City guides

Iconic bars in Chicago

Explore Chicago's vibrant history and culture through its iconic bars, with each offering a unique glimpse into the city's soul and nightlife.

September 19, 2023
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5
 min read
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Last updated:
Jan 12
A view of the Chicago skyline, with the Chicago river in the foreground.

Chicago, the Windy City, boasts a rich tapestry of culture, history, and innovation. This is nowhere more evident than in its eclectic bar scene. From the echoes of Prohibition-era speakeasies to the innovative vibes of modern-day lounges, Chicago's bars are more than just places to grab a drink. They're where the city's heart beats loudest. Dive deep into our handpicked selection of iconic bars that have not only shaped Chicago's nightlife but have also become integral parts of its cultural fabric.

The Green Mill

The Green Mill isn't just a bar; it's a time machine. Transporting its patrons back to the roaring jazz age, this establishment has seen the likes of Al Capone and other notable figures from Chicago's storied past. The vintage charm is palpable, from the art deco interiors to the soulful tunes that waft through the air. Live music performances keep the spirit of the bygone era alive, making it a haven for jazz enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Every corner of this bar whispers tales from the past, making every visit a journey through time. 

Billy Goat Tavern

Nestled beneath the bustling Michigan Avenue lies the legendary Billy Goat Tavern. More than just a watering hole, it's a piece of Chicago's folklore. The tavern's rich history is intertwined with tales of curses and baseball legends. While the legend of the tavern's curse is well-known among sports enthusiasts, what truly sets this place apart is its atmosphere. The walls, adorned with memorabilia, tell tales of yesteryears, while the hearty laughter and clinking glasses remind you of the present. It's a place where stories come to life, one sip at a time. 

The Violet Hour

Elegance and artistry find their perfect blend at The Violet Hour. Located in the vibrant Wicker Park neighborhood, this bar is a sanctuary for those who appreciate the finer things in life. The unassuming façade hides a world of wonder within. Expert bartenders, with a flair for the theatrical, craft cocktails that are visual and gustatory delights. Each drink tells a story, a blend of flavors that dance on the palate. The ambiance, with its dim lighting and plush seating, invites intimate conversations and moments of reflection.

Three Dots and a Dash 

Why travel miles for a tropical escape when Three Dots and a Dash offers a Polynesian paradise right in the heart of River North? This tiki bar is a sensory delight. The moment you step in, the world outside fades away, replaced by the soft glow of tiki torches and the rhythmic beats of island music. The drinks, served in quirky tiki mugs, are a riot of colors and flavors. Exotic fruits, rare spices, and premium spirits come together to create concoctions that transport you to sun-kissed beaches and azure waters. 

Longman & Eagle

In the trendy Logan Square neighborhood, Longman & Eagle stands as a beacon for whiskey aficionados. This bar effortlessly marries rustic charm with urban elegance. The wooden interiors, bathed in the warm glow of Edison bulbs, create a cozy ambiance that's hard to resist. But it's the whiskey selection that truly sets this place apart. From rare finds to beloved classics, the collection here is a testament to the bar's dedication to the spirit. Each bottle has a story, and the knowledgeable staff are always eager to share these tales with curious patrons. 

The Signature Room

Elevate your drinking experience, quite literally, at The Signature Room. Situated on the 95th floor of the iconic John Hancock Center, this bar offers more than just premium drinks. As you settle into the plush seating, the city unfurls below, a mesmerizing tapestry of lights, architecture, and life. The cocktails here are as exquisite as the view, crafted with precision and flair. Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking an unforgettable night out, The Signature Room promises moments that soar. 

Queen Mary Tavern

Queen Mary Tavern is a tribute to Chicago's maritime heritage. Located in Wicker Park, this bar is named after a World War II naval vessel and celebrates the city's rich naval history. The interiors, adorned with nautical memorabilia, transport patrons to the deck of a ship, with the gentle hum of sea shanties playing in the background. The drinks menu is inspired by the seven seas, with cocktails that use ingredients sourced from around the world. From the smoky notes of peated whiskey to the tangy zest of exotic fruits, every drink is a voyage of discovery. It's a place where stories of adventures on the high seas come alive, one sip at a time.

The Aviary

The Aviary is not just a bar; it's an experience. Nestled in the chic West Loop area, this establishment challenges the very notion of what a cocktail can be. Here, drinks are not just mixed; they're crafted with the precision of a maestro. Molecular mixology meets traditional techniques to create concoctions that are as stunning to look at as they are to taste. The ambiance, with its modern aesthetics and innovative design elements, complements the avant-garde approach to mixology. It's a place for the curious, the adventurous, and those seeking the extraordinary. 

Deadbolt Bar

Tucked away in the bustling streets of Logan Square, Deadbolt Bar is a testament to Chicago's eclectic spirit. At first glance, it might seem like your typical neighborhood joint, but delve a little deeper, and you'll discover a world of intrigue and creativity. The bar's ever-changing theme nights keep patrons on their toes, ensuring that no two visits are ever the same. The interiors, with their mix of vintage charm and modern aesthetics, create an ambiance that's both welcoming and enigmatic. The cocktail menu is a delightful blend of classic favorites and innovative concoctions, each crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Whether you're looking to unwind after a long day or seeking a night of adventure and mystery, Deadbolt Bar promises an experience that's as unpredictable as it is unforgettable.

Slippery Slope

If there's one place in Chicago where the party never stops, it's Slippery Slope. Located in the heart of Logan Square, this bar is a pulsating hub of energy and excitement. The vibrant neon lights, retro décor, and thumping beats create an atmosphere that's electric. Whether you're looking to dance the night away or challenge friends to a game of skee-ball, this bar has it all. The drinks are as fun as the vibe, with a menu that's sure to get the party started.

The essence of Chicago is beautifully captured in its bars. Each establishment, with its unique character and charm, offers a glimpse into the city's soul. So, the next time the Windy City beckons, make sure to raise a toast at one of these iconic bars. Here's to unforgettable nights, cherished memories, and the magic that is Chicago. Cheers!

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*Prices fluctuate based on season and day of the week.

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