clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Cocktail Confidential: Chicago Bartenders Reveal Their Favorite Hidden Gems

View as Map

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-]

Read More
Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Club Foot

Copy Link

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."

EZ Inn

Copy Link

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.

Lincoln Karaoke

Copy Link

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."

Danny's Tavern

Copy Link

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."

Richard's Bar

Copy Link

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."

Yeowoosai

Copy Link

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."

Whirlaway Lounge

Copy Link

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?

Underground Wonder Bar

Copy Link

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."

Matchbox

Copy Link

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."

The Orbit Room

Copy Link

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.

Club Foot

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."

EZ Inn

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.

Lincoln Karaoke

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."

Danny's Tavern

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."

Richard's Bar

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."

Yeowoosai

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."

Whirlaway Lounge

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?

Underground Wonder Bar

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."

Matchbox

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."

The Orbit Room

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.

Related Maps