Chicago Historic Bars Overview

O'Donovan's - Historic Bar | Irish Pub | Restaurant in Chicago

Chicago has a long drinking history encompassing grand breweries dating back to the 1800s and a little interruption called prohibition that limited the sale and distribution of alcohol in the 1920s and early 1930s. Today there are remnants of both eras, and a good number of Chicago historic bars share in the long traditions of this booze-consuming city.

Two of the oldest historic bars in Chicago date back to 1934, with Simon’s Tavern in Andersonville and Billy Goat Tavern in Streeterville. Simon’s mixes its American history with Swedish pride as they’re known for their signature glögg wine. Billy Goat is uniquely tied to the Chicago Cubs baseball team as the owner of the tavern is alleged to have put a curse on the Cubbies when the ballpark ushers kicked him out for bringing his goat to the stadium.

Rainbo Club, meanwhile, was opened just two years later in 1936 and is a Chicago staple for an artsy set of music and art lovers and those who like spending only $3 on beer (who doesn’t like that?). Despite its name, it’s really more of a dive bar than a club, but has also hosted everything from dueling pianos to burlesque to rotating art displays over the course of its history.

There are many more historic bars in the city, like Kingston Mines – one of Chicago’s first blues clubs – and Schubas Tavern, which hosts bands every night of the week. Regardless of where you go in the city though, you’ll find a little bit of history in watering holes all over town.

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