Explore the world of mixology at hip Chicago bars and lounges where cocktails are a mashup of art/science and modern/classic.

Chicago has always been known for its creative touch with liquor (especially during Prohibition), so it's no surprise the city has a flourishing culinary cocktail scene. Browse this guide to Chicago's best cocktail bars.

Trend-Setters: The Best Cocktail Bars Downtown

Making headlines is The Aviary, the latest innovation from world-famous chef, Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next. One estimate has The Aviary serving 23 different flavors of ice, including mint, for a little extra flavor in every drink.

No matter the season, the tropical island backdrop of Three Dots and a Dash will warm you up... serious tiki drinks pack a punch. On a totally different spectrum, Celeste draws up 1920s allure in their 2nd floor Deco Room bar space and pays homage to barkeeps of the past in their ground floor Bar.

For fun, friendliness and no fuss, Henry's Swing Club is the perfect mix. This River North hangout packs a wallet-friendly punch ($10 cocktails and sliders that average $3 a pop) and exudes low-key cool: see the free pool table, decks of Uno games on hand and rockin' soundtrack as examples.  

Worth The Trip: Neighborhood Cocktail Bars

In the neighborhoods, The Violet Hour of Wicker Park led the way. Now Billy Sunday and Scofflaw in Logan Square, and Ada Street in Bucktown are just a few of the intimate settings where mixologists play. A dual-level space, alfresco patio and creative cocktail menu are at your disposal at The Dawson in West Town.

Doing Their Own Distilling

Established in 2008, KOVAL Distillery was the city's first distillery since the mid-1800s. Whiskeys are their forte, while an ever-growing catalog of liqueurs (like the Orange Blossom and the Chrysanthemum & Honey) continues to round out the offerings.

As Chicago's first distillery with a cocktail bar, CH Distillery is a triple-threat when you also take into account its food menu. Sit for a drink and some small plates, take a tour to "witness the science of alcohol" and then grab a souvenir bottle of their vodka, gin or rum to go.

Using organic grains sourced from Illinois, Chicago Distilling Company is another option in Logan Square, where neighboring watering holes along Milwaukee Avenue make for a perfect bar-hopping adventure.

Hotel Hideouts

You'll find that some of the best hot spots include our very own Chicago hotels.

The sleek Sable Kitchen & Lounge in Hotel Palomar Chicago impresses with both the contemporary American cuisine and the "Liquid Library" of carefully-curated cocktail classics that incorporate specialty liqueurs, bitters and fruit purees. Nearby at Acme Hotel, cocktail connoisseurs gather at The Berkshire Room, while over at the uber-cool Soho House, The Allis lobby bar is a haven for creative types and late night imbibing.

Enjoy the convivial atmosphere of a Parisian cafe at Margeaux Brasserie at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago a posh Gold Coast option with classically French cocktails, and a Champagne Cart no less. Over in the downtown Loop, The Lounge at the JW Marriott shakes up the Chicago Board of Trade cocktail with Bombay Sapphire Gin, white grape juice, and cucumber.

Rooftop Escapes

Apogee Lounge at the dana hotel and spa stirs up all notions of the traditional cocktail with their out-of-the-ordinary, highly creative concepts, which also come in large format for sharing. Check out the incredible skyline vistas above the Chicago River at Rebar located on the mezzanine level of the Trump International Hotel & Tower. Both the Godfrey's I|O Urban Roofscape and Raffaello's Drumbar take the revelry to new heights.

On The Magnificent Mile, NoMI Lounge pairs cocktails with class, along with a view from the 7th floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel. Or see Lake Michigan and the beautiful greenery of Lincoln Park from J. Parker above Hotel Lincoln. 

Late-Night Lounges

Untitled does it all — cocktails in a throwback lounge setting (there are five bars and fun whiskey creations are a focus), live entertainment (jazz to burlesque) and late night dancing. Other popular haunts in the River North circuit include Hubbard Inn, Rockit and Gilt Bar.

Related Listings

NoMI Kitchen
800 N. Michigan Ave., 7th Fl.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 239-4030

Untitled Supper Club
111 W. Kinzie St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 880-1511

The Dawson
730-736 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 243-8955

Henry's, a DMK Bar
18 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 955-8018

Sable Kitchen & Bar
505 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 755-9704

Three Dots and a Dash
435 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654

Ada Street
1664 N. Ada St.
Chicago, IL 60642
(773) 697-7069

111 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 828-9000


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