When it comes to places to imbibe in Chicago, the Second City is second to none. Here’s a look at three new bars making big blips on concierges’ radars.
Adventure in a Glass
Looking for expertly crafted cocktails with killer presentations? Romeo Garcia, concierge at the Dana Hotel & Spa, suggests you try River North’s new cocktail lounge Arbella. This hip spot sets the scene as a refined, social gathering place for cocktail enthusiasts and expertly pairs its long list of elaborate, globally inspired mixed drinks with equally international small plates. Aesthetically the bar is both sleek and cozy, with soft lighting illuminating exposed brick (and a stunning mural), creating a place where you can truly unwind, be transported, and stave off that winter chill. With nearly 30 cocktails to choose from, the menu is grouped into broad geographical areas and starts with light, refreshing options and progresses to stronger, more aromatic drinks like the Chicago Fire Extinguisher, a scotch-based drink with herbaceous Luxardo amaro abano and smoked Angostura bitters that is built in a round corked jar with smoke forced inside. No matter which cocktail you choose, the creative concoctions here are sure to make you feel as if you’re oceans away from River North.
Just a Bar
For great cocktails and a perfectly laid-back atmosphere, Melissa Driza, chef concierge at the Kinzie Hotel, recommends Moneygun. Located in the Fulton Market neighborhood of Chicago, this watering hole boasts a vintage neighborhood feel with its distressed facade, faux leather booths, and curved bar specializing in elevated takes on classic cocktails. In addition to revered classics like a negroni or French 75, Moneygun slings up refined versions of pina coladas, strawberry margs, and even Long Island iced teas. Couple that with the small, but inspired list of bar snacks and you’ll soon see why locals can’t get enough of this no-frills drinking establishment.
Let’s Taco ‘Bout It
“Shot glasses made of ice? Yes please,” says Driza. While being able to throw those empty shot glasses at a bell located on the patio is reserved for the warmer months, Federales in the West Loop is an ideal getaway in winter, too. A lofty taco-and-tequila establishment, they offer a fresh take on traditional roadside taco joints in Mexico specializing in barbacoa-style tacos stuffed with flavorful meats like shredded beef brisket and pork belly al pastor in addition to ceviches and other shareable fare. The booze program here puts the spotlight on margaritas—which come in flavors like classic, mezcal, strawberry, hibiscus, and even a boozy horchata variation—in addition to a lineup of Mexican beers including Tecate served with a hot sauce-spiced rim, tequila, mezcal, and so much more. With its boisterous atmosphere and open-air design, Federales is a nice homage to festive Mexican cantinas and an ideal spot for a night out.