Tonic Room – Chicago, Illinois

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 20 January 2024
  • Time to read: 7 min.


The Tonic Room is a location where the physical and the spiritual collide. It is tucked away in the middle of Chicago, Illinois. Those who enter its mysterious boundaries are attracted into a world where ghostly music plays, shadows dance, and the past and present collide. Exploring the undiscovered realms of the supernatural is encouraged by the call of The Tonic Room.


Originating in 1894, the Tonic Room, now known as the Golden Dagger, began its journey as a tavern with a hidden secret—a brothel discretely nestled upstairs. Its unassuming façade belied the undercurrents of an enigmatic past that would unfurl over the decades.

In a serendipitous twist, a decade later, the Tonic Room’s basement evolved into the meeting grounds for the local chapter of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric organization. Within these subterranean chambers, mysticism and the unknown converged, painting a new layer onto the establishment’s enigmatic history.

Beneath the surface, the Tonic Room’s basement bore witness to a transformation of its own. Frederic De’Arechaga harnessed this hidden space as his personal Temple of the Moon, where his interpretation of the Sabean Religion intertwined with elements of Egyptian Mythology, forming a unique tapestry of belief.

As the Tonic Room, now known as the Golden Dagger, stands today, it echoes with the whispers of its multifaceted past. The layers of history, from clandestine brothels to mystical ceremonies, converge within its walls, inviting those who dare to explore its secrets to partake in a journey through time and mystery.

Golden Dagger
Now Known As Golden Dagger – Credit Naomi Ruth

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Human Sacrifice – Haunted Basement

The Tonic Room is a vibrant location with a secret history located in the center of Chicago, on North Halsted’s streets. This tale has its roots in the mysterious Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a covert organization that has been engaged in esoteric wizardry since 1887. Their shadow extends into the cellar of the bar, having been established by three London Freemasons.

During the 1930s, the local Hermetic Order found a haven in the Tonic Room’s basement. Ancient Egyptian symbols and other esoteric icons adorned the ceiling, hinting at the mystic practices within. An elderly Chicagoan shared her childhood memory of attending these secret meetings with her father, an Order member. Among these rituals, she recalled a disturbing event – a woman’s sacrifice, etched in her memory.

This incident might explain the ghostly presence that staff often witnesses in the basement. A young lady’s apparition roams, her gaze distant, seldom seen by customers due to restricted access. This ghost echoes an era of secrets and sorcery.

As the Tonic Room pulses with modern life, the whispers of its hidden past persist. The tale of the Hermetic Order and its shadow on the tavern’s basement lingers as a reminder of an age of mysticism. The ghostly figure, frozen in introspection, bridges the unknown past and the lively present. The legend of the Tonic Room’s basement serves as a conduit between ancient rites and today’s vibrancy.

Tonic Room's Interior
Tonic Room’s Interior – Credit Grace Jackson

Pentagram Scar

In the early 2010s, within the walls of the Tonic Room, a night unfolded that would weave a perplexing tale. The atmosphere was charged with the energy of renovation, but an incident below in the basement would cast a mysterious shadow. This story delves into that night when a bouncer descended into the depths, only to encounter an inexplicable phenomenon.

Unaware of the mystery that awaited him, a bouncer entered the basement amidst the ongoing repairs. He was suddenly overcome with a feeling of paralysis, which caused him to fall to the ground speechless and unable to move. He was admitted to the hospital due to the urgency of the issue, but doctors were unable to determine the physical cause of his suffering.

Time saw his recovery, but a chilling revelation emerged – the very spot where he had experienced this paralysis bore the markings of a pentagram. A symbol laden with mystic connotations. Questions loomed – had the incident been triggered by the latent power of a forgotten cult, or had the pentagram been a focal point of an unsettling act of victimhood? The line between the two blurred, shrouding the truth in uncertainty.

Read Also: The Drake Hotel

Ghosts of North Side Gang

According to North Chicago sources, the North Side Gang, a powerful Irish mafia, ruled from 1919 to 1935. This story takes place in a pub on North Halsted where their tales still reverberate. It examines their time period, particularly during Prohibition, and the specters who still haunt the tavern’s interior.

