THE GREEN MILL, CHICAGO
There is a current hipster renaissance afoot featuring, not only hefty beards and tattoos but Prohibition cocktails. What better place to experience a Side Car or a Sazerac or even the ironically named South Side (not originated in the South Side) than The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Uptown, Chicago.
The Green Mill has hosted live jazz every single evening since 1942 and hosts the internationally recognised Uptown Poetry Slam every Sunday, but it is most famous for being the favourite hang out of the notorious American gangster, Al Capone.
Emily, my eldest, took me to the Green Mill for a birthday surprise when she was living in Chicago. I felt like I was stepping through time when I entered the bar.
Inside the Green Mill, there is the original statue of Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest, which was saved from storage and now intermingles with newfangled lighting cables. Walls are decorated with Prohibition photographs in solid oak scrolled frames and Al Capone’s infamous booth; it’s location perfect for keeping a lookout for enemy gunmen on both doors of the speakeasy, but crap for viewing the band.
Behind the bar is a trap door with a lift for bringing in the illegal hootch, and also for escaping from the booze police. There is also a wood carving that features a poem about Capone’s favourite Jazz singer Joe E. Lewis. Joe E., after asking for a raise, not receiving it and then leaving the Green Mill for another establishment, was attacked by Capone's men and left for dead. His tongue and mouth mutilated so that he could never sing at that new establishment. The poem serves as a warning against anyone who might consider displeasing The Big Guy.
Get there before 7pm for Al’s booth or a table close to the stage, and stay all night for the music. The entry is cheap, cash only, and dress is anything you want it to be.
4802 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640 : 773-878-5552
Find The Green Mill in Ocean’s 12 and High Fidelity, and many more.
The Green Mill’s location is still a bit rough, but there are plenty of cabs and an L station close by.