• Architectural Digest

Chicago’s 7 Most Stylish Hidden Cocktail Bars


Al Capone’s hometown has changed a bit since Prohibition ended, but the allure of the speakeasy is still going strong. Though New York may be the hub of underground cocktail culture with a wealth of chic hidden bars, Chicago night owls have quite a selection of sophisticated lounges of their own: You might have to go through a back alley or locate an unmarked door to find them, but these places are worth the hunt. All across the city, from River North to Wicker Park, clandestine bars and late-night haunts are serving up craft cocktails prepared by some of Chicago’s best bartenders in sultry spaces with plenty of design cachet. From a playful tiki bar to a lounge inspired by 1920s Paris, these seven chic hidden bars are upping the ante on the city’s nightlife scene.

Bordel Stepping into Bordel, concealed above Black Bull restaurant, you might feel transported to 1920s Paris. Through an unmarked door and up a red staircase you’ll find this sexy boîte full of red velvet, tasseled lamps, patterned wallpaper, and racy posters. Come for the live music, craft cocktails, and late-night revelry. 1721 West Division Street; bordelchicago.com

Watershed Underneath popular bar Pops for Champagne, this retro lounge specializes in craft beer, artisanal spirits, and wines from the Great Lakes region. In contrast to the usual Prohibition-inspired space, the decor recalls the 1970s, with limestone walls, wood accents, and plush armchairs. 601 North State Street; watershedbar.com

The Office at the Aviary Beneath acclaimed chef Grant Achatz’s restaurant the Aviary, elaborate cocktails are served in a swanky space that channels the look of an art history professor’s office. Book ahead, then perch on one of the leather club chairs surrounded by Oriental rugs and gold-framed paintings and soak in the atmosphere. 955 West Fulton Market; theaviary.tocktix.com

The Broken Shaker Discreetly tucked away inside the Freehand Chicago hotel, the sister bar to the Broken Shaker in Miami attracts a hip crowd that comes to lounge on the low sofas, play giant Jenga, and sip creative cocktails (like an old-fashioned with hickory maple and bacon bitters). The eclectic decor includes floral wallpaper, tribal textiles, and dim lighting. 19 East Ohio Street; thefreehand.com

Three Dots and a Dash This hidden tropical oasis is one of the bars behind the tiki cocktail comeback. Locals and visitors come here to sip mai tais and daiquiris in comfy leather booths amid globe lights slung with fishing rope, bamboo accents, and kitschy Polynesian decor. 435 North Clark Street; threedotschicago.com

The Violet Hour Look for the street art mural to find this swanky Wicker Park lounge. Inside the award-winning cocktail bar you’ll find high-backed blue chairs, a white marble bar, and crystal chandeliers that create a refined atmosphere perfectly suited to the expertly mixed and beautifully presented cocktails. 1520 North Damen Avenue; theviolethour.com


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