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The Best Prohibition Cocktails in Chicago

Sep. 21st, 2016

From boating to baseball games and a thriving foodie scene, there is something for everyone in Chicago. Located in the trendy River North Neighborhood, The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago is within arm’s reach of the best shopping, restaurants, and art galleries in Chicago. If you’re visiting the City on the Lake, don’t miss the chance to imbibe in its history with some classic cocktails while you’re at it.    

Chicago goes by many names: The Windy City, Chi-Town, and the Jewel of the Midwest are just a few. During Prohibition, Chicago was known mostly as the home of jazz music and speakeasy watering holes frequented by thirsty (and very sneaky) city-dwellers. And while those years are long gone, the cocktails that emerged from these drinking institutions remain as classic libations on any respectable bar menu in the metropolis. Here are a few of the best prohibition-style cocktails in Chicago. 

Hanky Panky
Photo Credit: Tim Sackton/WikiMedia Commons

Hanky Panky

A night on the town isn’t complete without a little Hanky Panky, the cocktail, that is. The classic beverage is made at the Untitled Supper Club with gin, Fernet-Braca, and sweet vermouth. When you drop by the Club, a speakeasy-themed bar and Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning restaurant, there is no sign out front. The only indication that the club exists is the bouncer patiently waiting outside for guests. The walls of the bar are lined with televisions playing muted black and white films for patrons to enjoy while sipping on their beverages. If you’re feeling like a whiskey drink, sample the club’s fan favorite, the classic Old Fashioned.

The Gwen
Photo Credit: The Gwen

Gin Rickey

Allegedly F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beverage of choice, this classic Gin Rickey found at The Gwen—made with gin, lime, and soda water in a highball glass—would do the writer proud. The drink is offered as a part of The Prohibition Porter, a drinks experience offered by The Gwen that boasts a curated list of Prohibition-era favorites. Guests can request their own bartender for 30 minutes anywhere on-property, who will show up to create four drinks from a swanky bar cart featuring fancy '20s-style glassware. If gin isn’t your cup of tea, try the Old Fashioned or French 75. 

Gilt Bar
Photo Credit: Gilt Bar

Tokyo Old Fashioned

Located underground beneath the Gilt Bar lies the Tokyo Old Fashioned, which puts a twist on the classic drink by using Hibiki Japanese whiskey instead of bourbon. One of Chicago’s best kept secrets, this stylish, decadent lounge is a prime pick for date nights or after-dinner drinks. The ample cocktail menu offers a variety of takes on quintessential beverages like Moscow Mules and Manhattans, giving even the most particular visitor something to sip on.

The Manhattan
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The Manhattan

The legendary and ultra classic Manhattan cocktail (made of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters) at this bar is almost as famous as the venue itself. Inspired by Moulin Rouge in Paris, The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is known as one of the best jazz clubs in the country, with a drink menu to match. The lounge also has historical significance, as it was one of Al Capone’s favorite speakeasy haunts during the Prohibition era. In fact, this local establishment was the first bar to get a proper liquor license after the repeal of the alcohol ban. If coming to the Green Mill to imbibe in some world-class jazz, be sure to carry a few bills on hand—the bar is cash only to keep with its speakeasy roots.

The Cherry 75
Photo Credit: Coq d'Or

The Cherry 75

At Coq d’Or, The Cherry 75 is a modern take on the French 75 and includes cherry flavored vodka rather than gin. Their extensive whiskey list and sumptuous cocktails are all inspired by their ties to Prohibition. Legendary in Chicago, it is known for being the second bar in the state to open its doors to thirsty patrons after the repeal of Prohibition. Stop by this spot on the weekends to enjoy live entertainment and dueling pianos with your libations.

The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago

Contemporary with an artistic soul, The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago is perfectly situated in the heart of the Windy City. Celebrating the energy and glamour of Chicago in the 1930s, the 300-room hotel features 34 suites, including signature Terrace Suites that overlook the Magnificent Mile, giving guests a true sense of place. Newly refreshed public spaces include a design-focused lobby and two exciting dining experiences: Circa Restaurant & Lounge, which highlights the rich diversity of American cuisine, and Upstairs at The Gwen, a rooftop terrace that serves craft cocktails and delicious small plates with a view. ...(Read More)