1615 N. Wells St
Chicago, IL 60614
This traditional Irish pub in Old Town is the perfect spot to get a few drinks and a bite to eat before or after a visit to Second City. For liquid refreshment, the bar offers plenty of beer and martini selections and more than a dozen kinds of red and white wines.
The menu includes the typical Irish fare of fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. If you prefer more American fare, they have 10-ounce beef, turkey and veggie burgers, several varieties of sandwiches, plus salads, meatloaf and chili. There’s also a hearty selection of greasy appetizers, from fried onion rings to nachos and mozzarella sticks.
When the weather’s warm, you can enjoy a night of people watching on the outdoor patio, or a quiet evening of conversation in another outdoor area hidden behind the bar.
Cork & Kerry
10614 S. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60643
Cork & Kerry on Facebook
Another traditional Irish pub in the Beverly neighborhood this charming watering hole is about as close to Ireland you can get without crossing the Atlantic. Decorated like a classic Irish storefront on the outside, it also has a rich, woody interior, complete with stained glass.
More than 70 different beers rotate on 20 taps, but Guinness and Harp are constants. There’s also a free popcorn machine for a salty snack to go with your drinks and the occasional random free meal.
The large decked beer garden is a pleasant spot for warm summer nights and part of it is even closed off to stay open in the winter. A few years ago, they added a large addition, nearly doubling the size of the bar and adding a 50-person party lounge complete with stone fireplace.
There’s also a stage for music performances so you can check out some local bands. But be prepared for crowds, as the place is regularly packed, especially on weekends.
Blue Stem Martini Lounge
1935 W. Irving Park Rd.
Chicago, IL 60613
Blue Stem Martini Lounge on Facebook
If beer and wine aren’t your thing, hop up to North Center to check out Blue Stem Martini Bar. Bartender and co-owner Lefko Stefanos claims she can tell what you want just by looking at you and mixes a great selection of quality martinis. The drinks might be expensive, but they’re worth it. Plus, they’ve been known to promote new drinks by mixing up free sample shots.
Nowadays, you might think a martini bar specializes in appletinis and other fake martinis that are nothing more than vodka or gin mixed with a ton of sugary sweet drinks. That’s definitely not the case here. You can watch as the bartenders mix your martinis with care and you can count on large, strong drinks with a menu that offers something for virtually every taste.
Old Town Social
455 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60610
This sleek, cozy neighborhood bar in Old Town is a great grown-up gathering place with a classy antique vibe. It offers plenty of rare accommodations that set it apart from most Chicago bars, including a charcuterie bar, curtain-draped private booths and a menu created by Jared Van Camp, Rick Tramanto’s right-hand man and and former Blackbird sous chef.
The food menu includes some uncannily tasty frites served with garlic aioli, crispy duck wings, and smoked sausage served with cornmeal-bacon waffles. Try out the cherry bombs, which only sound like another generic jalapeno popper that you’d find at TGI Fridays. These tasty bites are made with deep fried poblano peppers stuffed with jack cheese and chorizo.
On the beverage front, Old Town Social craft beers and wines and a seasonal cocktail menu that includes selections such as the Knotted Pine (gin, cherry brandy and orange juice splashed with a bit of German pilsner) or ingredients like creme de violette, moscao d’Asti and angostura bitters.
311 N. Sangamon St.
Chicago, IL 60607
This upscale West Loop spot is not a place to visit if you’re looking for cheap drinks, but if you’re looking for a sophisticated venue to impress a date, Victor Hotel might be right up your alley. Transformed from an old freezer building, Victor Hotel is decorated to look like the lobby of a European hotel and looks like just the kind of bar where A-list celebrities would want to be seen. The black-and-white photography on the walls provides a risqué vibe to complement the modern retro flair of the furniture.
The bar offers a can’t-miss selection of martinis and champagne cocktails such as Bellinis, Mango Mimosas and Pimosas (think mimosa with pomegranate juice instead of O.J.). As for wines, you can get anything from a $9 glass of Dona Paula Malbec or Dr. Heyden Riesling or a $2,000 bottle of Krug Clos Du Mensil 1996.
The food selection is just as upscale with options like shrimp and artichoke quesadillas, beef or chicken satay, antipasto platters, or a variety of trendy paninis.