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Friday, May 20, 2011

R.I.P.: H.R.M. Tap

The HRM Tap is just east of "Caden's Irish House", and by the looks of it...not selling Old Style anymore, but looks like it was an AWESOME place.

Address: 3348 W. Montrose

Bar #3: Montrose Saloon

11:50pm, Wednesday, May 18
Address: 2933 W. Montrose Ave.
Price of Old Style: $2.25 drafts

Now this is the type of bar I thought we'd see all night. We walk in, grab two seats at the bar and get to O.S. drafts from the bartender, Gretchen. It is live blues night, and the band is winding down their set, and ask Gretchen to join them for the last two songs. Gretchen proceeds to KILL IT singing some Janis Joplin and "What's Going On" by 4 Non-Blondes.

Montrose Saloon had such a great vibe, and a lot of that had to do with Gretchen. She has been workimg at the bar for over 10 years, and she started up the live Bluegrass and Blues
Wednesday nights a few years ago, to much success. This is definitely a bar that Chicago beer drinkers and music lovers need to know about.

Here is a great review of Montrose Saloon by Sean Parnell on his website, Chicago Bar Project.

Here are the Yelp reviews, as well.

Bar #2: Brendan's Too

10:45pm, Wednesday, May 18
Address: 3135 W. Montrose Ave.
Price of Old Style: $2.50 bottles

Formerly Mike's Liquors
Formerly Matich Milenko Tavern

Brendan's Too is one of those bars that has changed hands a few times in the last few years. Now under it's current owners, it's a little different than some Old Style bars in the fact that it has it's own website. What justifies it as a true Old Style bar is that it opens at 8am. Morning drinking--that's what I'm talking about! We visited on a Wednesday evening though, and country music was on the jukebox in full force. The bartender was a super nice woman, who was outside smoking more than she was tending bar. Seriously...there was nobody at the bar for a good 15-20 minutes while we were there.

That was okay though, because the guy selling sketch art kept us busy. Great stuff, and he could even do a sketch of us on the spot! For only $50... Hey buddy, I think you're at the wrong bar...I don't think too many people here have fifty bucks cash when twenty can get you drunk.

Another thing about Brendan's...awesome steel cooler in the back:

Bar #1: ????????

10:00pm Wednesday, May 18
Address: 3423 W. Montrose
Price of Old Style: $3.oo Miller Lite bottle

It didn't take long for the first "What am I thinking?" moment during the Project. We walk up to a bar on Montrose & Bernard in the Albany Park neighborhood, with this sign on the door:

Hmm...anyone need a bartending job and fluent in Spanish? Actually, we needed to speak Spanish to just order at the bar. The young bartender had no idea what an Old Style was (um, check the sign over the door)! So, the first bar of the Project and no Old Style...awesome. We ordered Miller Lites and she gave us the bottles, caps on, and reminded us that they were twist offs. Thanks.

The bar wasn't a total loss--in 20 minutes, we saw a guy break a huge beer mug, realized they have a functioning pay phone, and heard some great music. Thanks to Shazaam, here is what was played on the jukebox while we were there:

"Cuestion Olvidada" by Los Tigres Del Norte

One last note, after much research, I found out that this place had its liquor license renewed last year, and has been operating under the name Caden's Irish House for over a decade. Irish House? Yup. Welcome to the Project everyone, and enjoy the ride...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's "Go Time"...

Living in Chicago since 1999 (aside from a 2-year stint in Milwaukee), I have always been fascinated with the number of bars that you can find on a random corner, imbedded deep within one of our many neighborhoods. Many of these watering holes simply have no name, no neon sign, no welcoming mat. Just a square Old Style sign hanging over the doorway. Sometimes lit, sometimes dark, it usually means there is some cheap booze flowing inside, and even though outsiders (and their money) are welcome, these corner bars are what a select few call "home".

How many of these signs are still hanging around the city these days? When Richard M. Daley became mayor in 1989, there were over 3,300 taverns in the city. Today there are less than 1,000. I have no statistics saying whether this has been good or bad for Chicago, but it definitely makes my upcoming project a little easier: drink an Old Style in every bar that has an Old Style sign hanging outside it.

Side note: I know that there are many of these signs at bars outside of the city. I know there are a few in Milwaukee, Racine, La Crosse, and scattered all over Illinois, Wisconsin, and maybe even Michigan. I am hoping that people that read this blog or follow the Facebook/Twitter can help me update the master list as I go along. There is even an Old Style sign at a bar in L.A. Road trip, anyone?

How can this be done, you ask? Well, first of all, my wonderful wife is letting me. I had this idea over 2 years ago, but then she became pregnant, so the idea was shelved. My brother (and sidekick) encouraged me to get it going again, mainly because he was getting free beer, and here we are. As this goes along, we will post our schedule and hope you can join us for a drink.