View Old Style Bar Directory in a larger map

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bar #43: Tuman's

2159 W. Chicago Ave.
10:00pm, Thursday, October 28
Price of Old Style: $3.00 cans

I moved into my first apartment in Chicago back in 1999 after graduating from college.  It was in Uptown just north of Irving Park Rd., and there wasn't much of a bar scene near us (and still isn't).  My roommate and I brought it upon ourselves to search out destination bars that sounded cool.  This consisted of us actually looking in the phone book under bars/taverns.  That's when we saw it: Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center.

The best bar name EVER.  It was like the Holy Grail of bars...  When we finally made it there it was the spring of 2000.  We went during the day on a weekend, because the Ukie Village neighborhood was still kind of a sketchy place, and we had never been down there before.  The main thing I remember was how dark it was a sunny day, and when we walked in pretty much any outside light was gone.  I also remember how damn smokey it was...there were a few regulars there and every one of them was smoking...packs of cigarettes placed on the bar along with a few dollar bills that would buy them at least 2 more beers.  I don't think we stayed there was intimidating...had one beer and left, but we experienced the enigma that was Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center.

The bar closed in 2003 and reopened in 2005 with the Tuman's name sans "Alcohol Abuse Center".  Please read this wonderful write up of Tuman's, which done by the Chicago Bar Project back when it was still open.  The quotes are priceless, and is a wonderful testament of how beloved this bar once was.

Back to the present: walking into Tuman's on a Thursday, the bar was PACKED.  Probably the most crowded Old Style bar we've been at.  The problem was that Tuman's 2.0 could fit in perfectly in Wrigleyville or Lincoln Ave.  I don't want to be another people that bitches about the clientele at these types of places, but it was sad that at a place that was once cash only, every transaction I saw was made with a credit card.  All "bomb shots" and bottles of Corona (sigh).  They did keep the original window sign, which is hanging on the back least they understand the history of this classic bar.

Tuman's has been reinvented and is a popular place, but I think it's the bar that's least deserving of the Old Style sign hanging out front.

UPDATE (Dec. '11): Tuman's look down their Old Style sign...good riddance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bar #42: Ola's Liquors

9:30pm, Thursday, October 25
947 N. Damen
Price of Old Style: $1.75 drafts

Ola's is another "slashie" and is located in Ukrainian Village, which has the highest concentration of Old Style bars in the city.  Its "Zimne Piwo" Old Style sign is easily hidden among the trees and condos along this busy stretch of Damen, with "Ola's Liquors" barely visible on an old, brown awning.

On this particular Thursday there was a pretty decent crowd, but it was tame because Anna was behind the bar, not Agnes, who is known to have made grown men cry.  All was not lost, because the group of three guys next to us were trying to see if Anna could tell which one of them was gay, and then proceeded to tell her a story about a friend who loved dry-humping more than sex.  Yes, apparently when this guy was in the mood, he would excuse himself, go to his room, put on some Umbro soccer shorts and just go to town on you.  Um...

So anyway, this place is also a liquor store, with all the bottles nicely placed behind the bar.  I was also impressed with the range of sizes of each type of liquor (1.75ml, 750ml, pints) and also this party in a bottle (man, it's awful):

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bar #41: Time Out Sports Bar

4641 N. Rockwell
6:30pm, Wednesday, September 1
Price of Old Style: $2.50 bottles

Time Out Sports Bar is just north of the upscale Ravenswood Gardens and Ravenswood Manor, part of a beautiful stretch of retail shops just off the Rockwood stop on the CTA Brown Line.  It's a great location, and one of the few areas where the El runs on ground level.  Our soon to be imprisoned ex-Governor lived a few blocks from this place -- wonder if he ever stopped in for a beer?

I wasn't going to do a write up on this particular visit, because I was hoping for a more exciting experience.  I thought about coming back on a Thursday or Friday night, but then I realized that this visit was the true representation of an Old Style Bar.

We watched Wheel of Fortune.

Yep.  My brother and I stopped by before our softball game so it was a bit early.  There were 4 people at the bar, one who looked like Stanley from The Office, another who sounded just like Wanda Sykes, a guy drinking Powers and Coke, and another guy having a very tough time trying to figure out what to order for delivery.  Gotta love bars that let you order in...  Anyway, the point is that neither of these 4 came in together...but they all knew each other and were having a fun time watching Pat & Vanna.

Isn't this what a neighborhood bar is all about?  People stopping in after a long day at work, having a beer or cocktail before they head home...  Maybe they have someone to come home to, maybe they don't.  Regardless, their neighborhood bar is a second home...a place they feel comfortable.  Maybe they choose to share their problems/stories with the bartender, maybe they don't.  We had a great time chatting with the folks at the bar and then went off to softball.  This place is a great companion bar to Loafer's, right up the street on Rockwell and Lawrence.