Drinking In... Chicago
Whether it’s a noisy dive, a chic lounge, or a high-energy club, downtown Chicago pulses with nightlife options. Summertime means hotel rooftop bars with a sophisticated crowd and unparalleled views of the city’s captivating architecture, the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan. From Hubbard Street to Fulton Market and River North, here are five of Chi-town’s most notable spots for a night out.
A fun spot to warm up or wind down, the Boss is a dive bar through and through. The crowd is eclectic, from a buttoned-up, post-work clique to a rock n’ roll, biker set. They come to shoot pool, catch the game, and swill no frills drinks. One thing’s for sure, the music will be blaring, usually a mix of dubstep, electro house and rock. The intense soundtrack can seem somewhat incongruous with the hodgepodge atmosphere (or lack thereof), but it somehow works in amping up the energy and keeping things interesting. Find your nook at the bar or at one of the surrounding tables, and the attentive bar staff will keep the drinks coming.
The Boss, 420 N. Clark St.
Head to the Hubbard Inn for a sophisticated cocktail, and the ambiance to match. This two-level, European-style tavern is all brocade wallpaper, brass, and dimly lit hanging lamps lending it a charming, yet sexy quality. The drink menu features simple, clean mid-century cocktails with a modern twist, such as the French 110 with prosecco, Plymouth gin, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice or the Hubbard Rose with Evan Williams whiskey, Damascan Rose Elixir, lime juice, and mint. It’s the perfect place to meet and mingle, and enjoy a few quality cocktails at the start of the night. During the week, it’s easy enough to amble in and grab a seat or table at the bar, but on weekend nights don’t be surprised to find a line forming outside.
110 Hubbard St.
Wander towards Fulton Market to Aviary, a thoroughly modern lounge devoted to theatrical, molecular cocktailing. With drinks prepared in a behind-the-scenes, birdcage-like kitchen, and delivered to patrons as if a meal, there is a true culinary approach to mixology at this luxe lounge, which is the vision of forward-thinking chef Grant Achatz of Alinea. Some even describe the drinks as works of art. Take In the Rocks, for example, their version of the Old-Fashioned, where bourbon is presented inside an ice sphere and must be cracked with a miniature slingshot. All cocktails are served with both an amuse bouche and mignardise, and a small bites menu is available. While it’s notoriously difficult to get a table at Aviary, it’s well worth the fuss.
955 West Fulton Market
Roof at the Wit Hotel
The sprawling indoor/outdoor rooftop at the Wit Hotel (pictured top) in River North draws a nightly crowd with a roster of resident DJs, live music, and weekly themed parties. Floating amidst the city skyline, a glittering, glass-enclosed bar and patio creates a dramatic industrial space. Outside, find cozy fire pits surrounded by white lounges and communal tables, and telescopes to take full advantage of the breath-taking view. Their Sunday summer time day parties just kicked off, drawing a sexy, fun-loving crowd.
953-955 W. Fulton St.
Studio Paris is the go-to spot for Chicago’s party people. Make it past the doorman and ascend the stairs above Paris Club, its restaurant counterpart. With billowing white curtains and palm tree accents, you might feel like you’re in South Beach for a moment, but the exposed brick walls, picture windows, and skylight bring you back to Chicago urban atmosphere. Opt for bottle service at the plush white banquettes, or just hit the dance floor. With recent acts like Tiësto and Deadmau5, this high-energy club draws a late night, fashionable crowd ready to dance.
59 West Hubbard St.