9 Chicago bars decorated for the holiday season

Chicago bars are going all out for Christmas, with animated displays, model trains and upwards of 35,000 lights decking the halls.

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Christmas decorations feel a lot more festive in the presence of booze. Chicago bars embrace the holiday spirit by going all out with Christmas decor, transporting guests from the cold Chicago tundra to decidedly jollier terrain. From toy trains to mistletoe, here’s how some of Chicago's best bars are getting into the holiday spirit. Want more? Here are eight restaurants that decorate for Christmas.


RECOMMENDED: Christmas events in Chicago


 


Augie's Booze and Schmooze

This quaint, timeworn Lincoln Park haunt is renowned for its elaborate Christmas decorations, which cost upwards of $80,000 to procure each year. The trinkets are so meticulous that it’s a weeks-long endeavor to get them all in place, starting with vintage ceramic houses and villages, figurines, a train that runs along Augie’s ceiling encircling the entire bar and, of course, a sea of lights.

  1. 1721 W Wrightwood
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Butch McGuire's

  • Price band: 1/4

Butch McGuire’s is the preeminent destination for all things jolly in the Gold Coast. For more than 50 years, the bar has been decking itself out with Christmas gizmos and gadgets. The bar has an in-house artist responsible for much of the decor, including unique mobiles inspired by Christmas, cartoons and Claymation specials. Four double-decker trains traverse the bar along the ceiling, while 35,000 lights illuminate the space.

  1. 20 W Division St, (between State and Dearborn Sts)
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Cork & Kerry

  • Price band: 1/4

The nexus of Christmas glee in Beverly can be found at Cork & Kerry. The South Side stalwart practically transforms into Santa’s workshop for the season, with animated displays, lights aplenty, mini Christmas tees, holiday figurines and the Christmas Mice, a brigade of jovial rodents dolled up in Christmas attire.

  1. 10614 S Western Ave, (between 106th and 107th Sts)
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Exchequer Restaurant & Pub

  • Price band: 2/4

One of the most storied bars under the Loop’s El tracks is also one of the most festive. Exchequer Restaurant & Pub completely morphs into a Christmas extravaganza this time of year, adding a fully decorated Christmas tree, white wreaths, red napkins, stuffed snowmen, red and white flowers, Santa figurines, polar bears and plenty more.

  1. 226 S Wabash Ave, (between Jackson Blvd and Adams St)
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Lottie’s

  • Price band: 1/4

Regardless of the forecast, it’s going to be a white Christmas when you’re at Lottie’s Pub. The Bucktown corner bar decks out its ceiling with an array of white lights, which also enliven the exterior facade and the trees along the adjoining sidewalk. This year, you could even purchase a Christmas tree at their lot. The bar is open on Christmas, just in case you need someplace extra Christmassy to drink.

  1. 1925 W Cortland St, (between Wolcott and Winchester Aves)
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Miller’s Pub

  • Price band: 1/4

Right next door to Exchequer is another jolly dive. Miller’s Pub rises to the occasion with aromatic wreaths and a copious amount of string lights shimmering throughout. Another staple at Miller’s Pub is its Tom & Jerry, a warm Christmastime drink made with rum, eggnog and brandy that has been served at the bar for decades.

  1. 134 S Wabash Ave, (at Adams St)
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Sidetrack

  • Price band: 2/4

This boisterous Boystown bar takes its holiday decorations seriously, adjusting the accoutrements per holiday in a thoughtful, elaborate manner. It’s all courtesy of designer Matthew Harvat, who curates Sidetrack’s seasonal aesthetics and prides himself on establishing enough Christmas spirit to rival the Griswolds. Each year brings a completely new design and theme, and with three floors and 11 areas to decorate, that’s a lot of work to undertake on the behalf of merriment. This year’s theme is Holidays in Chicago, which they have recreated iconic Chicago landmarks such as the Willis Tower and Art Institute, just to name a few. Along with that are cut-out snowflakes, lights and wreaths adorning the space. 

  1. 3349 N Halsted St, (between Buckingham Pl and Roscoe St)
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Simon’s Tavern

  • Price band: 2/4

The only thing that can make Christmas decorations even better is a hot cup of glögg. The beverage is the seasonal staple at Simon’s Tavern in Andersonville, where warm port mixes with spices, raisins and aquavit for the most warming beverage this side of a pumpkin spice latte. While your innards are enjoying the merry quaff, you can sit back and take in the holiday-centric fireplace and holiday lights.

  1. 5210 N Clark St, (between Foster and Farragut Aves)
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The Bar on Buena

  • Price band: 2/4

Classic ornaments, Chinese lanterns, paper snowflakes and icicle lights decorate the Bar on Buena, an Uptown staple that drapes itself head-to-toe in holiday cheer each year. Artwork is wrapped like presents, a tree is poised on a ledge atop the bathroom, red and green lights lend a festive note to a chandelier and staff stockings are strung up on the wall. There’s also mistletoe, should you get drunk enough to brave it.

  1. 910 W Buena Ave, (between Broadway and Sheridan Rd)
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