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Kumiko
Photograph: Kailley Lindman Kumiko

The 14 best bars in the West Loop

The West Loop doesn't just have great restaurants—the area is home to cocktail lounges, beer bars and rooftops

By Morgan Olsen
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There's no denying that the West Loop is one of Chicago's most influential dining neighborhoods, but the drinking scene here is no slouch either. Because of its central location and overflow of amazing eateries, it makes perfect sense that West Loop bars are among the finest in the city. Hit up some of the best cocktail bars in Chicago, sip your way through expertly curated wine lists and learn a little something at top Chicago breweries. Just be sure to pad your belly at the best West Loop restaurants before you go. Ready for a drink? Hit up the these excellent West Loop bars and tell them we sent you.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best bars in Chicago

Best West Loop bars

1. Lazy Bird

Bars West Loop

At the Hoxton, a splashy new hotel in the West Loop, there are several different drinking experiences you can have, but none is better than basement bar Lazy Bird. When your eyes adjust to the dimly lit room, page through Lee Zaremba’s pièce de résistance of a menu, which includes a whopping 52 classic cocktails that have been refined and perfected for your drinking pleasure. Start with the Negroni and work your way up to the Grasshopper, which is crafted with oat milk and tastes like a Thin Mint cookie in liquid form.

Kumiko
Photograph: Kailley Lindman

2. Kumiko

Bars Cocktail bars West Loop

There's only one word to describe Julia Momose's cocktail menu at Kumiko: exquisite. The drinks here are influenced by her Japanese heritage and organized from bright and light to bold, booze-forward bevvies. Expect imported spirits and sakes plus enticing ingredients like lavender bitters, purple sweet potato and matcha tea. There's also a menu of delicately simple highballs as well as three sake flights that allow guests to taste their way through different regions of Japan.

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The Aviary
Photograph: Christian Seel

3. The Aviary

Bars Lounges West Loop

When Grant Achatz does a cocktail bar, it should go without saying that it's no ordinary cocktail bar. At the Aviary, which opened in 2011, cocktails receive the same innovative treatment from beverage director Micah Melton as the food at Next or Alinea. That is to say, you should expect to drink cocktails like the Junglebird, a science experiment in liquid density, with layers of rum, campari, pineapple-lime syrup and rum "pearls" suspended in the drink. You've never seen a drink like it, and given how rare a visit to the Aviary is, you may never again.

Fox Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Soho House

4. Fox Bar

Bars West Loop

What this tiny bar lacks in size it makes up for in personality. Situated on the mezzanine level of Soho House Chicago, Fox Bar is a cozy late-night watering hole with a focus on vinyl and no-nonsense bartending. (And no, you don't have to be a member to check it out.) Between the entrance and the bottle-lined bar, you'll find oversized chairs along the walls and a long communal table in the middle of the room. The menu here is always changing, but look out for seasonal ingredients and playful spirits, like brown butter-washed cognac and rhubarb-infused aperol. The prices are right and the service is unparalleled, making Fox Bar a loveable neighborhood favorite.

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RichardsBar.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams

5. Richard’s Bar

Bars Dive bars River West/West Town

A bistro in France it ain’t, but curiously enough, this tidy, dark dive takes a few traditions from across the Atlantic. The bartender—usually a skinny, older gentleman or at least some variation on the theme—typically dresses in an immaculately crisp white button-down, and you can buy hard-boiled eggs for 75 cents. Oh, and it's one of the only remaining bars in Chicago that still allows patrons to light up inside (pesky smoking ban be damned!).

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

6. The Press Room

Bars Wine bars West Loop

If it's wine and charcuterie you crave, let the Press Room be your beacon. This subterranean wine bar is located beneath West Loop bed and breakfast the Publishing House, but you needn't be a guest to drop by. Expect interesting, globe-trotting pours available by the glass and bottle, a small cocktail list and a menu of small plates that shouldn't be missed. If you want to take the guesswork out of it, ask the friendly staff to point you toward a delicious red and order the chocolate cremeux, a delicate chocolate pudding that's studded with sesame crisp and cocoa crumble.

