The Illinois General Assembly got one thing -- and exactly one thing -- right this year: it reinstated happy hour in Chicago. While the last few months of discounted drinks were great, it's now the time of year when it gets hopelessly dark before 5pm every day. That means you need cheap booze more than ever, and these 10 happy hour specials are your survival guide for the next five months of winter.
The Best Damn Happy Hours in Chicago
When: Mon, 5-9pm
Yeah, we get it: Mondays suck -- Porn & Chicken aside -- but once you tire of the dirty flicks and EDM routine, head to this good-time neighborhood barcade for $2 PBR, $2 well whiskey, and free pool. You can always DVR The Bachelor.
When: Tues-Wed, 5-8pm; Thurs-Sat, 7-9pm; Sun, 5-8pm
The award for the most inventive happy hour special goes to the crew at Henry’s, where you can get any draft cocktail or beer for the price of the hour ($5 at 5pm, $6 at 6pm, etc.), in addition to $2 sliders.
When: Mon-Fri, 4-7pm
The best bar in Rogers Park is also the 'hood’s best place for happy hour, where $5 Moscow Mules, $5 glasses of select wine, and $2 off any beer-and-shot combo gives you some nice incentives to knock off work early (not that you need them, of course).
When: Mon-Fri, 5-7pm
You know what’s beautiful, man? Well, in addition to this bar, there’s this special: a beer and a 10in pizza for $10. Done.
When: Mon-Fri, 3-6:30pm
If your hipster grandpa is a fan of food coma-inducing mashups of Southern and Mexican cuisine paired with one of the best Bloody Marys in the city, take him down to old-school diner Dove’s for $5 mezcal/tequila shots, $2 beer shortys and yes, $6 10oz Dove’s Bloody Marias.
When: Mon-Fri, 5-7pm
It doesn’t have to be Cinco de Mayo for an excuse to visit Mercadito (although it helps). Not when you’ve got $3 Mexican beers, half-price appetizers and guac, $4 wine, and $5.50 cocktails available five (that’s cinco, get it?) nights a week.
When: Sun-Thurs, 6-8pm
Things you need to do before you die: 1) date a billionaire/supermodel, 2) finish that screenplay, and 3) drink at Barrelhouse Flat. One of Chicago’s finest cocktail bars gets even finer in the after-work hours with $4 draft beers, $4 Hadouken shots, $5 highballs, and $6 old fashioneds, Tom Collinses, and daiquiris.
When: Wed, 11am-1pm
For a killer bowl of ramen, you know to stop by Furious Spoon. Also stop by for one the cheapest drinks in the city: $1 Hamm’s. Yes, ramen and Hamm’s. It’s a thing.
When: Mon-Fri, 3-5pm
An underrated spot in Ravenswood, Gideon Welles ups its game even further during happy hour, enticing you and that hottie from accounts payable to finally make a date already for $2 Miller Lite bottles, $3 Amstel and Heineken, and half-price Illinois craft beers.
When: Mon-Fri, 6-8pm
Yes, the Irish like to drink, this is not news. They’re also apparently big fans of the deal, as they’re breaking out half-price Revolution beers, Ketel One, Jack Daniel's, Captain Morgan, and Don Julio drinks, as well as $2 beers of the month, 10 hours a week.
1. Emporium Logan Square2363 N Milwaukee, Chicago
2. Henry's Swing Club18 W Hubbard St, Chicago
3. Rogers Park Social6922 N Glenwood Ave, Chicago
4. Nellcôte833 W Randolph, Chicago
5. Dove's Luncheonette1545 N Damen Ave, Chicago
6. Mercadito108 W Kinzie St, Chicago
7. Barrelhouse Flat2624 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
8. Furious Spoon1571 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
9. Gideon Welles4500 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
10. The Irish Oak3511 N Clark St, Chicago
Emporium’s added a new location in Logan Square that's even bigger than the original and full of video games, an indoor food truck, plus vintage pinball, bubble hockey, and pool.
This River North hub is home to over 22 slider options on its menu, as well as serious drink options (buy a bottle of Jack and get free Coke refills all night!), playing cards, vintage Playboys, and pool tables.
Rogers Park Social epitomizes the idea of a "neighborhood" watering hole, because it's actually founded and operated by neighborhood residents, who serve up inventive cocktails and craft beers inside a homey, industrial space. There's also a retro lounge where you can play games like Monopoly while you sip on bar favorites, such as the Socialite (St. George California Citrus Vodka, agave, lime, cranberry, Napoleon Mandarine Orange Cognac) or the Super Rad (CH Key Gin, Stiegl Grapefruit Radler, Pür Likor Elderflower Liqueur). It's a social spot, so bring plenty of friends, or go alone and get to know some of the locals.
Nellcote was named after the mansion on the French Riviera in which The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street, and it bears all the trappings that you'd expect for a place connected to such fame and splendor. Beyond the fanciful decor, this restaurant features an eclectic menu ranging from pizza and pasta, to wood-grilled chicken and pork belly confit.
One Off Hospitality's 41-seat counter service restaurant pushes Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine like chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy, smoked brisket taco Norteño, and chili con carne, along with craft cocktails and tequila galore.
After becoming a Mexican resto institution and favorite in NYC, Mercadito is now in Chi town and just as good. They're serving up creative, updated tacos -- pastor with grilled pineapple, chipotle-glazed pork belly -- along with some interesting guacamole alternatives, including one with mango. Best of all may be their nearly 100 tequila options, which, rest assured, go towards some crazy good margaritas.
This two-floor throwback cocktail bar in Lincoln Park churns out classic tipples like Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds and Manhattans alongside lesser-known drinks like the Jimmie Roosevelt, a blend of cognac, green chartreuse and Champagne. Choose from 60+ varieties of shaken or stirred drinks.
Shin Thompson's small-but-mighty Furious Spoon in Wicker Park stands well above the rest of Chicago's ramen shops for its bowls of handmade noodle soups. The menu features a few kinds of ramen with suggested toppings, like the house apple chili sauce. The signature Furious Ramen, a soul-warming blend of tonkotsu broth and spicy miso, pairs well with a Surly Furious Beer. The restaurant is sleek and narrow with a minimalist, artsy vibe that fits in perfectly with the trendy neighborhood.
Gideon Welles, the man, was a 19th-century journalist and politician who served as secretary of the U.S. Navy from 1861-1869, but as serious as that sounds, you'll find wacky prints of him on the exposed-brick walls at Gideon Welles, the pub. This friendly Ravenswood spot is cooking up everything from pulled pork nachos to a beet & goat cheese salad to the Old Neptune Burger, topped with triple cream brie, tangy tomato chutney, and a giant onion ring. There's also an extensive wine and beer list, plus classic cocktails like a barrel-aged Manhattan.
The Irish Oak is a serious, almost literally imported, Irish pub. With two bars, a Signature Whiskey Still Room, and a menu featuring fish-and-chips, Irish stew, and Corned Beef, there's no denying the style of this bar or the fact that you'll probably love it.