Four members of the On Tap crew set out on a draft expedition for the best bars in Chicago. Ron Luce, Summer of George, Marty Lavelle, and I figured we would put together a snake draft of our favorite places to grab a refreshing beverage around the city. These bars could range from your local corner dive to a fancy cocktail rooftop bar. The options were virtually (see what I did there) endless. In times of quarantine, we all miss our local watering holes, so without further ado, here is how the draft went down. After rolling a dice for the draft order, Ron went first, then Marty, then George and me to round it out.
Murphy's Bleachers(Round 1, Pick 1) - With the very first pick in our Chicago bars draft, I had to go with my staple for Cubs games. Murphy's is a classic establishment. I am a bleacher bum myself when I attend games, so why wouldn't I love the watering hole right behind the iconic bleachers? Let me stand out there after a Cubs' win and enjoy a nice, cold Old Style on a June Friday afternoon.
Fatpour Tap Works(Round 2, Pick 4) - A bar I only recently stumbled upon, the staple in Wicker Park is quite a fun spot. I look forward to returning there when the windows can be open. The two-level bar has a fancy interior, a little more upscale than a dive bar, but has a very solid beer list and a great setup. I found a new bar to love on New Year's Eve. Oh, did I mention they do brunch?
Howl at the Moon Chicago(Round 3, Pick 1) - Howl at the Moon is a good time. Anytime you have live music (especially pianos), monster bucket drinks, and a dance floor, you're primed for a good time. Getting Howl at the Moon in the third round was solid, and it's a great spot to enjoy with friends. Especially if you can get the wristband deal almost every time you go (thanks Paul!).
The Gage(Round 4, Pick 4) - This is definitely the "fanciest" bar in my draft. The Gage is a British Pub-style bar on Michigan Ave. with some excellent food. However, the reason the bar stands out to me is their Old Fashioned. I'm sorry, but until you try it you cannot deny me -- they have the best Old Fashioned I've ever had. For that reason alone, they make my list. However, it is a great lunch spot during the workday and even better for after-work shenanigans with some of those aforementioned Old Fashioned's.
Monk's Pub(Round 5, Pick 1) - Although a "hole in the wall" type of bar, Monk's has a sensational set-up in the northwest corner of the Loop. The dive bar look isn't at all indicative of the bar itself. The beer list is superb, the food is incredible, and the atmosphere is a fun, small, home-like feel. It's a great gem in the loop. I also felt the satisfaction of swiping this pick before DJ could.
Cerise Rooftop(Round 6, Pick 4) - It only felt right to have at least one rooftop in my draft. Cerise is at an awesome point in the city, you can see River North, some of the river, and Wacker from the top. During the summer, this is a great spot to go with friends or co-workers and just enjoy the sights, weather, and some excellent drinks.
Trader Todd's(Round 1, Pick 2) - Plain and simple, karaoke is a great time. There is no better place to let loose and sing your favorite Bon Jovi song with a tropical drink in hand than Trader Todd's.
Joe's On Weed(Round 2, Pick 3) - A sports bar with a gazillion TVs and a little door that heads into a concert venue that may have Garth Brooks of Eric Church on stage. Find you a bar that can do both.
Sluggers(Round 3, Pick 2) - Not much needs to be said about Sluggers, it is an American institution. A thousand beers and batting cages, what could go wrong?
Cindy's Rooftop(Round 4, Pick 3) - You're in Chicago, you need a place that you can take a lady with a view. You are going to spend $40 on two drinks, but she will get an Instagram picture and that is really what matters here.
Park and Field (Round 5, Pick 2) - When in Chicago, you need a brunch spot. A place to get the day started. Park and Field has the coveted unlimited mimosa deal with an outdoor bocce court. The basics love brunch, this pick was for all of you ladies.
Flat Iron(Round 6, Pick 3) - If you know, you know. This Wicker Park gem will serve you $1 Rumplemintz shots, $2 tallboy Budweisers, and has every bar game you could possibly imagine.
Summer of George
Fireplace Inn(Round 1, Pick 3) - An Old Town staple. I won’t hold the fact that they got rid of the '90s print extra large cups against them because let’s be honest, once I’m done with three 44-ounce vodka lemonades, I don’t even know what the cup looks like anymore.
The Hangge Uppe(Round 2, Pick 2) - Basement specific. But if you’re looking for a place to do group singalongs to classics from the '60s-'90s and possibly have a random makeout night until 5 AM, this place is for you.
Old Crow Wrigley(Round 3, Pick 3) - Live Music, big crowd, and plenty of dancing partners to choose from. Summertime? There’s the rooftop/outdoor vibe you’re looking for.
She-nannigans(Round 4, Pick 2) - A little lower key than the other Division Street bars with games to play for everyone. Pop a shot and karaoke? Sign me up.
Fremont (Round 5, Pick 3) - Had to include a brunch spot. There’s nothing quite like heading to a bar at 11 AM on a summer Saturday, drinking and eating to your heart’s content in a bar, and walking out expecting it to be closing time only to find the sun still shining.
Kingston Mines (Round 6, Pick 2) - I’m a sucker for live music. I’m also finding myself wandering over to Kingston pretty often because the party goes until 4 AM every day when the 2 AM bars kick me out.
The Old Town Ale House(Round 1, Pick 4) - This bar is open until 5 AM on Saturdays, 4 AM every other night, and has Schlitz on tap. Aside from the outrageous pictures on the walls of local and federal politicians, this bar creates the ideal ambiance for a late-night dive that you want around Chicago. It was also featured on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (RIP).
Emporium Logan Square(Round 2, Pick 1) - If you know me, I love a bar with activities...so many activities.
This is the first Emporium bar in Chicago. It has NFL Blitz, Skee-Ball, NBA Jam, and plenty of pool tables. With an extensive craft beer and whiskey list, this is a top choice for a night on the town with something to actually do.
The Rabbit Hole(Round 3, Pick 4) - This is a great bar for late night jams and Jenga. Every time I've gone, people have a blast. It's at the south end of Old Town and often overlooked because of Benchmark and The Vig. This is a gem if you want to rock out to some classics with some buddies and not necessarily be shoulder-to-shoulder with the yuppy Old Town crowd.
The Burwood Tap(Round 4, Pick 1) - I lived across the street from this establishment for three years and snagged this one before George had a chance. Burwood was a classic spot to grab popcorn and a fresh Miller Lite right in the neighborhood. This is a great Chicago bar that is NOT on a busy street. Neighborhood bars are sometimes hard to come by and Burwood is one of the best.
The Revel Room (Round 5, Pick 4) - This bar in Wicker Park is a mix between craft cocktails and beers and classic hip hop music. It's a great time. The bar is broken into the dance floor area and the regular bar. Either way, I love hip hop music, and a bar with great music goes a long way.
Turtle's(Round 6, Pick 1) - I had to draft a Bridgeport spot before Sox games. I love going to this bar, especially the patio, to grab a beer and some of their buffalo chicken egg rolls. These are fire. Take a stop. It's a small spot just north of Guaranteed Rate Field, and I've always enjoyed it!
That does it. Hopefully, we can all meet at one of these fine establishments after things get back to normal. Who had the best draft and the best list of bars? Be sure to vote on Twitter!