Ah, the allure of the speakeasy! In Chicago’s vibrant River North neighborhood, tucked away behind nondescript facades and disguised under everyday objects, a world of speakeasy magic awaits. These hidden gems transport you back to the Prohibition era, with dim lighting, vintage cocktails, and an air of forbidden excitement. So, put on your best flapper dress or fedora, and let’s embark on a clandestine adventure to discover three of River North’s most thrilling speakeasys:
1. The Aviary:
Hidden behind a vintage camera shop, The Aviary is a haven for cocktail enthusiasts. Step inside the dimly lit space and feel transported to a glamorous Parisian salon. With plush velvet booths, antique birdcages, and an extensive menu of handcrafted cocktails, it’s like stepping into a scene from The Great Gatsby. Their bartenders are true mixologists, weaving inventive concoctions with unexpected ingredients and theatrical flair. Try their signature “Bird’s Nest,” a gin-based drink served in a real bird’s nest with edible flowers, or the “Smoke & Mirrors,” a smoky mezcal cocktail shrouded in an aromatic cloud.
2. The Green Door Tavern:
Don’t be fooled by the unassuming tavern facade. Behind the green door (the clue’s in the name!), a dimly lit staircase leads you to a hidden world of Prohibition-era charm. The dimly lit interior with exposed brick walls and vintage furniture feels like a private club straight out of the 1920s. The speakeasy boasts an extensive whiskey selection and innovative cocktails that pay homage to classic recipes. Don’t miss their signature “Greenwich Village,” a refreshing gin and cucumber concoction, or the “Blind Pig,” a smoky bourbon cocktail with a spicy kick.
3. The Drifter:
Venture down the rabbit hole and discover The Drifter, a hidden gem within The Green Door Tavern. Located in the basement, this intimate speakeasy offers a truly immersive experience. With vintage trunks, antique maps, and burlesque performances on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s like stepping into a bygone era. The cocktail menu is inspired by vintage travel, with each drink named after a different destination. Embark on a global adventure with their “Havana Nights,” a rum-based concoction with tropical fruit notes, or the “Tokyo Twilight,” a sake-infused cocktail with delicate floral aromas.
Tips for navigating the speakeasy scene:
- Reservations are highly recommended, as space is limited.
- Dress to impress! While there’s no strict dress code, most speakeasys have a vintage or upscale vibe.
- Be prepared for dim lighting and low music.
- Some speakeasys don’t have menus, so be adventurous and trust the bartender’s recommendations.
- Respect the speakeasy atmosphere. Keep your voice down and avoid taking photos or videos.
So, dear adventurer, are you ready to embark on a journey through time and hidden delights? Grab your friends, don your vintage best, and let the hidden doors of River North’s speakeasies unlock an unforgettable night of Prohibition-era magic. Bon appétit!