8 Best Cocktail Bars to Visit in Chicago Right Now

As I’ve probably referenced in my previous articles, fall is fast approaching. This is the last few weeks you can enjoy a warm summer day, sipping on signature cocktails at your local bar. Yes, alcohol has no boundaries, so you can enjoy it in whatever season, obviously. But, there is nothing like walking through the city streets on a summer night searching for the next best cocktail. Now there’s a lot to choose from in Chicago, but below is a list of 8 of the best cocktail bars in the city. You’ll find everything from your classic Manhattan to a wild display of rum concoctions. Each of these cocktail bars offer uniquely inspired creations that will keep you coming back for more. 

The Violet Hour

1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

The Violet Hour serves artisanal cocktails in the heart of Wicker Park. Rooted in pre-prohibition style libations, the James Beard Award-winning bar program features a seasonally rotating cocktail list, as well as an extensive selection of approachable and sought-after spirits. 

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Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink

1846 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

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Machine is a restaurant and cocktail bar in Chicago that serves a globally-inspired, modern-American menu with an innovative craft cocktail program along with an on-site flower shop. The trinity combines to create an approachable neighborhood concept in the heart of Wicker Park. Every meal, cocktail, bouquet & menu has been thoughtfully engineered for a new dining & drinking experience. And each cocktail is made to perfection and is one of a kind. My recommendation is to literally try them all. You can’t go wrong with any of them and there is something for everyone.

The Aviary 

955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

The Aviary is a cocktail bar in the West Loop that offers creative cocktails and delicious food. The cocktails receive the same innovative treatment from beverage director Micah Melton as the food at Next or Alinea. That is to say, you should expect to drink cocktails like the Ford’s Model Tea Party, a refreshing twist of gin and early gray tea. 

Three Dots and a Dash

435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Three Dots and a Dash serves Tiki drinks (flaming options included), 200+ rums & luau bites in a retro Polynesian-island setting. The secret hideaway – named one of The World’s 50 Best Bars by Drinks International – is led by cocktail expert Kevin Beary. Their team has researched tirelessly to source and create the best possible tiki cocktails using the freshest exotic fruits and spices, the finest rums and distilled spirits, and juices and elixirs that are cold-pressed and concocted in house every day. 

Bordel

1721 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

Be seduced by the sights, sounds and flavors of Bordel as you are transported to the licentious quarters of Pigalle and Montmarte. As the sun sets in Wicker Park, Bordel’s sumptuous candle lit interiors, award-winning cocktails and live performances beckon with nightly entertainment. Each of the drinks at this cocktail bar in Chicago draw inspiration from the last golden age of cocktails, with exotic garnishes that follow a no-waste sensibility utilizing ingredients found in the cocktails they adorn. 

Vol. 39

39 S LaSalle St #200, Chicago, IL 60603

When you set foot inside Vol. 39, you might feel as though you’re stepping into a decadent cocktail bar from a bygone era. Their menu offerings, of impeccable craft cocktails, are versions of the classics with a modern twist and a hint of irreverence. 

Z Bar

108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

Set above Chicago’s iconic Michigan Avenue, Z Bar celebrates the city and its spectacular views while guiding visitors on an immersive journey inspired by the world’s cultural and culinary riches. From rare spirits used in uncommon ways, to small-batch bitters unavailable elsewhere in the nation, this cocktail bar is a veritable goldmine of ingredients of exceptional quality and craftsmanship.

Lazy Bird

200 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607

Located in the cellar level of The Hoxton, Chicago hotel, Lazy Bird is a cocktail and music bar in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. Some signature cocktails include Salty Dog made with london dry gin, aquavit, grapefruit juice, lime, myrtleberry, grapefruit simple syrup, and hawaiian black sea salt, and Toronto, made with rye whiskey, house fernet blend, and sirop de cappilare.