Best basement bars & cocktail lounges

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Booze Box: Located underneath Sushi Dokku, Booze Box serves as a streety Japanese lounge. It's too polished to be gritty--with its well-designed interior and sleek furnishings--but the music and vibe make this the sort of place where you want to escape when all the other West Loop bars are filled with scenesters. A deejay spins downtempo hip-hop, acid jazz and dub. No reservations necessary.

The Drifter: The eclectic River North speakeasy is located underneath the Green Door Tavern, a watering hole that’s been open since the Prohibition era. The Drifter feels as authentic as its legacy, with nightly burlesque shows, “stripper” puppet performances and old timey cocktails created by an all-female staff. The cocktail choices are printed on tarot cards, adding to the mystique of the place.

The Office: The West Loop is clearly in the lead as the hottest neighborhood for dining and drinking. It doesn't hurt that it's also home to the award-winning Aviary cocktail lounge, which boasts the tiny, opulent Office bar on its lower level. Because it only offers 18 seats, guests must get an invitation or book a party (for up to 26 people).

Punch House: The cocktail-oriented basement bar of Dusek's and Thalia Hall feels like a vintage den reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s. Contemporary and classic punches are featured, as well as exotica, acid jazz, soul and funk music spun by a deejay in the corner. Seating consists of booths along the walls, reclaimed sofas and plenty of bar seating where patrons may gaze upon an enormous aquarium spanning much of the room. It’s located in Pilsen.

Smart Bar:
The longtime subterranean dance club still matches up to its more contemporary competition. Smart Bar caters to dance music and the electronic music scene and it stays open after hours. It's directly underneath Metro. It is located in Lakeview/Wrigleyville.

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