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Chicago's 10 Hottest Bar Openings of 2013

By Sarah Freeman
December 19, 2013

2013 wasn't just about the big restaurants; boozers had plenty to celebrate, too. The year brought more than a few cocktails onto the scene, plus new local distilleries and breweries. Take a sip from the hottest bar openings of the year.

  • Analogue

    For all of the great things that innovative The Violet Hour is, there is one thing that sometimes works against it: it’s stuffy. So when Henry Prendergast and Robert F. Haynes (both formerly of The Violet Hour) decided to step away from the velvet curtains and $13 cocktails, they vowed that their new bar would lose the pretense without sacrificing quality cocktails.

    2523 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 702-241-2447

  • Photo by: ThinkLeigh Photography

    The Berkshire Room

    There’s something special happening in the back of the Acme Hotel, and it has nothing to do with complimentary room service. It’s The Berkshire Room, an elegant cocktail bar helmed by mixologist Benjamin Schiller. He's managed the bars at Girl & the Goat, Boka and In Fine Spirits, as well as overhauled the cocktail menu at Homestead. Now he's turning his attention to classic and barrel-finished cocktails in this elegant hotel lounge.

    15 E. Ohio St.; 312-894-0945

  • Billy Sunday

    This Logan Square cocktail hot spot with an extensive Fernet Branca collection has been heating up the scene since it opened at the beginning of the year. Painstakingly crafted drinks - mixed with vintage spirits, housemade bitters and hand-carved ice - alongside retro bar fare are served at the wood bar; upholstered banquettes, antique artwork and cabinets lined with vintage glassware complete the scene.

    3143 W. Logan Blvd.; 773-661-2485

  • Photo by: Arnold Klein

    CH Distillery

    Looks like vodka is making a comeback at this craft distillery at the gate to the West Loop. The sleek bar overlooks glistening stills filled with vodka, two types of gin, rum and whiskey. Spirits can be ordered in flights or are transformed into cocktails such as The Baron Takes Tea, made with Earl Grey-infused gin. For the most authentic experience, opt for the traditional vodka service with pickles and rye bread.

    564 W. Randolph St.; 312-707-8780

  • Photo by: Michael Kiser, Good Beer Hunting

    Dryhop

    Lakeview’s only craft brewery is owned by beer expert and 30 Under 30 honoree Greg Shuff. Brewer Brant Dubovick specializes in a wide range of beers from American traditional to hoppy, Belgian to experimental. But what makes the venture truly unique is the food. The menu, designed by executive chef Pete Repak, changes regularly to complement the beers and seasonal ingredients.

    3155 N. Broadway; 773-857-3155

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Lone Wolf

    How does one make a new bar feel old, like it's been a neighborhood staple for years? Lone Wolf does just that, filling the West Loop’s boozy hangout scene's gaping hole in a way that makes patrons feel like it has been on the culinary-driven street all along. The bar is the latest from Heisler Hospitality collection, which also includes Trenchermen, Bangers & Lace, Bar DeVille and Revel Room, in conjunction with the team from Barrelhouse Flat.

    806 W. Randolph St.; 312-600-9391

  • Photo by: Dan Blackman

    Punch House

    Tucked in the basement of the recently renovated Thalia Hall, Punch House immerses guests in the communal spirit of punch. It's available in a multitude of medleys: by the glass, carafe or bowl, and in both contemporary and classic renditions. Selections include the Gin Tea Punch and Space Juice for Jared, aka Reposada tequila, grapefruit, lime, Aperol, black pepper, sparkling wine and sage. A few non-punch offerings are also on hand, from the Jamaican Old Fashioned to the Definitely Not a Hemingway Daiquiri.

    1227 W. 18th St.; 773-276-3600

  • Revel Room

    Canned beer is king at this Wicker Park hipster hangout, featuring a cocktail menu curated by mixologist and former 30 Under 30 honoree, Ronnie Higgins. Although the focus is on “fine canned goods,” such as Evil Twin’s Hipster Ale and Vandermill’s Totally Roasted, there's a select draft menu that includes two cocktails on tap: the scotch-based Blood & Sand and a rum-based Dirty Punch.

    1566 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-278-1600

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Rhine Hall

    Brandy is most certainly having a moment in Chicago. Thankfully, one of the hottest fall booze trends in town has a new home on the West Side. The father-daughter owned brandy distillery makes apple brandy from locally sourced apples for retail as well as for the Brandy Bar. Cocktails include the Bixby’s Double, a cider-based cocktail named after the orchard where most of the apples are grown, as well as the Bobos, a take on an apple brandy bramble.

    2010 W. Fulton St.; 312 243-4313

  • Three Dots and a Dash

    Much like the original tiki bars of the 1930s, Three Dots is meant to be a tropical escape, or perhaps a rum-soaked wormhole. The windowless cavern below Bub City is decked out with carved wood totems, faux thatched walls and a white onyx bar shaded by a grass canopy. And a lot of rum, but that's a given. It's also obvious that the bar’s namesake drink (aged rhum agricole, Guyanese rum, honey, falernum, lime, allspice and Angostura bitters) is on the menu. Classics such as Mai Tais and surprises like the gin-based Saturn round out the menu.

    435 N. Clark St. (entrance through the alley off Hubbard St.); 312-610-4220

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Places Mentioned

Punch House

Bar • Pilsen

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
The Revel Room

Bar • Wicker Park

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Billy Sunday

American • Logan Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
CH Distillery & Cocktail Bar

Cocktail Bar • West Loop

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Lone Wolf

Cocktail Bar • West Loop

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
 
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