Chicago’s role in the roaring twenties is famed for good reason. Starting off as secret bars that served alcohol despite Prohibition’s bans, these institutions have been romanticized and celebrated as acts of subtle rebellion against an out of touch government. Today, speakeasies are seen as secret, exclusive, and something undeniably fun to be in. Here are a few speakeasies you may want to check out in Chicago:
The Gilt Bar itself is easily findable and has a lovely atmosphere. But, for those of you looking for something more exclusive and intimate we recommend visiting the subterranean ‘Library’. With its red velvet couches and leather bound books the setting feels like something salvaged from the roaring twenties. With a variety of cocktails like the Bee’s Knees, French 75, and Airmail the bar is perfectly equipped to delight your taste buds. There are dining options for patrons as well, and with desserts like Warm Brownies and Lemon Meringue Pie, it’ll be hard to hold yourself back. Overall the combination of atmosphere and food is something you won’t want to miss out on.
Where to find it:
The basement of The Gilt Bar at 230 W Kinzie St Chicago, IL 60654.
Thursday: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Friday & Saturday: 6:00 PM – 12:00 PM
The Bordel’s style is derived from Paris' Belle Époque and Chicago's Prohibition Era. The interior feels eclectic, cozy, and rich. The menu features cocktails like The Stranger Things, Cherry Boom Boom, and Campfire Nog which are sure to pique your interest. With their food options currently celebrating Spanish cuisine, diners are guaranteed to find something they’ll like. The Bordel’s vibe makes it easy to get caught up in the fantasy of it all, especially given its nightly entertainment. With rotating schedules of vaudeville, cabaret, burlesque, and other unique musical talents patrons will hardly be disappointed.
Where to find it:
1721 W. Division Street, Chicago, IL
Enter the Black Bull restaurant, find the unmarked door, and go up the red staircase.
Tuesday – Friday: 8:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Saturday: 8:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Sunday – Monday: Closed
While the Aviary itself is known for some of Chicago's most innovative dining experiences, this hidden speakeasy offshoot specializes in classic cocktails and vintage spirits. Like the Aviary, it’s probably best if you reserve your space in advance, as there are only 14 seats in the place. Often the guests there have been invited rather than booking for themselves. “We basically invite people who we know will appreciate what we’re offering. People who’ve dined with us at Alinea and Next, repeat customers” said a server for the Office in an interview with Chicago Magazine. When it comes to exclusivity it’s clear the office may take the cake.
Once you’re there you’ll enjoy the comfort of leather couches, antiques, and lovely artwork around you. Unlike the Aviary, this bar focuses on reviving old classics with top of the line ingredients. You’re meant to order by saying things like “Whiskey” or “Gin”, the staff takes care of the intricacies. The food options are presented simply on the menu but served in a way that those who appreciate exciting food will like. For example, the Six Oysters on the Half Shell is reportedly served in an array of medicine droppers, each labeled with varying flavors. While it may be nearly impossible to get a seat at the table in the Office, we can all hold out hope for one day in the future.
Where to find it:
955 West Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607
Behind the locked metal door.
Sunday – Wednesday: 5:45 PM – 12:00 AM
Thursday & Friday: 5:45 PM – 2:00 AM
Saturday: 5:45 PM – 3:00 AM
What do you think of these speakeasies? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.