Chicago’s 2013 Bar and Nightlife Trends and Highlights

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Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 12:57am

While the 2013 food scene was dominated by deep-fried deliciousness, thin crust pizza and a festival for nearly every side dish, Chicago's nightlife scene had a few notable trends and highlights of its own.

Some have thankfully flourished and others fallen into obscurity. Here at the TLT we have a few predictions for 2014, but first let’s reflect on this year's trends.


Art bars – This summer Gallery Bar and FAME combine our appreciation for art and drinks. In theory the concept is great, but the execution was no Picasso and very little has been heard from either since.


New and renovated ultra-clubs – American Junkie built a retractable roof, The Underground installed a 40-foot video wall and Parliament created a Wonka-style glass elevator and a secret entrance for regulars like Michael Bay. Ultra clubs are nothing new to Chicago, but in 2013 River North received the equivalent of a facelift, boob job and tummy tuck.


Retro bars – This year we continued to drink like it was back in the day. Punch House in Pilsen and Jimmy in River North rock the 70s vibe, Three Dots and a Dash, along with mixologist Paul McGee, brought a 1940s-50s tiki theme to basement of Bub City and prohibition-era themed Untitled celebrated their first birthdays.


Ready to drink cocktails - Perfect for a boozy day at North Ave. Beach or a late night house party, Charles Joly and Matt Lindner are trying to change the way we party with Crafthouse Cocktails. Convenient for a day drinker on the go, the summer of 2014 will be a true test of whether or not Chicagoans want Moscow Mules on the beach.


Negronis for everyone – Parson’s Chicken and Fish served a “negroni slushie,” SideDoor – Lawry’s new concept bar – recently teased us with a smoked negroni and TLT readers sipped these gin drinks at A Sixties Soiree.


We’re drinking local – There is no slowing the craft beer and distillery scene thanks to DryHop, Une Année and SlapShot, and a solid shout out to Revolution Brewing in the movie Drinking Buddies. On the spirits end, Koval installed a massive new still in Ravenswood and Rhine Hall is now brewing apple brandy in the West Loop.


Joe Piehl's picture
Chicago Editor Joe Piehl
Joe Piehl

A TLT contributor since 2010, Joe is the Chicago Editor. Outside TLT, Joe keeps an eye out for awesome activities and he writes a travel blog: Joe the Explorer.

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