Best Places To Drink Outside
While cold-weather drinking is really more of a necessity (whisky=instant warmth), summertime boozing is a legitimate leisure activity best enjoyed al fresco. Here, the rooftops, backyard gardens, and patios that after a cocktail or three, can make the muggiest of concrete jungles feel like an oasis.
Ada Street1664 N. Ada St., West Town | 773.697.7069
The menu at this hidden gem (it's quite literally hidden near a Home Depot in an unmarked building) remains exciting: gnocchi with maple bacon, steak tartare with fried capers and egg yolk, PB&J bread pudding. In the summer, they open up a garage door in the back of the building to an open-air astroturf patio; head to the back to play a game of ping pong while you wait for your meal. The private dining room here is legendary, too—tucked away near the entrance to the main dining room, it's a popular pick for the film and music crowd.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish2952 W. Armitage Ave., Logan Square | 773.384.3333
As the name suggests, you can come here for excellent chicken and fish, both fried to perfection and not at all greasy. But an emphasis on booze is to be expected from the guys that brought you Longman & Eagle. The bar stays open till 2am nightly (3am on Saturdays!) and serves craft cocktails and beer on tap, as well as a lethal Negroni slushy. They also make excellent use of the outdoor space (complete with freestanding bar and ping-pong tables) which functions as a patio in summer or an ice skating rink in the colder months.
Big Star1531 N. Damen Ave., Wicker Park | 773.235.4039
Unlike so many of the city’s more popular watering holes, this indoor-outdoor Tex-Mex spot is bright, airy, and massive in size. It’s part of One Off Hospitality Group (Dove’s Luncheonette, Avec) and as evidenced by the deep tequila/beer/cocktail list and 2am closing time, values a good time above all. To balance out the copious amounts of booze, order tacos and lots of guacamole from the walk-up window—it's usually faster than waiter service.
R&M Champagne116 N. Green St., West Loop | 312.243.1199
R&M Champagne takes its name from a specific variety of bubbly, Grower Champagne, the grapes for which come from a single vineyard, as opposed to dozens. This intimate drinking salon in the West Loop has taken on the ambitious task of building a drink menu focused entirely on exploring this specific corner of the champagne world. Along with a solid dinner offering and a boozy weekend brunch, they’ve put together a romantic outdoor patio ideal for tucking into one of their excellent cheeseboards.
The Garden at Celeste111 W. Hubbard, River North | 312.828.9000
Celeste is divided into several different floors, and while they all share the same elegant aesthetic, the rooftop garden is far and away our favorite. The intimate space is decorated with white Victorian couches and chairs, and the brick walls are softened with vines and planters. While the punchbowl is considered one of the city's best, we usually spring for one of two frozen drinks (an Electric Pisco Colada and a Nuclear Caipirinha) that you can only get on the roof.