Top 5 Cocktail Menus in Chicago

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A good, strong cocktail is both art and science. A mastery blend of flavors to create a mix of spirits, sugars, and bitters that creates a truly unique flavor explosion. A good bartender will mix you a drink; a great mixologist creates a masterpiece- a chef of the liquid variety.

1 Aviary

While much of Grant Achatz’s current hype is centered around Next Restaurant, his soon to be cocktail lounge redefined is earning a buzz in its own right. With the rumored opening next week, with no actual bar, the deconstructed drinks are created in liquid kitchen workstations with intricate custom made barware, tweezers, fresh bitters, herbs and savories.

955 W. Fulton Market.

2 Violet Hour

A speakeasy if you can find the place (the graffiti outside the unmarked door changes quite frequently) and if you’re lucky enough to get in (they only allow in the number of chairs they have, no standing room), experience a bar like no other. The GQ celebrated visual inspiration for the design was drawn from the pared down styles of the early 19th century English Georgian and French Directory. The English club and the French salon were the beginning of the modern venue for socializing and drinking.

1520 N. Damen. 773.252.1500.

3 The Drawing Room

With mixologist Charles Joly, a James Beard finalist for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional at the helm, the cocktail list at the Drawing Room is a collection of classic cocktails, modern creations, punch bowls, hand crafted sodas, and boutique coffee and tea service.  The Drawing Room had the honor of being named Cocktail Lounge of the Year by Nightclub & Bar Magazine and recognized at the Nightclub and Bar show in Las Vegas.

937 N. Rush. 312.266.2694.

4 Sable

A new American gastro-lounge that artfully reinstates the cocktail to its rightful throne, this chic 1940’s inspired River North gem makes their own syrups, infusions, tinctures and bitters using fresh and sustainable local sources whenever possible. Their 16 page cocktail menu comes with a table of contents to guide your liquid journey.

505 N. State. 312.755.9704.

5 Gilt Bar

Led by a chef whose stints included time with Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse, the unpretentious cocktail lounge upstairs is perfectly paired with Curio, the candlelight basement speakeasy downstairs.

230 W. Kinzie. 312.464.9544.

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