Here’s a great reason to toast: Happy hour is back in the Windy City after more than 25 years away. And with all the attention being paid to the local drinking scene, this time Chicago’s bars have stepped up their game. Overall, they’re offering an abundance of premium spirits, craft beers, and artisanal wines at a discount—if you arrive at the right times.
Labriola Ristorante & Cafe
For those doing heavy-duty shopping in the luxury Magnificent Mile shopping district, a well-deserved break at Labriola Ristorante & Cafe might be in order. Every Monday, the Italian-inspired eatery reduces the price of wines by the glass. It’s an all-day deal, which means you can show up at your leisure, and your choices range from sparkling rose to classic red vino all the way from Veneto, Italy.
GT Fish & Oyster
GT Fish & Oyster, located in River North, may have the coolest nautical theme in the city. When you arrive, try to get a seat at the boomerang table or oyster bar. The restaurant participates in happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and you get half off on oysters, draft craft beer, and wine by the glass. GT’s already built a dedicated following during this time of day, so the bar is always buzzing.
Located in the heart of the River North gallery district, Nacional 27 sizzles with Latin sensations and great drinking deals all week. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, you can take advantage of discounted drinks, like premium margaritas, sangria and glasses of exotic wines. And every Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., more margaritas are on offer, making this an ideal way to wind down the week with coworkers.
Tesori Trattoria and Bar
Tesori Trattoria and Bar is adjacent to Chicago Symphony Center and across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. The restaurant is, of course, known for it’s Italian focus, but all that pasta can make anyone a little thirsty. Happy hour commences daily, with such offerings as whole artisan pizzas with craft beers (1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday), select wines by the glass (4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday), and specialty cocktails (4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday).
The Violet Hour
Over in trendy Wicker Park, the James Beard Award-winning The Violet Hour is doing something quite eccentric to observe happy hour. The innovative Chicago bar aims to rekindle the celebration of L’heure Verte (the Green Hour) by toasting with absinthe. The event occurs Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the spirit is served in traditional fashion with absinthe drip and all. To keep the program intriguing, absinthe selections change monthly and guests can experience a list of rotating cocktails such as the Absinthe Frappe (St. George Absinthe Verte, sugar, lemon oil) and The Libertine (Pernod, lemon, Plymouth sloe gin, sparkling wine).