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Chicago Smokes—Four Places to Legally Light Up

Alejandro Benes
Posted: June 12, 2013

In 2008, Chicago imposed a smoking ban. On a recent visit, Cigar Aficionado found that there are more and more places providing outdoor areas that are allowing cigar smoking. They're finding it's good for business, but given Chicago's moody weather, enjoying a cigar can still be a seasonal adventure. Our intrepid reporter made the sacrifice and found four.

The Redhead Piano Bar

Every time I go to Chicago, I fall in love. Sometimes it's with a woman, at least for the duration of my visit. Sometimes—well, every time—it's with a restaurant. This time I fell in love with a Redhead. You could, too.

The 50-year-old Redhead Piano Bar is just what it sounds like. There's a piano in the front (tip jar included) and some seats around it. There's a large bar about the length of the front part of the establishment. Most significantly, for our purposes, the Redhead offers cigar smokers a place to light up. Now, this is not a cigar bar in the sense that you're used to. You cannot actually smoke IN the bar, but the Redhead has a patio area outside the backdoor that is covered, heated and being upgraded in the very near future.

"We were hurt by the smoking ban," explains Redhead manager Art Bryan. "Sales plummeted in 2008 when the ban went into effect. We're now back to about 40 percent in our cigar business and drinks that are tightly connected to cigars." Like Scotch.

The Redhead has a list of single malts that goes from Aberlour to Talisker. The bar offers additional premium spirits, including an ample selection of bourbons and other whiskies. The Cognac offerings are impressive. Cigars are sold here, ranging from a $15 Alec Bradley American Classic Blend to a $29 Ashton VSG Pegasus.


Click Image to Enlarge


The entrance to Redhead Piano Bar, which has a heated outdoor smoking area.


The interior of Sullivan's Steakhouse. Smoking is allowed in an outdoor seating area on the sidewalk.


A great beer selection and a large outdoor seating area where smoking is allowed highlight Clark Street Ale House.


In the heart of downtown Chicago, South Loop Club has a few tables on the sidewalk where smoking is allowed.


The way it works is that you go to the bar, order your drink and go outside and enjoy your cigar. Refill? Go back in, order, come back out. The law says that you have to be 15 feet away from the door to be able to smoke. So, make sure you have someone to guard your stogie when you get that second drink.

Bryan says that the plans are to improve the patio area that now has about 12 plastic chairs for smokers. That setup has been there since the ban. In 2009, the Redhead added "electric radiating heat," vital even on some Chicago spring evenings. (The Redhead is the only place I found that has a heated smoking area.)

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Comments   6 comment(s)

Alejandro Benes — Newbury Park, CA, USA,  —  June 13, 2013 5:07pm ET

Go Hawks!!!!

Graham Lopinsky — Bolingbrook, IL, U.S.A.,  —  June 13, 2013 8:40pm ET

Yes sir, Let Go Hawks!!!

C.W. Harris June 15, 2013 2:18pm ET

Chicago is a great place to visit with great food, culture, entertainment and places to smoke.
See you soon.
~C. Dub June 18, 2013 1:17am ET

Hoffman Estates has a place....great Filet with creamed spinach,...don't want to give the name away and have excellent patio closed...But bring the sticks...They also have a Cigar Night....

Jim Mochel — Chicago, IL, USA,  —  June 18, 2013 3:55pm ET

Save a few bucks on your cigars in Chicago. Half a block down (and across the street) from Sullivan's is Hubbard State Cigars. Great selection and prices.

Tom Flack — Westerville, Ohio, USA,  —  February 8, 2014 12:45pm ET

The SLC is in a neighborhood that sometimes one would question.However,one will find really nice people there and it is friendly and unassuming. They will upgrade the seating for smoking in due time.

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