You might be wondering why, in a year when so many high-profile bars have arrived—from Three Dots and a Dash in River North to the Dawson in River West, from Punch House in Pilsen to, oh, half of Logan Square—we chose to devote nearly half of our Bar Issue to the oral history of a centenarian dive in Uptown. To which we’d reply: Seriously? The Green Mill, as we all know, is as fashionable as ever—partly because of its pockmarked pedigree, partly because of its dodgy-but-gentrifying environs, and largely because so many new bars (we’re talking about you, Sportman’s Club) take their cues from joints like the one Dave Jemilo resuscitated 30 years ago.
We devoted most of the rest of this year’s Bar Issue to two emerging drinking trends with vintage influences. The rise of the distillery harks back to a time when Illinois had upwards of 100 distillers. The artform has resurfaced, to our delight. We just hope we have the tolerance for all that locally crafted hooch. And the opening in the past two years of three arcade bars (two more are on the way) has allowed us to revisit a more recent history—80s-era arcades!—while polishing our Space Invaders skills.
Finally, we somewhat begrudgingly singled out 40 of our favorite bars, a mix of old and new. It was a real pain, only because the new keep on coming—while the old seem to only improve with age. —Mara Shalhoup
An oral history of the Green Mill
The neon-lit bar at Lawrence and Broadway, now a legendary jazz club, has been around for 107 years—and has more stories than any tavern in town. Here are a few from the past three decades.
By Patrick Sisson
Find more classic bars.
Arcade Bar Crazy
So an indie video-game designer walks into an arcade bar . . .
In light of the recent flurry of arcade bar openings—three in just under two years, two more on the way—we handed a pair of programmers a fistful of change (and some beers) and set them loose to give us their takes.
By Leor Galil and Kevin Warwick
Find more arcade bars.
The distillery boom
Distilleries are on the rise in Chicago
But will the city soon reach its saturation point?
By Julia Thiel