Thank goodness Chicago’s hotel bars shed their dreadful image years ago as nondescript places to grab drinks before you hit the town. Considered hot destinations where even the locals frequent, the top spots range from high-concept cocktail lounges to wine bars.
The next time you book a hotel room in the Windy City, pick a place where you’ll want to stay awhile and soak up the scene. Here are some of our favorites:
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Chicago
Located on the lobby level of the luxury Four Seasons Chicago, Allium
’s cocktail lounge serves as an ideal winding-down spot for the savvy business traveler. Its whiskey
offerings spotlight some true gems and the craft cocktail list ranges from barrel-aged
drinks to signature sippers filled with local and seasonal ingredients. 120 E. Delaware Pl., 312-799-4900
Photo courtesy of BIN 36
You cannot possibly go wrong when a venue offers several different experiences under one roof. BIN 36
may be considered a restaurant, wine bar, cheese bar and wine retail store--and we love them all. The specialty, of course, is the wine bar and this place excels at it. Wine director/partner Brian Duncan
skillfully pairs every appetizer, dish and dessert with vino. And those indecisive may go the route of the wine flight. It’s located on the first floor of Hotel Sax. 339 N. Dearborn St., 312-755-9463
Photo courtesy of Berkshire Room
Originally a 1920s-era cocktail lounge, the Berkshire Room
retained most of the original structure in its design when it opened in Acme Hotel Co.
You’ll feel as though you stepped back in time as you sip classic and contemporary cocktails prepared by award-winning mixologists. It’s an especially popular after-work destination and weekends feature deejays spinning music to get you into proper chill mode. 11 E. Ohio St., 312-894-0800
Photo courtesy of The Drake Chicago
Bar trends come and go, but one thing has always been consistent: Coq D’Or
has outlived them all. The Drake Hotel
’s dimly lit lounge has been around since the repeal of Prohibition
and it maintains an authentic, sophisticated setting. Bartenders are well-seasoned and no-nonsense, with great storytelling skills. Their domain is a great place for settling into mid-week for something strong and stiff (Think Old Fashioned,
whiskey neat). A pianist performs nightly. 140 E. Walton St., 312-932-4623
Photo courtesy of Davanti Enoteca
The second location of the eatery is located in River North’s Courtyard Marriott
and continues the tradition of rich, rustic Italian cuisine.
The front-room, Italian-inspired wine bar is both cheery and intimate, making it a great place for dates and group outings. And unlike most wine bars, you can catch the latest sports action on two thoughtfully placed monitors. 30 E. Hubbard St., 312-605-5900
Photo courtesy of Peninsula Chicago
When it’s cold outside, one of the coziest places to be in the city is at The Bar
--tucked neatly inside Peninsula Chicago.
Most coveted is the sofa in front of the fireplace, but the background music should be enough to keep you warm. Another popular date place, The Bar
specializes in whiskey and Champagne. 108 E. Superior St., 312-337-2888
Photo courtesy of James Chicago
The 1970s cinema-inspired cocktail lounge is owned in part by New York master mixologist Johnny Swet,
who once worked at the Balthazar,
which enjoy notoriety when it was showcased in a “Sex and the City”
offers a discreet entrance that’s adjacent to the James Hotel.
An under-the-radar craft cocktail program and sultry soundtrack set the scene and attract mature imbibers. 610 N. Rush St., 312-660-7191
Photo courtesy of Michael Jordan's Steak House
Yes, His Airness
frequents his Chicago restaurant and occasionally he will bring along some of his famous friends like former Bulls
teammate Scottie Pippen.
During NBA season, it’s one of the best places to be in town and the craft cocktail program and dedication to local beers are also big draws. It’s located on the lobby level of the InterContinental Hotel. 500 N. Michigan Ave., 312-321-8823
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Chicago
Michigan Avenue power shoppers flock to the Park Hyatt
’s tony tavern that’s adjacent to the high-profile restaurant of the same name. It’s especially popular during the holiday and summer seasons, when visitors to Chicago are at an all-time high. The terrace attracts the area’s movers and shakers when the weather is warm; colder weather brings out those in search of snifters of whiskey. The cocktail program is seasonal, using fresh and local ingredients as much as possible. 800 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-1234
Photo courtesy of Sable Kitchen & Bar
The swanky Palomar
hotel’s lobby bar attracts more locals than visitors. And while the bartenders have all the tricks of the trade to make exotic elixirs and such, they’re swift. You’ll have that cocktail in front of you in the same time it takes for them to crack open a beer. They’re also big whiskey aficionados, so the selection is vast. The “liquid library” is comprised of cocktails made with local
and house-made ingredients. 505 N. State St., 312-755-9704
Photo courtesy of Travelle
chef Tim Graham
brings Mediterranean-influenced cuisine to the second level of the Langham Hotel.
The 124-seat dining room takes up the majority of the restaurant’s space, while an upscale, cocktail-focused lounge occupies the rest of the venue. The bar’s also situated at the window, so that patrons get a great view of the Chicago River. Live music occurs Thursday through Saturday. 330 N. Wabash Ave., 312-923-7705