Chicago! The windy city! The city of the big shoulders! And also, I hear, a damn good place to get a drink. I'm planning a four-day trip - here are the bars that made my shortlist.
The Violet Hour (so named for a line in a T.S. Eliot poem) is THE Chicago cocktail bar. It is the Anvil of Chicago. When people review other cocktail bars in Chicago, they compare them to the Violet Hour. If you're going to drink cocktails in the windy city you pretty much have to go here.
The word on the street: cocktails just as good as the Violet Hour, but cheaper! Awesome live music! Also supposedly chock full of hipsters at all times. Seriously, one reviewer said something like: "I've never seen so many beards in my whole life."
Super tiny and serves super strong classic cocktails. Yes.
The Green Mill
Not really a cocktail bar so much as a jazz club. Super old school - classic Chicago.
Sable Kitchen and Bar
If the Chowhound forums are any indication, this is the most buzzed-about new restaurant in Chicago. Several former employees of the Violet Hour have created cocktails for their menu, and word is they're quite good.
The Drawing Room
Decor looks a bit stuffy. Website is bleh. But they're supposed to have the best cocktails in town. (Head mixologist Charles Jolly won a James Beard award, which is kind of a big deal.) Looking at the menu is like wandering through a delicious boozy wonderland. And they have a drink called "Cake or Death?" - I mean, how could I pass that up?
My mission: to go, to drink, and to report back. I'll let you know what I find.
Images: Metromix, Starchefs, Esquire.