Cocktails, Mezcal and Whiskey Shine at Chicago's 4 Newest Bars

By Matt Kirouac  |  March 1, 2017
Credit: Bunny Slope

Although 2017 is still young, a fresh wave of bars has already hit the city. From a ski lodge–themed haven to an all-day cafe that gets boozy by nightfall, here are Chicago’s newest bars you'll want to check out right now. 

Courtesy of Quiote

A glorious ode to all things agave, Quiote is a new addition to Logan Square’s bar and restaurant scene, courtesy of the man behind The Salsa Truck and The Garage. For Dan Salls, Quiote represents an evolution in a career focused on inspired Mexican cooking. The main dining room offers up dishes like duck tacos, chicken en mole negro and country ham with queso Oaxaca and escabeche, while the boozy action mainly takes place downstairs in a subterranean mezcal bar. Here, inspired by agave bars lining the streets of Oaxaca, beverage director Bobby Baker helms an impressive portfolio of mezcals and mezcal-based cocktails, like the refreshingly floral Violeta with mezcal, cherry almond cordial, lemon and violet root bitters, or an agave-infused take on the old fashioned, with both mezcal and tequila in lieu of bourbon, plus demerara sugar and orange-guajillo bitters for a bit of spice. 

Courtesy of Slightly Toasted

Slightly Toasted
Coffee bar and casual cafe by day, the West Loop’s new Slightly Toasted morphs into a boozier haunt by night. It’s the perfect segue for Downtown denizens and office workers who need a caffeinated pick-me-up in the afternoon before transitioning to after-work cocktails. In addition to a food menu overseen by brother-sister duo Omar and Brenda Garcia, which includes coffee cake muffins, butterscotch toasts and smoked trout tartines, beverage director John Chesney has compiled a collection of 170 whiskeys from across the globe, plus 14 draft beers and numerous cocktails. One fun example is Becky with the Good Berries, a sweet and herbaceous mix of vodka, blueberry, rosemary honey syrup and lemonade infused with honey from the building’s rooftop apiary.

Courtesy of Bunny Slope

Bunny Slope
One of the most transportive themed bars to hit Chicago in quite a while, Bunny Slope is a cozy, private cocktail den in the ACME Hotel that’s likely to make you feel like you’re drinking in a Colorado ski lodge. The latest from the folks who operate The Berkshire Room and Bodega elsewhere in the boutique hotel, Bunny Slope is a ski-themed bar available for private parties only. Why? The fact that it’s a hot tub bar probably has something to do with it. It’s got snowflake tile floors, log cabin timber walls, a fireplace, ski-lift seating, a snowball chandelier and vintage skis doubling as wall decor. There are even fuzzy robes for guests. The cocktails evoke the ski theme too, with a boozy frozen hot chocolate splashed with Green Chartreuse, and something called Snöw-wein, a riff on traditional German mulled wine made with red wine, orange zest and cloves. 

Courtesy of Ronero

Esco Bar
After making a rum-soaked splash on Restaurant Row late last year, Ronero is doubling down with a new upstairs bar under its own name, entrance, menu and cocktail cart, serving up cleverly named “Cartel Cocktails.” Open Thursday through Saturday, Esco Bar focuses on large-format Latin American drinks served tableside, like the herbaceous and refreshing Bombilla, made with Old Forester Signature bourbon, Benedictine Herbal Liqueur, yerba mate tea, lemon and mint. The space was designed to echo the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas in Colombia, homeland of owner Nils Westlind. It’s got rich velvet curtains and wooden rum barrels on the walls. Esco Bar also features live entertainment in the form of conga players, three-piece bands, dancers and DJs.

Quiote: 2456 N. California Ave.; 312-878-8571

Slightly Toasted: 22 N. Clinton St.; 312-967-2830

Bunny Slope: 15 E. Ohio St.

Esco Bar: 738 W. Randolph St.; 312-600-6105