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CHICAGO: 7 Authentic Basement Bar Experiences

The Library by Gilt Bar Chicago 1

Chicago’s Basement Bars | In a city like Chicago, you can always find something special just beneath the surface.  Some of Chicago’s most authentic bars, lounges and night clubs are located underground, beneath the busy streets where they are well-hidden from the public eye.  If you aren’t looking, you could miss them– and these are experiences you and your friends don’t want to miss.  Join us as we explore 7 truly authentic basement bar experiences in Chicago today.

Brought to you by Jameson Black Barrel.

The Drawing Room Chicago

The Drawing Room Chicago 1

Michelin-rated cuisine?  Check.  Signature cocktails?  Check.  High design without the attitude?  Check and check.  The Drawing Room Chicago is a basement bar and lounge with a master mixologist behind the bar and an award-winning chef in the kitchen.  Come for a Three Fork Michelin dining experience, stay for the absinthe fountain (pictured above) at the bar. It’s the perfect basement bar starting point.

The Drawing Room Chicago | Gallery

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Watershed Bar Chicago

Watershed Bar 1

If Don Draper had a subterranean hide-out in Chicago, it’d look like the Watershed Bar at 601 N State.  The mid-century design sensibility of this River North basement bar welcomes the after work and late night crowd six days a week.  A neat pour of whiskey and a featured microbrew are the perfect way to start the weekend at this classy underground retreat, provided you pace yourself, of course.

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Underground Lounge Chicago

Underground Lounge Chicago 1

Stuck between a rock and a happy place, the Underground Lounge Chicago is Wrigleyville’s best kept secret.  With the Cubs-related sports bars to the west and bustling Boys Town to the east, those in between the opposing scenes are welcome at the Underground Lounge.  This long-standing basement bar features bands, stand-up comics and more for a very different type of experience in Wrigleyville.  No frayed ball caps, no popped collars, no bad dance music– everyone wins.

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The Office Speakeasy Chicago

The Office Chicago 1

Chicago’s most exclusive basement bar is open by invitation only, so you’ll have to do your footwork if you want a drink at The Office Speakeasy.  This selective spirit room is the side-project of The Aviary, the oft-celebrated masterpiece of chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas.  If you know The Aviary by reputation or experience, you know what to expect at The Office.  Get yourself an invite, and some of the finest prohibition-era spirits and styling will be yours for a night.

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[photos courtesy: renee suen]

Smartbar Chicago

Smartbar Chicago 3

For 40 years, this Chicago institution has been serving up dance music to dedicated locals and post-concert partiers from The Metro upstairs.  Smartbar has hosted just about any name in dance music you can imagine, from major acts like Moby to local heroes like Derrick Carter.  If you choose the right night to hit this old-time favorite, you can have yourself a night to remember.

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[images courtesy: merrick brown 1, 2, chad magiera]

Suite Lounge Chicago

Suite Lounge Chicago 1

This well-hidden Old Town basement bar sports a cellar-lounge sensibility with deals for dedicated locals.  Suite Lounge Chicago is tucked into an alley near Wells and Burton in the central entertainment district of Old Town.  With $3 drinks on off-nights and 15%-off for Facebook check-ins, it’s an easy alternative to the Michelin-class options on this list.

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The Library by Gilt Bar Chicago

The Library by Gilt Bar Chicago 2

Chicago’s newest basement bar may also be its greatest– enter The Library by Gilt Bar Chicago.  This stunning subterranean hideaway feels like it roared right out of the 20s and into your weekly nightlife calendar.  Located right across the street from the Merchandise Mart and beneath the venerable Gilt Bar, The Library is the place to see and be seen over a masterfully-mixed cocktail.

The Library by Gilt Bar Chicago | Gallery

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Thanks for reading, fellow Chicagoans and visitors to this fair city.  Is there an underground spot that you adore that we missed and you want to share with our readers?  Hit us up in the comments below or share with us on facebook or twitter.  Hopefully we’ll see you at one of these amazing basement bars in the future.  In the mean time, don’t miss our look at 10 of the Oldest, Most Historic Bars in the United States– it represents a pilgrimage every spirit lover should endeavor to experience.