The Chaser

Flashback! The New Adventures of the Old Limelight

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

She's Got Legs

Tina Turner with BJ Murray at Limelight, Chicago's ruling nightspot of the mid-'80s.

A confession or a plain old fact, depending on how you look at it: I've never stepped stiletto inside Excalibur, River North's mega haunted-house-like nightclub and perennial favorite of Schaumburg bachelorettes. 

Why not, you ask? Well, I guess the best answer is that I'm more of a lounger than a clubber, and Excalibur packs 'em in 3,000 at a time. (I cannot with the crowds. I really cannot.) 

But last week, during a conversation with Chicago artist Gary Weidner at Macy's Glamorama fashion show, I learned Excalibur has a past that's a little more recent and a whole lot wilder than the kind that earned the building its historic landmark designation. 

Gary: "Hey, did you hear about that Limelight reunion party at Excalibur next Sunday?" 

The Chaser: "Limelight? You mean the catering company that serves the delicious margarita popsicles?" 

Gary: "No, it was this nightclub from New York that was in the Excalibur building in the '80s. It used to be, like, the coolest club in Chicago. It's the 25th anniversary and they're having a party for all the people who worked and partied there."

The Chaser: "Really? There was a time before the bachelorette parties? That's difficult to envision, since I spent most of the '80s riding a school bus over rural roads and reenacting episodes of Little House on the Prairie."

Gary: "Yeah. You should come by on Sunday. I'll put you guys on the list." 

Gary told me he was in grad school at Indiana University when Limelight opened in 1985, so his only memories of the nightspot are from the time he drove up to the city visit a friend who took him there. "'Wow, this place is big!' That's what I thought," he said. "By the time I moved to Chicago, Limelight was long gone."

According to a 1986 story in the Chicago Tribune, Limelight was populated by the "demimonde, a borderline society of the night." Artists, poets, writers, musicians and "free-wheeling heirs and heiresses who don't have to get up too early" were its after-dark denizens.

Intrigued by the Studio 54-esque mystique of this club that was only open for three and a half glittering years, I put in a call to BJ Murray, the organizer of the reunion party and a Limelight alum (thanks to BJ for the vintage Limelight photos in the slideshow below).

"My stepbrother was the big boss there. My cousin built it. And me...well, I had the best years of my life running the VIP room at Limelight. At the time, it was the biggest and best place outside of City Hall!" Murray said, blaming his raspy voice on too much air-conditioning. "When we opened in 1985, we set this town on fire. There was nothing remotely like it in the Midwest--it was like a cross between Alice and Wonderland and Cirque du Soleil. There were 8,000 people waiting outside on opening night. We were completely out of alcohol by 1AM." 

Murray went on to tell me about his favorite Limelight night, a birthday-slash-post-Grammy bash for Tina Turner only four months after the club opened: "Tina was a recluse, she never went anywhere," he remembers. But Murray was friends with the boys in her band, and during a dressing room encounter before a concert in Champaign, Murray and the band convinced the singer show up at Limelight the next night. "After less than 24 hours, we ended up with a crowd of 3,300. This was in the days before cell phones. No one had computers. It was word of mouth. Oprah came, and she was just a local girl on TV--I didn't know who she was, so I didn't let her in the VIP room at first. Tina ended up staying all night." For Murray, just 25 at the time, "that night was a feather in my cap." 

There are plenty more stories where that one came from, and Murray is in from New York--where he's now a professional gambler who surfs the Atlantic City beach as often as possible--to celebrate with his old friends. Limelight closed in 1987, but the legend lives on this Sunday night from 7:30PM to 3:30AM. For $25, you'll get an open bar for the first hour, DJs, dancing and lots of looking back.

Attire? It's the '80s...anything goes. 

P.S. Speaking of anniversaries, my old neighborhood haunt in Lincoln Park, the River Shannon, turns 64 this weekend. The significance of this? The bar opened in 1946, making it a palindrome anniversary (46/64). Saturday drink specials from 6PM to 3AM include MGD 64 for $3, and Maker's Mark 46 for $4.

Attire: '40s best. Or just a T-shirt and jeans. 

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Flying High: Air Show weekend, VIP-style

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Pick your spot to watch the Chicago Air & Water Show this weekend. I'll be sipping a daiquiri at the Oak Street Beachstro.

My level of nerdiness when it comes to the Chicago Air & Water Show is sky-high. Ha! When I heard the first roar of a practice fighter plane flyby this morning, I got so excited I could barely type. I wanted to shout it in all caps on Facebook, I wanted to IM it from the rafters: Guess what, people?! AMAZING AERIAL ACROBATICS ARE ABOUT TO BE PERFORMED FOR A CROWD OF MILLIONS! On a side note, I got to interview the longtime air show announcer, Herb Hunter, last year. It was kind of like meeting Madonna. But I digress. 

If you're planning to take in America's largest spectator event this weekend, I suggest doing it VIP-style, which is generally how I prefer to roll. If you're not invited to a corporate tent, a fabulous rooftop or a friend's yacht party, your next best option is the Oak Street Beachstro

It's smack dab in the middle of the action, and, among palm trees that would never survive in Chicago past September, you can watch the Blue Angels buzz by from the comfort of your very own reserved table while eating a salmon sandwich. You can sip a margarita while watching Vince Vaughn parachute from the sky! I'm not kidding, that's really happening. (VIP package prices range from $65 to $165 and don't include alcohol; call 312.915.4500 for reservations.)

Other options:

The rooftop at Rock Bottom Brewery, where they'll be serving a special Chicago 'flight' (ha!), a sampling of all six house beers and two speciality pours for $6.95.

Jerry Kleiner-style at Lobby Lounge, his bar in the South Loop's Kerasotes movie theater, where huge windows overlook downtown (Lobby Lounge will be serving themed cocktails with names like the Air & Sky for $12).

Aboard one of the Entertainment Cruises boats docked at Navy Pier (Spirit of Chicago, the Odyssey or Mystic Blue). Prices range from $49 to $79 per person and include food, but no drinks.

See you at the Beachstro! I shall now watch Top Gun in anticipation of the weekend. 

P.S. Chicago mag's Seen on the Scene photographer will be snapping away at Benchmark in Old Town on Sunday afternoon, and while the bar isn't having a specific air show party, its near-the-lake rooftop is sure to provide some action. Check here on Monday for pics. 

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It's All Happening: Chicago goes GAGA for Lolla

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Lady Gaga with DJ VH1.

Catch Lady Gaga's DJ at Lasalle Power Co. tonight.

OK, people. This is it. Lollapalooza starts today, and I'm already giving serious thought to how much eyeliner I'll need later this afternoon to amp up my groupie look (please note: my nails are currently attired in a multi-hued selection I call my "Goldfinger" palette, and the fact that they're chipping a little only makes it that much more appropriate). 

First stop: the Music Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel, where Lolla VIPs, musicians and media hobnob over lunch while having our hair done, getting tattoos (but never me; here's why), and checking out a variety of rock-oriented products being marketed to us throughout the lounge (last year, I got kissy lips tattooed on the back of my phone, which I adored).  

Next, we'll tromp over to the festival itself, where I'll do some of my best people-watching of the year (check back here for my DOs and DON'Ts photos later tonight and tomorrow). We'll sweat unabashedly while bopping along to The New Pornographers and Matt & Kim, and later tonight: GAGA! The festival is abuzz over her 15 semi trucks' worth of equipment, a rumor I fielded at last night's Galapalooza kickoff party thrown by the Parkways Foundation. I predict at least four of those trucks are devoted solely to the Lady's wardrobe selections. 

Then, for the hard-core, don't-stop music lovers of the world, there are the after-parties. I've received such an onslaught of e-mails from Chicago bars with the word Lolla in the subject line, my eyes are starting to glaze over at the sight. But if there's an ounce of party left in me by 10PM, here's where I'll go: 

1. Manor, for the Friday night Lollapalooza gear giveaway event with a performance by Lolla artist Flosstradamus, or Saturday for the Perez Hilton appearance. RSVP to reservations@manorchicago.com. 

2. Debonair Social Club, for Saturday night's 9PM to 3AM party for the EA release of its latest version of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Play video games while Bam Margera DJs? Viva la Bam! Open to the public. 

3. Sub 51 for "Late Night Lolla," where special guest DJs include DJ Spider (tonight) and DJ Mr. Best. Party goes from 9PM to 2AM; table reservations are required by clicking here.

4. Lasalle Power Co. for the official Lady Gaga after-party tonight, where Gaga's DJ and collaborator DJ VH1 will spin from 10PM to 2AM. Tickets $10 to $20; sold at the door only. 

5. Crimson Lounge, for the official Black Keys after-party tonight from 11PM to 2AM, and tomorrow for the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros after-party from 11PM to 3AM. 

P.S. The prize for best use of the -apalooza word part goes to Jake Melnick Corner Tap's Porkapalooza, where the bar will serve pork-based menu items inspired by Lollapalooza acts throughout the weekend. Example: the "Swine of Your Life" Dr. Pepper BBQ-glazed ribs, a Green Day tribute item. Yum. 

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The Morning-After Chat: A Valuable Remembering Tool

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

This morning my friend Jenny IMd me on Facebook to ask, "I wonder if there's any vodka left at Lillie's Q?" Yep, it was that kind of night. More on Lillie's Q in a minute. 

Our spree began with cocktail hour on the patio at Eno, the InterContinental Hotel's wine, cheese and chocolate lounge. It's a great spot for rush-hour people-watching on Michigan Avenue, and we cheerfully sipped glasses of blushing bubbly while observing the array of incomprehensible footwear choices marching past. 