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Sgroppino no. 2 at Lone Wolf
Photo: Martha Williams

7. Lone Wolf

Bars Beer bars West Loop

Lone Wolf is the unofficial Wait List Bar of the West Loop. Whether you're waiting for your table at Au Cheval or Little Goat Diner, this neighborhood tavern is happy to whet your whistle with delicious cocktails and plenty of craft beer (plus, they always have Zombie Dust on draft). Who knows, you might just forgo your reservation when you see pepperoni-topped slices from in-house Pizza Lobo floating around the bar.

1213.chi.rb.100best.CHdistillery.jpg
Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas

8. CH Distillery

Bars Cocktail bars West Loop

CH is one of Chicago's most innovative distilleries, producing everything from vodka and gin to Malört and aquavit. Tour the distillery on Saturdays at 5:30pm for just $15 per person, which includes "The Tradition," a tasting of ice-cold CH vodka paired with rye bread and pickles. Just here to drink? Sip classic cocktails like Jesse's Girl, a summer-ready blend of house-made gin, strawberry, mint, celery and lime.

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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

9. Moneygun

Bars Cocktail bars West Loop

Though it dubs itself "just a bar," there's way more to Moneygun than meets the eye. Located on the east side of the Kennedy Expressway, this West Loop spot specializes in classic cocktails—40 to be exact. Sip sidecars, cosmopolitans, mojitos, negronis and martinis for $11.75 each, which is a steal when you consider the bar team is using house-made syrups, sodas and elixirs to craft perfectly balanced sippers. Additional perks: old-school hip-hop beats, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies and addictive sweet potato croquettes. What's not to love?

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

10. The Darling

Restaurants American creative West Loop

With a variety of live performances, British manor-style decór and a reservation-only policy, The Darling brings a new level of swankiness to the bustling West Loop. Sit downstairs in the Library and you'll be treated to pop-up performances from musicians, dancers and puppeteers while you sip beautifully balanced cocktails, like the signature Darling Buds of May, with rum, passion fruit juice, apple cider, agave syrup and basil.

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Photograph: Lyndon French

11. Waydown

Bars West Loop

There aren't as many rooftop bars in the West Loop as there are in the Loop, but the Ace Hotel is home to one of the finest western views of the city skyline. The seventh-floor space has a small outdoor terrace as well as a covered lounge, making it an accessible destination throughout the year. Choose from a small collection of bites (guac, nachos, a burger) while sipping craft cocktails like the Ace Old Fashioned, crafted with Koval barrel whiskey. Don't sleep on happy hour, hosted from 4 to 6pm Tuesday through Friday, with killer deals on drinks and snacks.

Blind Barber
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

12. Blind Barber

Things to do Loop

There’s no denying the cool factor of walking through a barbershop to reach a secret backroom bar. Blind Barber, with outposts in L.A. and NYC, landed in Chicago in 2017, offering trims and cuts by day and a raucous good time by night. Though uncomfortably packed on Saturday evenings, the place is ideal for big groups, which are seated at reserved tables along the perimeter of the room (just be sure to make a reservation). The house cocktails are phenomenally balanced, and a massive selection of grilled cheese sandwiches makes for excellent drunk food. Yeah, we’ll be back.

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Goose Island
Photograph: Max Herman

13. Goose Island Fulton Street Brewery

Bars Breweries United Center

Goose Island may have gotten its start in Lincoln Park, but the brewery's Fulton Market facility has become its hub. Beer nerds flock to the sleek taproom, where you'll find Goose flagship creations as well as exclusive releases and hard-to-find vintage selections (including the sought-after Bourbon County Brand Stout). Tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday and provide a look at Goose Island's Innovation Room, its on-site barrel aging warehouse and the bustling bottling line. All tours end back in the Goose Island taproom, where you can sample some of the liquids you've just learned about.

Kaiser Tiger
Photograph: Courtesy Kaiser Tiger

14. Kaiser Tiger

Restaurants Gastropubs West Loop

Specializing in sausage, bacon and beer (seriously, what's not to love?), Kaiser Tiger attracts crowds all year, thanks in part to its spacious patio out back. Come summertime, the space is filled with picnic tables and string lights; when winter rolls around, the outdoor area is equipped with an ice-curling rink and heaters. No matter the weather, grab a Chicago-made beer and head outside.

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