The Drifter at the Green Door Tavern

Words by Simon Difford on 01-Apr-2015

Address: 678 N Orleans Street, (corner W Huron St), Chicago, Illinois, 60654, United States
Email: +1 312 631 3887
Website: Not supplied
Door: Go early
Style: Speakeasy
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu


The Drifter is a surviving example of one of Chicago's original speakeasies, this historic tiny subterranean cocktail lounge sits hidden in the basement of the Green Door Tavern - so two great venues under one address - a characterful pub and a speakeasy cocktail bar of some repute.

The Green Door pub has a good selection of beer and top shelf spirits but is set apart by its decor and atmosphere. The dark wood interior is lit by neon signs and fairy lights with old tin signs, framed photographs and bric-a-brac. TV screens occupy almost every sight line so it's easy to keep one eye on the sports action. The Green Door Tavern generally has a warm homely glow about it.

If you are after cocktails and an altogether more refined experience then head downstairs to 'the Drifter'. Head to the far back left corner of the pub and through the doorway to the rest rooms marked by the neon "pool room sign". Pass the poolroom and head down the staircase. At the foot of the stairs there's a door on the right disguised as a book shelf, beyond lies The Drifter Bar and cocktail nirvana.

This place is the real deal - a genuine speakeasy with original bar counter, back bar and stage. A high doorway in the wall opposite the bar used to be where barrels of booze where passed down into the bar. The space was used as a cluttered store room for years, hence the original Prohibition era interior survived and now sits as a working speakeasy museum. The cocktail menu is printed on Tarot cards and the selection changes daily.