Rooftop bars: The best outdoor drinking patios in Chicago

Nothing beats drinking at a rooftop bar with a great view of Chicago, whether it's one of these hotel bars, elevated lounges or come-as-you-are decks.

  • Photograph: Clayton Hauck

    Few had heard about the Raffaelo hotel until its handsome rooftop bar, Drumbar, opened last year.

  • Photograph: Dave Rentauskas

    Epic Sky, the rooftop bar atop Epic restaurant in River North, is built for after-work drinks.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    For the best views of Chicago, head to the J. Parker, the rooftop bar atop the Hotel Lincoln.

  • NoMI Lounge, at the Park Hyatt, is a swank rooftop spot for cocktails and bites.

  • ROOF on theWit, the best-known rooftop bar in Chicago, packs in crowds.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula hotel is a sophisticated alternative on the often-frantic rooftop-bar scene.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    The Terrace at Trump, the Trump Tower's 16th-floor rooftop bar, has up-close views of some of Chicago's architectural landmarks.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Twisted Spoke is the rooftop bar for folks who couldn't care less about ritzy rooftop bars.

  • New Chicago bars: Vertigo Sky Lounge, the rooftop bar atop the Dana hotel, recently underwent a renovation.

Photograph: Clayton Hauck

Few had heard about the Raffaelo hotel until its handsome rooftop bar, Drumbar, opened last year.

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


Drumbar

  • Price band: 3/4

The gorgeous 18th-floor bar of the Raffaello Hotel boasts three prime sections: a handsome, dim interior full of tufted leather banquettes; a chic exterior deck lounge with open fire pits; and a narrow indoor-outdoor corridor where the marble floor and arched windows play against contemporary green stools. The addition of Aviary vet Craig Schoettler has brought seriousness to the cocktail program; we recommend the full-bodied Pineapple, in which a sprig of mint is dipped in Chartreuse and set aflame.

  1. 201 E Delaware Pl, (at Mies van der Rohe Way)
More info

Epic Sky

  • Price band: 3/4

No one at Epic restaurant’s rooftop lounge seems to be worrying much about the drinks (strong, decent cocktails) or the view (a third-story close-up of nearby buildings). The point is you’re a few stories up, at a stark white bar or on a sleek white couch, and even the fact that you’re holding a plastic cup can’t stop you from feeling glamorous.

  1. 112 W Hubbard St, (between Clark and LaSalle Sts)
More info

The J. Parker

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

On the one hand, the BOKA Restaurant Group’s year-round rooftop bar is unlike any other in the city: It boasts destination-themed cocktails, seasonal small-plates from chef Paul Virant and sweeping, mesmerizing, breathtaking views of Lincoln Park from the 13th-floor roof of the Hotel Lincoln. On the other hand, it’s still a rooftop bar, which means you might need to sacrifice your first-born just to get a seat.

  1. 1816 N Clark St, 13th floor, (at Lincoln Ave)
More info

NoMI Lounge

  • Price band: 3/4

Though the vibe’s still sophisticated, you’ll find this seventh-floor, stunning lounge at the Park Hyatt feels more casual than before. It’s breezy, sexy and substantial (sushi and small plates abound), but it sure ain’t cheap. However, the views of Michigan Ave, food and opportunities to people-watch are worth every penny.

  1. 800 N Michigan Ave, (between Chicago Ave and Pearson St)
Book online

ROOF

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

TheWit Hotel’s swank rooftop lounge sports a specialty cocktail menu, a well-curated wine list and Mediterranean small plates, but it’s the breezy terrace-with-a-view that draws crowds, all ready to throw elbows to score tables per the seat-yourself policy. (Fireplaces and a glass enclosure mean it’s almost as packed in winter.)

  1. 201 N State St, 27th floor
More info

Shanghai Terrace

If the name didn’t tip you off, there’s a terrace attached to this upscale Chinese restaurant and lounge (and a mighty nice rooftop one at that). Thanks to piped in world music, loads of greenery and just the right amount of breeze, it might even fool you into believing you’ve made a tropical escape from the city. (Well, after a few lychee-sake martinis or ginger juleps it might.)

  1. 108 E Superior, 60611
Book online

The Terrace at Trump

  • Price band: 3/4

How does the opulent Trump Tower do rooftop lounge? With up-close views of the Wrigley building, custom-designed uniforms, over-the-top seafood platters and tempting sweets (like summery push pops) from pastry chef Patrick Fahy.

  1. 401 N Wabash Ave, (at Kinzie St)
More info

Twisted Spoke

  • Price band: 1/4

When you begin brunch by showing your ID at the door, you know you’re in the right place for a Bloody Mary. Spicy and sweet, garnished with salami and completed with a beer back, it’s practically a meal in itself. Don’t let that distract you from the food, however. Grab a few beers, one of the Spoke’s thick and juicy “fatboy” burgers and a seat on the roof deck, and you've got the ideal set-up for a night (or day) of drinking.

  1. 501 N Ogden Ave, (at Grand Ave)
More info

Vertigo Sky Lounge

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

You’d think the focus of this bar, which sits on the roof of the Dana Hotel, would be the view. But there’s a lot more to distract you—the roaring fire pit, the classic cocktails and the ice bar in winter for starters—so the view pretty much takes a back seat.

  1. Dana Hotel & Spa, 660 N State St, (at Erie St)
More info


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