The 9 Best Fireplace Bars In Chicago

By Staff in Food on Nov 5, 2014 10:00PM

As the days grow shorter and the leaves fall to the street with greater frequency it's time once again to take assessment of our winter survival checklist. Bacon (check). Whiskey (check). Roku streaming media player (check). Access to a killer fireplace bar.

Check and check again.

There are scores upon scores of fireplaces in bars across Chicago, from the tallest rooftop bars to the dingiest of taverns in the city's far reaches. A few on this year's list are repeats from a similar list we wrote last year but with a different perspective. There are a few new gems to add. As always, these lists are meant to encourage discussion and debate. Share your picks in the comments.

2014_11_5_thegrafton.jpg
The Grafton (Photo via The Grafton's Facebook page)

The Grafton
Sometimes you just want a cozy fireplace, a good book and a warm mug of something strong (or a nice glass of whiskey) to soothe your soul. I grew up spending hours reading next to our basement fireplace in my childhood home, and The Grafton is a little comforting nook in Chicago that always transports me to that faraway memory. The fireplace nestled in the corner of their back room gives off a real homey vibe, like you are lounging on the couch of a lovely home instead of an Irish pub. The back room is lively during events, but I prefer to go on quieter days where I can stay a spell and curl up with a book and a few drinks. Although beware your intake of hot toddy otherwise you might end up nodding off. Balance out your drinking with some food from their standard Irish fare, including a traditional Irish breakfast that is served all day. And save room for their chocolate bread pudding, served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce that is best served with a glass of whiskey to wash it down. — Lisa White

The Grafton is located at 4530 N. Lincoln Ave.


Table, Donkey and Stick
With a menu and beverage list inspired by Alpine tradition, Table, Donkey and Stick might be the coziest restaurant in Logan Square. The dark, woodsy interior is rustic and chic, decorated with animal skulls and an axe, ready to slay bad tippers. Treat yourself to a selection of the restaurant’s excellent assortment of housemade charcuterie, deemed “Wanderteller” or hiker’s plate, coupled with crusty bread and a flight of brandy. To warm your bones on a chilly Autumn night, grab some friends and snuggle up under a blanket by the roaring fire pit on the back patio. — Erika Kubick

Table, Donkey and Stick is located at 2728 W. Armitage Ave.


The Brixton
I wish I lived closer to this cozy bar because it has all the things you need to survive the Chicago winter: meat, whiskey, and a fireplace in the upstairs lounge. The must-have meat dishes are their note-perfect chicken liver pate and their frighteningly good tartare, which is silky smooth with smoked beef fat and egg yolk. (You know you need a lot of fat to get through the cold season, right?) The Brixton has an excellent whiskey selection to wash it down with that includes solid choices both affordable and luxury. Perfect for sipping by the fire. — Melissa McEwen

The Brixton is located at 5420 N Clark St.

2014_11_5_scofflaw.jpg
Scofflaw (Photo via Scofflaw's Facebook page.)

Scofflaw
Colder weather might have you thinking about bourbon and whiskey, but Danny Shapiro’s gin-focused cocktails at Scofflaw feel just right when sipped next to a crackling fire. Antique settees, twinkling chandeliers, and rustic brick come together to create an intimate space to imbibe while you stay out of the wind. For those who “aren’t into gin,” hot buttered rum makes an appearance on the menu, and a small food menu is available featuring fries with pimento aioli, roasted cauliflower, and more. Bonus: every night at midnight Scofflaw serves up chocolate chip cookies hot from the oven. Do you need another reason to get comfortable, order another round (or two), and stay until then? Seats fill up fast, especially during Chicago winters when bar crawls turn into one-stop-shops, so stake out your spot in front of the fire before someone else does.. — Carrie Laski

Scofflaw is located at 3201 W/ Armitage Ave.


