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Home » Chicago’s Best Hidden Bars and Speakeasies: A Guide to the City’s Secret Spots

Chicago’s Best Hidden Bars and Speakeasies: A Guide to the City’s Secret Spots

In the vibrant city of Chicago lies a secret world, where the past meets present. Here, hidden bars and speakeasies offer a unique experience like no other! Step inside these tucked-away venues and you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time.

The dimly lit interiors and vintage decor exude an air of intrigue. As you sip on expertly crafted cocktails, you can almost hear whispers of jazz music and clinking glasses from the Prohibition era.

But it’s not only about nostalgia – these hidden gems boast modern twists too. Some require reservations or special instructions for entry – adding a layer of excitement to your night out.

One such establishment is The Violet Hour. Behind an unmarked door, this speakeasy delights guests with its opulence and innovative drinks. Bartenders here are true artisans. It’s no surprise that this hidden gem has earned accolades from cocktail enthusiasts around the globe.

What sets Chicago’s hidden bars apart is their commitment to authenticity. Many have preserved elements from their Prohibition days, serving as living relics of a fascinating chapter in American history.

So, if you’re looking for a truly memorable experience during your visit to Chicago, venture off the beaten path and discover the city’s best-kept secrets! Immerse yourself in the allure of a bygone era, and you won’t be disappointed.

The concept of hidden bars and speakeasies

Hidden bars and speakeasies have intrigued us for ages. These secret spots take us back to the Prohibition era in the US, when alcohol was banned.

Today, they offer a unique escape from the everyday.

Stepping into a hidden bar is like entering another world. Behind vintage telephone booths or inconspicuous doors, lies a haven of crafted cocktails and nostalgia. The dimly-lit interiors have vintage decor, transporting visitors to a past era.

What sets these bars apart is their craftsmanship and attention to detail. Mixologists create inventive drinks with high-quality spirits and house-made ingredients. While classic cocktails are staples, signature drinks combine tradition and innovation.

Many hidden bars require reservations, while some need secret passwords or riddles to gain entry. This excites those who can crack the code and enter the intimate atmosphere, encouraging conversation and connection.

One speakeasy in Chicago’s bustling streets is said to have been a romantic rendezvous for two lovers, Jack and Rose, during Prohibition. To honor them, the mixologists created a cocktail called “The Forbidden Love.” It’s a blend of bourbon, rose-infused honey syrup, fresh lemon juice, and aromatic bitters. Sipping this drink while surrounded by the whispers of Jack and Rose’s forbidden love adds a magical touch to the experience.

The history of hidden bars and speakeasies in Chicago

Chicago’s hidden bars and speakeasies hold a captivating history from the Prohibition era. People needed a place to drink, away from prying eyes. So, these secret bars were born. An air of excitement and exclusivity filled these establishments.

Behind unmarked doors and concealed entrances, people would gather for illicit drinks and social fun. It was a time of rebellion against the law. These bars also gave birth to some iconic cocktails that are still celebrated today. The Old Fashioned and the Moscow Mule were first crafted in these secret venues. The mixologists became revered for their creativity.

Today, Chicago’s hidden bars and speakeasies are still thriving. From 1920s jazz clubs to vintage lounges, these gems offer an immersive experience. To fully immerse yourself, remember to make reservations and adhere to any dress codes or entry requirements.

Benefits of visiting hidden bars and speakeasies

Hidden bars and speakeasies are a unique and exciting way to explore Chicago’s nightlife. There are numerous benefits of visiting these hidden gems, such as:

  • Exclusivity
  • A unique atmosphere
  • Craft cocktails
  • Uncovering hidden gems
  • Escaping the crowd
  • A sense of mystery

Plus, these places offer something new each time. They also let you experience the city’s history through their decor and storytelling.

Take for example a local who stumbled upon a hidden bar. It was behind an ordinary refrigerator door in the back of a restaurant. He stepped through the door and found himself in a 1920s-style speakeasy. It was like traveling through time! He still talks about that experience today.

Criteria for selecting the best hidden bars and speakeasies

To pick the top hidden bars and speakeasies in Chicago, we carefully assess various factors. These include ambiance, drink quality, attention to detail, and the old-timey clandestine feel from the Prohibition era. We use strict standards to ensure our list only features the best ones. These standards look at:

  1. Location: Doors unmarked or in inconspicuous settings.
  2. Atmosphere: Mystery and intrigue like secret bars in the 20s.
  3. Authenticity: Decor, period music, and Prohibition-style cocktails.
  4. Quality of Drinks: Creative drinks from a master mixologist.
  5. Service: Knowledgeable staff to make guests happy.

Plus, we look for special events, themed nights, dress codes, and passwords for extra excitement and exclusivity. For adventurous visitors, here are 3 great Chicago hidden bars and speakeasies:

  1. “The Blind Tiger”: Retro decor plus spirits and knowledgeable staff.
  2. “The Drunken Dragon Inn”: Oriental decor, Asian cocktails, and exclusivity.
  3. “The Hidden Owl”: Jazz-era lounge feel with unique flavor combinations.

