In Chicago, home of America’s best cocktail scene, the real question is not how you like your drink. It’s how quietly you like to enjoy it. From whispers-only to regularly raucus, there’s something for everyone.
THE VIOLET HOUR
Noise Level: 1/10—A low, constant hum
The excited murmuring you hear when you walk into this sanctuary-like space? Call it the sound of reverence. The bar jumpstarted Wicker Park’s resurgence, not to mention the drinking culture of the entire city. Order the Daisy 17, a spin on an old-fashioned they’ve been mixing since the doors opened in 2007. 1520 N Damen Avenue
Noise Level: 5/10—Date-night friendly decibels
Mad-scientist chef Grant Achatz, of Chicago’s Alinea and Next, doesn’t actually man the shakers or chip the ice at Aviary, but it’s clearly his brainchild: Behind the bar there’s more lab equipment than stirring spoons. The menu changes all the time, but the Carbonated Negroni is imperative if available. 955 W Fulton Market
Noise Level: 8/10—Can still hold a conversation
Think of it as the designated corner bar of Logan Square, where cool kids still underpay for a full-floor loft. Its bartenders know their way around the classics (and have a love affair with gin), but unlike most liquor nerds, they don’t skimp on the beer. Go during a “Tap Takeover” for rare pours from venerable breweries. 3201 W Armitage Avenue