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6 TOP CHICAGO COCKTAILS

Make a toast to the Windy City in style with these must-try Chicago cocktails.

Looking for some of the best drinks in town? We’ve come up with a list of six Chicago spots that are serving up some of the city’s most creative cocktails, mixing in everything from exotic mezcal to the city's largest selection of rums. Get ready to quench your thirst.

THREE DOTS AND A DASH

Three Dots and a Dash

THE SETTING: This tropical hideaway, tucked down a River North back alley, is a tiki bar paradise. The welcoming bamboo hut, voted one of The World’s 50 Best Bars by Drinks International, is populated with Hawaiian shirt-wearing staff surrounded by tiki totems and skulls everywhere you look.

THE COCKTAIL: Bartenders Julian Cox and Kevin Beary researched tiki cocktails to come up with the best, mixing them with fresh seasonal juices that are cold-pressed daily; syrups made in-house; and spices, herbs and flowers that are sourced from around the world. And perhaps the best part, they’re served in fun, elaborate glassware. Order the Chief Lapu Lapu for two, presented in a literally smoking bowl adorned with orchids and topped with little plastic hula dancers that’s filled with aged Demerara and dark Jamaican rums, plus lime, tangerine and passion fruit juices.

THE AVIARY

The Aviary

THE SETTING: Created by the powerhouse culinary team behind Chicago’s world-renowned Alinea, The Aviary kicks cocktails up another level. Grab a seat in the modern upstairs lounge or try to snag a spot in the swanky downstairs Office that’s akin to a private club.

THE COCKTAIL: Cocktails are mixed in the state-of-the-art “drink kitchen,” and feature surprises like spice-filled ice cubes and tendrils of scented smoke emanating from glass beakers that look like boozy science experiments. The cocktails are constantly changing, but recent selections have included the Smurf: butterfly pea flower, mezcal, finger lime and coconut.

THE VIOLET HOUR

Matt Kirouac

THE SETTING: This secretive Wicker Park spot is credited with kicking off the craft cocktail craze in Chicago. There’s no sign outside (look for a massive mural), but inside The Violet Hour is all elegance, illuminated by candlelight and crystal chandeliers. House rules keep things classy (including no cell phone use!).

THE COCKTAIL: The Violet Hour’s impressive bar program of pre-Prohibition-style cocktails has garnered a James Beard Award. Its menu changes seasonally, but classics include the Dame’s Delight: a dreamy concoction of Modest vodka, lemon, Cocchi Americano, Crème de Peche, mint and strawberry.

VOL. 39

Vol. 39

THE SETTING: Located off the lobby of the boutique Kimpton Gray Hotel, Vol. 39 is named for the treasure trove of antique law books that were unearthed when the turn-of-the-century Loop building was being renovated. Today these tomes are used as decorative accents in this bar that evokes the feeling of a 1940s-era smoking lounge, with tufted leather couches and hues of cognac and charcoal.

THE COCKTAIL: Consulting a library of rare spirits, head bartender Jess Lambert creates mid-century-inspired cocktails. Her signature is the Old Fashioned, served in different variations that incorporate everything from rum to mezcal. The Vol. 39 Vintage Old Fashioned mixes 30-year-old Armagnac, barrel-aged Demerara sugar, Angostura and orange bitters, and hand-carved ice. For a special occasion, order the champagne-and-caviar silver cart service, presented tableside.

QUIOTE

Quiote

THE SETTING: On its first floor, Quiote is a buzzy Logan Square restaurant that transforms from casual taco cafe in the day to a full-blown restaurant at night, known for its modern take on regional Mexican cuisine. But drink lovers will want to head to the underground mezcal bar, located down a side stairwell lit by a glowing green agave neon sign. The intimate bar is modeled after those found along the cobblestone streets of Oaxaca, Mexico.

THE COCKTAIL: The mezcal bar menu pays homage to the agave spirit, served both neat and mixed in craft cocktails. Try the Violeta stirred with mezcal, violet root bitters and the house cherry-almond cordial. Stick around until 11:30pm to get in on the basket of tacos that the chefs whip up at whim and send down to the bar.

THE FLAMINGO RUM CLUB

The Flamingo Rum Club

THE SETTING: This throwback River North spot might have you thinking I Love Lucy reruns, with its colorful retro Cuban nightclub setting that comes complete with cabaret dancers and live bands. You can’t miss the building, brightly painted with giant pink flamingos that make the club a popular spot for Instagram shots.

THE COCKTAIL: The Flamingo boasts the city’s largest selection of rums. Of course, when in faux Havana you can’t help but order the Mojito, blended with Flor de Caña rum, lime, mint and Angostura bitters. For fun, groups can order a drink served in a sleek brass flamingo.

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