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2014's Best New Cocktail Bars In Chicago

Drinks used to be easy when they were poured by bartenders. Now, mixologists practically create art with their alcoholic alchemy. Here are the newest Chicago spots to sip the most interesting intoxicants.
SHAY Chicago
(Photo Credit: SHAY Chicago's Facebook)

222 West Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 654-1230

Open in late October, River North's SHAY offers a front and back entrance, a couple of bar areas as well as raised VIP spaces and a DJ booth. Yes, it has a cutting-edge look and is all dimly lit, but you want to know about the spirits. The SHAY Sparkler is a little girly owing to its Prosecco bubbles but the Hophead Vodka, Barsol Perfecto Amor Pisco and pineapple also lend deep flavor. Gin, now the anti-vodka, shows up nicely in the French 75, a blend of City of London Gin, lemon and Richer Pour Prosecco. Margarita fans will go for the Paloma made with Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila, Steigl Radler, sea salt and lime. In addition to cocktails, SHAY offers beer, wine, bottle service and champagne options as well as innovative small bites such as open-faced crab rangoon, mini pretzel BLT and mushroom donuts.

I/O Urban Roofscape
Godfrey Hotel
127 W Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 649-2000

The "Cocktails from the Kitchen" menu, devised by Riley Huddleston, means cocktails deliver on taste and consistency just as an appetizer or entree should. Since Chef Huddleston honed his craft at the Chicago Taj Mahal of cocktails, The Aviary, you should expect nothing less than fantastic as he tests pH levels and employs molecular techniques to twist classic cocktails into a sensual experience. It might say "Manhattan" on the menu but a roster of intricate ingredients and high-tech techniques result in a delicious, memorable "Manhattan." Go ahead - order them by the pitcher. I/O Urban Roofscape opened in February, 2014.

Tippling Hall
646 N. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 448-9922

You have to admit that the name is pretty perfect, and with a 20-plus-page menu of drinks, with a degree of good fun in the descriptions, Tippling Hall has the verbiage down. But how are the cocktails? Under the "Stimulating, invigorating and extremely palatable" category you'll find, for example, Bruno the Donkey made from Hangar 1 vodka, absinthe, lemon, black currant and ginger beer as well as The Dirty South - Tin Cup American Whiskey, apple brandy, cardamaro, black tea and smoked sugar. Now serving food, the warm spot also serves as a beer hall and wine bar. Leave your Laboutins and attitude elsewhere because Tippling Hall is unpretentious and comfortable.

 Best Restaurant With Organic Food In Chicago

111 West Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 828-9000

Although new (February 2014), Celeste is housed in what was a turn-of-the-century glass factory so the design and decor is as gorgeous as what's in your glass. You can go for the familiar, like a Negroni, Manhattan or a Moscow Mule (probably the cocktail of 2014), or try a White Flower made with Beefeater Gin, St. Germain, citrus and sparkling wine. There are bites and entrees, beer and wine, but come to Celeste for the historic ambience that never seems forced. The second floor Deco Room, a space Gatsby would have loved, also offers a lengthy cocktail list.

Related: Best French Restaurants In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at


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