What would Chicago be without a feisty bar scene? The city made famous by bootleggers and speakeasies still has plenty of heart and soul in its bars and taverns – you just have to know where to start looking.
Relatively new to the Chicago bar scene, Billy Sunday is a surprise for those who are just discovering it. Located near Logan Square, Billy Sunday doesn’t do much outside of standard bar foods, but the drink list is impressive. Alex Bachman is the beverage director and he has assembled an impressive list of rare scotches that are kept behind the bar.
RM Champagne Salon
Journey down an almost hidden alleyway along Randolph Street and you’ll find yourself in a champagne and wine bar with a great deal of French inspiration. The wine list requires multiple pages and the mood is set perfectly with candles and a flickering fireplace. Settle in on the tufted sofas or watch the action from the edge of the room, but be sure to have a glass of excellent champagne in hand.
Designed as a tribute to travel, it is not visitors to the city who frequent the Map Room, but the locals who enjoy the no-frills atmosphere. The draft lines are rotated frequently between regional and international brews, so there is always something new to discover. Not sure what to order? Ask the bartenders and if you ask nicely enough, they may make a suggestion. Be warned in advance that this is not the type of place that tolerates anything construed as obnoxious – it’s all about low key and comfortable.
Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar
The long name means good things for this beloved tavern. Technically, according to local slang, this is a “slashie” – half a liquor store and half a tavern. But call it what you will, this is a popular watering hole in the tight-knit community of Bridgeport. A family-owned bar, Maria Marszewski still watches over things while her sons run the show mixing cocktails and drawing up glasses of craft beer. The weekends bring music to the house as well thanks to local celebrity DJ Joe Bryl.
The Green Mill
A celebration of all things jazz and Chicago history, the Green Mill is a relic of the Prohibition era. A true lounge with green and white lights, a generous stage and oversized booths, you’ll feel as though you walked into the speakeasy that this lounge once was. Live music is playing most nights of the week, and the lineup of jazz musicians and local flavor are well worth any cover charge that may be required to secure the best seat in the house.
This is a great place to go with friends to enjoy yourself, and even let lose.
The musical acts change all the time, and if you catch the right night you’re in for a real treat. Having been there many times without calling ahead or checking their website or anything, I’ve never been disappointed.