Chicago's 8 Best Hookup Bars (And Your Crazy Hookup Stories)
By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 13, 2016 6:02PM
Really, if you want to hook up with someone and you have good social skills surrounding the task, you can find a sexual partner at most bars in the city. Dive bars, shi-shi bars in River North, sushi bars, behind the bars of the sensual jail in Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” video... the world is your oyster.
However, after putting out a call to readers for their bar hookup stories, here are some Chicago bars where hooking up is more than possible. It’s really happened! Probably! These stories are not verified, but they certainly have the ring of truth—most are sloppy, semi-embarrassing, and happened in the Wrigleyville area.
Berlin is a welcoming, anything-goes place that either is or is not a gay bar, depending on whom you ask. Whatever you’re into, though, you won’t be out of place looking for a hookup at this club known for its house music and throbbing (very, very throbbing) beats. That’s especially true if you go late; it’s open until 4 a.m. every night except Monday, when it’s closed.
We don’t have a hookup account from Berlin, but hookups are par for the course here according to this Yelp review-slash-prophecy:
It's a late night bar. You won't be careful. You will buy more drinks than you know what to do with (pour them on someone?), you will dance until the hour you typically wake up to go to work, and you will hook-up with some person your mother would be horrified by. But, in my experience at least, all these things are fun in Berlin, not just regretful. You will wake up a little ill but with a great story, as opposed to full of regrets or in a ditch somewhere.
Berlin is located at 954 W. Belmont Ave.
Photo via Yelp
The Irish Oak
This Irish sports bar prides itself on fish and chips, corned beef sandwiches and Guinness. However, don’t underestimate the sexuality that can percolate in a place that serves heavy food, especially when you throw winning teams in the mix. Officially affiliated with Notre Dame and the Denver Broncos, the bar can get crazy on game nights—or at least it did for a 28-year-old Lakeview woman.
“Irish Oak has all the makings for a perfect hookup bar, if you didn’t know,” she reports, citing “Jameson that’s passed around after each touchdown,” the small (and therefore cozy) space, and “the '80s ballads and '90s pop blasting post-game.” After one visit, she took a guy home with her at 3 a.m.
What happened next was not The Irish Oak’s doing, exactly, but in case you’re curious: Before they got down to the business, the guy took a quick trip to the bathroom. She fell asleep while he was gone; when she woke up the next morning, she was alone. After a search, she discovered that bar guy had been trapped in her bathroom overnight, shouting for help. After she let him out and he left, she discovered that overnight he “fashioned tools out of random bathroom artifacts," like toothbrushes and nail clippers.
The Irish Oak is located at 3511 N. Clark St.
This Logan Square bar has a dance floor that’s always packed, and red lights that make everyone look like a sexy Satan. We named it one of the best new bars in 2014 for its fun atmosphere and its range of drinks—from $2 Hamm’s to craft cocktails designed by Scofflaw’s barkeeps—but it’s also a great place to take a date to the next level.
“I went with a guy I met on OKCupid, after some bar-hopping,” reported a 26-year-old woman who didn't share her neighborhood. “I wasn’t sure if we had any chemistry or not, but it was so loud in the bar, and the dance floor was so crowded, there was kind of nothing to do besides make out.” They did, then went back to the guy’s place for a “one-time thing” that was “fine, I guess.” The Slippery Slope: Facilitating passable hookups for more than a year!
Slippery Slope is located at 2357 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Town Hall Pub
“The low lighting, live music, and a killer jukebox” makes the mood “juuuust right” at Town Hall Pub, according to a 28-year-old Lakeview woman. (Further bonus: The bar also has a photo booth, an amenity that, as a cramped and curtained-off space, increases any bar’s hookup quotient.)
The woman reported that one night when she was there, “My friend noticed a good-looking bearded gentleman kept looking over at me. [...] I took a shot of whiskey and walked over to strike up a conversation—that didn't end until the bar closed.” (She doesn’t totally remember what they talked about, but the Simpsons came up.) She thought it would be a one night stand, but six years later, they’re still together.
Town Hall Pub is located at 3340 N. Halsted St.
via Sportsman's Club
In this compact bar, the hunting-themed decor—like mounted deer heads, and a chandelier that appears to be made out of antlers—serves as a conversation starter with hot strangers. Likewise, the cocktail menu changes every day based on the bartenders’ tastes, which draws a clientele with the exact go-with-the-flow vibe you need to bang a rando.
We don’t have a hookup account for this one, but one of the bar's rare cranky Yelp reviews actually captured the scene well, describing it as a place whose clientele is “a lot of guys with beards that are looking for girls with short hair.” Not wrong!
Sportsman’s Club is located at 948 N. Western Ave.
This bar’s tagline is, stupidly, “Meet me at Mullen’s,” but hooking up is luckily not about taglines. It’s about playing darts on Miller Lite-branded dartboards, doing shots, and fully leveraging the bathroom, according to one 25-year-old Bridgeport resident.
In an effort to be friends with his ex-girlfriend, he went to the bar with her, her new boyfriend, and his ex’s sister. They decided to play darts. “During this time Fireball shots and Long Islands started going down at a ridiculous pace,” he said.
When his ex and her new boyfriend disappeared into a corner, he started talking to his ex’s sister, who after a few minutes, he said, “drags me to the washroom, and into an empty stall.” After “a few minutes of heavy kissing and groping, we start getting down to it when her sister breaks down the door and starts screaming like a banshee.” This attracted the bar staff, who asked everyone involved to leave—but hopefully you’ll have better luck leaving on your own terms.
Mullen’s is located at 3527 N. Clark St.
Photo of The Long Room's interior via Facebook
The Long Room
“The Long Room’s not a place I tend to think of as a place to hook up,” said one man, age and neighborhood unstated. It’s true: though the bar has a vintage photobooth (secluded spaces again!), the music plays quietly enough that you can have a conversation, and it self-describes as a “neighborhood tavern."
Still, one night the man went with a friend, and saw a woman clearly third-wheeling with a couple. “She kept kind of looking over at me and rolling her eyes every time her friend and the boyfriend started getting all lovey-dovey,” he said. So when his friend went to the bathroom, he approached the woman,. “I’m sure the high-alcohol beers I had been drinking gave me a bit of liquid courage," he explained. (The Long Room serves some beers that are 10% alcohol—by the goblet, no less.)
“We exchanged hellos and before my friend could return from the bathroom, she and I were making out," the man reported. "It would have been fantastic, except not long after, the lady’s brother came in and saw us and started acting very protective—puffing out his chest and repeatedly asking if we had a problem.” In the end, the makeout was the end of it, but it totally still counts as a “minor hookup,” as he called it.
The Long Room is located at 1612 W Irving Park Rd.
Skylark isn't a hook-up bar in the classical sense. You're not going to get laid buying a cute stranger a drink—but if you buy them tater tots, that might work. The bar's crispy golden tots have a cult-like following, and they're served in large portions perfect for sharing with a hottie.
The bar is also famous for its low-key vibe. It's the kind of place you go to if you want to meet someone and have a great conversation about an underground Chicago jazz band, or a great documentary you saw at Music Box; there's no air of desperate singledom. Plenty of single people, though!
Skylark is located at 2149 S. Halsted St. Jim Kopeny contributed valuable hook-up bar reporting on Skylark.
Updated: River North's Epic was originally on our list, but it closed last week.