Where to celebrate 21 years in Chicago?
November 19, 2009 1:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm turning 21 next Tuesday. My friends want to take me to a bar. I want to avoid the mediocre college bars. Tell me where to go!

We're doing the traditional 21st birthday (finally!) bar thing, except with a few self-imposed limitations because I hate huge crowds and noisy rooms. And dance clubs or anywhere where dancing is heavily prominent. I have only a few requirements:

Not so busy/loud I can't hear the conversation at my table (this is on a Tuesday night, granted, but it puts places like Hop Leaf out of the question). Definitely would be interested in piano bars, jazz lounges, etc. but not somewhere that has a specific showtime (so not a comedy club or something) because we are bad at showing up places in a timely manner.

Somewhere that would be fun. This is a really wobbly term but I generally mean more than your standard sit-down-and-drink bar. I really like the idea of The Map Room (and they're having International Night: Sweden on my birthday!) but it's just not feasible, transportation-wise.

Won't break my budget. I am in college and I am poor. It doesn't have to be dirt-cheap but at least modestly priced. If they have a great deal on Tuesdays/the 24th, even better.

Easily reached by Evanston. Ideally off the Red Line. I won't go further down than Belmont but bonus points if its further north. I love Edgewater and Andersonville.

posted by elisabethjw to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
Have you been drunk before? Huge crowds and noisy rooms are far less annoying intoxicated.
posted by delmoi at 1:58 AM on November 19, 2009

There's a place called Villains downtown, they have all sorts of drinks named after supervillains. The vibe there is pretty OK. Nearby, in "Printer's Row" is a place called Hackney's which has very nice selection of beers on tap. Neither of these places was so loud you couldn't have a conversation, and I thought the service was fine. They both also have food, which you will want once you get drunk.

Of course, both of these places are further south than Belmont, but they are both easily reached off of the red line.

If I recall, they're not terribly expensive.
posted by King Bee at 4:27 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you checked out the Green Mill? It's right off the Lawrence Red Line stop, and seems to fit most of your criteria.
posted by Beefs at 4:51 AM on November 19, 2009

They both also have food, which you will want once you get drunk.

I suggest starting with at least some food, in order to help pace the absorption of alchohol - unless your goal is to get drunk fast.
posted by walleeguy at 4:54 AM on November 19, 2009

If you're willing to go just a bit further south than Belmont, you can go to Delilah's which is a fantastic bar near Lincoln and Diversey. Closer to you would be the Hopleaf on Clark near Foster (the Chicago Foster, not the Evanston Foster).
posted by borkencode at 5:00 AM on November 19, 2009

I don't have any suggestions for specific places but, as it happens, my oldest boy also turns 21 next Tuesday. My advice to him was to make sure he could get home safely. He chose a mediocre college bar that he and his friends could walk to and from but it sounds like you have some public transit options. Have fun and stay safe!
posted by maurice at 6:36 AM on November 19, 2009

Response by poster: Have you been drunk before? Huge crowds and noisy rooms are far less annoying intoxicated.

I am capable of handling myself, and I still don't like huge crowds and noisy rooms.
posted by elisabethjw at 6:47 AM on November 19, 2009

Response by poster: I also know how to drink, don't plan on getting too drunk, know about food, but thanks.
posted by elisabethjw at 6:48 AM on November 19, 2009

I love the Green Mill, but they enforce a "no talking" policy during shows, so it is not conducive to chatting with friends (very conducive to snuggling with a date, though!).
posted by bonheur at 7:12 AM on November 19, 2009

If you want amazing cocktails, I can't recommend The Violet Hour enough. It is a bit pricier than perhaps another bar would be, but I have yet to find a better place for cocktails. They are seriously good, especially if enjoy that sort of thing. I really can't recommend the place enough.
posted by Carillon at 7:15 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation of the Violet Hour. It's quiet, beautiful, mellow, and the drinks are fantastic.
posted by bonheur at 7:19 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thirding Violet Hour. I love that place!

If you're looking for someplace a bit less fancy, you might also try The Whistler, which has wonderful cocktails and is a bit more relaxed. That said, it's more of a transit challenge, so might not be right for this particular evening.

Also, keep in mind that the Hopleaf will be awesome on a Tuesday afternoon. That certainly doesn't mean you have to go there for this occasion, but if you get there around five, it's neither loud nor crowded, and you can enjoy the delicious mussels and amazing beer list in peace.
posted by dizziest at 8:07 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Violet Hour does not meet the questioner's transit requirements.
posted by kenko at 8:16 AM on November 19, 2009

It's also not exactly cheap.

The Matchbox used to be good too, but suffers from similar transit problems.

I'd go with the Hopleaf, which shouldn't be too crowded on a Tuesday.
posted by kenko at 8:18 AM on November 19, 2009

Guthrie's! It's a cozy little bar in a converted house in Wrigleyville, just a short walk from the Addison Red Line stop. Don't let the fact that it's in Wrigleyville put you off, because it's nothing like the normal bars in that area. Their main draw (for my friends and I, at least) is that they have dozens of board games for you to play while you celebrate and drink beer. They don't serve food themselves, but they do have a lot of menus for delivery places that will deliver straight to the bar. Definitely not a fancy place, but their prices are quite reasonable, the setting is very cozy and comfortable, and on a Tuesday, it should hardly be crowded at all.
posted by andeles at 9:23 AM on November 19, 2009

Guthrie's is still around? Ooh. I lived around the corner a zillion years ago. It was my favorite neighborhood bar ever, and I don't even like board games.
posted by tangerine at 11:14 AM on November 19, 2009

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