Where are you drinking in Chicago? Bull & Bear

Chicago definitely has a healthy drinking culture, which is a good thing for your humble author. There are liquor stores and bars on just about every block in the city and the bars stay open late. You’re not going to go thirsty there.

I recently had the good fortune of being back in Sweet Home Chicago and my good friend, @kerrierieo, invited me to join her and her friends at the Bull & Bear in River North. The name is a dual play on the two prominent Chicago professional sports teams and the stock market. It’s a sports bar located a short distance from the Chicago Board Options Exchange. On any given night it’s full of financial types downing a few while glued to a game on one of a few dozen TVs. It’s also a hang-out for sports types too. Party boy Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks star that scored the goal to win last season’s Stanley Cup, has been known to frequent it.

Kerri and her friends like B&B for the people watching (i.e. lots of hot guys), solid menu with pub grub like burgers, truffle fries and nachos, but also for slightly nicer entrees like a seared tuna salad. They also like the pajama brunches, which unfortunately doesn’t mean sipping champagne with ladies in lingerie.

Lovely Stephanie pouring a draft at our table

But the real attraction here is the table taps. That’s right, table taps. They have beer taps right in table so you don’t have to wait to be served. Genius! Talk about a great drinking culture. This is the public equivalent of those enormous sectional couches that have the mini cooler and remote control holder built into the armrest. The only thing that could make it better is if they also had urinals under the table so you don’t have to get up to pee. Bull & Bear’s claim to fame is that they are the only bar in Chicago to have this brilliant table tap system.

There were two beers on tap at our table, Bud Light and Goose Island Beer Company’s Matilda, a locally-brewed Belgian style ale. Here is a look at the Matilda.

Look Hazy amber like a butterscotch candy with a mild cream colored head.
Smell Sweet dried grass recently cut and left to molder in the pallid November sun.
Taste Like a chilled glass of run-off from a compost heap. Herbaceous, sour fruit and cedar spice with a hint of caramel on the finish. I’ve never been a fan of Belgian style ales, so my description is decidedly biased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine beer, but not my thing. I ended up drinking more Bud Light, not just because I could reach the tap without standing up, but because I actually liked it better.
Price $0.75 an ounce or $9 for a 12oz self-poured glass. The taps are metered, so you and the wait staff know exactly how much you’ve consumed. No honor system here.

All-in-all this is a pretty decent place to drink. Why just decent for a place that has serve-your-self-beer-taps built right into the table? Isn’t that enough to give this a Nirvana rating? It should be, but there is an unnecessary air of pretense to the place. Here’s just one example: they have bathroom attendants turning on the faucet and dolling out paper towels, mints and cologne. I gotta tip the guy every time I have to take a leak? That becomes a regulator on the self-administered beer. Need I say more about why this is just decent? At least the company was good.

What are you drinking?

Seriously, what are you *not* drinking at Lollapalooza?

Guest post from the lovely JenCad of “Oh, and one more thing…” fame. Thanks Jen!

Last weekend I was sent on a mission to ask the question “What are you drinking?” of the festival goers at Lollapalooza. After three days of investigating the behaviors of the broad spectrum of personalities that take part in boozapalooza each year, I believe it is most appropriate to change that question to “What are you not drinking at Lollapalooza?”

To the untrained booze mixing brain, the choices may have seemed limited. Particularly in the VIP lounges, where we spent the bulk of our time (yep, spoiled VIP snobs, and proud of it), we were essentially bound by beer, wine or vodka drinks. Mixers included all the Sweet Leaf Tea flavors, Red Bull (regular and the awesomeness that is chemical laden sugar-free) and soda or tonic. Well, mix we did. When it’s all just there and so readily available, your are often tempted to try something different every time. It was really interesting to watch what everyone else was swirling/sloshing around in their plastic cups.

There were the done up ladies that pretty much stuck to wine whilst sitting in the shade and fanning themselves.

Macho men that bragged about how many tall boys they could suck down in an hour.

Dancing Queens that just wanted to take down as much vodka as they could, as fast as they could, so they could get on out in front of a stage for some booty shaking.

And, the well-rounded folks (such as me and my team), who were just trying to take it all in. And by take it all in, I mean come up with every concoction possible with the ingredients provided.

It is when we left the VIP haven, though, that things really got interesting. Depending on who was on stage, or which stage you were hanging by, people’s beverages differed as much as their outfits. The Perry Stage (affectionately referred to by me as the barfing stage), was the most entertaining. Not because of who was on stage (all DJs) but because the crowd consisted of all the teenagers who had just swallowed four bags of magic mushrooms and consumed whatever liquor they could sneak in from their parents’ stash. Makes for one crazy dance party.

Don’t even get me started on Wolfmother. Let’s just say that mullets and beer really do go hand in hand.

At the end of the day, just like the music, the outfits and the company, Lollapalooza drinking preferences, are just that…preferences. Here, anything goes. We even created a new drink, that we are now calling Arkansas Sangria, during a pre-party lunch. Red Wine mixed with lime flavored La Croix soda water. Yum.

What I do know, is by the time the end of day three rolls around, many people followed this little man’s lead. Three days of Lollapalooza is a long haul and, if you are smart, at the end of the road hydration becomes the leading motivator!

Ahhh. Water.

 

Front Forty Profiles Series Release Party with Mark McGinnis

http://www.shopgoldenage.com/blog/201007/front-forty-profiles-series-release-party-mark-mcginnis

Want a literary, artistic summer drink? Here is your chance.
Book Release Party

Thursday, August 5, 5 – 9pm

Please join us for some summer drinks to celebrate this inaugural issue of a continuing series on important contemporary artists! !