Party Earth Review Opened in 1937 and still sporting the same name and style, The California Clipper is one of the oldest bars in Chicago. Located a bit off the beaten path in an area of Humboldt Park dotted by auto shops and abandoned... ... read full review
1002 North California Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
M–F, Su 8pm–2am, Sa 8pm–3am
Humboldt Park, Chicago –
Opened in 1937 and still sporting the same name and style, The California Clipper is one of the oldest bars in Chicago.
Located a bit off the beaten path in an area of Humboldt Park dotted by auto shops and abandoned buildings, the venue is a retro southern bar known for its grape soda cocktails, jazz and country music, and congenial “Well, come on in” vibe – a vibe clearly embraced by the diverse mix of hipsters, young professionals, and older regulars who show up in leather jackets and fedora hats, along with the few dedicated hippies thrown in for good measure.
Patrons looking to down a few pints with friends settle in at the original long curved bar that runs down one side of the room, while groups of laid-back friends and music lovers fill the bright red booths on the other side to just kick back and chat or listen to the live bands that take the stage later in the week.
A varied performance roster reflects the bar’s mixed crowd, and ranges from drawling bluegrass tunes to upbeat New Orleans jazz, the latter of which draws lively couples to their feet to boogie across the linoleum.
There’s plenty of low-key fun earlier in the week as well, when a mellow crowd stops in for cult classic films and a few Purple Martins – a popular hangover-inducing blend of grape soda, lemon, and rum.
A long history, unique cocktails, and an easygoing atmosphere might entice patrons into The California Clipper, but it’s the strong dose of southern hospitality that keeps them there and makes them feel…well, peachy keen!
Laid-back hipsters, young professionals, groups of flannel-clad friends, leather jacket greasers, and older regulars, mid-20s to late 30s+.
Live music Fridays, Saturdays, and some Thursdays featuring mostly honky-tonk, bluegrass, jazz, and country. Movie night on Tuesdays, ranging from cult classics to whatever happens to be on hand. Free board games. Check website for music calendar.
No food on site but food can be brought in and menus from local restaurants are available. Back room features tiki motif and bamboo lounge chairs and can be rented out. A beautiful ghost allegedly frequents the women’s restroom.
Beer $3–$8, wine $5–$7, cocktails $6–$11.
Casual: flannel, plaid, skinny jeans, old-timey attire, 50s-era leather jackets encouraged.
Fridays, Saturdays, and select Thursdays for live music, and Tuesdays for movie night.
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar (954 North California Avenue) offers more upscale cocktails and a unique meal.