A refined Japanese drinking den, an underground music venue that doubles as a beer mecca, a janitor’s closet serving killer martinis — these are just a few of our 20 favorites, ranked here.

The Bamboo Room


Near North Side

PERFECT FOR:Getting schooled in cane spirits, from funky Jamaican rums to grassy Mexican aguardientes
START WITH:The Jet Pilot, a stirred take on the traditionally shaken classic that’s moody enough for the dark days of winter

After years of whiskey dominance, Chicago is in the midst of a rum craze, and nowhere are bartenders doing more mind-blowing things with that spirit than at the Bamboo Room, a 22-seat hideaway within Three Dots and a Dash. Beverage director Kevin Beary drizzles cachaça and brandy over apple shaved ice, clarifies banana rum so it’s even more banana-y than a banana, and pours tastes of rare sugarcane spirits. Meet your new tiki idol. 435 N. Clark St.


Bar Ramone


Near North Side

PERFECT FOR:Letting loose with your old study-abroad friends
START WITH:A long-spouted porrón of Basque txakoli

Don’t pretend you’re not getting a porrón for the table. Order it with your choice of fizzy, rosé, or still txakoli, pass it around to all your friends, then devour a Spanish ham board to start the night. There’s an excellent European bottle list, and a capable somm to help navigate it, when you’re ready for the next round. 441 N. Clark St.