Nightlife with a touch of refinement is what you'll experience when you frequent Chicago's best cocktail lounges. These upscale places lend themselves to sophisticated evenings out, and their stylish furnishings and interiors promote conversation and relaxation. For a taste of what Chicago offers, visit The Zebra Lounge, which is known for its inventive cocktails, or lounge about in Pop's for Champagne and discover the ambience that 10Best users appreciate. A great place for a date or an after-hours business meet-up.


Funky Buddha Lounge

Local artist Suhail's giant steel Buddha marks the entrance to this cool spot. Leather and faux-leopard seating areas run the length of the main bar in the dark Moroccan/Middle Eastern-inspired den. Two bars, a cozy VIP section, and a small dance floor are packed nightly. Cosmopolitans are the house specialty. Buddha also has some of the best DJs in town. Check out Jesse de la Pena on Wednesday and Saturday and percussionists Ya Ya and Yamcouba on Fridays.

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MEXX Kitchen & Bar at The Whiskey

You're in for a delightful experience at this exclusive restaurant and lounge located on the ground floor of the Sutton Place Hotel. Owned by Randy Gerber (yes, Cindy Crawford's husband), The Whiskey has now partnered with Chef Richard Sandoval and has been reinvented into MEXX Kitchen & Bar at The Whiskey. Chef SandovalÂ's authentic modern Mexican cuisine features traditional fare, authentic Latin, and Mexican cuisine with a modern twist. The bar is strictly top shelf with more than 100 varieties of tequila and the bar stools make excellent perches for watching the beautiful clientele and staff.

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Signature Lounge at the 96th
Photo courtesy of Flickr/jstuppy

Although a bit touristy, this spot offers the best views in the city on a clear night. The lounge is kept extremely dark to maximize southern and western views, and the lake and Navy Pier are visible from the Art Deco, marble-laden restaurant a floor below. Live jazz is featured on the weekends. The bar has a great selection of cocktails and champagnes. The place draws an unbelievably mixed crowd, which makes people-watching a real treat. Skip it on a cloudy night or if you're prone to vertigo.

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The Lounge at Le Colonial

Your portal to French Colonial Vietnam is unassumingly tucked on top of this French/Vietnamese restaurant. The lounge is candlelit, with enormous potted ferns, wicker furniture, gently whirling fans, dark wood, Oriental carpets, comfy couches, and a lovely terrace. The vintage black-and-white photos transport guests to another era. Menu items from the restaurant are available to complement an extensive selection of signature martinis. Music ranging from Bolero to Moby flows smoothly. Warning: This room can inspire a lot of kissing.

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Magnificent Mile
The Zebra Lounge

This place, which is located on the first floor of a vintage apartment building, has been around for 65 years. Its zebra wallpaper, leather booths, and mountains of outlandish collections would allow it to double as a museum of tacky memorabilia. It feels like someone's recreation room. There are only 10 tables and a handful of bar stools, so come early. Piano music, from Sinatra to torch songs and sing-a-longs, are a nightly event. The Zebra is a classic that draws a hip, young crowd.

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Pop's for Champagne

Pop's offers over 100 different champagnes in an ethereal, elegant room. The sunken bar highlights piano and jazz combos that grace its elevated stage seven days a week. A lovely outdoor garden, domed ceilings, and a roaring fireplace make this spot a romantic classic. Light appetizers, desserts, and a full bar are available if you don't like the bubbles.

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Webster's Wine Bar

This intimate, largely-candlelit bar offers an extensive list of wines by the glass, flight, or bottle and a light menu with pâtés and cheeses. Its two floors are filled with tables, comfy couches, hardwood floors, and rich dark colors. An outdoor patio is available during the summer. Rotating exhibits featuring local artists grace the walls, and there is live music on Monday nights. Each month features a variety of wine-tasting events, including events that are devoted to a certain region. Packed almost every night, it's a great place to relax with friends.

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Cavanaugh's Bar & Restaurant

Located in the Monadnock Building, this bar and restaurant offers business types a place to hang their hats during lunch or after work. The entrance is tucked away in a rather nondescript alley, with the only clue to its existence being a green and white striped awning. Green leather and warm wood tones greet guests upon arrival. The menu includes a mix of sandwiches, pastas, salads, and burgers as well as a laundry list of beers.

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Runway-worthy fashionistas, both male and female, strut their stuff at this nightspot that corners the market on high concept. Service is VIP-worthy, and champagne and top-shelf liquors reign supreme. Subdued musical tracks and comfortably couched seating areas allow intimate conversation, and plasma screens display custom video (like fireplaces) to warm things up. For patrons who prefer to interact in more exclusive surroundings, a private, glassed-in room is available.

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Market District

Post-modern furniture combines with rough-edged industrial textures to produce a uniquely minimalist lounge. Low couches and tables have a distinctly Scandinavian flair and allow for free-flowing movement throughout the lounge. Multimedia installations enhance the motif of movement, adding a visual element to the uncluttered interior. Area hipsters flock here for the affordable cocktails and the cool atmosphere.

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