At Eno we ran into Kamal and Heather, who both work in PR at Macy's. I'm on the host committee for Macy's Glamorama this year, which I strongly urge you all to attend (part of my official duties as a host). Glamorama is the annual fall fashion show at the Chicago Theatre with special musical guests (August 13: Macy Gray!) and an after-party on the seventh floor of Macy's, which throws the whole shindig in the grand tradition originally started by Marshall Field's. I've been going to Glamoramas for years, and now I feel compelled to prove it by running down the list of performers I've seen there: 

1. Wayne Newton. He kissed a woman in the audience while crooning Danke Shoen, surely a standard move in his Vegas act. That year also marked the emergence of those now-ubiquitous event performers who do acrobatics while tied up in sheets hung from the ceiling. 
2. The B-52s. Love Shack. The band might be getting old, but the song? Never.
3. Big & Rich. This was the year I got to wear cowboy boots instead of heels. It was aMAZing. I wonder if I still have that video of my friend Graham being thrown from the mechanical bull? 
4. Beyonce. This was pre-put-a-ring-on-it. She does have a little cellulite when viewed from the second row, but don't we all? I adored her. "She is IT!" Jenny enthused. 
5. There have definitely been others, but I'm still in recovery mode, so let's just drop it for now. 

Because our next stop involved barbeque, Jenny was dressed in a festive red-and-white plaid button-down. It was exceedingly appropriate for the occasion, a media preview dinner at the aforementioned Lillie's Q in Bucktown. That's where the hipsters will now go for "urban barbeque," as the waiters' T-shirts describe it. (I take slight issue with this tagline, as I'm kind of tired of urban this and urban that. Yeah, we live in a city. But whatever.) Lillie's Q was tasty and will surely go over well with the neighborhood crowd--we tried pulled pork, mac 'n cheese, green beans, the four special sauces, the works--but even more fun were the cocktails and beer (including Lillie Q's own brew) served in Bell jars. 

We had a few. 

The full IM recap: 

Jenny

is there any vodka left at lillie's bbq?

10:44amMe

What happened?

10:46amJenny

no idea.

it was nice to hang with the rumble.

10:47amMe

Good to catch up with the Rumbs. What were we dicussing so intensely?

10:47amJenny

not sure he got a word in edgewise

let's see...

10:47amJenny

halloween costumes...

no

who was that polish photographer?

i told him we need to go the martini club

10:48amJenny

immediately

10:48amMe

Oh yeah, the Polish club.

10:48amJenny

you said you were awaiting it

10:48amMe

That WOULD be a good chaser.

10:48amJenny

i sang a jewel song to you

10:48amMe

Oh yes, I do remember the song.

10:48amJenny

i am LOLing

oh rumbs

he quietly looked on

10:49amMe

We did talk about his chick a little.

10:51amJenny

i eagerly cajoled him to be mr. clean for the 'ween

i think i, naturally, should be snow white

10:51amMe

Totally.

10:52amJenny

and DB should be a 6'4" dwarf!


You get the gist, right? Later, we went to another bar a few blocks away on North Ave. I have no idea what it's called, but there are pictures in the slideshow below. Let me know if you recognize it. 

I should probably stay in tonight, but no. I shall not. I shall proceed to a new tequila bar in Boystown. I am an extremely dedicated Chaser. 

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The Great Escape: Icy Cocktails, Cool Hangouts

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Feel free to remind me of this throughly ungrateful statement sometime in mid-February, but at this very moment I can't help it: I've had it up to here with the heat. I want to take a break from sweating while waiting for a patio seat, sweating while making small talk, sweating while sipping a warmish beer and sweating while eating a link of encased meat that's hot off a sweltering grill. 

Call me a wimp, but this week I'm going AC-only, and I'm making plans to check out the coolest (75 degrees or less) spots in Chicago. Two things on the agenda so far: 

1. At Graham Elliot tonight, the bigshot chef and his rock star friend, Perry Farrell, will preview some of the gourmet goodies that will be added to Lollapalooza's (August 6-8) Chow Town this year. Move over, chicken skewers, make way for lavender-infused ice cream? Only time will tell. Well, time will tell me, and I'll tell you.

2. My best advice for visitors looking to hit up the Hancock is to skip the Observatory and head straight to the Signature Lounge for a cocktail with a view. A few weeks ago, though, the Observatory upped the stakes by opening a full-service liquor bar that allows sightseers to grab a drink and walk around checking out the skyline from every angle. The bar was developed by Italian coffee company Lavazza, so signature cocktails include chilly creations like the Lavazza Colada ($7.59): chilled espresso with cane syrup, vanilla gelato and Malibu rum. Yes, you'll pay Observatory admission fees to get to the top, but once you're up, the drink prices are fairly standard: domestic beers for $5, mixed drinks for $8, a selection of wines by the bottle or glass and more.   

Plan ahead for your next celebrity sighting...
Do I want to see Kid Rock at Soldier Field next Friday (the 30th)? It all depends on the forecast--if Skilling says it's going to be 96 with a heat index of 157, then no. But I wouldn't mind hobnobbing with Kid in the cool confines of his Crimson Lounge afterparty, where the rocker will rub elbows with fans after the concert. Tickets are $20 and advance purchase is recommended; e-mail lydiac@thompsonhotels.com or text 312.371.6932. 

Where will you keep it cool this week? Please don't say the Playpen. 

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Strange Barfellows (+ a booze cruise for beer fans)

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

When most people think of Duke of Perth, a Scottish bar in Lake View with more than 75 types of single-malt whiskey on its menu, they think of the following: 1. whiskey (duh), 2. endless fish and chips, 3. green peas, and 4. the back patio, with a pretty cherry tree (or at least what looks like a cherry tree, but I'm no dendrologist) in the middle. 

My father, who was visiting from Kentucky last weekend, will forever associate Duke of Perth with one particularly robust creature that shuffled its way through the flowerbeds as we sipped beers mere feet away on Saturday night: 

Dad: "What was that? Was that a rat?"
The Chaser: "I suppose so." 
Dad: "Unbelievable! Where'd it come from?"
The Chaser: "The alley, I guess." 
Dad: "So they have rats in bars in Chicago?"
The Chaser: "No, not normally. This is an isolated incident. And we're outside. Let's try not to focus on it."
Dad: "That thing was the size of a cat!" 
The Chaser: "Maybe it was a cat." 

Now he's home in Louisville (a rat-free city, naturally) relaying this tale to people who will no doubt tell it again and again. By the time it gets back to me it'll probably go something like this: "So you live in Chicago, huh? I heard from a friend of a friend's cousin's ex-girlfriend that Chicago has these giant beer-drinking rats that'll jump right up on your table and start guzzling out of your mug, if you don't keep your hand over it." 

Sorry, Duke of Perth. It's not your fault that plump intruder strayed from his alley domain and just so happened to cross the path of a few customers. We won't hold it against you. 

Meanwhile, here's something fun for tomorrow night: River North's Rock Bottom Brewery (did anyone else know this place is a huge chain? I didn't.) will host a "Brew Cruise" on a Shoreline Sightseeing boat. Drinkers will taste the bar's handcrafted Gold Pale Ale while taking in boozy views of our magnificent, glittery skyline as seen from the waters of Lake Michigan. Tickets are $39 and can be purchased here; if you can't make it tomorrow, try the Half Acre cruise on the 23rd. 

FYI, the forecast for tomorrow night is about 80 degrees and clear. I looked that up on Weather.com just for you. 

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Badass Barhopping: Longman & Eagle's hotel opening soon, the shuttered Shady Lady and more

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

You know how sometimes, when you've been on Facebook too much, you start to think of your life in status updates? Last night, I was perched on the back of The Creative Director's deep purple Yamaha V-Star in my favorite black denim skirt with the zippers on the pockets ("You're no teenager. Quit wearing that skirt!" my sister always scolds), and one sentence kept popping into my head: Amalie Drury rides motorcycles in minis. 

I'm a huge fan of alliteration and it sounded kind of badass, so I seriously considered mobile updating my status right then and there. But then I thought about my non-badass, needs-practice motorcycle dismount--the move involves gripping The Creative Director's shoulders for dear life, muttering apologies from inside my helmet, then finally flinging myself over the side with a backwards hop upon landing--so I decided to save it for later. 

We were on our way to check out the Thursday nightlife haps in Logan Square. As we cruised across a high overpass on Western Avenue, I got my first glimpse of the newly lit Trump spire. Have you seen it? It's OK. Not what anyone would call badass, just a slender glow in the middle of the skyline. I imagined it as a baby spire running to catch up with the sturdier Willis (I know, I hate writing that) and Hancock versions, holding up one feeble finger and whining, "Hey, wait for me!" 

Our first stop was dinner on the patio at Lula Cafe, an institution I'd yet to try despite hearing raves about the place for years. It was good, but The Chaser is not a food blog, so I'll just say I especially liked the pulpy, not-too-sweet margarita I ordered from the bar as we waited for a table. 

Afterwards, we carried our helmets (100% badass) over to Longman & Eagle, a place I last visited when ice covered the sidewalks. This time, I ordered what The Director informed me is the ultimate summer drink--a Shandy, a mixture of beer and lemonade, $6--but because the bar was out of lemonade, my Shandy was made with orange juice instead. Delicious, nutritious, and extremely low in alcohol, which suited me fine given the transportation situation (Dear Mom: The Creative Director does not drink and ride.)