The North Side Gang found solace and strategy in the tavern on North Halsted during their reign. Amid Prohibition, they gathered there, planning schemes over forbidden drinks. Yet, rivalry simmered with the South Side Gang, led by Al Capone. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 epitomized this enmity.

On February 14th, the clash reached a brutal apex. Four South Siders captured, lined up, and gunned down five North Siders and associates against a garage wall. The event etched a brutal memory. The spirits of these mobsters seem to persist, revisiting their old haunt. They reappear in the tavern, dressed in Jazz Age attire, sipping drinks and conversing as if time stood still. Staff have seen these ghostly figures, a link to the past.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

A lot of television shows and movies that explore the secrets of the paranormal have prominently featured The Tonic Room because of its enigmatic past and spell-binding aura. In particular, it received significant screen time in the fascinating film “Whispers of the Unseen: Unveiling Enigmatic Realms,” where experts investigated the location’s spooky legends and terrible encounters.

In the realm of literature, the Tonic Room‘s legacy has been etched into pages like “Haunted Illinois: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Prairie State” written by Troy Taylor and “Haunted Chicago: Famous Phantoms, Sinister Sites, and Lingering Legends” authored by Tom Ogden. These written accounts unveil the spectral anecdotes surrounding the venue, weaving captivating chronicles of its enigmatic past.

At the moment, the Tonic Room is a must-visit location for history buffs and fans of the paranormal. It has been endowed with a mystique and the uncanny by virtue of its enticing presence in the media and popular culture. The enigmatic atmosphere this old restaurant creates beckons anyone who dares to enter it and experience it. It exudes an alluring feeling of intrigue.


There is a mixture of apprehension and curiosity when the Tonic Room’s doors squeak shut behind you. You are filled with amazement at the inexplicable and the unknown as a result of the secrets that permeate this obscure area of Chicago. The Tonic Room is a monument to the mysterious, a setting where the line separating the living from the ethereal dissolves into an alluring dance of shadows and secrets. The lingering echoes of the Tonic Room’s tales serve as a reminder that there is much more to this world than meets the eye when you re-enter the busy streets of Chicago.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Where is the Tonic Room located?
A. The Tonic Room is situated in the heart of Chicago, on North Halsted Street.

Q. What is the history of the Tonic Room?
A. The Tonic Room has a rich history, known for being a favored gathering place during the Prohibition era. It was frequented by the North Side Gang, a dominant Irish mob from 1919 to 1935.

Q. Are there any ghostly encounters at the Tonic Room?
A. Yes, there have been reports of ghostly encounters within the Tonic Room. Legends suggest that apparitions of mobsters from the past, particularly the North Side Gang, have been seen in Jazz Age attire.

Q. What is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and how is it connected to the Tonic Room?
A. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was a gruesome event in 1929 where members of the South Side Gang killed members of the North Side Gang. The Tonic Room’s connection lies in its historical ties to the North Side Gang as their hangout.

Q. Can patrons visit the basement of the Tonic Room?
A. The basement of the Tonic Room is generally off-limits to customers, which adds to its air of mystery. The basement is believed to have served as a meeting place for the North Side Gang.

Q. Is there any evidence of the ghostly legends at the Tonic Room?
A. While there may not be concrete evidence, there have been numerous accounts from staff who claim to have witnessed ghostly figures in Jazz Age attire, reminiscent of the mobsters from the past.

Q. How does the Tonic Room honor its historical legacy and legends?
A. The Tonic Room pays homage to its historical significance through its ambiance, events, and the stories shared. The tales of the North Side Gang and the eerie encounters are woven into the fabric of the establishment, adding to its unique charm.

Q. Is the Tonic Room only known for its eerie legends?
A. No, the Tonic Room is known for its vibrant atmosphere, live music, and social gatherings. While the legends add a layer of intrigue, they are just one aspect of the rich tapestry that makes up the Tonic Room’s identity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Betsy Ross House

Previous Post

Betsy Ross House – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Next Post

USS Lexington – Corpus Christi, Texas

USS Lexington