October 13, 2016

The Coq D'Or at the Drake Hotel in Chicago

photo by: Drake Hotel

The Coq D'Or is located in Chicago's Drake Hotel, one of the city's grande dame hotels.

Although its location in Chicago's elegant 1920 Drake Hotel already speaks volumes about the Coq D’Or’s pedigree, this circa-1933 bar has its own claim to fame: after Prohibition was repealed in Illinois on December 6 of that year, Coq D'Or became just the second bar in the city to obtain a liquor license. (Allegedly, bartenders started serving patrons before the official 8:30 p.m. repeal.)

As the menu reads, “The lines were so long that our bartenders only had time to pour whiskey at 40 cents a glass. Along with the rest of the city, we were ready, however, with an excess of 200,000 gallons of whiskey for the celebration that lasted until dawn.”

Today, tourists and locals stop by the Coq D’Or—French for "golden cockerel (or, young rooster)—on the first floor of the Drake Hotel in the city’s Magnificent Mile district to partake in its “executive” size cocktails—twice as large as a standard Coq D’Dor drink.

Also on the menu: eats such as the hotel’s famous Bookbinder Soup, a hearty tomato-based dish peppered with red snapper and served with a crystal decanter of sherry, which the diner is supposed to pour into the broth as they spoon it up. The soup, in tandem with the bar’s cozy wood-paneled interior, provides the perfect refuge from those famously brutal Chicago winters.

photo by: Drake Hotel

A 2011 restoration brightened up this original mural.

photo by: Cardboard America

This postcard dating from sometime between 1955 and 1960 depicts a very similar Coq D'Or.

There’s no denying that the low-ceilinged atmosphere of the Coq D’Or evokes a different era. On Friday and Saturday nights, the intimate bar offers live jazz performances, and an extensive whiskey and scotch selection caters to lovers of dark liquor.

In addition to the Bookbinder Soup, seafood favorites like a classic lobster roll take precedence on the menu, as do indulgent desserts like the peppermint chocolate cake. You can ask your waiter for an after-dinner cigar, but you’ll have to smoke it outside.

Although you can't get a shot of whiskey for just 40 cents at the Coq D'Or anymore, this Chicago mainstay hasn’t changed much since the 1930s. Here are a few things to know before you go:

Location: Drake Hotel, 140 E Walton Place, Chicago, IL 60611

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

You’re having: The Bookbinder Soup. Wash it down with an old fashioned.

Best Yelp review: “Perfect spot to relax and throw back an adult beverage. Before you know it you’ll order some food, be into your second sidecar and need to get a room.”

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.


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