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The 6 Best Hotel Bars In Chicago

By Staff in Food on Sep 25, 2013 7:00PM

We know what you're thinking: with so many dive bars, upscale cocktail haunts and beer bars in Chicago, why have we put together a list of hotel bars?

Well, sometimes we like to wear something besides a pair of cargo shorts and a stained Half Acre sweatshirt to a bar and feel the need to jazz things up a bit. The bars inside some of Chicago's hotels are at the vanguard of the city's cocktail renaissance and aren't just for tourists looking to get hammered after a long day shopping the Mag Mile and biking against traffic on their Divvys. Here are the six hotel bars in the city we feel stand above the rest.


The Library at Public
The Library at Public is where you go at night when you don’t feel like reading but want to stretch your legs in front of a roaring fire with a glass of wine in hand, spending your last stores of concentration flipping through picture books of Dali and Matisse. In other words, it’s a cozy rejoinder to a dull winter evening after a long, wet slog of a day. It’s also the living room we’ll never have with the Backgammon board we do, with this one lying outside of its box on a marble table aside an artfully clipped bonsai tree looking considerably greener than our own. For such a recherch√© place, the Library is easily the coziest hotel bar in Chicago with the softest couch cushions, allowing you plenty of comfort to conduct your idlest research. —Melissa Wiley

Public is located at 1301 N. State Parkway.

Sable Kitchen and Bar
The typical hotel bar can be a sad, lonely place. On any given night, lobby bars are filled with businessmen nursing their single malts or groups of convention attendees, nametags askew, pounding beers. Sable (located in the Palomar hotel) is not your typical hotel bar. First off, you are going to get one finely made cocktail. Head Bartender Mike Ryan has curated a list of over 25 original cocktails in addition to a fine list of classic cocktails. Secondly, it's the whiskey. They have one of the most impressive lists in the city. Thirdly, the food. Chef Heather Terhune’s food is meant to share and is perfect with drinks. Lastly, it's busy. Sable is one off the busiest craft cocktail locations in the city. What's remarkable is that with all of the crowds of people—the hotel guests and the city dwellers—the quality of the cocktails and the friendly, knowledgeable drink makers behind the stick never waver. —Paul Leddy

Sable Kitchen & Bar is located at 505 North State Street

The Berkshire Room, Acme Hotel
Along with Three Dots and a Dash, The Berkshire Room is probably the most exciting cocktail bar opening of 2013 thus far. The Fifty/50 group decided to get serious about cocktails when they hired mixologist Benjamin Schiller away from the Boka Group, where he'd previously designed cocktails for Girl & the Goat and Boka. The space is expansive, with an enormous bar/lobby flanked by more intimate darkened hiding spaces. Antiques are everywhere, the marble floors are original to the hotel that once occupied the building in the 1920s and the vibe is cool and sophisticated. One of their drinks, the Weston, made our list of the best cocktails in Chicago and is a must-try, but if you aren't quite sure what you want, let one of their bartenders take you through a "dealer's choice." You won't regret it. —Anthony Todd

The Berkshire Room is located inside the Acme Hotel, 15 E. Ohio.

J. Parker
Located on the roof of one of Chicago’s most beautifully styled hotels, The Hotel Lincoln, the J. Parker could get a pass on location and view alone. However, this Lincoln Park nest surpasses expectations by providing stellar small plates (with the chef of Perennial Virant and Vie’s, Paul Virant, and the helm), a well edited beer and wine menu, and dangerously sippable cocktails. The bar boasts an enormous outdoor area, and an equally cozy indoor lounge, affording guests the opportunity to enjoy the panoramic view of Lake Michigan and Lincoln Park in all four seasons. I’ve spent many an afternoon and evening up here, and unlike some other popular rooftop hotel bars, it typically feels lively, but it never feels overpopulated. —Lorna Juett

The J. Parker is located on the 13th floor of The Hotel Lincoln, 1816 N Clark St

Over its short life, Drumbar has morphed from a mediocre, super-sceney rooftop bar into the rare spot where you can get a decent drink and a decent view without spending $30 on a drink. While famed mixer Craig Schoettler (previously of the Aviary) just decamped to Las Vegas, Alex Renshaw (formerly of Sable) has taken up the stick. He hasn't released all of his new menu yet, but we're absolutely confident that it will be a winner. The bar boasts both indoor and outdoor spaces, though we're particularly fond of the small, two-person tables in a corridor off the main dining room. A bonus for scotch nerds: Drumbar is one of the few places in the city that stocks offerings from the exclusive Scotch Malt Whiskey Society. —Anthony Todd

Drumbar is located atop the Rafaello Hotel, 201 E. Delaware Pl.

Bernard's Bar
If I was to buy a membership in a private club, I'd want it to have a bar like Bernard's. It's tiny, hidden on the second floor, without a television in sight and, most of all, peaceful. Their drinks have never been mixologically distinctive, but if you're looking for a place for a respectable Manhattan after a long day, you couldn't do any better. Don't be put off by the (sometimes) chilly hotel staff—keep asking or wander around until you find the entrance. Bernard's serves no real food, but demand bar snacks. Their mix is particularly delightful, though occasionally servers forget to bring the silver dishes to each table. —Anthony Todd

Bernard's is located in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 11 E. Walton St.

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