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The 23 Essential Bars in Chicago: Summer 2018
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The 23 Essential Bars in Chicago: Summer 2018

1.  The Aviary

A Rob Roy presented in a plastic pillow vacuum-sealed with lavender-scented air. An Old Fashioned encased in a hollow eggshell of…
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2.  Big Star

Few bars have so much going for them: excellent tequila- and whiskey-based drinks, tacos worth the long wait, an all-vinyl soundtrack of…
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3.  Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday was one of the first craft cocktail bars to open in Logan Square, and it’s not shy about its…
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4.  DANNY’S

Almost three decades old, this dark DJ bar is so beloved its landlords called off the decision to close it a…
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5.  Delilah's

A remnant of the ghost of punk’s past, Delilah’s is an institution that’s been open pretty much every day since 1993.…
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6.  THE EMPTY BOTTLE

For as long as we can remember, the bar whose sign reads “MUSIC. FRIENDLY. DANCING.” has welcomed weirdos into its admittedly…
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7.  Hopleaf Bar

Reminiscent of a European pub, Hopleaf excels in both an incredibly diverse array of drafts (local microbrews are side by side…
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8.  Longman & Eagle

“Whiskey for your mouth, not for our shelves” is the philosophy at this Michelin-starred gastropub offering arguably the best brown-and-stirred menu…
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(image: Kay D)

9.  Lost Lake

Opened by Paul McGee in the dead of winter 2015, this cozy Tiki den made the James Beard shortlist for outstanding…
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Added by Chris S.

10.  The Map Room

A quintessential neighborhood beer bar opened in 1992, Map Room rotates an intimidatingly diverse array of local, national and international brews…
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Added by April Padilla

11.  The Matchbox

“Chicago’s most intimate lounge” opened its doors in 1995 in an old brick tavern dating to Prohibition’s repeal. Shaped like a…
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12.  The Office (at The Aviary)

Located in the basement of The Aviary, The Office is its antithesis. Down here, a lone bartender stirs classically inspired recipes…
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13.  RAINBO CLUB

The only thing greater than the Rainbo’s maroon vinyl booths, semicircle bar and checkered floor is its original neon sign out…
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14.  Rossi's Liquors

A dive to end all dives, Rossi’s opens at 7 a.m. for those who want to get their drink on before,…
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15.  Sable Kitchen & Bar

Opened back in 2010 with Mike Ryan at its helm, Sable is one of the few cocktail lounges worth braving River…
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16.  Scofflaw

Thou its aspirations as a gin-focused bar proved risky when it opened back in 2012, Scofflaw has since won over fans…
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17.  SIMON’S TAVERN

A true relic of Andersonville’s Swedish roots, Simon’s opened shortly after Prohibition and has been a friendly neighborhood gathering place ever…
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Added by Sarah Pinho

18.  SmallBar

Always crowded with beer nerds and the people who love them, “The Original” Small Bar (a few other locations have come…
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19.  Sportsman's Club

An overlooked gem in the Heisler Hospitality group (The Barrelhouse Flat, Bar DeVille, et al.), Sportsman’s Club inherited its name—and its…
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Added by Tati

20.  Tiny Lounge

Opened in 1999 as a so-called Martini bar, Tiny Lounge’s original location was truly tiny. In the decade since moving to…
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21.  The Violet Hour

Everything about Toby Maloney’s new lounge was an anomaly when it opened in 2007: its focus on craft cocktails (before Chicagoans…
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22.  Weegee's Lounge

Established in 2006 as a liquid homage to the Depression-era street photographer, this is (technically) the city’s premiere craft cocktail bar.…
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23.  The Whistler

The Whistler is focused squarely on its balanced cocktails, served at impressively high volumes on a nightly basis. Opened by Robert…
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