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Food & Drink

10 Of Chicago’s Best Cocktail Bars

By Colby Smith

10 Of Chicago’s Best Cocktail Bars

We could all use a drink can’t we?

Extended quarantine has given us the chance to try our hands behind the bar. And while the bartender is very generous with their pours at home, there does come the time when vodka and Capri Sun is no longer doing the trick.

After three months, bars and breweries in Chicago will get to reopen for outdoor service. Give yourself a break and let the Windy City’s best mixologists stir up some goodness in a glass.

1. Billy Sunday

According to Google, the Old Fashioned is America’s go-to cocktail in quarantine. If you’ve run fresh out of angostura bitters, save a trip to store by ordering the Old Fashioned at Billy Sunday. While it doesn’t actually contain angostura bitters, it does have sugar, rabarbaro and essential oils — yes, essential oils. Trust us, it’ll hit the spot. Oh yeah, in addition to their classics, the award-winning bar does offer more adventurous options, as well as “a library of vintage spirits” to peruse — you know, with your taste buds.

2. Longman & Eagle’s

While the Old Fashioned might be America’s favorite quarantine cocktail, Illinoisans have been privy to its estranged relative, the Manhattan. If you’re looking for a Manhattan in CHI town, opt for Longman & Eagle’s, made with Russell’s Reserve L&E Select. If that’s not your style, the bar has a fine list of contemporary cocktails, whiskeys, bourbons, beer, and wine, ooh la la. 

3. Las Fuentes Restaurant

Full disclosure: I’m a margarita man.  There’s just something about the icy, sweet and salty taste of a margarita that hits the spot on a sunny afternoon. If you want a taste of the magic, do yourself a solid and order a class Especial Margarita from Mexican restaurant and margarita bar, Las Fuentes Restaurant. If you don’t want to drink on an empty stomach, order from their killed restaurant menu!

4. Tiki Cocktail at Three Dots and a Dash

As summer approaches so does the desire to soak up some sun on a sweeping beach out in a tropical paradise, relax to the soothing waves as they ebb and flow, and top it off with a sweet fruity, rum-infused concoction in hand to achieve ultimate tranquility. While the waves might have to wait, you can get a taste of the island life with a Tropical Itch from Three Dots and a Dash, made with Bonded Bourbon, Overproof Jamaican Pot Still Rum, Guyana 151 Rum, lemon, passion fruit, and falernum. Of course, the bar has a jungle full of other island drinks to choose from!

5. Lost Lake

If you’re looking for another kind of oasis, try out the award-winning Lost Lake tropical cocktail bar. One look at their menu and it feels as if maybe the island heat has already gone to your head, with sun-dazed cocktail names such as: A Parrot on Your Shoulder Saying Everything When You Talk, Peacock Throne: A Whole Mood, and Everyone Invented the Banana Boulevardier. However, it’s worth saying that there cocktails are no joke, not the least of which their Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri, which comes with overproof Jamaican rum, Trinidadian rum, spiced rum, banana, coconut, lime, and demerara. At this point, the bar is only selling food options online, but we’re hoping they reopen with some to-go options soon!

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6. The Violet Hour

With patio season hopefully under way soon, you can get a head start with the Asta Collins Cocktail from The Violet Hour. Presently, the bar is selling cocktail kits so you can make one yourself — you can see the process on their website. Once the city gets with the program, however, you’ll be able to enjoy “vodka, lime, grapefruit and pomegranate all dance together in this delicate concoction” with no fuss — doesn’t that sound nice?

7. The Sixth

At The Sixth, the whimsy is in the details, whether it’s their flavored — now superimposed with photographs of Lori Lightfoot — or a Calvin and Hobbes-inspired Spaceman Spiff cocktail — containing a steamy with an oceanic detail waiting at the bottom. Their cocktail menu is ever-rotating, but if you can catch it, we recommend their Weston with Dark Matter Coffee, Wheated Bourbon, and Pipe Tobacco Essence — with the choice of adding a drain of chocolate CBD for a little extra whimsy if you know what I mean.

8. The Aviary

Newcomers to The Aviary might be a bit confused when ordering a cocktail at The Aviary — only to receive what looks to be a science experiment. But we trust science, especially if it takes form in the bar’s Junglebird — a otherwordly concoction of rum, pineapple-lime syrup, campari, and a string of pearls bobbing in the drink. If The Aviary decides to offer mixed drinks to-go, we hope they’ll have this chemistry set on the cocktail menu.

9. The Scofflaw

Credit: Scofflaw

Is gin is your drink, Scofflaw has you covered. With a dazzling array of gin drinks, both ‘baroque’ and affordable, you’re sure to get your money’s worth. We recommend the Ruby Thief, a Bluecoat Gin-infused cocktail with green chartreuse and apple juice. As described on its website, this drink will “steal your heart.”

10. The Whistler

Gee, do we miss this place — the shows, the music, the galleries — not the least of which do we miss their cocktails. The Whistler features an ever-changing cocktail menu so it’s hard to tell what they’ll have at the ready once they get the green light to offer their mixed drink to-go. Seeing as how they’re offering cocktail kits now for their Verdita — made with cilantro, mint, pineapple, lime, sugar, habanero & jalapeño peppers — we’re pretty sure it’ll make a feature on the menu. And boy does that make us happy.

See more: Be your own mixologist with these cocktail kits.

[Featured image: @lostlaketiki]