s best cocktail bars.
Scofflaw: The Logan Square tavern sets a cozy mood with plush settees, two fireplaces and a roster of gin-centric cocktails, from staples to seasonal infusions. The pub grub – burgers, fries, etc. – is reasonably priced.
Violet Hour: Popular Violet Hour in Wicker Park posts a few rules. Among them: “No cell phones, no baseball hats, no reservations, no Budweiser, no light beer, and please do not bring anyone to the Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday Dinner.” The result, along with the décor, is a somewhat refined atmosphere within which to savor the seasonal cocktails that contain house-made bitters, juices and garnishes.
Three Dots and a Dash: If you like tiki drinks, come to Three Dots and a Dash. At what the owners call “an island-themed getaway,” sample the menu of mostly rum cocktails served in coconut shells or glasses with skulls, hula girls or other tiki figures on them. You can choose from a menu of classic or updated cocktails crafted for “modern-day beachcombers” as well as punches that will quench the thirst of your posse.
Barrelhouse Flat: This Lincoln Park cocktail bar serves some 60 different cocktails created from bourbon, rye, scotch, gin, rum and sparkling wine. The first floor is typically crowded while the upstairs lounge is quieter. Fried pickles, popcorn, mac and cheese and burgers provide sustenance.
The Aviary: At the Aviary, mixologists apply the noted restaurant’s skills in molecular gastronomy –manipulating the ingredients’ states of matter – to create fanciful cocktails. You might need a glass straw to pull the solid rum balls into your mouth or a slingshot to break an ice egg that releases the spirits. Reservations required.
Sable Kitchen and Bar: Located in the River North neighborhood’s Hotel Palomar, Sable Kitchen and Bar, conjures the élan of 1940s America. Mixologists create modern takes on Prohibition-era cocktails.
Cindy’s: Perched on the roof of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Cindy’s draws crowds for its views of Lake Michigan and Millennium Park. The décor channels a Great Lakes beach house and the place’s popularity can result in a nice thrum or too much noise, depending on your perspective. Nonetheless, come here to enjoy the cocktails, some tweaked with unusual ingredients, and the view.