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Cocktail Confidential: Chicago Bartenders Reveal Their Favorite Hidden Gems

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Cocktail Week isn't only about the new and well-publicized bars—hidden gems need love too. And who better to recommend the bars you might not know, or the bars you may not have visited in a while, than some of the most renowned bartenders in town? From Korean karaoke spots to Ukrainian dives, check out the favorite out-of-the-way haunts of the people who serve you some of the most complex cocktails.


· All Cocktail Week 2013 Coverage [-ECHI-]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Club Foot

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1824 W Augusta Blvd
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 489-0379
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Three Dots and a Dash bartender Erin Hayes champions Club Foot in the Ukrainian Village for the "great DJs, pool table, Tetris arcade-style, pinball, awesome bartenders, and always a fun crowd."

2. EZ Inn

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921 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 384-9682

EZ Inn, a tiny Ukrainian bar on Western Avenue, is a favorite of The Dawson's Clint Rogers. He loves the dartboard, bottles of "old formula malort they must've bought years ago," the free food buffets, and the old timers.

3. Lincoln Karaoke

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5526 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 895-2299
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The private-room karaoke and Korean wine spot is a favorite of many in the know, including Jay Schroeder of Frontera Grill. Schroeder says he became "painfully addicted" to karaoke after living in Japan for a year. "The (Lincoln Karaoke) owner will use just about any excuse possible to give you a bottle of cheap bubbles or make you do shots with him," he says. "One time he made us do shots of equal parts Grey Goose, Jose Cuervo Gold, and Jack Daniels -- true mixology."

4. Danny's Tavern

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1951 W Dickens Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 489-6457

Danny's is beloved for its layout in an old house, its beer and spirit selection, and its impromptu dance parties. Sepia's Griffin Elliot also loves how it's "dark, divey, with cool regulars and industry people."

5. Richard's Bar

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491 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 733-2251
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Known as perhaps the only bar in Chicago where people still smoke inside, La Sirena Clandestina's Justin Anderson loves Richard's for other reasons. "The juxtaposition of old school bartenders and this crazy divide of people," he says. "20-somethings treat it as a novelty, 30/40-somethings just get it. Go there on a weekday afternoon and just take it in."

6. Yeowoosai

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6248 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
(773) 465-7660
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Former Sepia head bartender Josh Pearson loves Yeeowoosai, known as Chicago's "longest running Korean restaurant and bar" (opened 1995). He notes the "interesting beverage selection and great atmosphere."

7. Whirlaway Lounge

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3224 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-6809
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Classic Logan Square dive Whirlaway Lounge is beloved by Scofflaw's Danny Shapiro. Is his smiling face among the sea of polaroid shots of regulars on the wall?

8. Underground Wonder Bar

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710 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 266-7761
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Mike Ryan of Sable lists Underground Wonder Bar as his favorite because of the live music every night, the late hours, the unpretentiousness, and the people watching. "Occasionally you can sight flocks of drunken businessmen way past the letting their hair down stage," he notes, "getting blindly funky on the dance floor."

9. Matchbox

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770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 666-9292
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Drumbar's Alex Renshaw loves the intimate atmosphere at the tiny Matchbox, as well as the outdoor seating that's "hard to beat for a summer spot." As far as drinks go, Renshaw says Matchbox has the "best sidecars in the city."

10. The Orbit Room

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2959 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 588-8540
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Although Charles Joly makes some of the most intricate cocktails in the world at The Aviary, he calls Logan Square's The Orbit Room his neighborhood bar. "The staff makes the bar," he says.

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1. Club Foot

1824 W Augusta Blvd, Chicago, IL 60622

Three Dots and a Dash bartender Erin Hayes champions Club Foot in the Ukrainian Village for the "great DJs, pool table, Tetris arcade-style, pinball, awesome bartenders, and always a fun crowd."

1824 W Augusta Blvd
Chicago, IL 60622

2. EZ Inn

921 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

EZ Inn, a tiny Ukrainian bar on Western Avenue, is a favorite of The Dawson's Clint Rogers. He loves the dartboard, bottles of "old formula malort they must've bought years ago," the free food buffets, and the old timers.

921 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

3. Lincoln Karaoke

5526 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

The private-room karaoke and Korean wine spot is a favorite of many in the know, including Jay Schroeder of Frontera Grill. Schroeder says he became "painfully addicted" to karaoke after living in Japan for a year. "The (Lincoln Karaoke) owner will use just about any excuse possible to give you a bottle of cheap bubbles or make you do shots with him," he says. "One time he made us do shots of equal parts Grey Goose, Jose Cuervo Gold, and Jack Daniels -- true mixology."

5526 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

4. Danny's Tavern

1951 W Dickens Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Danny's is beloved for its layout in an old house, its beer and spirit selection, and its impromptu dance parties. Sepia's Griffin Elliot also loves how it's "dark, divey, with cool regulars and industry people."

1951 W Dickens Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

5. Richard's Bar

491 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60610

Known as perhaps the only bar in Chicago where people still smoke inside, La Sirena Clandestina's Justin Anderson loves Richard's for other reasons. "The juxtaposition of old school bartenders and this crazy divide of people," he says. "20-somethings treat it as a novelty, 30/40-somethings just get it. Go there on a weekday afternoon and just take it in."

491 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60610

6. Yeowoosai

6248 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60659

Former Sepia head bartender Josh Pearson loves Yeeowoosai, known as Chicago's "longest running Korean restaurant and bar" (opened 1995). He notes the "interesting beverage selection and great atmosphere."

6248 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60659

7. Whirlaway Lounge

3224 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Classic Logan Square dive Whirlaway Lounge is beloved by Scofflaw's Danny Shapiro. Is his smiling face among the sea of polaroid shots of regulars on the wall?

3224 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

8. Underground Wonder Bar

710 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Mike Ryan of Sable lists Underground Wonder Bar as his favorite because of the live music every night, the late hours, the unpretentiousness, and the people watching. "Occasionally you can sight flocks of drunken businessmen way past the letting their hair down stage," he notes, "getting blindly funky on the dance floor."

710 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

9. Matchbox

770 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Drumbar's Alex Renshaw loves the intimate atmosphere at the tiny Matchbox, as well as the outdoor seating that's "hard to beat for a summer spot." As far as drinks go, Renshaw says Matchbox has the "best sidecars in the city."

770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

10. The Orbit Room

2959 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60618

Although Charles Joly makes some of the most intricate cocktails in the world at The Aviary, he calls Logan Square's The Orbit Room his neighborhood bar. "The staff makes the bar," he says.

2959 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618

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