By: Maddie Ally (Loyola Senior)
The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge | 4802 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago, IL, 60640 | (773)- 878- 5552
4.3/ 5 ✭✭✭✭✩
Be transported into the 1920’s with sounds of swing and the ambience of traditional American culture at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge.
The green and gold flashing neon sign can be seen from the Red Line, drawing in curious by-passers who are intrigued by this seemingly hole-in-the-wall dive bar.
Located on North Broadway Street in Uptown, the Green Mill, originally named Pop Morse’s Roadhouse, has been unchanged since 1907 and its walls contain archives of Chicago history. The Mill was a safe space for mafia icons and infamous musicians, including partial owner Al Capone. There are tunnels that run below the establishment used to smuggle alcohol and mafia members during the Prohibition period.
Upon entry, a bouncer in a dress coat asks for a $10 cover in order to enjoy the live jazz music that occurs from 8 p.m. until midnight, seven nights a week. On Sundays – Thursdays, the bar is open from 4 p.m. to 1:11 a.m., yes 1:11 a.m., from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, and 1p.m. to 2a.m. on Saturdays.
The ambiance of dimly lit red lights with the golden glow from exposed Edison light bulbs creates a feeling of mystery and warmth as soon as you step in. The gold banisters and intricate woodwork on the walls displaying vintage landscape paintings brings you back to a time of extravagance and style– a true Great Gatsby moment.
The jazz music transports you to the streets of New Orleans while people sway to the tunes of the trumpets and the neon sign behind the band lights up the dance floor.
The crowd is interactive with the band and vice versa. People clapping along to songs, dancing, and the band members coming up to the tables to make conversation in between sets.
When asked about their experience, one patron who wished to remain anonymous said, “A solid 3.8 out of 5 stars. It gives classic vibes, it gives old-time and historic Chicago, remnants of Al Capone and the mafia, but being cash only is not 2023, that is my only complaint.”
By remaining unchanged, the Green Mill acts as a time machine into the iconic 1920’s era of Chicago.
The menu is a simple collection of classic cocktails with a domestic and draft beer list, as well as wine. You pay by round and a waiter comes to your table with swift service to take your order. We order two rounds of drinks, averaging $10- $12 per cocktail, $7 per beer, and $8 per glass of wine.
Round one– The negroni had a strong first kick of vermouth, followed by a sweet finish with campari and a hint of orange: (3/5). The classic lime margarita had a salt rim with a perfectly frothy top and a smooth finish: (5/5). The glass of pinot noir red wine came in a cute little wine glass and had a flavor profile of oaky with a long sweet finish (4/5).
Round two– The beer menu was short but comprehensive, including IPA’s, stouts, lagers, and domestics like Miller Lite, Schlitz, and Old Style. The Dragon’s Milk Stout was an 11% beer from Michigan with strong flavors of coffee and cocoa, and hints of vanilla- a good beer to get a buzz going: (4/5). The gin and tonic was classic, simple, with a perfect 70/30 ratio of alcohol to chaser: (5/5). The glass of rosé was cold, crisp, and golden just the way it should be: (5/5).
Two rounds of drinks were the right amount to casually sip and enjoy the band.
If you’re an adult looking to escape the crowds of college students, the Green Mill is just the spot. It is an older crowd of men in dress coats and vests with paper boy hats, and women in long coats and sleek dresses.
Seating is intimate with small tables and booths with a single lit candle, a lovely place for a first date. Couples are able to have intimate conversations with the constant flow of chatter and music.
College students, don’t let this deter you from stepping in, there are people in their 20’s scattered around looking to have an experience outside of the crowded bars and clubs they typically attend.
The one place the Mill loses .7 of their five star rating is the bathroom. The bathrooms are located in the back of the bar on either side of the stage, where the two stalls are tiny and there is a singular, communal bar of soap at the sink. The bathroom stall doors are so small you can look over the top and play peek-a-boo with fellow patrons in the room.
Overall, the Green Mill is a unique spot that is only a five minute walk from the Red Line Argyle stop. From classic cocktails, to an array of events including live jazz music, comedy shows, and poetry slam nights, this historic site has never-ending entertainment for a range of people.
To view upcoming events and shows, visit The Green Mill Jazz Club.