Simon's Tavern
It is approaching that time of year when I make the trip from the Northwest Side of the city to Andersonville and one of the most charming bars in the city. Simon's Tavern woos passersby sauntering down Clark Street with their incredible vintage neon sign of a fish holding a martini— a delightfully hyperbolic nod to the neighborhood's Swedish heritage. At the back of the bar is a nook with a fireplace elevating this seasoned watering hole from merely charming to a necessary spot to wile away afternoons or nights, particularly those shrouded in cold and snow. What makes the fireplace even more of a destination is the bar's signature drink of winter: homemade Glögg, a Swedish mulled wine. Released just before Thanksgiving each year, that "It's Glögg Time" neon sign in the window has come to be a symbol of a tradition I and undoubtedly countless other Chicagoans celebrate. — Carrie McGath

Simon’s Tavern is located at 5210 N. Clark St.


Sheffield’s
With an All-Star beer selection, and fine assortment of wines and spirits, Sheffield’s is the ideal cold weather haven for drinkers of all ages and kind. Tucked away on the corner of Sheffield and School, the bar is expansive, with the standard counter, stool, flat screen set up in the front, but a more secluded area in back, complete with a fireplace to warm yourself up (if the bourbon hasn’t already). Lovers of alcohol and literature should come by the first Wednesday of the month, as the back bar hosts R.U.I. (Reading Under the Influence), a live lit series which features the work of local authors, the reading of famous or well received work, and quizzes! (Complete with prizes too!) — Ben Kramer

Sheffield’s is located at 3258 N. Sheffield Ave.


Chief O’Neill’s
Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Parachute may draw you to Avondale, but Chief O’Neill’s and their cozier-than-cozy bar, with its crackling fireplace and extensive whiskey selection, will keep you in the hood all night long. Can’t decide on the latter? Try one of their carefully curated whiskey flights, designed to help you explore Irish, Scotch and American libations like a pro. A bonus for those who come hungry or need to soak up all that delicious whiskey: The food is top-notch Irish-inspired fare, especially the shepherd’s pie and Guinness meatloaf and Guinness & cheddar soup. --Lizz Kannenberg

Chief O’Neill’s Pub is located at 3471 N. Elston Ave.

2014_11_5_violethour.jpg
The Violet Hour (Photo via The Violet Hour's Facebook page.)

Violet Hour
On a frigid winter night, when I’m truly chilled to the bone and want to treat myself just a little bit more than usual, I always end up convincing myself a trip to Violet Hour is in order. And if the fireplace is roaring you best bet I’m attempting to sweet talk myself into a seat fireside. Just past the last set of plush velvet curtains is the backroom at Violet Hour, full of long, high back booths all focused around a crackling fire. I’m a December baby, which means I’ve used my birthday as an excuse for many years to indulge a little extra on my birthday visit to Violet Hour. I’ll lounge a bit longer by the fireplace, have a few extra rounds and one year I even enjoyed an ice cream sundae off their food menu. Granted, you’ll still always find me across the street grabbing a few tacos at Big Star after a long evening at Violet Hour (the copious amounts of booze warm me up enough to wait at Big Star’s walk up window during even the most frigid conditions). I’ve found the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed during this season and even on the weekends the crowds seem a bit less intense, likely because waiting to get into a bar in subzero temperatures isn’t as appealing as during the warmer months. No worries, it just means more cocktails and fireside space for me. — Lisa White

Violet Hour is located at 1520 N. Damen Ave.


Sportsman’s Club
The fireplace is located outdoors and it's a toasty and popular spot for the constant crowds at this Humboldt Park cocktail palace. For those of us who never say no to a shot of amaro, we hope the kind lads and ladies at Sportsman's come up with clever ways to double their capacity in the wintertime. Baskets full of flannel blankets and perhaps some bonus chimineas would coerce me to cuddle up to the fire with a hot anything from these bartenders—at the very least on a mild winter's eve. — Kristine Sherred

Sportsman's Club is located at 946 N. Western Ave.