History: A Legacy Since 1937

Established in 1937, the California Clipper is Humboldt Park’s longest-standing neighborhood bar with a classic Chicago tavern vibe, seasonal cocktails, and live music. Born just four years after the end of prohibition, the California Clipper has evolved over the decades, weaving its roots into the fabric of its community. From its iconic red leather booths to vintage red light fixtures and Tannoy speakers—the very same used by musical legends like the Beatles and Pink Floyd at the legendary Abbey Road recording studio — the California Clipper proudly gives an authentic post-prohibition feel with a modern twist.

Though established as the California Clipper in 1937, the building has existed at 1002 North California Avenue since 1912 when it was first the L.L. Freeman Theater, which remained open until a flu epidemic at the end of World War I. After that, its history is unclear until 1937 when it opened as the California Clipper. From 1937 to the present day, the California Clipper has stood steadfast with its Chicago community, bearing witness to the remarkable growth of Chicago’s cultural landscape and music scene.

Today, the California Clipper continues to serve as a neighborhood cocktail lounge and gathering spot while supporting artists in diverse musical genres through its carefully curated music programming. Nearly every night of the week, you can find live music to enjoy, ranging from jazz groups to DJs to country music and everything in between along with a carefully curated cocktail menu and array of “handshakes” that stretch beyond the infamous Chicago version of a PBR & shot of Malort.

In its continued effort to bring together its community, the California Clipper welcomes a new space at the back of its iconic bar — the Lil Clip, an intimate space for late-night dancing on Friday and Saturday nights with a speakeasy vibe. The focus of the Lil Clip’s programming will be on the next generations of music to come, including up-and-coming artists and smaller, more independent acts.

The California Clipper remains a testament to the enduring legacy of Chicago's music scene and its integral connection to the city's cultural history. Whether you're seeking a great cocktail, live music to listen to, or a night on the dance floor, the California Clipper warmly welcomes everyone to savor a piece of Chicago’s unparalleled history.

Why California Clipper?

At the California Clipper, our commitment goes beyond cocktails and music. We invest in our people — believing that you can build community through hospitality. We feel that bars like our own are the pulse of their neighborhoods, fostering connections and community spirit alongside their economic contributions.

We proudly support fair wage initiatives, healthcare coverage as a standard, and know that our staff is the heart of the California Clipper. Regardless of age, race, sexuality, gender, etc., everyone is welcome. In an ever-divisive world we aim to bring diverse demographics, cultures, backgrounds, and tastes together from the Humboldt Park and greater Chicago community.

When choosing where to go on your next night out, we hope you choose to visit us at the California Clipper. We thank you for supporting our staff and the artists that perform in our space.

About Us

Groups & Parties

Book your next party with us!

The California Clipper would be honored to provide our services for your next event. Each event is bespoke to your tastes and needs, to provide the best experience possible for you and your guests.




1002 N California Ave
Chicago, IL
Segnatore logoOrbit Group


6:00 PM - 12:00 AM
Tue, Wed, Thur
6:00 PM - 2:00 AM
4:00 PM - 3:00 AM
Sun, Fri
4:00 PM - 2:00 AM