Chicago might be a whiskey city, but there's a new crop of great bars celebrating the virtues of other spirits. Here are some of the best spots for whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, vodka, and more.
A new sense of saucy irreverence is at play in Chicago—cocktails on tap, in bottles, and dance nights with shots of Old Fashioneds are all fair game. Here's our guide to the best places to drink cocktails in the Windy City right now.
Here are some of the best drinking destinations near major tourist attractions in Chicago. Some are full-on craft cocktail bars, while others might be slightly less obvious spots, like restaurants with great cocktail programs and a cozy spot to sit.
Luckily, Chicago is a great drinking city, and some places are up to the challenge of offering non-alcoholic beverages that won't induce diabetic shock. Whether you are expecting, entertaining a pregnant guest, or simply looking to cut back on your spirit consumption, here are my five favorite options for Chicago drinking without the booze.
The Dawson's drink menu includes 10 cocktails, a 'daily dram' infused in the tall glass column downstairs, and a selection of nonalcoholic sodas created by in-house soda jerk Dalton Finney.
At The Revel Room in Wicker Park, you'll find cocktails (including a Blood and Sand on tap), more than 30 canned beers, and a hidden back-room library.
"We went on all of these distillery tours, and we got tired of standing around at the end drinking warm spirits out of a plastic pill glass," explained Mark Lucas, co-owner of CH Distillery. That's why he and his partner Tremaine Atkinson have created a space where you can sip fresh spirits, distilled right behind the bar, the way they were meant to be tasted: in cocktails.
Why, in a city so rich with rock-solid corner bars, do I praise the Charleston above all others? So many good small things that add up to something great.
Each of these 5 Chicago wine shops has friendly staff, an atmosphere that isn't too intimidating, and not a whiff of snobbery.
Guests enter Three Dots through a back alley, climb down a dark staircase (with a wall full of skulls staring creepily) and into the tropical basement bar. Half of the menu is made up of classic tiki cocktails, the rest are the creations of Paul McGee, formerly of The Whistler.
Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. Here's our handy list of 8 great options we recommend.
"This bottle alone costs approximately $600 retail," explained mixer Allie Kim as she handed over a bottle of Maotai. The Chinese government has given it out as a diplomatic gift, while newscaster Dan Rather famously once said it was like drinking "liquid razor blades." At newly opened River North Chinese spot Lao 18, they've incorporated it (in very small doses) into their cocktail program.
Why open yet another craft cocktail lounge in a city filled with them? "I saw a gap in the drinking scene in Chicago," Benjamin Schiller explains. "There wasn't a place where you could go and get a craft cocktail, but if you wanted a vodka soda you'd be treated the exact same way."
At this new Lincoln Park diner, Brad Rubin is serving barrel-aged root beer, plus milkshakes, phosphates, and egg creams made with refurbished antique equipment.
Parson's is the latest restaurant venture of Land & Sea Dept., a Chicago-based cohort of design-savvy entrepreneurs whose best-known work, Longman & Eagle, is at once an ambitious, Michelin-starred dining destination and an old-school whiskey-pouring neighborhood tavern. With the introduction of Parson's, LSD's methodology grows clearer: melt down a few cultural-historical references (Southern rock, classic American cars, a black-and-white photo depicting circa-1970s-style revelry), tap a promising chef to stir the pot, and leaven with a sprinkle of unassuming, modern-eclectic design.
Unless you've spent a lot of time in Chicago, you've probably never tried Jeppson's Malört, an intensely bitter spirit that's only available in the city and surrounding suburbs. And if you have, you probably know it as "that drink that tastes like burnt carpet."
Lambic. Gueuze. Wild Ale. Oud Bruin. Flanders Red. Berliner Weisse. Lately, when I belly up to new and familiar bars alike and begin dissecting the beer offerings, I hunt for these terms like X's on a treasure map. Thankfully, there's a cohort of ambitious, beer-focused bars in Chicago that not only stock their cellars with obscure and intriguing large-format sours, but also reliably devote one or two tap lines to the tart stuff.
Tona Palomino, who goes by the ambassadorial, tongue-in-cheek title of Minister of Libations at Trenchermen, is doing his part to embrace the ascendant season; he's in the midst of a creative swing that, once settled in about a week or so, will result in an almost entirely new cocktail menu.
With the proliferation of cocktail bars and cocktail-conscious restaurants in Chicago, there are dozens of rye cocktails to be had here, especially during this time of year, when meager temperatures demand that restorative sensation of heat rye drinks so generously provide. But around town, many rye drinks are darn good, while others are just ok. As a service to ourselves, I say, let's not waste a drop of precious rye on anything short of great.
Much like at Yusho, Alex Bachman's deep commitment to crafting drinks is evident simply by reading the ingredients in Billy Sunday's cocktails. He's known to develop his own bitters, syrups and tinctures, and the highest cabinets of the back bar are loaded with jars of exotic botanicals. But for all the custom housemade potions he concocts, "Tradition is the core of it all," Bachman said.