With Stacey out of town for the weekend I decided to do what any beer-loving-26-year-old does on a Friday night.
Go to the bar alone.
- Find the diviest bars in my neighborhood
- Each had to be within a reasonable 10 min walk of my apartment
- For cash I could only use the $20 bill in my pocket
11:30pm Town Hall
I started at a subdued almost subterranean hangout smackdab in the middle of Boystown. Free from the divalicious, pop music pumping, gay bars surrounding it Town Hall somehow manages to maintain it’s dive bar depth with $1 jello shots and cheap drafts. I sidled up to an open stool by the bar where a laid back bartender named Chris immediately struck up a conversation with me and poured me a $4.50 pint of Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale. Leather couches pushed up against the wall and VFW style tables and chairs filled the main room . I watched Chris double fist two bottles of liquor into one cup with elixir ease. I asked him what he was making–strong tea–a Town Hall cafeteria special. Basically a drink with 4 different types of alcohol in it. I wanted another pint of Great Lakes, but it wouldn’t fit the bill. Plus someone had given me a 1/4th of their $4 pitcher to finish. He’d taken a swig before me to prove it wasn’t drugged, so I had shrugged and obliged to finish it for him like a good solo drinker would.
Town Hall’s motto “Helping Chicago get drunk since 1969” summed up this dive bar epitome. Before leaving I drunk in the words of my favorite neon sign on the wall: “Walk in, Limp Out” Thank you Town Hall I will keep that in mind.
I wasn’t at limping stage yet, so I strolled out of Town Hall at 12pm. Broken Jack Daniels bottles, 7/11 Dorito Loco boxes, and half drunk/half asleep revelers already littered the sidewalk.
12:30pm Friar Tuck
On the four block walk to Friar Tuck I became aware of a shift in clientele. From the gay-dancing, brightly-colored, robyn-singing packs on Halsted I sashed my way down to Broadway congregated with recent college grads. Friar Tuck looks the dive bar part with its woodpaneled barrel door. But like that guy across the street you think is Tom Cruise you find that up close it’s only that guy across the street. Friar Tuck seems to serve as the overflow to the Fraternity-filled Wrigleyville bars. fF it weren’t for the 50 plus bespectacled ladies behind the bar I would have written this place off and taken my $15.50 cents to the next tavern. As it were, the bartender’s uncanny physical similarities to the character Buck from the United States of Tara pushed me to order the $4 Berghoof Pilsner bottle of the month.
The constant clink of ice and glare from the 50 ft long Christmas light rope wrangling itself around the bar quickly triggered a tiny migraine behind my eyes. I sloshed my pint as quickly as possible and pushed through the polos to the street.
I still had a little over $10 in my wallet and it was only 1:00am. I pondered going back to Town Hall, but pushed on in my quest to find the next dive bar. A short 1 block walk brought me to Dram. Definition of Dram: A small drink of whiskey or spirits. This was the kind of place I didn’t feel bad drinking alone. A sliding-glass door housed a case of 6 packs Schlitz you could buy to go. A dart board in the back, black and white subway tiled flooring, and $5 Oberons completed the small one room bar. I shelled out a $5 and quietly sat on the dark leather torn barstool observing the very intoxicated clientele. A pair of sisters or maybe friends struck up a conversation with two burley, plaid cutoff wearing dudes, who were blatantly hitting on them. A couple of guys in Cubs jerseys stumbled in briefly before realizing this wasn’t Friar Tuck’s. Beside me another solo sipper struck up a conversation. He bought me a dram of whiskey, went to the bathroom, and I knew it that was my cue to stumble home.
3 bars, 3 beers, 1 dram, and I still had a fiver in my pocket. Not a bad night out alone.