Best Cocktail Bars in Chicago

Whiskey on the RocksWho doesn’t enjoy a quality cocktail bar? Whether it’s a traditional drink like an Old Fashioned or some new innovative jalapeño infused beverage crafted at the hands of new age mixologists, Chicago can offer something for everyone. Over the years, Chicago has been the home to many of the best trained bartenders in the business. As their skills grew, as did their loyal clients. Eventually, these bartenders move on to open their own spots and start anew. As a result you have a city full of quality drinks, bars, and bartenders. Below are a couple of my favorites, including some honorable mentions. I encourage you to explore the scene for any hidden gems.

The Berghoff

You can’t have a list of Chicago cocktail bars without discussing The Berghoff. It was the first bar to receive a liquor license at the end of prohibition. In fact, you can still see the glass-encased license which is proudly on display for all patrons to view. Not only does The Berghoff represent a piece of Chicago history, but the restaurant itself displays other historical events, including murals of the 1893 World’s Fair. As anything found within the walls of the Berghoff, the cocktails are of the highest quality. I have yet to try a drink here that did not impress me. With fresh ingredients and trained bartenders, The Berghoff has definitely set the bar high. The kitchen also serves up some of the best in German-American cuisine, including wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, and of course the ever popular creamed spinach – all of which go down well one of their many tasty beers.

If you are lucky enough to find a ticket, you can attend The Berghoff’s annual event, “PROST! A Toast to Munich’s Oktoberfest Finale.” The event takes place this Saturday, October 3rd from 11:30AM – 2:30PM. Be sure to check out their site for more information on The Berghoff and upcoming events.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

Green Mill is often considered a Chicago institution. Despite being around for many, many years, The Green Mill has successfully preserved an authentic 1920’s lounge experience. For many, the excitement of enjoying a drink at a bar frequented by Al Capone is enough of a reward. The real draw, however, is that of the legendary jazz acts, quality cocktails, and the Uptown Poetry Slam. As if the lounge did not have enough notoriety, Green Mill has appeared in numerous feature films, Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, and continues to top a variety of must-visit lists for the Chicago area.

Check out their calendar for upcoming jazz and Uptown Poetry performances.

While some locations may sit at the top of my favorites list, there are plenty of other notable cocktail bars in Chicago. These include:

  • Sable
  • Bar Deville
  • The Matchbox
  • Revel Room
  • Berkshire Room
  • Lone Wolf

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