The Hottest Chicago Bar Openings of 2013 (So Far)

By Sarah Freeman  |  October 8, 2013

Why waste another Friday night drinking less-than-spectacular cocktails? Although a slew of highly anticipated bar openings are scheduled to shake up the nightlife scene before the end of the year - Analogue from The Violet Hour team, Scofflaw's new space and several craft distilleries - they'll face stiff competition - and drinks - from these already proven hot spots.

  • Credit: 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

    Photo by ThinkLeigh Photography

  • 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

  • Credit: 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 Arnold Klein

  • Credit: Michael Kiser, Good Beer Hunting


    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 Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting

  • Gallery Bar

    This cocktail lounge doubles as an art gallery, with a menu of street-food-inspired small plates as vibrant as the murals covering the walls. Wonton Ahi nachos are complemented by The Easy Peasy cocktail, made with tequila blanco, honey, cinnamon syrup and grapefruit, lime and orange juices.

    738 N. Clark St.; 312-929-2658

  • Jimmy

    Follow the scent of bacon wafting from Burke’s Bacon Bar, then escape through the unmarked door in the back into this speakeasy-style cocktail lounge. The wood-paneled bar serves cocktails inspired by iconic cinema, like the Bondsman or a Dirty Little Secret. For food, Jimmy serves a variety of small plates, including goat cheese fondue with basil, roasted peppers, capers and black olive.

    610 N. Rush St. at The James Hotel; 312-337-1000

  • Off Site Bar

    It’s a sausage shop, donut pop-up and much-needed second kitchen. But mostly the former garage adjacent to the patio of Longman & Eagle is a bar, with the very clever name of “Off Site Bar,” or OSB for short. The narrow space seats 16 in the back of the restaurant, a quaint den for whiskey and canned beer during those chilly winter months. In the summer, the garage door opens onto a patio.

    2657 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-276-7110

  • Credit: 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 Jamaican Old Fashioned to the Definitely Not a Hemingway Daiquiri.

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

  • The 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

  • 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