If You’re Going to Chicago and Enjoy Jazz Check Out This Club
Most of you probably know I spent my formative years in Chicago, and go back regularly to visit friends and family. This past trip back was a treat because I finally got to visit Chicago's famed Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. And if you enjoy jazz, history, the roaring '20s, or just want to name-drop a cool historical place you've visited then you should stop in for some music and a cocktail.
The Green Mill is a jazz club that opened in 1907 according to Jetting Around. And is notable for being a hangout for mobsters during the roaring '20s. Capone actually had a booth there. We probably walked by it as we found a place to stand and enjoy the band, but it's not something I noticed in the crowded intimate bar. And you probably won't either if you go on a busy evening.
We went on a Saturday evening and were given some inside info to get there about 8:00 PM if we wanted a table. We got there a little later and had to stand for a few minutes before getting two stools at the bar. And we were lucky, a bunch of folks came in after us. And even when the band, The Jeremiah Review, took a break between sets those sitting weren't ready to leave.
It's a surprisingly small club that looks larger whenever I've seen it on TV, in the movies, or even driving by it. And it has the kind of reputation that brings in serious jazz players and serious jazz listeners as well as people like us, who went to experience the club and soak up what Jetting Around calls its speakeasy atmosphere.
The live music, The Jeremiah Review were performing the night we went, was excellent. And while some folks with claustrophobia might be advised to not go during live shows. I'd say you got to go and experience the bar packed with people and live music. I just can't picture having as much fun going when the room would be quiet. The jazz, the people, the cocktails, the architecture, it's all part of sensory experience.
I'm glad I couldn't remember I liked Mojitos though. Apparently, according to their "Stuff that's not so much fun you should know" section they don't make 'em. And when my friend ordered a Cosmo, I probably would have asked for a Mojito. But I couldn't think of the name, and I went with the hipster's cheap beer choice, Pabst Blue Ribbon. That was fine, and probably cheaper than a Mojito would have cost if they made them.
Drinks aren't cheap though, there is a cover, and your credit isn't any good at the Green Mill, so stop at an ATM on the way so you have cash for the bar, tips, and cover.
Be forewarned it is a place to listen to music, so while the jazz is playing most of the patrons and staff would prefer you use low voices and turn your phone off. They make announcements about this before each set too, and Jetting Around says, it's a policy the regulars and staff take seriously. There was some talking Saturday night, but it didn't seem to bother the performers or other patrons.
The club's regular hours are 4:00 PM - 1:11 AM Sunday - Thursday. 4:00 PM - 2:00 AM Friday and Saturday. On the third Sunday of every month, The Green Mill hosts The Uptown Poetry Slam and opens at 2:00 PM. Bands play from 8:00 PM - 12:00 Midnight every day. With bands whose music you can dance to booked on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
The bar says keeping up with local ordinances due to COVID-19 has been like, "Herding cats. In Heat." And unlike Missouri, Illinois, and especially Cook County is big on requiring vaccinations to spend any time anywhere. So you'll need your vaccination card, or at least a photo of it on your phone, and a mask. The night we went, as long as you had a mask on when you came in you were good. Whether you chose to wear it when you got settled and had a cocktail in your hand, seemed to be more up to you.
It was a fun night soaking up some history and great music with my friend. I think if you find yourself in Chicago and want a unique experience you'll want to check it out. Next up for me, some blues at Buddy Guy's Legends. That's another iconic spot I need to check out and I'm penciling it in for my next trip to Chicago.
The Green Mill is located at 4802 N. Broadway in Chicago. Cover charges vary based on the performers. And since it's a tavern, you need to be 21 to get in. They do have a parking lot, and you can come dressed in jeans or dressed to the nines.