On an otherwise quiet corner of Chicago's Ukranian Village neighborhood, a crowd of 20-somethings spills out onto the sidewalk to smoke and mingle. Like its hipster devotees, The Empty Bottle seems to never sleep. The club keeps late hours and hosts bands or DJs nearly every night, from local showcases to celebrated dance parties such as the Windy City Soul Club. Even in the coldest months, the overfill spills out onto the sidewalk, where crowds huddle together for warmth beneath a black awning that reads “MUSIC/FRIENDLY/DANCING.” Inside, past the pool table and pinball machine, is a doublewide space and a small stage lit by multi-colored lights. Decorated with years of musical and barfly ephemera, the bar sits beneath a tilted chalkboard that displays the daily drink specials and beer offerings. The club prides itself on cheap drinks and cheap admission prices—all the better for checking out local acts you may never have heard before. Don’t try to take advantage of the staff’s friendliness, however, lest they decide to show you how the severed door of a CPD car came to hang above the exit.
The ornate woodwork, dusty dark walls, and elegant fixtures create an aura of sleek yet hip elegance in the newly revamped Charleston. Bartenders sling a choice of more than 50 international and craft brews alongside custom cocktails every evening, giving guests something to chatter over as they listen to DJs spin tunes or snap a few photos in the bar’s photobooth. Every Wednesday, staff mixologist Annemarie Katz makes her famous Jello shots from haute liquors. Her gelatinous renditions, which have mimicked the flavors of cocktails such as pimms cups and are set in old-fashioned candy molds or edible shot glasses, raise the bar on what constitutes Jello shots while allowing clients the fun of guzzling down drinks refined enough to be served in a white glove
Tucked away on a quiet block in East Ukranian Village, the unassuming façade of Happy Village make it easy to miss. But for those lucky to make their way through the swinging door, a sense of time traveling awaits. The vinyl floors and photos of JFK harken back to 1964, the year when Happy Village first opened. On any given night, bartenders crack open cans of reasonably priced PBR, Hamm’s, and Old Style. Opponents face off at the rear room’s ping pong table, while in the warmer months, groups gather in the backyard beer garden to marvel at the modern invention of stringed lights.
Windy City Inn's bartenders wet parched whistles with beer by the glass, bottle, and bucket, as well as cocktails and myriad libations, late into the night seven days a week. Wall-mounted televisions pour sporting events into fans’ thirsty eyes at this friendly North Center pub. Its atmosphere drew praise from the Chicago Bar Project, which wrote, "the camaraderie at Windy City Inn is amazing." Occasional music and open-mic nights accompany the melody of clinking ice cubes, and a brief menu of bar nibbles keeps stomachs from growling out sea chanteys.
Situated on a quiet corner in Lakeview, Cody's Public House embodies the spirit of a neighborhood tavern. The dog-friendly drinking hole doles out beers on tap in a casual atmosphere bereft of much glamor, and that's how most patrons like it. An old-school jukebox pumps music across the expansive main bar area, which features a pool table, and into an adjacent room where dartboards line the walls. Cody's ample square footage extends outside onto a large back patio featuring TVs, bags, and even more dartboards. To complement the libations, guests can fire up their own meats on the outdoor grill or snag a handful of pretzels from the bar.
A bar has stood at Side Street Saloon's George Street location for more than 100 years. One of the saloon’s predecessors is even rumored to have been a drop-off point for Al Capone during Prohibition. These days, however, the only drop-offs involve beer—and lots of it. A seasonally rotating selection of 12 craft and imported brews flows freely from the bar’s taps. These pours complement thin-crust pizzas made in-house and topped with more than 20 ingredients, including shrimp, artichokes, and giardiniera. More pickled veggies crown Side Street Saloon's homemade burgers, whose never-frozen, 100% Angus beef patties also come topped with onion straws or stuffed with blue cheese. To keep guests entertained throughout their meals, an internet jukebox blares tunes and five televisions broadcast the latest Bears games and Big 10 rivalries. In-house competitions are also known to take place around the saloon’s billiards table and four dartboards, where guests race to chug pints of ketchup faster than their opponents.