The second floor of this clubby Arizona import is the place to be: The fully retractable, beamless roof supplies sky views whether the weather cooperates or not.15 W Illinois St (312-239-0995, americanjunkiechi.com).
The dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar at the Ritz-Carlton
Situated 12 stories above the plebians on Mag Mile, the Ritz's new 57-seat outdoor area is decked out with a color-changing wall, a steel sculpture by artist David Sorenson and fire pits. For a touch of nostalgia, try a sundae from Deca pastry chef Eric Estrella's ice-cream cart.160 E Pearson St, 12th floor (312-573-5160, decarestaurant.com).
Joe's Bar on Weed Street
The 3,500-square-foot roof of this hard-partying, country music-playing sports bar is now outfitted with cedar booths and tables, for all-day dining and drinking.940 W Weed St (312-337-3486, joesbar.com).
John Barleycorn River North
Retractable roofs are the new bacon...or so it might seem from this slide show. The John Barleycorn crew rolled out this downtown behemoth last fall. The glass roof of the 14,000-square-foot venue provides skyline views yearround and opens when the weather permits.149 W Kinzie St (312-477-8700, johnbarleycorn.com).
Vertigo Sky Lounge
The Dana Hotel recently revamped its 26th-floor rooftop lounge. The main new feature is the "Bartender's Booth," the bar's riff on a "chef's table," a six-seat alcove behind the new 14-foot bar, where drinkers have access to off-menu food and cocktails.2 W Erie St, 26th floor (312-202-6060, vertigoskylounge.com).
So what if the patio's the size of a closet and surrounded by enormous, sun-blocking buildings? The point is: We're drinking on a roof! Despite the fact that Chicagoans would probably party on a roof literally filled with garbage, this city has some surprisingly classy rooftop bars. This is a city that likes to get the most out of summer—by which we mean drinking at new rooftops and outdoor bars. Here are our picks for the best rooftop bars in Chicago.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best bars in Chicago