The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Chicago

We get it: it's tempting to fall into the same routine every weekend with your go-to drink order.

But we say it's time to put down the Bud Light and open your eyes to all the possibilities held in the craft cocktail community. And trust us—these spots aren't what you imagine. Instead of stuffy and inaccessible, we've found the most intriguing and welcoming craft cocktail bars in which to curl up to savor the liquid heaven served in neighborhoods across the city.

And don't worry—the concoctions might seem daunting, but we always find someone is willing to make exactly what fits our taste. High-quality ingredients lead to a high-quality experience—so why stick with the mediocre familiar when you can easily upgrade at the best craft cocktail bars in Chicago?

Scofflaw

This “gin-focused” cocktail bar in Logan Square serves up inspired libations, as well as a weekly martini/martinez special. The selection of craft gins includes Death’s Door, Corsair and the locally sourced North Shore No. 11. Night owls won’t want to miss the free homemade cookies served at midnight.

The Violet Hour

This über-civilized lounge offers everything from fresh ginger syrup to grapefruit bitters, rose water and egg whites. The space itself boasts a bit of mystery, hidden behind an unmarked blue facade that opens up to reveal a swank, low-lit room with high-backed chairs and heavy periwinkle blue curtains.

Drumbar

Make your way to the 18th floor of the Raffaello Hotel for Hancock Building, Lake Michigan and Water Tower Place views. Quench your thirst with an impressive array of tincture-laced cocktails, by-the-glass vinos and bottle service, all the while absorbing the swank, speakeasy vibe.

The Berkshire Room

Tucked inside the chic ACME Hotel, this River North Lounge seduces with its craft cocktails, wine and beer menu. And talk about personalization: A Dealer’s Choice allows guests to choose a base spirit, flavor profile and type of glassware. Open Sa 4 pm-3 am; Su- F 4 pm-2 am.

The Aviary

Adjacent to Next, this cocktail lounge by Grant Achatz boasts a lush vibe, delicious bites and an innovative drink menu—standouts include the Blueberry and the Popcorn. You’ll also find classics like sidecars, martinis and daiquiris.

Barrelhouse Flat

With an extensive cocktail list and a low-lit, speakeasy vibe, this Lincoln Park bar is a must-visit for discerning drinkers.

Sparrow

Step into Sparrow, and step back to the 1930s rum era. It feels just like they’ve dusted off the original 1927 Gold Coast establishment. Belly up to the bar for an Air Mail with honey and lime, then make a call from the working phone booth to invite your cool friends. Open M-F 4 pm-2 am; Sa 4 pm-3 am. 

Sable Kitchen Bar

Adjacent to the sleek Hotel Palomar, be tempted by contemporary American small plates like deviled eggs and English pea tortellini. Excellent handcrafted cocktail list, too. D, Br, bar (daily).

The Whistler

Some of the tastiest, most innovative cocktails in Chicago are mixed at this Logan Square spot.