Longman & Eagle has the atmosphere thing down pat. It's oh-so-Man in Black, which I love. The twang, the dark paint, the rusty, institutional light fixtures that cast a slightly sinister but always flattering low-watt glow...I'm into it. I guess you could say it's pretty badass, right down to the non-prissy flower planters nestled in the patio's surrounding fence. 

And now, in journalist mode, please allow me to offer this update on Longman & Eagle's planned upstairs hotel: It will open at the end of July with six rooms ($75-$250 per night) designed and curated by artists from around the world. Each room will have a cassette player and a rotating selection of mixed tapes. It will be, I'm sure, quite badass, and rather hipster-y to boot. 

On the way home, we made an unscheduled stop at a bar that appeared on Chicago mag's 100 Best Bars list earlier this year: Barra Ñ in Avondale. Another writer was assigned to review Ñ when we put together the feature, so it was my first visit, but I was happy to see a copy of the story framed and hanging on the wall by the bar. 

Before we even opened the door at Ñ I knew I was going to like it--I heard bass, booming bass, the kind of bass that sounds like a party and makes you want to dance. Inside the small, sexy space, a DJ was spinning near the front of the room while a guy on bongo drums played along. But the dance floor was empty--where was everyone? It was a Thursday night at 11:30, but most of the action was happening on the barstools, where one couple in particular was taking the concept of PDA to new, X-rated heights. Maybe it wasn't late enough, but I definitely want to go back when it's steamy and packed, as The Director says it nearly always is. 

P.S. Can you believe The Shady Lady is already closing? Well, kind of. (Shia Kapos of Crain's explains here.) The ink barely had time to dry on my review of the River North bar, which appears in the July issue of Chicago mag. I could tell something was, um, shady when one of the visionaries behind the place posted the following Facebook status update last week: Dion Antic has divorced The Shady Lady...off to greener pastures...

I guess the motorcycle-riding Antic will have to add another black star to the constellation tattoo already on his arm. Back when I interviewed him for the story, he told me there's one for each person or thing in his life he decides to write off completely. Talk about badass. Right? 

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All the Single Ladies (and Gents): Are you ready for some Summer Lovin'?

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

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Singles ham it up at the 2009 Summer Lovin' party at the MCA. (photo by Randy Belice)

We all turn to the usual sources for potential dates: bars, Match.com, Jdate, bars, CTA platforms, the produce department at Whole Foods, bars, the elevator at work, bars. 

But when all these fail (as they so often do), why not just pick someone you like from the pages of a magazine, then place yourself directly in the path of true love at a charity cocktail party where his or her attendance is guaranteed? 

Seems like a solid strategy to me. After all, here are three things you already know about the 2010 Chicago magazine singles

1. Their names and occupations are real. A fact-checker has confirmed all data. 
2. They are cute, as evidenced by the headshots taken at a professional photo shoot just a few weeks ago (no Spring Break '98 pics to cause confusion upon first meeting). 
3. They are single. A clandestine ad in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist is one thing, but you can't hide a nationally distributed magazine spread (complete with an online component featuring video interviews and childhood snapshots) from an already installed wife or boyfriend. 

Meanwhile, do you think it's risky, taking your significant other to a singles' party? Only time will tell, as both I and the man in question will definitely be on hand to toast the singles at the 10th annual Summer Lovin' party at the MCA on Friday. 

I first informed him of this outing over a few glasses (bottles?) of wine at our frequent late-night hangout of choice, The Bluebird

The Chaser: Excuse me. Babe. Could you please put the Chicago magazine Summer Lovin' event on your calendar? It's on June 18th. 
The Creative Director: Wait, what's that? Where is it? 
The Chaser: You know, it's the party for the singles. The ones in the magazine. At the MCA.
The Creative Director: But we're not single.
The Chaser (smiling): I know! But I want to support my friend Tim. He's in the issue.
The Creative Director: Then sure, I'll go. 

The Director later un-remembered this entire exchange, then recalled it after I repeatedly reminded him via e-mail.  

So, see you at the MCA on Friday, soulmate-searchers. It's sure to be one hot, steamy, summery night. (Seriously. It's going to be 90 degrees out. Wear something bare.)

June 18, 7PM to 10:30PM
MCA, 220 E. Chicago Ave. 
Tickets $85; $95 at the door
Hosted by the Auxiliary Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital 
with Telemundo's Nelly Carreno as emcee
Meet Chicago magazine's 20 most eligible singles!  
After-party at Cuvee until midnight 

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Hawks Hangout: The Pony owner dishes on the team's post-cup party

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.


Inside The Pony.

The Pony in Roscoe Village.

Before the elated Blackhawks boarded their Philly-to-Chicago plane on Wednesday night, they put in a call to Roscoe Village bar The Pony. The next morning, the bar got a big shot of fame when it became known as the downtown starting point for the team's two-day victory lap around the city. Bar owner Mark Domitrovich recaps the moment:

"After the players let us know they were coming, we closed down the bar to the public. 

The guys who came out were Big Buf, Seabrook, Keith, Kane, Toews, Neimi, Bolland, Hjarmirsson, Eager, Versteeg, Burish, Brower, Coach Mike Havlin, Coach Quenville and other front office staff, as well as the players' family and friends.

The Hawks have made The Pony their home base for the past two years. We've gotten to know the players and their friends over the course of the season. 

The guys brought the cup and were incredibly gracious in letting our staff have full access to hold it and take pictures. They were all snacking on our 14" grilled cheese and washing it down with sips from the cup. It was a night none of us will forget!" 

The revelry lasted at least until 7AM, when neighborhood residents on their way to work started posting pictures and updates about the scene on Facebook and Twitter. And is it possible the Hawks haven't had a wink of sleep since then? They've been toting that silver chalice everywhere from the United Center to Tavern on Rush, where last night police shut down streets due to crowds trying to catch a glimpse. 

Now that the parade's over, will the excitement finally die down--or will the Stanley Cup party on in Chicago tonight? If you see it out on the town this weekend, send me your pics and comments to be posted on The Chaser. 

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The Ultimate Beer Run: This weekend's Hoptacular showcases craft brews

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

On The Chaser's agenda for tonight: a little something called the Beer Hoptacular, at Uptown's Aragon Ballroom. I plan to use this event to, um, soak up (ha! ha ha!) as much beer expertise as possible in an attempt to overcome my chronic beer-ordering anxiety, which often leaves me stammering or nearly speechless when confronted with the question: "You want a beer? What kind?"

The Beer Hoptacular (don't you love it when two words combine to such cheerful effect? Though in this instance, it's hard not to immediately picture the Easter Bunny) promises to celebrate the art of beer with demonstrations from craft and home brewers, food from local artisans, Q&A sessions with beer journalists and bloggers, and voting for the Beer Hoptacular Beer of the Year. 

Oh, and the best part: beer sampling. Serious beer sampling. Thoughtful beer sampling. With a free souvenir sampling glass! 

But people, let's all just keep in mind: this is an educational opportunity. Not a sloshfest. Mmmkay?   

Beer Hoptacular
Tickets $45 in advance; $55 on site
Friday, June 4, 6:30PM to 10:30PM (don't freak out, Hawks fans, the game will be shown on a 50-inch screen)
Saturday, June 5, 1PM to 5PM
Saturday, June 5, 6:30PM to 10:30PM

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A Good Thing in a Small (Sidewalk) Package: La Terrasse at Le Bar

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Patio alert! The Gold Coast's sidewalk-sipping-slash-people-watching real estate has increased by 32 seats with the opening of La Terrasse, an extension of the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower's Le Bar

While this tiny triangle arrangement of a few white sofas and chairs can't compete with the high-in-the-sky glitz of nearby rooftop lounges at the Park Hyatt Chicago, the Dana Hotel and Spa and the Affinia Hotel, the understated appeal of La Terrasse isn't lost on The Chaser. 

After all, cocktail bliss is not always found in long elevator waits; 100 people vying for the one square foot of standing room you're attempting to occupy; or the wild temptation to accidentally hurl your BlackBerry over a 29th-floor railing just to watch it smash on the concrete below. 

Sometimes you only need a comfortable outdoor seat, a cold glass of Champagne, a few of Sofitel chef Martial Noguier's elegant pintxo appetizers (small slices of bread topped with various ingredients and held together with skewers, $5 for two) and one special friend with whom you might sparklingly converse. 

Doesn't that sound like Happy Hour, defined? 

VIP reservations at La Terrasse are available for small groups; call 312.324.4062.

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Death by wings, a uniform dance party and more for Memorial Day weekend

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Le Passage staff at last year's Operation Homefront benefit.

Le Passage staff at last year's Operation Homefront benefit.

Is everyone overwhelmed with jitters for the long weekend ahead? Are you sitting at your desks pretending to work but really checking Tom Skilling's latest forecast, IMing your friends about who's going where, reading your favorite blog (The Chaser), and checking Facebook on a moment-by-moment basis to see if anyone commented on  your "Wooo! Union Pier here I come!" status update?

I thought as much. But just in case you don't know anyone with a lake house and you don't have 17 BBQs on your agenda, please allow me to offer some suggestions:

Tonight: Matthew Santos album release party at Double Door. Someone e-mailed me a flyer for this event, and, intrigued by the claim that Santos' The Burning Ship of Fools was recorded and produced entirely in Chicago, I clicked through to his MySpace page (yep, musicians still use MySpace!) and took a listen. I think I could get into it. 8PM; tickets $12 in advance; $15 at the (Double) door.

