Chicago Traveler Blog
Best Way to Get Buzzed on a Budget in Chicago... BYOB!
While eating out and sipping on cocktails goes hand in hand, ordering drinks at a restaurant can get expensive. Fortunately for us boozers out there, Chicago has some bizarre liquor laws that have made way for a low-cost liquid loophole: BYOB.
Yes, ‘bring your own bottle’! It’s the affordable alternative to getting buzzed on a budget. More than 400 Chicago restaurants not only allow you to bring your own bottle, they encourage it! The only downside: you can’t leave with a partially empty open container (this is never a problem for us). So you’ll just have to finish it (or sneak it out).
It’s a popular privilege that many locals have been enjoying for quite a while now, but for first time BYOB-ers, walking in with your own bottle can be a little intimidating. While there are some slight differences here and there, most BYOB restaurants play by the same rules. So lets break it down for you.
First of all, it’s always a good rule of thumb to check with the restaurant first to make sure they allow BYOB. Not all Chicago restaurants do, but the typical BYOB restaurants are cheaper ethnic places like Chinese, Thai, Mexican and sushi joints.
Typically, there is a small corkage fee, but it’s always considerably cheaper than it would have been to buy a bottle anyways. And then sometimes... there’s no corkage fee at all! Either way you’re saving a bundle on booze.
Occasionally restaurants will limit the adult beverages being brought in to just wine and beer, but not always. There’s even some eateries that allow you to enjoy your very own bottle service with vodka and mixers. Just be sure to check on this a head of time.
Need some good BYOB mixing methods? If you’re going out for brunch, order orange juice from the restaurant and spike it with your own bottle of champagne for mimosas. Make your own Mexican fiesta by ordering cheaper virgin margaritas and adding the tequila you brought. How about bringing in sake and Sapporo's to enjoy with a late night sushi snack. Then there’s always the option of just bringing a good old fashioned bottle of Two Buck Chuck.
Check out a few of our favorite BYOB restaurants in Chicago:
Tango Sur in Lakeview
Japonais in River North
Diva Sushi in Boystown
Lucia in Wicker Park/Bucktown
Le Cebollita Grill in Pilsen
Kyoto Sushi Restaurant in Lincoln Park