Best Sophisticated Nightlife Outside the City Limits

Ward Eight

Critics' Picks

Velvet chairs and pendant lighting? Check. House rules that prohibit both shouting and baseball caps? Check. Parisian cocktails and convivial bartenders? Check. Is this Evanston or the Violet Hour? OK, while not as plush as the mother of Chicago craft cocktail bars, Ward Eight is precisely what it aims to be: the sophisticated booze-slinger that the neighborhood had been missing. The strip of lemon zest atop the gin-and-champagne-based French 75 is perfectly curled. The cherry in the Artist's Special is appropriately whiskeyed. The Corpse Reviver no. 2 has just enough absinthe to wake the dead. And despite the house rules against rowdiness, if you happen to accidentally shatter a glass on your way out, the staff won't fault you; the gin is clearly to blame.