Tomorrow (if you're not glued to the Blackhawks game): Take it to the burbs for a 10,000 Maniacs concert at the Arboretum of South Barrington. If you're less of a club kid, more of a have kids type of reveler, this block party will get the fam in an all-American mood with face painting, rides, food and more to benefit the Heart of a Marine Foundation and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. In an interesting marketing twist, the person who tweets the most about the event on Twitter using the hash tag #arboretummaniac will get to meet the band before they hit the stage.  

OR: 

Tomorrow: DJ Frankie Knuckles at Crimson Lounge. This 2005 Dance Music Hall of Fame inductee helped bring house music to Chicago, and he's still at it. Dance dance dance!

Sunday: Set yourself on fire with the new Suicide Wings at Division Ale House. The hotter-than-hot $9 wings (free to anyone who finishes all 10; victors also get a trophy and T-shirt) come with a bell that must be rung to signal finish or surrender, at which point a server will bring over milk and bread to help fan the flames. Personally, I do not wish to die by wings. But you go right ahead. 

OR: 

Sunday: Operation Homefront at Le Passage. In a nod to our men and women in uniform, this fundraiser for Operation Homefront is free to all (21+) service personnel who wear their uniforms and show valid military I.D. Relaxed dress code (in case you're coming straight from one of those BBQs); DJ Trinteno spins. RSVP to vip@lepassage.com for a free hosted bar.

Monday: Go to a barbeque. Or have one. Or just go throw a frisbee by the lake. That's my best advice. After all, you do have to work tomorrow. Sorry. 

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Kind of Outdoorsy: The Chaser hits rooftops, terraces and sidewalk patios in search of spring

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Opening day at The Terrace at Trump.

Surely thinking it would be safely spring by now, some of my favorite al fresco drinking spots around the city officially opened for the season this week. 

On Wednesday, my sister Claire (visiting from Louisville) and I sipped sangria among a glam crowd dotted with boldface names (Stephanie Izard was in the house, but alas, no Guiliana and Bill) on the 2,000-square-foot, seventh-floor NoMI garden terrace at the Park Hyatt Chicago. It's one of the city's great places for open-air cocktails, and the garden party is always a hot ticket. This year's menu theme was tomatoes, and the terrace was surreally festooned with giant red balloons that I secretly wanted to take home if it weren't for the facts that A. I was too scared to ask, and B. they wouldn't fit in a cab. 

Post-NoMI, Claire, our friend Tim and I allowed our tortured feet to carry us down Rush Street to that mecca of people-watching known to many as the Viagra Triangle. We settled in at one of Tavern on Rush's choice sidewalk tables for some extremely large, extremely, um, stiff Manhattans and glittering commentary on all those who dared enter our sights. A direct cut-and-paste from my notes: 

An act of gallantry: guy leaps from table and runs across street to rescue dropped jacket. We clap. Wow, so much bad denim. City seems to have cracked down on parking of exotic cars. No Lamborghinis. German Shepherd happily riding in blue Lexus convertible. Red Bull car cruises by. Ugh, Red Bull. Dude casually bounds down sidewalk on spring-loaded stilts. What in the world? Tim relays a glue rule he gave his first-graders today: "A little dab'll do ya." Love this. Will now incorporate into daily conversation. 

One Manhattan, a bottle of wine and an excellent crab cake later, I initiated an impromptu interview with three men sitting nearby. We'd just watched them openly catcall a group of 20-something women, which inspired me to pursue the following line of questioning: 

The Chaser: "Excuse me. Sirs. Do any of you take Viagra?" 
British Dude, Mid-40s-ish: "Yes." 
American Dude, Early-50s-ish: "Viagra, yes."
Other Dude, Mid-50s-ish: "Not yet. But I hope to, someday."
The Chaser: "Thanks. I'm taking notes about Viagra users in the Viagra Triangle for my nightlife blog." 
Other Dude, Mid-50s-ish: "You're a writer? Hey, you should write a story about my wife. She owns a business in Lake Forest."
The Chaser: "Hm, maybe." 

The next time our waitress checked in, we asked if she thought there were many Viagra users among her clientele. No doubt preferring to remain employed, she smiled with only the faintest hint of irony and said: "There are certainly a lot of wealthy older men who enjoy a well-cooked steak and some very fresh seafood." I don't doubt that for a second, do you? 

Yesterday, the Terrace at Trump opened for summer business at precisely 3PM, and we were among a small crowd determinedly cocktailing away under sprinkles, clouds and a brisk breeze around 4:30. But a view's a view, and we made the best of it by ordering up some Glamour Bubbles (the oh-so-tempting title of the Terrace's new champagne-focused cocktail menu) and a gooey caramel s'more. Wrapped in borrowed Trump pashminas for warmth, my sister and I covered the following topics: 

1. Do you think they'll turn on that bubble machine again? 
2. Can you imagine renting this whole place out for a birthday party?
3. So many people around us are working away at their desks right now--thousands in that building across the river alone! 
4. There really was some outdated denim walking by in the Gold Coast last night. 
5. The people on that Seadog boat must be freezing today. 
6. Where could we get the best hamburgers in the world for dinner?  
7. Muddled strawberries sure do clog cocktail straws.  

Scintillating! 

In other outdoor news, it's the first anniversary of West Loop bar and restaurant Market (also a major contender for Best City View From a Rooftop or Terrace). Market's birthday celebration continues at tonight at 6PM (samples from the new summer menu and the unveiling of several hot rides: the new Rolls Royce Ghost, Bentley Continental Supersport and Spyker C8 Laviolette) and a public open house with live music on the rooftop tomorrow at sunset. The Chaser posed the following questions to owner Karl Spektor: 

The Chaser: "So, Market's turning one. In what ways has the bar grown up?
Spektor: "We've been listening to guest feedback, and we've responded with better customer service, a retractable roof over the beer garden for rainy weather, a new walk-up bar on the rooftop, and bigger and better private cabanas."

The Chaser: "The rooftop is a huge draw. What are some of the coolest things that happened there in the first season?"
Spektor: "I'll never forget hearing Mike Ditka giving a pep talk at a private event there last year. Maxim magazine named it the top rooftop getaway in the country. Vince Vaughn and John Cusack have stopped by, among other celebs.

The Chaser: "Do the Sox players still hang out? What about players from other teams?"
Spektor: "Sox players love it here, but so do Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls and Cubs. We have a great time hosting our city's sports heroes--Biran Urlacher, Derek Rose, Lance Briggs and Michael Jordan have all been in. Patrick Kane was here early this week celebrating the Blackhawks wins in San Jose. Jay Cutler was here at the same time, and Donovan McNabb was on the newly renovated rooftop last Friday. 

If you've made it this far, readers, you deserve a gold star. That was a lot of words for a partly sunny Friday afternoon. Wherever you take your outdoor libations this weekend, enjoy! Here's to spring. 

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Four Moon: The neighborhood bar is alive and well in Roscoe Village

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Part of the fun of being The Chaser is the fact that everyone I meet points me to a new bar I've never tried. The conversations usually go like this: 

New Acquaintance: "Let me get this straight. You write about bars? And drinking? For work?"
The Chaser: "Yes, that is basically accurate." 
New Acquaintance: "Huh. Tough job." 
The Chaser: "I know. Actually, my mom's a little worried about the drinking aspect."
New Acquaintance: "So I guess you've been to my favorite place. The Springtime Saloon?" (Note: The Springtime Saloon is a fictional spot created for the purposes of this blog entry. But wouldn't you just adore a bar with such a winning name?) 
The Chaser: "Nope. Where is it?" 
New Acquaintance: "What? You've never heard of the Springtime Saloon? That is insane. Come on. It's right down the street from me in Wrigleyville. They have like, the best beer list in town, and their patio is completely abloom with petunias." 
The Chaser: "I love petunias. I'll check out this Springtime Saloon immediately, if you feel so strongly about it. In fact, let's go now." 

That's how I came to discover Four Moon Tavern earlier this week. A fellow journalist invited me to do a speaking gig at his Columbia College magazine writing class (I jump at any chance to mold young minds), and afterwards, the two teachers and two speakers discussed where we might enjoy an end-of-semester brew. We considered at least four spots before settling on Four Moon, a decision based on a conversation almost identical to the one above (insert Four Moon for Springtime Saloon and Roscoe Village for Wrigleyville). 

Here's what I liked about Four Moon (which did make our 100 Best Bars list this year): it's on an actual neighborhood corner, surrounded by real houses. There's no convoluted agenda; it's not a dance-club-slash-hunting-lodge-slash-tapas-bar. Our fellow drinkers were an all-ages, all-kinds-of-Chicago group. The beer list was impressive as promised (my friend and fellow writer is an amazingly snobbish beer drinker who kept ordering tastes of everything on tap, then wrinkling his nose or raising his brows in approval). The bratwurst...well, yum. 

Four Moon is the kind of bar that The Creative Director is always lamenting the disappearance of in Chicago--a real, uncontrived neighborhood place tucked away on some leafy side street and populated mostly by people who live within a six-block radius. 

Is he right? What's your own personal Springtime Saloon--the spot you can't believe I've never heard of but kind of wish I wouldn't write about? Tell me if you dare. I promise not to spread the word beyond the select readership of this popular city magazine and its highly trafficked website. 

Find Me An Apartment (and a bar): The Chaser faces a Chicago real estate quandary

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

The Drawing Room is a craft-cocktail mecca, home of the Old-Old Fashioned.

Could The Drawing Room ever become The Chaser's neighborhood bar?

