by Jennifer Olvera - 3381 Reviews - 45 List
It's hard to believe, but the year in Chicago nightlife--a virtual blur of microbrew-fueled concerts, late-night noshing and skyline views--is coming to an end. Thankfully, the cool cocktail culture, of which there is plenty, will live on at these bars and nightclubs, our favorites to open in 2009. (Photo: Cedar Hotel)
Updated: December 10, 2009
Nightlife impresario Matt Eisler struck gold with this dive-y, vintage-inspired watering hole where groups go to share six packs; craft beers are served in juice glasses; and brown-bagged 40s are de rigueur. The dress code, in turn, is effortless chic.
It's (almost) all about the view at The Donald's seasonal offshoot at Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Look beyond the fab river and Mag Mile views, however, and find upscale bar bites and nautically themed cocktails befitting the well-heeled tipplers.
This intimate, pedigreed wine and beer bar thankfully checks pretension at the door. The dark and moody interior is certainly seductive, but it's the impressive beverage selection--Two Brothers Dog Days Dortmunder, Gala apple-scented cava--and seasonal plates like warm, cider-braised barley salad with glazed beets, toasted pumpkin seeds, scallions and blue cheese cream that inspires tete-a-tetes.
Named for its 27th-floor perch atop hip The Wit hotel, this roomy lounge oozes sophistication with fire pits, live tunes and telescopes for peering at neighbors. It's also open year-round from happy hour to late-night. Handcrafted cocktails and small plates such as grilled skirt steak with roasted chicory are as stylish as the low-slung furniture.
Hops lovers have a heyday at this North Center beer bar, where poutine (trendy Canadian gravy-topped fries) shares menu space with beer-can chicken and burgers on Labriola Bakery buns. The Bad Apple is as chill as at its sibling Cooper's, with a fireplace, stained glass and shuffleboard, and it's geared toward lingering over the extensive list of suds.
Brokers and other financially inclined individuals sneak out for long lunches (and have marathon happy hours) at this manly River North bar from the Stone Lotus crew. Lest you forget where you are, there's a stock ticker, built-in table taps, blackened fish tacos and burgers and loads of plasmas to drive the point home.
Nothing if not funky, this Pilsen tap and exhibition space is loaded with conversation-worthy details, from vintage pinball games on the walls to tabletops made from old chemistry tables. Updated, classic cocktails lure a cool crowd, while the typical-enough bar menu--empanadas, guac and jalapeno-topped burgers and toasted quinoa and avocado pizza--nods to its Latin-leaning ?hood. DJs, in turn, lend a party-like vibe.
Many things to many people, this massive, vintage-papered, three-floor den is equal parts club and performance space, though it certainly aims to be a hangout, too. The comfort food-driven menu, classic cocktails and indie rock lineup tends to attract an intentionally grungy, scene-seeking crowd.
A post-collegiate crowd digit-swaps on the roomy, tree-frocked patio during warmer months, rubbing elbows over souvenir cups filled with fruity drinks. Inside the tightly packed place, however, the kitchen turns out oysters and lobster cocktails to polished condo-dwellers.