River North offers high-end shopping and unique dining experiences all in one spot! Located just north of downtown, this neighborhood is known for its upscale nightlife that attracts tourists and locals alike, similar to the South Loop. With so many entertainment options, it’s easy to picture yourself in any of the luxury glass or brick high-rises in this area— but the first step is familiarizing yourself with the best spots to grab a drink from. We’ve researched and asked our team of locals for the best River North bars— read on to find out which made the list!
If River North is your dream neighborhood, reach out to AptAmigo for help finding the perfect apartment here! If you’re still searching for a neighborhood that is right for you, read our ultimate Chicago neighborhood guide to find out everything you need to know about each area.
The Best River North Bars
Three Dots and a Dash
Located: 435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Want to be on island time— all the time? Then enjoying a tiki drink at Three Dots and a Dash is a must! Founded back in 2013, this bar is a coveted spot among Chicagoans. Their impressive beverage program focuses on sourcing quality ingredients from their original location! You can enjoy orchids from Hawaii and mint from Columbia right in your cocktail. Fun fact: the name “Three Dots and a Dash” comes from morse code! It is the signal for the letter “V”, but is known for meaning victory.
Our favorite drink: Be sure to try their Sesame Japanese Old Fashioned, which features a handmade sesame syrup and Japanese whiskey! This beverage is also available as a part of their carryout cocktail kit program.
Located: 111 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
If you’re looking for elevated American cuisine with an Art Deco vibe and an ivy-covered rooftop, Celeste is your scene. Spanning four floors, this space provides three different luxury environments with curated food menus and cocktails for each level. The rooftop, known as “The Garden”, boasts Victorian-style furniture and an option to order an upscale picnic basket to share. The Deco Room has a special focus on rare vintages, large format cocktails, and hand-selected barrels. Whichever floor you end up on at Celeste, you’ll be sure to have an amazing evening!
Our favorite drink: We recommend trying the “Sealed With a Twist”. This drink is made with Butterfly Pea Tea Infused Gin and absinthe.
Located: 112 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
This bar boasts an array of food and beverage selections from all over the world with a backdrop of bright and energetic decor. Arabella puts emphasis on being down to earth and curious with an inviting and inclusive vibe. The selection of light bites range from Asian fusion to Latin American, and their beverages have a flavor for every palette. Arabella even features live music by local artists that you can enjoy while sipping on one of their international cocktails!
Our favorite drink: The Smokey the bear is a must-try! You don’t want to miss this habanero mezcal and yellow chartreuse cocktail.
Located: 213 W Institute Pl, Chicago, IL 60610
The best place to go when you’re in the mood for retro arcade games and themed nights is Headquarters Beercade. Not only do they go all out with their throwback nights (our favorite was the Tim Burton pop-up for Halloween), but they also maintain an amazing array of pinball machines, skeeball, and many other old school games! The floor-to-ceiling cassette tape wall and a DJ spinning awesome tunes is the perfect vibe for a night out with friends in River North.
Our favorite drink: There’s no better way to celebrate living lakeside than by indulging in their Hot Toddy. The perfect warm drink to get you through this chilly winter!
Located: 676-8 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654
Located in the basement of the Green Door Tavern, The Drifter allows you to step back in time to the roaring ’20s. With live burlesque shows, music, and entertainment, this 100-year-old speakeasy offers the full vintage experience. The Drifter transports all of its patrons to a world of classic cocktails and delicacies with a candlelit and intimate vibe. Definitely a must-visit on a tour of River North bars!
Our favorite drink: The best part about this lowkey spot? All of their cocktails (100 in total) are rotated daily and displayed on tarot cards. So they recommend that you “stop in and see what tonight has in store for you.”
Find your Dream Chicago Apartment
Let us help you find your dream apartment in Chicago so that the best River North bars are just a stone’s throw away! Just reach out to AptAmigo, and we’ll set you up with an apartment expert who is dedicated to finding the best place for your needs. We will do all the hard work for you— from sifting through units that match your preferences to scheduling a full day of tours. With our local insight, apartment expertise, and access to the best deals on the market, apartment hunting has never been easier. The best part? It’s 100% free!
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Rebecca is a freelance writer with eight years of journalism experience. She recently graduated with a BA in Communications and a minor in journalism. She currently bartends in downtown Chicago and spends her free time exploring the city and making connections.