Recently named America's Best Drinking City, Chicago is a veritable mecca for those seeking inventive libations and vibrant settings in which to enjoy them. In honor of the recent hype, we're dishing on some of the best new bars—from a beercade to a reimagined Prohibition-era classic—to hit the drinking scene in 2014.
California Clipper, Humboldt Park
Thanks to a recent reboot from restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, this historical California Avenue bar is back and better than ever. The newly restored, dimly lit space evokes a speakeasy vibe with wood accents, no windows, a vintage jukebox and an expansive drinks list. It will soon lay claim to a tobacco den in the renovated back room.
Slippery Slope, Logan Square
Score bottled cocktails at this dance hall brought to us by the folks behind Scofflaw. Stop by on New Wave Tuesdays for fresh beats spun by local DJs, $2 drinks and a little friendly competition on one of the bar's retro Skee-Ball lanes.
Headquarters River North, River North
The massive, two-level offshoot of the popular Lakeview "beercade" offers not one, but three bars, along with drink menus glued to the front pages of children's books. Drinks span from craft beers to craft cocktails such as the Flux Capacitor ($12) with rum, beet-ginger syrup, lime and rhubarb bitters. Pick your poison and show that pinball machine who's boss.
Analogue, Logan Square
With no signage to speak of, you might miss this cocktail bar if you aren't looking for it. The discreet space is home to great Cajun-inspired fare, such a spicy fried chicken sandwich ($11), and is one of Chicago's only destinations for "purls" ($7). The potent English cocktails blend beer with bitters and pack a punch of flavor that lingers long after your last sip.
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The Allis, West Loop
Located within the swank, members-only Soho House, the Allis fills the role of cozy breakfast nook, late-night cocktail bar and everything in between. Enormous, sparkling chandeliers, exposed brick and a marble-top bar set the scene, while a stiff, absinthe-infused La Louisiane ($12) and an impressive art collection bring the experience to life.
Lagunitas Chicago, Pilsen
Shortly after building Chicago's biggest craft brewery, California-based Lagunitas opened a massive taproom, complete with seating for 300 thirsty patrons, live music, beer-infused eats and a 360-degree view into the brewing operation. Slide into a seat at the bar for a glass of Little Sumpin' Sumpin' ($5) and an order of beer-steamed mussels (prices vary), if it's on the menu that day.
Although it identifies as a "beer café" instead of a "bar," Beermiscuous checks all the boxes we're looking for in a great bar, sans the negative byproducts like belligerent patrons and blaring tunes. BYOF (bring your own food), connect to the free Wi-Fi and indulge in one of the 12 rotating beers on draft, then buy a six-pack to go when you're ready to leave.
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