These new bars, lounges, and nightclubs in Chicago city have indoor, outdoor, private, and semiprivate spaces that can accommodate groups small and large for events, meetings, product launches, holiday parties, presentations, and other types of entertaining.
1. Board Room took over the former RiNo space in June. The 4,000-square-foot nightclub is outfitted with crystal chandeliers, dark wood panels, and granite and marble accents. A 30-foot bar doles out international spirits including tequilas, champagne, and Japanese scotch. The club is available for buyout Sunday through Wednesday and can hold 350 guests. Catering can be arranged through Market restaurant.
2. The Landshark Beer Garden at Navy Pier unveiled new renovations in June. The alfresco space offers views of the Chicago skyline and lakefront, and can host private events for 20 to 500 guests.The beverage menu offers the signature Landshark Lager, as well as microbrews and frozen drinks. The new Bait Shack Cafe, within the garden, serves casual snacks such as spinach-and-artichoke dip and double-stacked Angus cheeseburgers.
3. Michael Diversey’s took over the former Pheasant and Firkin space in May. The Lincoln Park bar can be rented out for groups of 130, and hosts private trivia nights. The menu offers pub fare like flash-fried pickles with dill dip, mac-and-cheese bites with ranch dressing, and roasted red pepper hummus; the full bar offers local and regional craft beers.
4. Tzar Ultra Lounge, a River North nightspot with a Russian theme, opened in May. The 10,000-square-foot space can be bought out for groups of 400, and scattered areas can host semiprivate functions for 20. An area with its own fur-covered bar can host private groups of 40 to 50. Made of ice and glass, the chandelier-adorned vodka vault can be rented for groups of eight. Staffers provide fur coats for guests to wear while they sit in the chilly space.
5. The Bedford opened in a historic bank building in Wicker Park in late April, and became available for private events in July. The entire space can hold dinners for 150 or receptions for 235. A private dining room can seat 32 or hold 50 for cocktails. The room is equipped with a built-in LCD TV and high-speed internet access; staffers can also bring in ping-pong or poker tables. Known as the parlor, the main dining room has a fireplace and can seat 40 or hold 60 for cocktails. The Vault—which formerly served as such—can seat 50.
6. Bridge House Tavern took over the former Flatwater Grill space in April. Billed as a gastropub, the bilevel venue is available for buyout. It can hold 130 for indoor cocktail receptions or seat 70 for dinner. A river-level patio can hold 200 for cocktails and the upper-level terrace can host receptions for 125. Semiprivate spaces are also available for rental on the patios and inside. Passed hors d’oeuvres include popcorn cones, crab cake bites, and turkey sliders with apple frisée slaw. Chefs can also prepare themed food stations, such as a make-your-own mac-and-cheese bar. Six flat-screen TVs can hook up to laptops for presentations; the venue also has a DVD player and a wireless microphone.
7. Hubbard Inn came to River North in February. The restaurant’s second-floor lounge, which has its own bar and antique tables, chairs, and couches, can host private events for 150. The newly revamped beverage list includes handcrafted cocktails such as the “Couple of Minutes,” which includes Grey Goose vodka, lime juice, Pimm’s, and an English lavender elixir. Summer menu additions include fava bean salad and grilled hanger steak with blue cheese, confit tomatoes, and chimichurri.
8. Public House, a 10,000-square-foot bar from the owners of Bull & Bear, opened in January. Available for buyout, the River North venue can host receptions for 500. Large groups can also opt to rent the east bar, which holds 200, or the 300-person west bar. For smaller groups, a space known as the deck seats 50. With a fireplace and bookshelves, the library can host dinners for 16. The beverage list offers 100 types of beer, and guests can pour their own drinks from liquor and beer taps built into tabletops and walls. Beer also plays into menu items, with options including Belgian White mussels made with blanc beer, mini Kobe corn dogs served with pineapple-beer mustard sauce, and beer-battered fish-and-chips.
9. In the Gold Coast, Paradise Cantina opened in December. With a sand castle, beach-themed murals, and a prop surfboard, the space is available for buyout and can hold 325. For smaller groups, a semiprivate dining room with five flat-screen TVs can seat 30, and at the center of the space an elevated area can hold 100. On the lower level, a private room can accommodate 75. Menu items include fajitas, quesadillas, and tamales.
10. Blokes & Birds, a British-style pub, opened in Lakeview in November. The space is available for buyout and can hold 200. Hosts may also opt to rent just the lower level, which can hold 94. Formerly the executive chef for the Chicago White Sox, Greg Cannon oversees a menu of contemporary English fare and American comfort food. Items include lobster risotto with vanilla oil; shepherd’s pie with stout-braised lamb shoulder; and fish-and-chips with malt vinegar aioli. Some eight flat-screen TVs can hook up to laptops and DVD players for presentations.