These places provide an unforgettable journey through time, plus drinks and experiences that satisfy even the pickiest of palates.

List of Chicago’s best hidden bars and speakeasies

Chicago’s nightlife scene is full of amazing surprises. Here’s our list of the city’s best-kept secrets: The Violet Hour, The Drifter, and The Milk Room.

The Violet Hour is found in Wicker Park and has dimly lit interiors and vintage decor. Their mixologists whip up creative and delicious cocktails.

The Drifter is located in the basement of the Green Door Tavern. It takes you back in time to the Prohibition era with its vintage jazz tunes and retro atmosphere.

The Milk Room is part of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and has an exclusive eight-seat bar with luxurious setting and rare spirits.

These hidden bars and speakeasies have impeccable details, innovative drinks, and exceptional service. It’s a must-visit for any cocktail connoisseur.

Before you go, check their websites or social media for reservations or entry requirements. Limited seating and dress codes may apply, so plan ahead.

Ready to explore Chicago’s hidden side? Enjoy unforgettable libations at these incredible bars and speakeasies. Cheers!

Tips for finding and accessing hidden bars and speakeasies

Hidden bars and speakeasies have a special allure. To find them, these tips can help!

  1. Look for subtle signs or hidden entrances. These could be symbols or plaques, blending into their environment.
  2. Research online. Utilize websites and social media to uncover hidden places.
  3. Ask locals for advice. Bartenders, hotel staff, or people in the know, can point you in the right direction.
  4. Look out for password-protected venues. A special phrase or code word may be needed.
  5. Explore alleys and backstreets. They may be tucked away in unexpected places.

Be aware that each establishment has its own rules. An example is The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. This Prohibition era bar was a haunt of Al Capone. It has kept its original charm till today.

For adventurous spirits, uncovering hidden bars and speakeasies can be an exciting journey! Follow these tips and unlock remarkable experiences.


Chicago’s hidden bars and speakeasies are impossible to ignore. They provide a thrilling revelation with their concealed entrances and secret passwords. In this guide, we’ve highlighted some of these gems, revealing their unique stories and atmosphere.

We explored many of the city’s speakeasies and hidden bars. Each has a distinct experience – from retro cocktails bars to lounges behind unmarked doors. These venues take us back to the Prohibition era.

One example is The Drifter. Located in a basement, it has live jazz and vintage cocktails. In its dimly lit atmosphere, and using a secret entrance in Green Door Tavern, The Drifter is a hidden treasure.

The Violet Hour is another must-visit destination. Enter through a discrete door adorned with a single violet light, and you’ll be immersed in a world of mixology. Its sophistication and expertly crafted drinks make it irresistible.

These hidden gems don’t just provide exceptional cocktails but also possess fascinating histories. The Hideout, for example, has been around since 1934, serving as a hideout for gangsters during Prohibition. Today, it’s a music venue for local artists.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 1: What is a speakeasy?

A speakeasy is a hidden or secret bar that originated during the Prohibition era in the United States (1920-1933) when the sale, production, and distribution of alcoholic beverages were banned. These establishments operated covertly, often requiring secret passwords or entrances, to avoid attracting the attention of authorities.

FAQ 2: How can I find hidden bars and speakeasies in Chicago?

Finding hidden bars and speakeasies in Chicago can be a thrilling adventure. While some are well-known, many require a bit of exploration. You can ask locals for recommendations, join guided tours specifically focused on hidden bars, or try your luck by searching online for lists and reviews of secret spots in the city.

FAQ 3: Are hidden bars and speakeasies legal?

Yes, hidden bars and speakeasies are legal establishments that operate within the framework of current liquor laws and regulations. While their allure is often rooted in their historical association with illegal drinking during Prohibition, today’s hidden bars and speakeasies comply with all necessary permits and licenses required to serve alcohol.

FAQ 4: Do hidden bars and speakeasies only serve classic cocktails?

While many hidden bars and speakeasies have a strong focus on classic cocktails, they have evolved to offer a wide range of drink options to cater to modern tastes. You can expect to find an impressive selection of craft cocktails, unique concoctions, and some places even have their own signature drinks.

FAQ 5: Are hidden bars and speakeasies expensive?

Hidden bars and speakeasies can vary in terms of pricing. Some may have higher price points due to their exclusive ambiance, premium ingredients, and skilled mixologists. However, there are also plenty of options that offer reasonably priced drinks or happy hour specials. It’s best to check the prices beforehand or ask the staff for recommendations based on your budget.

FAQ 6: Can I make reservations at hidden bars and speakeasies?

Due to their limited seating and high demand, some hidden bars and speakeasies do accept reservations. It’s advisable to check their website or give them a call in advance to inquire about reservation policies. Keep in mind that some establishments may prioritize walk-ins to maintain the authentic speakeasy experience.

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