Five bars rocking the neon
Bar DeVille The corner location, window neon, “cold beer” cooler and Art Deco bar might lead you to believe this spot is run by a septuagenarian with stories to spare. Investigate further and you’ll find an extensive beer list, butter-soft leather booths, brocade wallpaper and hipsters shooting stick in an antler-adorned back room—signs that owners Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner might be youngsters with expensive taste, but they’ve set their corner tap on the path toward longevity. 701 N Damen Ave, West Town (312-929-2349). Bus: 50, 65, 66. Sun–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 5pm–3am. Average beer: $6.
Cesar’s Neon lights point the way to this self-touted “Home of the Killer Margarita,” where, to the scantily clad singles who pack the place, the average Mexican fare serves as little more than stomach coating for a pitcher of ’ritas. Nine flavors are on offer, from the standard lime and strawberry to the harder-to-find guava, tamarindo and blue curaçao. 3166 N Clark St, Wrigleyville (773-248-2835). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 8, 22, 77. Mon–Thu 11am–11pm; Fri, Sat 11am–midnight; Sun 1–8pm. Average cocktail: $9.
EZ Inn Those not paying attention risk stumbling past the subtle neon signage and buzzer-protected door of this Ukrainian Village dive. To feel like a regular inside, simply nab a Miller Lite, lend an ear at the bar stools and shamelessly belt Van Halen’s “Top of the World” between dart tosses. A tip to the wanna-be sharks: Pool is taken very seriously. 921 N Western Ave, West Town (773-384-9682). Bus: 49, 50, 66. Sun–Fri 8am–2am; Sat 8am–3am. Average beer: $2.50.
Green Mill Originally Pop Morse’s Roadhouse when it opened in 1907, this jazz institution is legendary for three things: It was once a Capone hangout, it’s supposedly haunted, and the no-nonsense staff is known to shush you and the visiting friends who dragged you in during live jazz sets. Have trouble keeping your mouth shut? Go during the Uptown Poetry Slam on Sunday nights. 4802 N Broadway (773-878-5552). El: Red to Lawrence. Bus: 22, 36, 81, 151. Sun–Fri noon–4am; Sat noon–5am. Average cocktail: $7.
Peacock Liquors For being in the back of a dusty, cluttered liquor store, this slashie has some surprisingly homey aspects to it, namely the bar decorations (corresponding to whatever holiday is coming up) and the friendly, chatty bartender. Come around enough and the surly regulars will stop giving you suspicious looks. (The ragged cat that jumps around the place, however, is likely to remain nonplussed.) 3056 W Montrose Ave, Northwest Side (773-588-5148). El: Brown to Kedzie. Bus: 78, 80, 82. 9am–10pm. Average beer: $2.