Chicago has a nice variety of bars. There are the unassuming neighborhood watering holes, where you might go to catch a ball game or hang out on a slow weeknight. You’ve got the themed bars that stick to a certain genre of drink menu, tiki bars and speakeasies are classic examples of bars that offer an escape from reality by committing to their themes. Then there are the experiential places, joints that offer much more than the drinks and ambiance. Think of place such as The Green Mill, Emporium Arcade Bar or AceBounce. You’ve got an activity that commands your attention, but the best experiential bars offer drinks that don’t need to be hidden underneath the shiny gloss of these activities. In other words, you might expect to drink something ordinary at a baseball game or a concert hall because there’s a show going in front of you, but a bar that’s built around an activity still has the basic obligation to serve good drinks. Here’s a quick list of the coolest bars in Chicago that build in memorable experiences with serious attention to the drinks.
Some of the Coolest Bars Chicago Has
Londonhouse Chicago's rooftop bar opened in 2016 and revived one of the great sightseeing points in the heart of downtown. The sweeping view of the Chicago River from Londonhouse’s rooftop, arguably one of the best views of the river in the whole city, would be enough to draw patrons in on its own. But the creative cocktails and inspired menu keep guests engaged while they drink in the view of skyscrapers along the riverfront.
Further west of downtown, Lost Lake is a spot to escape Chicago’s winter blues with an island-themed menu. Read: lots of rum. This laid back tiki spot in Logan Square should be taken seriously when it comes to the cocktail menu. Jamaican rum dominates the menu and shareable cocktails are served in creative displays such as conch shells and hollowed out coconut husks.
AceBounce, downtown Chicago’s sprawling subterranean ping pong bar, features a classic English style bar topped with marble and wrapped with warm leather. Players at any one of the 17 ping pong tables are likely to want a serious libation to go with all of the fun they’re having over the ping pong table. Luckily the signature cocktail list, designed by award winning mixologist Peter Vestinos, provides plenty of liquid encouragement to patrons who might’ve forgotten the basics of the game. Imbibe enough of Vestinos’ creative cocktails and you’ll be making up your own rules in no time.