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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bar #58: Kat Klub

6920 W North Ave
10:30pm, Wednesday, December 11
Price of Old Style: $3.25 bottles (not on tap)

So after an insanely long hiatus, Wednesday night found my brother and I together taking in the Q87.7 concert at the Allstate Arena.  We were there to see Queens of the Stone Age and QOTSA only, so leaving before the final band gave us a little wiggle room (with our wives).  "They don't expect us home later" turned into "let's try to knock out another Old Style Bar that is out of the way".  The only problem was it was -2 degrees out...who the hell is gonna be out in this weather?

Our first trip was to Heeney's on the 8200 block of west Irving lights on..."for sale" sign on the building...looks like another "RIP Old Style Bar".  Good thing I had a backup, and that place was the Kat Klub.  The only bar left in Galewood and around since 1980, the Kat Klub is the an oasis of a place right before you get to Oak Park, or if you are going east, heading into the chaos which is the North Austin neighborhood.  As we walked in, there were two regulars and a lone bartender, who turned and probably thought "who are these idiots coming here in this weather?"  We ordered our Old Styles, munched on some peanuts and immediately noticed their amazing Old Style Sign light on the back mirror.

Before we had finished our beers, we were deep in a "what have you had stolen while you've lived in Chicago" conversation with the bartender and regulars...shockingly nobody mentioned "priceless jewels", or "my BMW".  We have both had bikes stolen in Chicago...I guess that is a rite of passage, but luckily nothing else...  I really wish I could have stolen that Old Style sign, but maybe I should get back in touch with that Old Style rep.  Or maybe when we finally finish the Project, Pabst Brewing Company (who own Old Style and pretty much every other cheap beer your grandpa drank) will hook us up.  Gotta have goals!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bar #57: Carol's Pub

4659 N. Clark St.
1:00am, Friday, March 15
Price of Old Style: $4.50 / bottle

Carol's - the 4am/5am bar that's usually muttered in the sentence "Why in the f--k did I go to Carol's last night?" Carol's is not a bar that you ever make plans to go to...  Nobody ever says "Hey, let's go to Carol's tonight" at 5pm.  It's usually around bar time, and you have a limited number of don't want to go home, so it's "you want to keep drinking?  Me too! Let's go to Carol's!"

The exception is if you and your brother are doing a tour of Old Style bars and blogging about it, and Carol's just so happens to have an Old Style sign out front.  So we actually did plan on going to Carol's, but we still didn't get there until 1am early Friday morning.  Surprisingly, it wasn't crowded at all...there was a group of about 10 people, which we later found out were all co-workers celebrating someones birthday, and then a few random locals, and us.  

They have both kinds of music...

The bar seemed unfamiliar, but that's what happens when you see it sober for the first time.  I hadn't been here in ages...since my single days.  It was a lot dingier than I remembered...  It's kinda like the sledding hill you went to as a kid, and then you come back with your kid, and you're like "wasn't this hill a lot bigger?"  Yes...because you were eight!  It's a matter of perspective.  Just like when you are drunk, bars seem cleaner and beer tastes better and girls look hotter and karaoke is more fun and country music is awesome...  But that is what makes Carol's work...the karaoke on Thursday nights...and the live honky tonk music on Fridays and Saturdays.  It's unique...and after a few beers with some good's really really fun.

Unfortunately, this night was a little slow, so we had to make our own fun.  My brother is a musician, so he had no problem going up and singing some on the other hand, I'm more of a sit back and observe guy.  So, as I'm listening to the younger bro belt out "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins, I get approached by a guy asking if he could sketch my portrait.  And he would do it in 5 minutes.  Sure, I tell him, and then he creates this masterpiece:

Apparently I drink with my eyes closed

So now I'm just thinking of how I can convince my wife to get this framed.  Someday when we own a house (with a bar, of course), this is going on the wall.  Thanks again to Chris Wright, and to Carol's for finally giving me a experience at your bar I will remember!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bar #56: Max's Place

4621 N. Clark St.
11:25pm, Thursday, March 14
Price of Old Style: $1.50 on tap!

Sign don't's on tap and cheap!

Max's Place, like many Old Style Bars, is a survivor.  Many Old Style Bars are places that thrived during the 70s and 80s, but as neighborhoods evolved and gentrified, the neighborhood bar started to lose it's appeal. Max's, along with Carol's Pub up the street (post on them coming soon), we're a part of a lively Country-Western bar and live music scene that was on Clark St. from Montrose to Lawrence back in the 70's and early 80's.  Max's has been in the same family for four decades, and they have been able to keep customers coming in the door to this day.

We strolled in close to midnight on a Thursday night, and there was still a decent crowd there.  Definitely all locals...  We introduced ourselves to the bartender and she goes, "Hi, I'm Cindy" and looks down at her boobs, where "Cindy" is tattooed above her right breast.  Genius!  I mean, that definitely helped us remember her name...I think more women should do this and wear lo-cut tops :)  Cindy was great to talk to, and the Old Style was cold and cheap.  Not bad for early Friday morning!

Max's is an A+ dive (okay, maybe an A- because of the weird bathroom)...we had a great time and have an appreciation for places like this.  The people who own the bar and their employees love this place.  They love their customers and their customers love them.  It's truly one big family, and with the county music in the jukebox and the Old Style on tap, they aren't forgetting their roots.

Interesting bathroom mural

Bar #55: K's Dugout

1930 W. Foster Ave.
8:00pm, Thursday, March 14
Price of Old Style: $3.00 / bottle

K’s Dugout is a solid neighborhood bar in Chicago’s Bowmanville neighborhood. Bowmanville?  Yes, there is such a place...located just west of Andersonville, it’s borders are Foster to the South, Ravenswood to the East, Western to the west, and Bryn Mawr to the north.  The bar is situated about a block down from Amundsen High School, where I hear it’s a popular after school hang out for some of the teachers (CPS life is tough!)

It was quite busy for a Thursday evening, but K's sponsors a number of sports teams, does weekly trivia, has a decent pool table, pinball, and even Ms. Pac Man! There was also a Hawks game on when we were there, so it was a good mix of young people and regulars. Even with the crowd, we were able to get two seats at the bar, where we were greeted by the bartender, Patty. "First time here, guys? Thanks for coming in!" I was impressed...she was working her butt off behind the bar but still knew we weren't regulars, and didn't make us feel bad about it, either. We were able to chat with her a little bit later, and she said the bar is usually pretty crowded...they usually have something going on every night of the week. No wonder why she had a constant smile on her's nice to work somewhere where everyone is always having a good time - I know we sure did.
Even though we were rookies in the Dugout, we felt like we had been a part of the team for a very long time.