Five Unique Bars in Chicago

by Katie Hammel on February 22, 2010

by Katie Hammel | February 22nd, 2010  

violethourLike most other major cities, Chicago has plenty of options for nightlife. We’ve got dive bars, gay bars, hotel bars, martini bars, beer beers, rooftop bars, dance clubs, and more. For something a little more unusual, check out one of these unique bars in Chicago.

Violet Hour
Entering the Violet Hour has been likened to “falling down the rabbit hole” and it’s a pretty apt comparison. For starters, the bar offers no sign, no door, no indication that you are, in fact, in the right place. Instead, look for the big blue wall littered with “post no bills” signs and the barely visible handle. Pull open the door and you will feel like you’ve stepped into another world. The room is dark, lit by only a few candles, and the music is quiet. It’s “sitting room only” in here and the rule is strictly enforced so come early (by about 7pm) before the line forms. Once you do grab a seat – either in a cozy booth or at the bar where you can watch the bartenders work their magic – peruse the menu of speakeasy-era drinks and prepare to be transported to Wonderland.

Signature Lounge
For a bar with a view, you’ll do no better than the Signature Lounge on the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Building. Come just before sunset and watch the lights of the city begin to twinkle as you sip a cocktail or a glass of wine. It’s the perfect spot for romance, but it can get expensive fast so plan on just a drink or two before you move on.

Green Mill
One of Chicago’s oldest jazz clubs, the Green Mill has been around for over 100 years and has been offering live jazz since the 1930′s. The club is open until 4am on weekends, but be warned, this is not a place to come if you plan on engaging in some lively conversation. The patrons and musicians at the Green Mill take the jazz seriously and will “shush” you if you talk to loudly over the music.

The Book Cellar
What goes better with a good book than some good wine? At the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, you can enjoy both, along with baked goods, coffees, and an excellent selection of used and new books. When the store’s book club meets on the first Wednesday or every month, wines are half off all day long.

Blue Stem
The Blue Stem, located on the corner of Irving Park and Lincoln in Lincoln Square, is not your typical martini bar. The atmosphere is more relaxed than elegant – in fact, many people see the inside and assume they’re in a dive bar rather than a martini bar – and the service more in-your-face fun than stuffy.  The owner (and usually only staff person working the bar) is quite a character. Don’t be surprised if you order a drink and she tells you “No, you can’t have that. I’ll make you something better.” She won’t rest until you have a drink you love, and her martinis are known to be subtly powerful, so drink with caution.

Photo by ShutterRunner

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