12 cozy spots to grab a drink in the Chicago area

Photo: RM Champagne Salon

It’s that time of the week to sip away the spreadsheets, construction delays and the empty feeling left when you’ve finished a Netflix binge.

Bring on the calm in a cozy little place that serves your favorite craft beer, has an incredible wine list or introduces you to a heavenly new cocktail. Here are some of our favorite snug spots to imbibe in the city and suburbs.


Nighthawk in Albany Park is like walking into your best friend’s place for one drink and having such a great time, you end up staying all night. Founded by the business partners behind Windmiller Sound, this place has an ambiance and playlist that will always put you in the mood for one of their shaken, stirred or potent cocktails. A must-have is the Nighthawk Manhattan. And if you do end up staying late? Not to worry. Nighthawk serves hot and cold coffee brews in the morning.

Ward Eight in Evanston is a craft cocktail bar tucked in where the Women’s Christian Temperance Union once battled booze. Not to be missed is in their delicious details – the delicately garnished presentation, the warm welcome from the bar staff and the interesting, well-edited selection of drinks.


Photo: Autre Monde

Ampersand Wine Bar in Ravenswood was built out of chef-owner Darren McGraw’s dream of bringing the luxury of fine dining and drinking into his very own living room. Ampersand offers a long list of high-quality and affordable wines that won’t intimidate and will pair beautifully with their small plates and scrumptious desserts. Not sure what to order? Ask any server (or Darren himself) for a recommendation that’s sure to be spot-on.

Autre Monde in Berwyn is both elegant and inviting to cozy up at a communal table or sit under the (LED) stars on the patio with wine from an extensive glass and bottle list. Award-winning sommelier and co-owner John Aranza offers wines from around the world, including Croatian and Balkan labels, as well as featured seasonal pours.


Hopleaf in Andersonville might be packed full of people in room after room of the ever-expanding space, but it’s easy to find a corner of your own to drown out the crowds with a few brews. The menu is also loaded with Belgian draft beers served in charming glasses and there’s always a mound of perfectly crisp frites to bring out the hoppy notes even more. Hopleaf is consistently a best-bar list-maker, especially once you find your favorite booth and beer.

Log Cabin Inn in Des Plaines was first established in 1934, and as the oldest bar in town, it still looks very much the same. With a fireplace, fire pits and an outdoor patio dubbed Hobbit Village, this rustic bar is packed full of kitsch. Come for a beer, and stay for pierogies, bocce ball and a place to warm up during the cooler months.

Bourbon, whiskey & rye

Long Room in North Center is straightforward and simple – a low-lit stretch of a tavern that serves plenty of craft beers and cocktails to its mostly hipster patrons. But while you’re there enjoying one of the city’s best burgers or biscuit sandwiches served from its Sidecar pop-up kitchen, sample one (or three) of the distinctive bourbon selections.

Niche in Geneva has won a host of diner’s choice awards for its contemporary cuisine, and inside the woody confines of this space is also a bar with chops. Have a weakness for whiskey? Niche’s collection – a curated list that goes on and on – will make you swoon. And if you’re visiting this getaway town from the city, plan your trip around one of Niche’s whiskey dinner events.

Gin, vodka & tequila

Best Intentions in Palmer Square broadcasts that it is all about fancy cocktails, so don’t let the quirky decor or Millennial guests you swear prefer a PBR fool you. Make your order a Mezcal, one of two dozen gins, a familiar flavored vodka, or possibly a small-batch liquor. Find your sweet spot outside or near the old-timey jukebox.

Photo: Found Kitchen

Found Kitchen & Social House in Evanston is warm, refined and well-worth the drive if you live in the city or another suburb. You’re in great hands with any bartender pouring drinks, so don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation or to be surprised with a custom concoction. The cocktail menu is full of delights and the well-edited list of gins and vodkas are all lovely choices. If you’re there for a single drink, you’ll certainly be tempted to return for a full meal.

One more for the road

RM Champagne’s Seven Strangers Cocktail

RM Champagne Salon is a sophisticated spot nestled in near Randolph Street. The menu has plenty of sparkling wines to savor and oversized leather chair and fireplace-adjacent first-date spots to share cheese and sweets pairings with your perfect companion.

The Tavern in Libertyville is a classic Chicago steakhouse with a twist. Inside the eclectic lounge, order your favorite flavor from a long list of wines, spirits and cocktails. But the milieu may very well call you to skip the pinot grigio and indulge in a cognac, port or dessert wine.

Written by Jessica Ashley
Jessica Ashley is a writer, coach and the voice of Single Mom Nation and its sister podcast. She wears inappropriately high heels to the playground, is mom to a teenager and a threenager and lives with her chef boyfriend on the north side of Chicago.