This Legendary Chicago Jazz Club Is Still One Of The Best Places To Catch Live Music

Chicago is a city that is steeped in history. It's perched on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is one of the largest lakes in the world and is well known for its arts and cultural scenes. On a visit to Chicago, you can enjoy delicious food at renowned restaurants, relax on some of the best beaches, tour incredible museums and galleries full of unique art exhibits, and catch amazing performances by some of the most popular musical talents at state of the art venues and historic theaters.

One of the most incredible things about the city is the way that it has grown over the decades. It is home to over 2.5 million people, with multiple unique neighborhoods. Gorgeous historic buildings are nestled among sleek modern skyscrapers, creating a seamless blend of the old and the new. Mark Twain once wrote, "It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago — she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time."

While it's true that Chicago is ever changing, some establishments seem to remain untouched by time. The Green Mill, an iconic jazz club in Uptown Chicago, is one such place. As soon as you walk underneath the green neon sign into the dimly lit exterior of The Green Mill, you'll feel as though you've been transported back in time to the Jazz Age.

Visit The Green Mill for a roaring good time

The small, under-the-radar club and cocktail bar appears unaffected by the passing of decades. It is like opening a time-capsule from the Roaring Twenties. One almost expects to see the booths filled with flappers and bootleggers instead of modern-day Chicago locals. Sometimes the locals, dressed in their best vintage attire, paint the picture quite well. The bar's decor is authentically Art Deco. Behind an expansive curved wooden bar, you'll notice mirrors, vintage cash registers (complete with clickity-clackity buttons), and a small platform upon which an old piano sits. The Green Mill only accepts cash, but there's an ATM by the door for your modern convenience.

The back of the room is lined with a large stage where a rotating cast of local and internationally touring musicians perform every night of the week. Surrounding the stage are several cozy booths that seat anywhere from four to six people. If you hope to score a booth, it's best to arrive early (around 7 p.m.) before the music starts. Once the music gets started, it's not uncommon to see visitors take turns cutting a rug on the small dance floor. It's a lively spot almost every night of the week, and still one of the most fantastic places in the world to see live jazz music. Don't expect fancy craft beverages, but do expect strong, cheap, and tasty classic cocktails. Cover charges vary depending on the performance. 

Immerse yourself in history at The Green Mill in Chicago

The Green Mill's history seems straight out of mobster movies. The iconic speakeasy dates back over a hundred years. It is widely believed to be one of the favorite hangouts of the notorious gangster Al Capone, and allegedly his original booth still sits in its prominent place within the bar. His associate, Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, is believed to have been a part owner of the club, as well. Many musical stars like Billie Holiday, Wilbur Campbell, and Al Jolson are said to have graced The Green Mill's stage, along with cabaret dancers like Texas Guinan.

Behind the bar, you can see a trap door that once led to the tunnels beneath the building that were used to smuggle booze and escape prosecution during Prohibition. During my recent visit, I asked the bartender to point it out to me and requested to see the tunnels. He gave me a surly shake of his head and told me they are now used for bar storage. 

The bar fell into disrepair for some years after World War II and became a somewhat seedy dive. It was resurrected in the late 80's by a Chicago local, Dave Jemilo, and returned to its former glory. Today, The Green Mill is open 7 days a week with live performances beginning nightly at 8 p.m and ending around midnight. The bar stays open until 1:11 a.m. (no, that's not a typo) from Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m on Friday and Saturday. Add this historic gem to your Chicago bucket list immediately.