Dressing Up and Going Out: Chicago's Best Cocktails
Collected by Kaitlyn Barrett, AFAR Local Expert
Chicago cocktail mixologists are as accomplished as Chicago chefs. With almost 400 different venues to find great cocktails, Chicago visitors are spoiled for choice. Speakeasy fans will enjoy the semi-private tables and extensive cocktail list at Violet Hour. Gin enthusiasts can head straight to Scofflaw, whiskey drinkers will want to go uptown to The Grafton and adventurous visitors should make a visit to Aviary. No matter the cocktail, Chicago serves it up in style.
955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
At visionary chef Grant Achatz’s bar, vessels such as “the Porthole” (pictured) are as original as the drinks. The chef-trained bartenders use fresh herbs, small-batch spirits, and hand-carved ice in their cutting-edge libations....
840 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
I'm sure anything you get at this swank bar in the heart of the West Randolph restaurant loop is worth it but this bone marrow did NOT disappoint! Smooth and just salty enough with a touch of sweetness from the jam and the heartiness of the toast,...
3201 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Scofflaw breaks all the craft-cocktail-bar rules by serving strong, affordable drinks that arrive quickly with no snooty attitude. There's even street parking, something anyone driving in Chicago will appreciate. I’m not sure what else you...
4530 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
This is how your table looks after a night at The Grafton with the mostly empty glasses and a water carafe that’s been filled and emptied at least four times. Not pictured are the hollows you left in the seats from sitting there for 6...
1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
The first rule of the speakeasy is that it can’t be easy to find. The Violet Hour’s door is directly across the street from Big Star. Look for the handle on the wall and the light above it, because the door mural changes frequently and...
875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Watch the Chicago city lights come up as the sun goes down at the the Signature Lounge. While the Observatory on the 97th floor is a popular spot, you'll have an even more memorable experience lounging, cocktail in hand, overlooking the same...
3659 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Weegee's Lounge is the kind of place where I can’t decide if I want to sport a newsboy cap, play shuffleboard, and drink beer, or don red lipstick and pincurls and sip a Moscow mule. Either combination works in this cool dive-y bar....
4803, 505 N State St suite 101, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
I had one of the most delicious drinks I've yet had the pleasure of experiencing at Sable. Chicago knows its mixology, and I was lucky to have insiders lead me to this bar located inside the swank Palomar Hotel on North State Street. Their head...
954 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
I was tempted to come here by the name here alone. Then I realized its location in Fulton Market is across from The Aviary. LSC and Fulton Market remind me of the Meatpacking District without the pretension. The pisco sours are the perfect mix of...
770 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Exactly as it’s name suggests, this is an incredibly tiny bar. It has stood at the junction of Milwaukee and Ogden streets for 75 years, they’re open 7 nights a week and they cater to as many people as can pack into the 460 square feet...
12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
Forget what you thought you knew about the barhopping experience when you enter through the doors of this blink-and-you-miss-it spot, where just eight coveted seats are available to patrons. That’s because no two bottles are alike in these...
19 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
It’s easy to stay awhile at this River North hostel, where life-size Jenga and a surplus of comfy booths serve as an entrance to the lobby level’s focal point: A bar where the team takes a creative and quirky approach to drams and...
564 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
West Loop denizens can get their fill of locally made spirits at this distillery and cocktail bar, where cofounder and head distiller Tremaine Atkinson bottles up just about everything of an ABV nature—with a bespoke spin. Its vodka may be...
3154 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
If there were ever a city where a tiki bar is bound to succeed, it’s Chicago—during warmer months, they can help us embrace our short-lived summers; and during winter months, they help us escape the reality of subzero temps. As such,...
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