It's Friday, so I thought I'd take a break from frantically searching apartment listings on Craigslist to kick back and consider one very important real estate question: which bars could I stand living near?

You see, the new owner of my longtime building on Mohawk Street has some pretty wild ideas about how much a certain writer can reasonably be expected to pay for a drafty, dark, noisy "1BD" (quotes denote fact that bedroom is actually a converted sun porch) with a teeny tiny shower whose water pressure renders the removal of Pantene Pro-V from The Chaser's luxe locks a daily battle. He clearly doesn't realize what a valuable tenant I am (unlike my sweet former landlord, Bob, who used to show people my byline in magazines and tell them there was a celebrity living in the building--a major ego boost). 

I am, therefore, moving. I think. On June 1. 

But first I have to find an acceptable place to live, and it'd better not be near a bogus bar. 

For years, my closest option has been the River Shannon on Armitage Avenue. It's not the coolest hipster hangout on the planet, but it works for the following reasons: 

1. Two blocks away
2. Reasonably priced drinks
3. Good barstool availability 
4. Free popcorn
5. Giant Jenga

Now that it's looking more and more like I'm being priced out of my preferred four-block radius in north Old Town, how will I ever find an apartment that fulfills both my living (updated 1- or 2-bedroom w/ hardwood floors, a dishwasher, easy parking, bay windows and close proximity to lake on leafy residential side street) AND drinking requirements (unpretentious neighborhood bar w/ non-shady age-appropriate crowd, amiable bartenders and giant Jenga/Wii bowling)?

It's beginning to feel like a mission impossible. I've looked at 11 apartments so far, most of them dumps. And I'm not going to name names because that would border on unprofessional, but wow, there are a LOT of bars where I never plan to become a regular. Meanwhile, here are a few feasible options: 

APT: A top-floor (read: attic) 1BD on Kenmore near Belmont
BAR: Matilda (their 23+ age requirement is right up my alley--I hope the crowd skews even older) 

APT: Overpriced high-rise unit at 3600 N. Lake Shore w/ creepy mirrors on every wall
BAR: Joe's on Broadway (3563 N. Broadway; never been there, but most Yelp reviewers describe it as a "solid old-man dive bar")  

APT: Supremely dirty but big 2BD on Grace near Wrigley
BAR: Rockit Wrigley (I've always been a sucker for those sweet potato fries) 

APT: Yet-to-be-discovered dream habitat in Buena Park, the 'hood that's currently reeling me in with its charming street names (Bittersweet!), cute library and great lake access
BAR: Bar on Buena (it made Chicago mag's 100 Best Bars list back in February, so it must be good, right?)

APT: Vintage 1BD on Bellevue in the Gold Coast (seeing it this weekend), where I could walk to events but where my car, Black Beauty, might feel out of place among the Lamborghinis 
BAR: The Drawing Room (this could be a positive step toward curtailing my drinking habits, since I can only afford so many of those premium Old-Old Fashioneds) 

Please, readers, I need you now like I've never needed you before. Find me an apartment, I beg you. And a bar. Or just tell me where you live/drink and why I should move there, too. 

Yours Truly,
The Chaser

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They're Off! Chicago bars prep for the fastest two minutes in sports

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

The Pony is all about the Derby. Win prizes for best hat and best seersucker suit.

The Pony hosts a Kentucky Derby party with prizes for best outfits.

Yes, the Kentucky Derby still bills itself as "the fastest two minutes in sports," despite the fact that the not-so-recent invention of motorized vehicles left the poor ponies in the dust a good while ago. And with the Louisville forecast calling for an 80 percent chance of "strong storms" all day tomorrow, the bound-to-be-muddy 136th Kentucky Derby isn't likely to break any land speed records (this is morbid, but I'm just hoping no one breaks a leg--an occurrence which can bring the level of Derby-day gaiety down to zero in a sobering instant. RIP, Eight Belles). 

Anyway, like I said yesterday, I'm taking a rare year off from going home to Louisville for the Derby, though, since I can tell you're desperate, I guess I'll post a picture of last year's Derby outfit below. (Your vocab word of the day is Fascinator: a strictly decorative non-hat item worn atop The Chaser's head for the purpose of making her appear five inches taller). 

The fascinator will not be making an appearance at Derby 2010. Nay (neigh!), this year, I'll be stopping by my friend Sean's Kentucky Derby fundraiser for Face the Future at the Fortnightly Club in the Gold Coast. Have you been there? It's old school to the max. Then, I thought I might check out one of the zillions of bar Derby parties happening around the city.

There's a $25 crawfish boil at Brownstone (crawfish is more New Orleans than Louisville, but whatever); a "Dawn at the Downs" party at The Cedar Hotel with $6 Mint Juleps (the party starts at noon, which is not quite dawn, but whatever); a "Talk Derby to Me" party at Faith & Whiskey with $5 Woodford Reserve shots; an event benefitting the Equestrian Connection at The Pony (don your best hats for a chance at prizes); a contest for best hat and best seersucker suit at Fizz; another best-dressed party benefitting JDRF at Sweetwater; hand-crafted mint juleps at Longman & Eagle and many, many more. 

Geez, people. If I didn't know any better, I'd think Chicago's a tad jealous it's not Louisville this weekend. 

If you really want to get in the spirit, head out to Arlington Park, which is basically pretending it's Churchill Downs for the day. Arlington just opened (as in yesterday) a new bar called Longshots on its grounds, and elsewhere around the park, they'll be hosting what they call "Chicago's Largest Derby Party" with live bands, live racing, Churchill Downs racing on simulcast, and free official Kentucky Derby glasses for the first 2,500 people to buy a ticket. 

Those glasses are collector's items, y'all. Git on out there. 

P.S. Anybody find me that pie


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Up on the ROOFtop, The Chaser Pauses

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Last weekend, prior to dinner with friends at The Wit's Cibo Matto, The Creative Director and I rode the elevator up to the 27th-floor bar Roof for one round of cocktails (a Manhattan and a vodka soda, to be exact). "That'll be $23," said the bartender, right before I picked my jaw up off the floor. Talk about sticker shock--that's half the amount it takes to fill up my car, Black Beauty. I sipped slowly.  

Still, I've always liked Roof, though the crowd may often be found dressed for clubbing at 5:45 on a weekday afternoon (I won't get into a conversation I, um, overheard about the definition of the word "hootchie"--hoochie?--mainly because I don't know if I'm allowed to write it here. But from what I gather, it has something to do with pairing hot pants and thigh-high pleather boots with spray tans). 

I went back to Roof just three nights later for an Effen vodka event, which was agreeable for the following reasons: 1. The invitation came with a bottle of vodka, 2. The sun was setting just so, providing an excellent view, 3. A discussion of urban planning/green architecture proved informative, and 4. Free drinks. You can't beat that with a stick. You really can't.  

Well, the Kentucky Derby is coming up this weekend, and for once I'm not going. Don't worry, I'll be OK. I hear there are Derby-related activities to be enjoyed even in Chicago, a list of which I plan to share with you tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll buy a cocktail for anyone who finds me one of these before Saturday. 

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Not Home, Yet Alone: The Chaser kicks it solo for a hot minute

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Brownstone Tavern on Lincoln Avenue.
There's an art to sitting at a bar alone, and I'm still mastering it. (Mom: "Sweetie, if I were you, I wouldn't spend too much time in bars alone. So unhealthy.") I don't know if women can pull it off as easily as men, who always have the option of hunching over some huge beer while staring with laser focus at a hockey game on the nearest flat-screen. But, I don't really know the rules of sports, and hunching is not my most flattering pose. 

Earlier this week, I accidentally went to a Maker's Mark tasting dinner on the wrong night. So, somewhat dejected, I adjourned to the nearby Brownstone Tavern to await The Creative Director, whom I'd summoned via text. Facing a half-hour interval sans companionship, I nervously scooted a stool up to the bar and pretended to seriously consider the beer list for a long stretch. Finally, the bartender (Sean, I later learned) requested to know my preference:

Bartender Sean: "What can I get ya?"
The Chaser (who suffers from severe beer-ordering anxiety): "I, um, well...um, do you have any specials?"
Bartender Sean: "We have the Haywire Hefeweizen from Pyramid for $3.50." 
The Chaser: "Oh. What's that? I mean, what's it like?"
Bartender Sean: "It's kind of Blue Moon-y but a little less fruity." 
The Chaser (relieved): "Great, I'll take it." 

Meanwhile, I set about entertaining myself by creating a multimedia playstation in a semi-circle on the bar in front of me. To my far left was my massive handbag, which served to shield me from who knows what. Then I laid out an old issue of Time Out, my notebook and pen, my BlackBerry, the Hefeweizen, and the Brownstone food menu. For the next 30 minutes I repeated the following routine: 

1. Read a short magazine article
2. Engage the bartender in a snippet of conversation; write down everything he says
3. Check for e-mails, texts or missed calls; scroll frantically through Facebook feed
4. Take a sip of beer
5. Peruse the menu in anticipation of eventual dinner order
6. Glance up at Cubs game

I'm pretty sure I appeared totally at ease. 

Anyway, if you ever go to Brownstone for dinner, I recommend their new salmon club with a side of tater tots. It's a crispy/buttery delight. 

