The failure of America to legislate behavior with Prohibition led to the creation of speakeasies, illicit establishments that sold alcoholic beverages. Today, the word “speakeasy” suggests “old school” retro-minded style bars that have become popular in several cities. In the Underground of the Las Vegas Mob Museum, for instance, cocktails are based on recipe books from the Prohibition era. Similarly, with their history of notorious clientele, other speakeasies have gained the interest of both residents and tourists. Today, there are several “secret speakeasies,” retro bars and lounges in the Windy City, where visitors can have a taste of classic Chicago if they find the entrances.
Located in Chicago’s Loop, this very exclusive eight-seat “microbar” is located on the second floor of the Chicago Athletic Association. It has a wide selection of whiskeys, and it features rare vintage elixirs. From the Milk Room, customers can go upstairs to Cindy’s and view Grant Park as they enjoy more cocktails.
Entry and exit for this speakeasy are in the back of a bakery next to the Cantonese Fat Rice. This small, intimate bar seats about 20 people, so reservations are needed. Drinks have names such as “Run the Jewels” and “The Bizarro Jerry.” There are also flaming bowls of booze that include the “notorious Burning Bird.”
Reminiscent of the speakeasy doors that were painted green, the Green Door Tavern on N. Orleans Street adopts this custom on a nondescript entrance in the basement of a restaurant that leads to an authentic 1920’s-era speakeasy. There are nightly performances of vaudeville acts and burlesque. The cocktail menu is printed on Tarot cards.
This bar in the neighborhood of the West Loop (844 W. Randolph Street) disguises itself as a speakeasy from the Jazz Age with the ambiance of New Orleans in the ‘twenties with crystal chandeliers, beaded lamps, and velvet banquettes. The motif of the city extends to the cocktails named “Sazerac” and “Vieux Carres,” as well as in such foods as muffuletta, jambalaya, and an oyster happy hour.
With its classic cocktails, this intimate bar and music venue is a landmark that goes back to the 1930s. In the late-night, this historic bar draws crowds to enjoy the extensive menu of old-fashioned drinks and various musical acts.