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Pour On The Champagne & Cognac

French-Focused Lounges Add An Element of Sophistication To Chicago Nightlife

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The French can do no wrong.

They perfected fashion, sparkling wine and haute cuisine. No doubt they excel at nightlife as well.

In Chicago, some of the best nightlife options go all out with an ooh la la theme: from impressively curated Champagne programs to guests who step it up with style and treat every occasion special.

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

Photo courtesy of Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
Mysterious, sexy and dark, the French-themed steakhouse offers two levels where guests may dine, drink and be merry. While the vibe upstairs can be a bit intense at times, the lower level feels like a funky den where music varies from French house and acid jazz to old-school hip-hop. The beverage menu includes many French wines, six sparkling cocktails (including classics French 75 and Kir Royale), two French beers and four cognacs. 218 W. Kinzie St., 312-624-8154

Bistronomic

Photo courtesy of Bistronomic
Owned by a Frenchman from Paris, the Gold Coast restaurant attracts a good number of Europeans, who settle in at the bar tucked behind the main bar. They’re typically drinking champs and signature cocktails with French spirits like Chambord, Pernod and Lillet Blanc. Brunch at Bistronomic gets sleek with bottomless Mimosas and Croque Madames. 840 N. Wabash Ave., 312-944-8400

Henri

Photo courtesy of Henri
Located directly across from Millennium Park, the romantic restaurant has several barstools where guests may sit and imbibe signature cocktails like Belle Époque, named after the “Beautiful Era” in France before World War I. You’ll also find an extensive, French-focused wine list offering several boutique selections. 18 S. Michigan Ave., 312-578-0763

Le Bar

Photo courtesy of Sofitel Hotel Chicago
Sofitel Hotel Water Tower remains a favorite among European visitors, and a trip to the dazzling lobby lounge is almost always on the agenda. An exotic playlist serves as background music as guests nosh on chef-driven small plates paired with French-accented cocktails and other beverages. Each month the bar features food, drink and culture from a different region in France, from Bordeaux to Saint Tropez. 20 E. Chestnut St., 312-324-4000

Le Colonial

Photo courtesy of Le Colonial
With almost 20 years in one of the trendiest sections of the Gold Coast, the fashionable French-Vietnamese restaurant continues to be a hot spot. The upper-level cocktail lounge--which includes a terrace overlooking the bustling Rush Street as well as cushy seating surrounded by exotic plants and artwork--is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Celebrities from Mick Jagger to Robert DeNiro have been known to frequent when in town. 937 N. Rush St., 312-255-0088

Maude’s Liquor Bar

Photo courtesy of Maude's Liquor Bar
Owned by the same team behind Bavette’s, Maude’s considers itself to be a French “dive bar.” But for a dive bar, it certainly outshines its counterparts, offering at its center craft cocktails, a host of offbeat French wines and more. Like many of the French-themed bars around town, Maude’s is a great date place with low lights, sultry exotic beats and an intimate setting. 840 W. Randolph St., 312-243-9712

Paris Club

Photo courtesy of Paris Club
Owned by chef Jean Joho (Everest) in partnership with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Paris Club explores the more commercial side of French cuisine and culture. Signature dishes like lobster frites pair well with the one French beer on draft (Kronenbourg) and a number of French-inspired cocktails. The first-floor bar tends to be subdued and attracts those looking to dine and drink, while the top floor Studio Paris is intentionally club oriented. Parties on that level have been thrown for a number of celebrities, including Cee Lo Green and the Chicago Blackhawks. 59 W. Hubbard St., 312-595-0800

Pops For Champagne

Photo courtesy of Pops for Champagne
Considered to be the country’s first-ever champagne lounge, Pops is in its second location and still going strong. The more than 200 selections are meant to pair with chef-driven dishes such as charcuterie, caviar, oysters and cheese. There’s also live jazz regularly, so the target audience is a mature crowd. 601 N. State St., 312-266-7677

RM Champagne Salon

Photo courtesy of RM Champagne Salon
Half the fun of RM is finding it. There’s no signage over the long walkway that leads to the back patio of the city’s second champagne bar. The entrance is also in the rear and leads into a lounge that’s full of reclaimed furniture from several French regions. The crowd is younger and trendier than at Pops, and there’s a more expanded cocktail program. 116 N. Green St., 312-243-1199

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