So, today is Earth Day. Too bad it's too chilly to sit outside and take in the natural wonders of the Earth over cocktails (though it could be my lucky day on the Big Star patio--just me, my puffy down coat and a few pork belly tacos). As you know, bars tend to love any calendar-based excuse to advertise a special. But, in lieu of running down every Dirtini in town, my Earth Day shoutout this year goes to Lumen, the Fulton Market spot that recently alerted me to the planet-friendliness of its interior revamp. Recycled bamboo and vinyl, a low-ambient HVAC system, efficient LED lighting throughout--it's all about as earthy as a nightclub gets, right? Sorry, I know this is a fairly random paragraph, but I had to mention something semi-related to our planet on her big day. 

P.S. I really, really need to stay in tonight, since last night's exhausting schedule included my friend Amy's book party at the W City Center; a sushi contest at RA on State Street; another friend's tape art video installation exhibit; and a late dinner/drinks situation at The Gage. But if there's one thing I'd leave the house for this evening, it would be the Passion Pit concert at the Congress Theater. I freaking love that band. They keep playing shows in Chicago, and I keep missing them. I guess I'll dance around my apartment to "The Reeling" right now, just to ease the pain. 

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The Patio Puzzle: Is true relaxation possible at Chicago's outdoor hotspots?

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Quick, where's your favorite place to drink outside in Chicago? Why? What's your secret for scoring a table? I never, ever tire of this discussion, so please leave your answers below. 

Meanwhile, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I want to go to Big Star whenever I feel like it, be seated immediately and without clawing anyone's eyes out, drink lots of those $1 mini beers and order pork belly tacos to my heart's content. You know, all while basking in comfortable breezes, people-watching for sport and conducting conversations at reasonable volumes.

Instead, we're doomed to repeat this exchange, night after night: 

The Creative Director: "Hey, should we go grab a beer on a patio somewhere?"
The Chaser: "Sure, but where?"
TCD: "Ooh, Big Star. We'll get tacos."
TC: "OK, but I'm warning you, everyone on Facebook is already there. It'll be a madhouse. Again."
TCD: "I'm nearby. I'll check it out and call you back." 
Ring ring...
TC: "Well?"
TCD: "I'm waiting in line. The crowd is so...Lincoln Park. Or annoying, or something. Meet me at Jerry's." 

To Jerry's on Division we proceeded, only to be put on a one-hour wait for a table. Thus, the next-door sidewalk at Division Ale House was where said beers were finally procured. Sure, there were people to watch, but it was no Big Star: 

Waaaahhhhh...!!!
The Chaser: "That's about enough of that." 
The Creative Director: "Seriously. What's with the kids? Why can't we drink a beer in the company of fellow adults?"
TC: "It's almost nine o'clock. Take that baby home and put it to bed." 
TCD: "Yeah, don't bring a baby to a bar! You have a baby, you stay in for a few years." 

We were hungry, and therefore grumpy. When we finally did eat--sandwiches at Jerry's, two hours later--there was a service fiasco that involved our waitress asking in shocked tones: "What? You didn't get your food yet?" 

Sigh. The sidewalk patios of Chicago have yet to get in the swing of things this season.

Sorry this isn't in chronological order, but I must tell you about an absinthe tasting I went to on Tuesday night. That's right, absinthe is making a comeback, especially if Pernod has anything to say about it. Their PR team invited a group of media to The Violet Hour for a little absinthe tutorial, and I'm here to tell you, you want to sip the stuff slowly. It's 140 proof, mmm kay

I was sitting at the bar next to a suburban divorce lawyer and his (younger/blonder) wife, and, after just 1/2 glass of an Oldest Living Confederate Widow (a lemony cocktail made with Pernod) I said:
 
The Chaser: "So, how's divorce lawyering treatin' ya these days? Must be depressing, huh?"
Divorce Lawyer: "It's great! Divorces are way up this year. Things were slow in 09, but we got 41 new divorces in the first four days of 2010." 
TC: "Wow. That is depressing." 
Divorce Lawyer: "Not at all! It's just the way things are." 
The Chaser (leaning over to address Divorce Lawyer's Wife): "How do you marry a guy like this? What do you have, like, an iron-clad prenup?"
Divorce Lawyer's Wife (giggling): "You know it! I'm pretty much screwed either way."

In an attempt to exit on a high note, I left, crossed the street, and tried to get tacos at Big Star. I failed. 

Elsewhere in nightlife, I've been getting a lot of e-mails about a "new" (remodeled) bar patio open this week, which just might be the cure for all this insanity...as long as you keep it to yourselves. 

The place is called The Temple Bar (3001 N. Ashland, formerly Fearon's Public House), and it's modeled after a historic spot in central Dublin. They're promising a large patio space complete with Guinness murals and plenty of "green shrubbery" (see photos below). Has anyone been yet? It's on my list to check out next week, after I'm back from a few days of Kentucky springtimeness. They have bourbon spouts by the side of the road there, have you heard? 

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Yet Another Chicago Bar Gets Real: Housewives star at District tonight

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

When spending an entire Sunday afternoon watching a marathon of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County, do you ever find yourself scrutinizing one of the show's tanned-and-eerily-taut stars and thinking, 'Gee, if only I could recreate that look, head to toe?" Nah, me neither.

But, in case you've been jonesing for a little Housewife style--or in case you're just a huge fan of the show and you really, really want to get your picture taken with one of the cast members and then post it as your profile pic on Facebook--tonight's your big chance. 

Lynne "The Chin" Curtin will be at River North's District Bar for the launch of The Fashion District, a new Wednesday-night series at the bar. (In slightly unrelated news, I urge you to click through to District's website and have a little dance party at your desk right now. "Electric Feel" by MGMT = great song.)

Curtin will present her accessory line alongside local names Ashley Scott of Drapes, LeCrisha Sheilds of Reckless and Kiwi Boutique

For some unknown reason, you'll receive 10% off all regular menu items if you show up wearing a vest or blazer. This is confusing, if you ask me. Wouldn't a plunging-V-neck satin mini-sundress paired with 5-inch strappy platforms, mismatched extensions and a generous layer of bronzer be more festive? 

Anyway, no matter what your outfit, you'll get half-price bottles of wine and salads.
 
6PM to 9PM
District Bar
170 W. Ontario St.
312.337.3477



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(Long) Weekend Recap: The Chaser catches spring fever

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Two pretty cocktails at Wang's.

Orchid-garnished martinis at Wang's.

Yep, it was another action-packed weekend for The Chaser. Honestly, I don't know how I do it. Do you? 

Thursday (my favorite going-out night; officially falls in Weekend category): Tried the just-opened Beauty Bar (in the former Sonotheque space); had my nails painted the most pleasing shade of mood-ring blue (martini-and-a-manicure special, $10) and began pouting inexplicably after several Perm martinis. Look for my review of this spot in the June issue of Chicago magazine. 

Friday: Met The Creative Director (not-so-secret code name for the BF, who's a painter and more) for brews in the leafy beer garden at Resi's Bierstube (2034 W. Irving Park Rd.), a place I hadn't visited since a particularly torturous, long-ago Match.com date. The guy indulged in an hourlong tirade against yuppies (all the while glaring at me as if I were the epitome of unbearable prissiness), then invited me back to his place to get stoned. I declined, but politely offered him a ride home. 

Later on Friday: Proceeded to The Hideout to watch my friend Gina's husband Mark do his Interview Show, which I can't believe took me two years to check out. I loved it. There was opera, there was comedy, there was Kid Sister. It was $5 extremely well spent. 

Still Later on Friday: Tried to hit Big Star for tacos, but became discouraged after noting crowd of roughly 1,000 packing the patio with a line of nearly 1 zillion more stretching down the block. "No to lines," said The Director, shaking his head. Walked to standby The Bluebird for mac 'n' cheese + spring breeze via open windows. 

Saturday: With tickets to a Lyric Opera concert waiting at will call, stopped at Wang's (3317 N. Broadway) for pre-performance refreshments. I cannot resist a cocktail garnished with an orchid under any circumstances. 

Later on Saturday: Arrived 3 minutes late to the opera and was forced to cool heels in grand lobby until post-intermission seating (they're not kidding when they say 7:30 sharp). The bar was open for stragglers, and, truth be told, it's not all bad to have a private cocktail hour in an extravagant setting while listening to a performance piped in via speaker. 

Sunday: Attended an Easter dinner that had everything to do with wine. Lots of wine. 

(Much) Later on Sunday, Possibly Monday: Awoke at an undetermined, very dark hour, feeling headachy, feverish, and all-around sick--no doubt the result of what my mother likes to call overdoing it. In lieu of Kleenex, currently finding new uses for a stack of scratchy Chipotle napkins. Poor nostrils. 

P.S. Posted moments ago by a Facebook friend: "Who wants to be added to my VIP list for all the most exciting events? E-mail me to get on the list!" 

Acronym review: That's not VIP. That's LOP. Lots of People.  

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Can't Hardly Wait: Lolla lineup to be revealed Monday night at Debonair Social Club

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

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The Lollapalooza 2010 lineup will be announced Monday night at Debonair Social Club.

I'm a huge Lollapalooza nerd, and I don't mind saying so. I get a thrill from having any laminated festival-related press pass strung from a lanyard around my neck. All year, I think about Lolla-worthy nail polish colors and the kinds of outfits I'll need for each of the three days. Nothing too cutesy, nothing too hot--preferably a succession of lightweight tie-dye cotton dresses paired with appropriately comfortable flip-flops--plus some kind of rocker-chic cocktail frock for Galapalooza, the Parkways Foundation kick-off event on the night before the festival begins (and my favorite party of the year).  

