In a town where bars come and go like the whims of our infamous gale-force winds, Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Uptown remains defiant, surviving Da Mare, riots and over a century of fruitless Cubs seasons. Maybe the Boys in Blue, clad in grey stirrups, stopped at the Mill for a homecoming victory round after winning their first World Series in 1907 over the Detroit Tigers? I can’t be sure that it’s true, but I like to think it could be.
Among the illustrious drunkards who’ve bellied up to its bar include Al Capone and Frank Sinatra. A firefighter friend o’ mine who shall remain nameless confirmed whispers of a Prohibition-era bootlegger’s tunnel from the bar’s basement to the St. Boniface Cemetery just to its west. But don’t ask to see the passage, it’s not on public display.
One of the few bars open to 5 AM on the weekends, Green Mill is 200 feet from the CTA Red Line’s Lawrence Avenue stop, which never stops running. They do a good pour here, too. Saunter in and order yourself a dirty martini or an old fashioned. Sink into a booth or grab a folding chair near the main stage and look around. The juke full of 45s. The barkeeps squawking on the rotary phone above the organ play. Ceres observing all from the corner. And holding up the ceiling – a tiled post curiously rising up right in the middle of the main stage. Sometimes there’s a cover charge, depending on the live jazz of the evening, but like a good snifter, live jazz makes it warm, fuzzy and all better inside. Get in here early (no later than 6 to get a seat) on Sunday evenings for Mark Smith’s Uptown Poetry Slam - free of pretension and full of profanity.
I don’t really need to give you another reason, do I? You’d be a fool to visit Chicago and not pay homage here. Seriously.
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