Continuing your evening after most bars close isn't always a good idea…but it sure is fun. Unless, of course, it's 1:59 a.m. and your fifth vodka soda left you less than qualified to make a decision on where to go. Avoid the panic by making note of the following late-night liquor havens, which cater to various carousing crews, before your next all-night outing.
Undergrads up late at South Loop Club
Becoming a member of the South Loop Club doesn't take much more than a wallet and a tolerance. Adorned with neon beer signs and island-inspired trimmings (table tents advertise tropical drinks), it can feel downright Spring Break-y inside the sea of tall tables—a fact only further perpetuated by the throngs of students from nearby campuses. Most patrons order beer by the pitcher and good 'n' greasy food like personal pick-your-own-toppings pizzas and cheese fries, served until last call.
The frat pack at The Store
The Store brims with early-morning madness—the kind that features a cast of recently graduated frat boys and girls who haven't skimped on the eye makeup. It doesn't serve food, but you will find more than 10 beers on tap, including Guinness, Blue Moon and Newcastle. And while it has earned a reputation as an after-dark hook-up joint (ladies, you won't stand alone for more than five minutes), not every guy comes here to score with a gal: Some also come to score at hoops. The bar's Super Shot basketball game is one of its biggest draws and costs less than $1.
Line-dancing revelers at Carol's Pub
The line here snakes down Clark Street, past its burrito-slinging neighbor to the south. Once considered a gritty dive, its cult-like status now attracts groups of drunken young folk who might even outnumber the grizzly men sporting cowboy hats. One of the only honky tonks in town, Carol's lures people looking to let loose on the cheap: Beer can cost as little as $1, depending on the bartender's mood, and cover rarely peaks $5. Clouds of smoke consume the dance floor, as live bands, the real draw here, pluck out country tunes and odes to Johnny Cash.
Classically cool crew at Miller's Pub
Classic Chicago meets late-night revelry at 70-year-old-plus Miller's. The spot's stained-glass, dark-wood interior has ample seating, and autographed photos of former celeb patrons like Jay Leno hang on the walls. Despite getting packed around midnight, it's never too hard to snag the bartender's attention to order a stiff Original Miller's Martini and a plate of Canadian baby back ribs (served until 2 a.m.). The laid-back bar patrons—a mix of tourists, theatergoers and 30-ish Loop dwellers—aren't a loud crew, but they're dedicated drinkers who will gladly stay 'til the bar closes.
Quick-score seekers at Tai's Lounge
Once the Southport-area bars close, this lowly lit bar gets packed…and fast. Long lines outside don't deter the twentysomethings from trying to get inside to throw down their last few (or six) drinks. While Tai's doesn't have a huge hard alcohol selection, the mixed drinks come strong and often free for the ladies. With the masses squeezed on the dance floor grooving to top 40 hits and dance classics, finding a breezy area inside may be harder than catching a cab at closing time. Luckily, many of Tai's guests leave in pairs (wink, wink), which cuts the taxi line.
High-tolerance hipsters at Betty's Blue Star Lounge
Part intimate neighborhood bar and part pretension-free hipster saloon, Betty's prides itself on being friendly; its regulars make this bar more than just a post-midnight, bump-and-grind spot. Live music, from rock to rockabilly, provides a backdrop for drunken dancing during the week, while DJs spin Top 40 house and hip-hop tunes on Friday and Saturday. And if you need to nurse a hangover, stop in on a "come as you are" Sunday, when patrons arrive with potluck dishes for sharing. Until 4 a.m., you can wash down those casseroles with cheap drinks: $1 off cocktails and $2 off beer.