For a fleeting moment last summer, as I trudged across those hot, dusty fields with my little sister Liv (age 22) and our friend DJ (age 20) in tow, I looked around at all those acres of near-nakedness and couldn't help but wonder: will this be my last Lolla year? Am I (age 30, at the time) too old for this? 

Then, I went to the Neko Case show, got a load of that crowd, and realized I'm still plenty young enough. (P.S. to Neko: Much as we all adore those cascading red locks, I'd really consider bringing along a ponytail holder when playing an outdoor set in 97-degree heat.)   

On Monday night (April 5), Debonair Social Club is hosting the official Lollapalooza 2010 lineup announcement party, and though there have been plenty of leaks (Lady Gaga, Green Day, Soundgarden and The Strokes are among the rumored performers), I still can't wait to hear it straight from the source. 

Debonair is promising ticket giveaways, live performances and DJ sets by surprise Lolla 2010 performers, along with "other special guest appearances." It's a pretty safe (but totally unconfirmed) bet that Perry'll be in the house, wouldn't you say? 

Lollapalooza Lineup Announcement Party
Monday, April 5, 9PM to 2AM
Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave. 
RSVP here for a hosted PBR and champagne reception from 9 to 10
 

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Get Glowing: Bars go energy efficient tomorrow night

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Always careful never to stumble into bad lighting, I wholly approve of any excuse to flip the switch altogether in favor of candlelight's ever-flattering glow. That's why Earth Hour (tomorrow night from 8:30 to 9:30) is my favorite newish holiday. 

The Palmer House Hilton is staging possibly the most tempting Earth Hour extravaganza in Chicago, lighting 1,200 candles in its gilded lobby at the appointed moment and serving drinks with glow-in-the-dark ice cubes. If you're in the market to seduce someone, I highly recommend it.

To see the rest of the Chicago skyline sans its usual twinkle (because for all its grandeur, the Palmer House is pretty much a windowless setting), head to a hotel bar with a view.

C-View at the Affinia is doing the candle thing, too, and offering three Earth Hour-themed specialty cocktails for $10 each. At Cityscape Bar (top of the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza), organic specialty cocktails are just $4, and there's a complimentary (also organic) veggie and cheese buffet from 8 to 9. 

P.S. In unrelated news, my friend Kevin and I stopped by Corcoran's in Old Town last night, lured off the sidewalk by the promise of $1 mini cheeseburgers. A note about the mini cheeseburgers: they're not that mini. They're also not that great. Next time I'd spring for the $8.75 "real" burger, which comes with the luxury of a tomato slice.  

But, I sure do like those cozy green Corcoran's booths, and the Kentucky game was playing on the TV nearest us (go Cats). People were wearing non-designer denim and conducting casual conversations at reasonable volumes. Speaking of our pretty little planet, I hadn't felt so down to earth in weeks.  

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High Heels, Hot Cheese & (more) Haughty Bouncers: Tips & tricks from a weekend's events.

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Front bar at The Bluebird.

The Bluebird

I stayed in last night for the first time in weeks, and, scarcely knowing what to do with myself other than watch Dancing With the Stars and Gossip Girl, I did just that. It was satisfying, from the Duck Walk tofu pad Thai to the moody Gossip Girl opening sequence set to my favorite Rihanna song of the moment, Rockstar 101 (feat. Slash)

But, since this blog is all about going out, I also dutifully reviewed my notes from the weekend, searching for Chaser-worthy tales with which to regale the universe. Herewith, a few recent bits of advice: 

1. If you go to see the just-opened Matisse exhibit at The Art Institute, do not wear your four-inch patent-leather party heels. Those marble hallways kill. But, do try to experience the exhibit during an event featuring an open bar. 

2. If you later proceed to the California Clipper for a friend's birthday party, only dance during the slow songs, particularly if someone has a camera and you are still in the party heels.  

3. If you work full-time as a bouncer at the Empty Bottle and can prove as much, still do not attempt to enter the Clipper if your I.D. has snapped in half. You will be told to exit immediately, as in: "Get. The hell. Out." (Thanks to new friend Brian for this tip.)

4. If you are The Chaser, jot a reminder in your notebook about the Chicago location of Beauty Bar opening in the old Sonotheque space this Wednesday (as in, tomorrow). (Thanks again to Brian for this update.) I went to Beauty Bar in L.A. once, in 2000. I was barely legal. I hung out with some pseudo-celebrities and got my picture taken with them. I thought it was the hottest thing ever. See evidence in slideshow below. 

5. If you attend a dinner party and unexpectedly find yourself seated next to someone who is your ultimate boss and whom you have only met face-to-face on one other occasion (the day of your interview), delicately steer the conversation to that always-charming topic, suicide. This will demonstrate your knowledge of current events.

6. If, late-night, you go to Bluebird on Damen for someone's PhD party, order a side of mac 'n' cheese with your Bulleit bourbon. Gooey. Steamy. Divine. Also, do not--and herein lies a shameless plug, for the artist is a friend--do not miss the tape drawing installation by Alex Menocal in Bluebird's back room. It is cool beyond coolness. If you are suitably bewitched, come to dinner on April 11 and hear Alex explain why tape on walls is his thing. See you there. 

7. If it is a Sunday afternoon and you've just spent a few hours shopping for rulers and you're in the market for a midday beverage, try Cody's Public House in Lakeview (1658 W. Barry Ave.). It is a true neighborhood kick-back kind of place--cash-only--and on a sunny Sunday, you're likely to have the pool table all to yourself. 

Meanwhile, there's no rest for the weary. Tonight I'm off to witness the considerable talents of my friend Graham Kostic and others at You Inspire Me Too (Part 2), an ongoing variety show fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that's always tons of fun (totally casual, $10, all are welcome).

After the last such performance I was turned away from nearby Schubas due to lack of I.D., and it made for one of the most controversial Chaser posts ever. Will I reattempt the scenario with my shiny new duplicate Illinois driver's license in hand? Only time will tell. 







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Will the real St. Patrick's Day please stand up?

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

There are miles and miles of endlessly sprinkled, technicolor-green grass in Palm Springs, and staring at it as I lounge by the pool shall be my ode to this overhyped holiday. You see, I'm on vacation. It's the first time in my nine Chicago years that I have missed St. Patrick's Day, the bead-tossing, beer-guzzling, river-dying, midday-puking excuse for debauchery that, truth be told, I've never much understood. I mean, I do like having a reason to wear my green "Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky" T-shirt once in a while, but the fact is that I'm an American. German of descent but really just 100% American now, and not one iota Irish. So don't bother kissing me, I guess. 

Still, I'm not completely missing out on the action here in Palm Springs (a country club celebration is planned for later this evening). A series of texts from my Chicago associates since the city entered full St. Patrick's mode on Saturday have kept me apprised of the situation: 

From John: At Mad River. Post-collegiate hell. Hope girl doing worm on beer-slicked floor doesn't remember it tomorrow.

From Mark: Wearing green v-neck sweater at Casey Moran's. Surprisingly not bad. Good people-watching. Girls' bathroom flooding...gross. Happens every year. 

From Melissa: Ugh. Can't stand to go out. Drinking Guinness at home.

From Tim: They're always after me lucky charms!!!

Apparently, the party continues tonight. It is, after all, the real St. Patrick's Day. The Cedar Hotel will open its patio for the first time this season at 2PM and serve up $5 Guinness and $5 Jameson until 2AM; the rooftop at ZED 451 will have rubens with green 'kraut and Guinness stew; the Hunt Club is offering Irish Three-Way quaffers (bomb-style drinking glasses with two bulbs); and Cityscape has concocted an Apple Pucker and Irish whiskey martini called the Leprechaun Spit. Has anyone ever seen a leprechaun spit? Not me. I've never even seen an actual leprechaun, but I've always disapproved of public spitting. 

More St. Pat's specials at both Irish and completely non-Irish bars:  

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St. Pat's Preview: Guinness's nearest and beerest hits Chicago tonight

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

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Guinness brewmaster Fergal Murray, who will judge the Pour the Perfect Pint competition at Grace O'Malley's tonight.

There's a competition for everything, I guess--ugliest dog, extreme ironing, worm charming--but it never crossed my mind that somewhere, some people are going head-to-head over beer pouring. Tonight, that somewhere is Chicago, as the St. Patrick's Day festivities swing into action and Guinness brewmaster Fergal Murray presides over a "pour the perfect pint" competition at Grace O'Malley's in the South Loop. Here, five questions for the man who knows a lot more about beer than I do, and lives to promote the heck out of some Guinness: 

What does the title 'Brewmaster' mean? What are your job responsibilities? 
The first is to ensure that every ounce of Guinness that leaves St. James Gate is of the finest quality, because people around the world have come to expect as much. The second part of my job is traveling the world, educating people on the proper way to serve and enjoy Guinness, including the fundamentals of the Perfect Pour.

Your name, Fergal Murray, sounds just about right for a brewmaster. What's the most Irish thing about you? 
My name and my connection to Ireland's most famous export. 

I hear you pour the perfect pint. What's the process?
You need a clean, dry glass--preferably a 20 oz. Guinness pint glass. Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and never allow the spout to touch the glass. Pull the tap handle down and allow beer to fill the glass. You will see the surge commence. Allow the nitrogen bubbles to create theater and a wonderful surge event with a beautiful creamy head. The final step is the top up, when the beer has settled and there's a distinct gap between dark liquid and head. The glass is topped slowly to create a domed effect with the head proud of the glass. Give the perfect pint to the adoring customer.  

