He emigrated to the U.S. in 1868 at the age of 23, going first to Kansas City (Missouri or Kansas isn't mentioned) to work as a Store Clerk.
In 1873 Hannah & Hogg decided to go into business together and opened a store at 190 West Madison Street. They called their drinking establishment "The Thistle", which was the symbol of their native Scotland and they adopted it the as their Trademark.
Soon they branched out into retail sales of liquor and cigars, buying more stores in several parts of the Windy City. Their additional locations were to be found at 222 S. Clark Street, 188 W. Madison Street, 146 E. Madison Street, 83 Madison Street, 161 W. Madison Street, 151 Randolph Street, 112 E. Monroe Street and 88 LaSalle Street. By 1904, they are also shown as having stores at 307-309 Wabash Avenue (1904-1907), later at 248-250 S. Desplaines Street (1908), 441 S Desplaines Street (1909-1910) and then 37-39 E. South Water Street (from 1913 to Prohibition).
Hannah was a prominent Democrat.
So well known was their establishment that the American author, Theodore Dreiser, used it as the backdrop for scenes in his famous 1910 novel, “Sister Carrie.” In the book, he described Hannah & Hogg’s as “a gorgeous saloon from a Chicago standpoint” and his story fictionally included its manager as a major character.
In time Hannah & Hogg came to own and operate the Brevoort Hotel, one of Chicago’s premier hostelries. This establishment, in the city’s Loop District, was built in 1906 and still stands as a landmark at 120 W. Madison Street. Elderly George Moll, who, like his father before him, ran a tavern in Chicago, remembered their saloon from his childhood. Moll told an interviewer that Hannah & Hogg were celebrated for the quality of their whiskey. They were distributors rather than distillers, buying bulk whiskey, bottling it and selling it under their own labels.
Hannah and Hogg sold their business around 1910 and retired.