OK, wow. Well, do you think Chicago's St. Patrick's Day traditions are over the top? I mean, do we really deserve to act all Irish and dye our river green? 
It's absolutely not over the top. It's about bringing people together to celebrate and enjoy one another's company in a responsible manner. In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is more of a family-type holiday. The celebrations aren't quite as large. But that's not to say I don't love how passionately Chicagoans and Americans in general celebrate the day. 

Do you ever get sick of drinking beer? 
I never tire of the taste of a perfectly crafted pint of Guinness. 

Pour the Perfect Pint competition, 9PM, Grace O'Malley's, 1416 S. Michigan Ave.

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Who Needs Hollywood? Big-time Oscar-night bashes, Chicago-style

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

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The "Avatar Princess" cocktail at Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club.

This time last year, I donned a sequined dress and went to two over-the-top Oscar viewing parties: a Moet shindig featuring gold-body-painted champagne girls, and the Center on Halsted's red-carpet bash. When I got home, I had no idea who won what and had to look it all up on TMZ. 

I've already gone out a lot this week, so this year, I'm kind of hoping some friend will pop out of the woodwork and invite me over to watch the awards with him on Sunday. (Ahem. Tim.) 

But, in lieu of that, here are the other options: 

1. The Center on Halsted event (again), a wildly glam affair at the Fairmont that will be attended by slew of Billy Elliot cast members, outrageous drag queens, and overall fabulous people. The super-stylin' Greg Hyder is co-hosting along with Judi Gorman and Wayne Harth, and the event's sponsors include just about everyone. Will the allure of all those sparkles be too much to resist?

2. The Chicago Sport and Social Club's viewing party at The Boundary, with the Oscars playing on a dozen large plasmas and drink specials ($3 Coors Light; $4 Absolut, Jameson and Malibu cocktails) from 6PM until the last award.

3. An Avatar-themed spectacle at Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club, with gift bags for the first 50 guests; "Avatar Princess" Effen and Hpnotiq cocktails; warrior princess Neytiri performances throughout the night; and an Oscar quiz with the grand prize of an Avatar Playstation 3 game and a Swarovski-encrusted bottle of Hpnotiq. 

4. LUXBAR's event to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where a $65 donation gets you a red-carpet arrival; awards viewing on 17 TVs; a little mingling with local celebs; cocktails by Goose Island, Belvedere, Glenmorangie and 10 Cane; and a dinner-by-the-bite menu of sliders, empanadas, mini crab cakes and more. 

5. Chicago's only Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences-recognized Academy Awards blowout, the Gene Siskel Film Center and School of the Art Institute of Chicago's 'Oscar Night America.' This one is hosted by another one of my favorite people, girl-on-the-town Amanda Puck, and--NEWS FLASH--I just heard it's sold out. OK, strike that one from the list, but not because it's not awesome. 

What I really want to know is, where can I participate in a dress-judging contest? If Oscar gown-bashing (or gown-gushing) is also at the top of your agenda, feel free to have me over. 

P.S. I just got an e-mail from Greg Hyder about the Center on Halsted party, and he used so many exclamation points that I wrote right back and said I'd be there. I can't wait. Tim, you're going. 

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Schubas, Schmoobas: No wallet = no entry for The Chaser

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

Anyone who follows my Twitter or Facebook feeds (sorry, what an unbearable thing to write, and worse, to link to) may remember that I lost my Little Red Wallet last Saturday night. It contained an Illinois driver's license featuring a particularly fetching photo of yours truly, my CTA Chicago Card Plus and my Art Institute press pass, among other things. Please let me know if you find it. 

The next morning, I retraced my steps. I peered at the ground where I got out of a cab in front of Sepia, and experienced a short-lived moment of jubilation upon spotting a crushed red Coke can near a grate. I checked the route my BF and I had walked to our next stop, a birthday party at Santorini in Greektown. I didn't bother going back to The Charleston in Bucktown--by the time we ended the night there, the LRW was long gone. (See the May issue of Chicago magazine, by the way, for my review of the perked-up Charleston.) 

Anyway, to get to the Chaser-relevant point of this story, here's a conversation I had with the bouncer at Schubas on Sunday night, after I attempted to stop in for a beer with a group of eight friends (but still no wallet): 

Me (apologetically): "I hate to say this, but I don't have an I.D. I lost my wallet last night."
Bouncer (zero smiles): "No I.D., no entry." 
The BF: "She really did lose her wallet, man." 
Bouncer: "I don't know what to tell you." 
Me (sighing, reluctant to bring out the big guns): "But I'm The Chaser. I write about bars for a living. You know, for Chicago magazine. Can I show you my blog on my BlackBerry? There's a picture of me."
Bouncer: "No." 
Me and the rest of the group--all clearly 30-something semi-professionals: "It's true! Really, it's true!"
Me: "Is there someone else we could speak to?"
Bouncer: "No." 

Too tired from wallet drama to put up much of a fight, we gave up went to Schoolyard down the street. Then, when the only thing I had left to live for was the promise of an order of spinach and artichoke dip with chips, the bartender told us the kitchen was closed. 

So, what do you think? Was I a brat to expect the door guy at Schubas to cut me some slack, or are the rules the rules, even when you can demonstrate the presence of gray hairs, forehead wrinkles and an honest-to-God blog? 

I can't seem to let it go. Any input appreciated. Thanks.  


Did Patti Make Him a Match? Watch with Jimmy D. at Citizen tonight

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Bravo reality show The Millionaire Matchmaker. That's the one that follows silky-tressed L.A. matchmaker Patti Stanger and her motley crew as they set up a rotating cast of weirdo "millionaires" with an endless array of wannabe actresses and pharmaceutical sales reps with suspicious extensions.  

That said, I do DVR the show. I press play, and a few minutes later, I roll my eyes, press stop, and storm out of the room. Then I tiptoe back, pick up the remote, and press play again. That Patti, she gets me every time. 

Tonight's episode is extra special because it features a Chicago millionaire, Jimmy D'Ambrosio (otherwise known as Jimmy D), owner of Citizen Bar in River North. Jimmy, if you're reading, sorry about the weirdo comment. But you have to admit, some of those other dudes on the show are a little off. 

Anyway, Jimmy is hosting a viewing party at Citizen tonight. Jimmy hopes you'll be there. Jimmy will definitely be there. Jimmy likes to refer to himself in the third person. Jimmy already looked for love once, last season, but that was a bust. So now Jimmy's back with Patti, and here he gives The Chaser a little preview: 

How does a Chicago bar owner end up on Millionaire Matchmaker? Who do you have to know to become a recipient of Patti's services? 
Originally, a casting agent reached out to me to do Survivor a few years back. I didn't end up wanting to do it. Later, another Survivor casting director moved over to Millionaire Matchmaker and reached out to me again. At first I said absolutely not, but after they explained more about the show, I realized you only live once and it would be a fun experience. 

Did it work? Are you in a "committed monogamous relationship" as of this moment? 
I'm not allowed to answer that question. Just watch!

What did you think of the women Patti chose for you this time? Did she nail your "type?"
Patti thought I was confused about what I was looking for. She thought I wanted a superficial big-breasted blonde, so those were the types she brought to me. Due to the other millionaire's preferences, however, there ended up being a good balance of women on the show.

What advice did Patti have for you? Do you plan to heed her suggestions? 
She brought a relationship therapist on the show to talk with me. The therapist called my situation "a fox in the chicken coop." I guess they were trying to tell me I should get to know a woman before I go for it, because I lose interest really quickly. 

My favorite advice from Patti is to be what you want to attract. I'll follow that from now on. 

How hard is it to date, when you're a bar owner? 
Trust is a big issue. You need to be friendly and shake a lot of hands, so the girl has to be strong and confident with a lot of mutual trust. I get stereotyped right off the bat as a typical bar and nightclub owner, so I need to show through my actions that I'm not that type of person. 

Cougar or kitten? What a goofy question! [Sorry again, Jimmy.] If I had to choose one, I'd say kitten, but I tend to look at the whole package. 

Fake tan or no tan? Natural glow. 

Blonde or brunette? It changes. 

Straight hair or natural waves? All of the above.  

Millionaire Matchmaker viewing party with Jimmy D, Citizen Bar, 364 W. Erie St., 8PM. No cover. 


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Fun Is Bowling, or, What's a Vodka Robot?

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

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Fancy bowling at 10pin Bowling Lounge.

We used to drive by this one bowling alley all the time when I was growing up, and their sign said it all: Fun Is Bowling. The letters were tall and yellow against dull brown siding, with a smiley face tacked on the end for good measure. The message was simple but true. Fun IS bowling. 

Especially tailored to my personal requirements is the phenomenon of fancy bowling---you know, those new alleys where you can get top-shelf cocktails and nothing smells at all like B.O. It really takes the sport up a notch. 

My friend Jenny--who recently bowled a 30 but is always thinking about improving her game so she'll be ready should she be required to bowl on a date--has convinced me that we should practice up tomorrow night during a Svedka-sponsored special event at 10pin Bowling Lounge in River North. Other than free cover, $5 Svedka cocktails, a photo booth and free bowling passes for your next visit, the evening also promises "an opportunity to bowl with the sultry Svedka Robots." 

I have no idea what that means, and to tell you the truth, I think it's better if I don't research it too seriously. Bowling vodka robots? It's sure to be something. RSVP to 312.644.0300 to see for yourself.  

P.S. Please don't be too jealous that I am now applying eyeliner for a media dinner at the Elysian to celebrate the just-opened Marc Jacobs Collection store. I mean, talk about fancy. I know, that's an annoying P.S. 



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