D.S. Tequila Company
Gazing toward Sidetrack, the granddaddy of all Boystown bars, I sipped a margarita and willed my lawyer friends Shaun and Mary to hurry up and finish their meeting there with the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. My date and I were waiting for them across the street at D.S. Tequila Company, a new spot from the owners of Minibar (see chicagomag.com/bestbars), where the two of us had been installed at our highboy—complete with a miniature fake fire pit in the middle of the table—for 30 minutes. During that time, the bar’s menu had become a thing of fascination. “It’s like someone went to Kuma’s and Big Star and said, ‘Hey, let’s do both,’” my date mused as we debated the merits of tricked-out burgers and à la carte tacos.
After receiving a ten-minute ETA from Shaun, we flagged down our long-lost waiter and ordered a second round: a michelada for my date (sort of like a Bloody Mary, with beer; $6) and a passion peach frozen margarita for me ($7). The spicy michelada earned top marks, but my marg—while nice enough in a beachy kind of way—tasted anything but potent. And why, I wondered, at a bar with the word “tequila” in its name, could I not find any mention of the brand I was drinking? (I later learned D.S. is developing its own variety to launch in the next few months; for now it’s Don Modesto and Rancho.)
Yes, I was grouchy, but things improved with the arrival of friends and food. “I like this patio. We needed a new one in the neighborhood,” Shaun said agreeably as he settled into a wrought-iron chair. It was 9 p.m., every table was full, and the crowd was a standard neighborhood mix of mostly chiseled men in snug V-neck Ts with a few gals thrown in. When I saw John Dalton, one of the owners, I couldn’t resist asking him to set the record straight about something I’d read: “Excuse me, but does ‘D.S.’ stand for what I think it stands for?” Yes, he confirmed, it does. It could also represent the first letter of his last name and the first letter of his business partner’s first name, if I preferred. But, really, it stands for the other thing. (Sorry, propriety demands you’ll have to Google this yourself.) I cringed, but Shaun laughed. “Lighten up,” he told me. Dalton also said he expects his roadhouse-inspired bar to be just as packed in winter: The interior was designed for dancing, with a ladder making it easier for girls to bust out their Coyote Ugly moves. “Girls?” Shaun hissed into his Two Brothers beer ($6). “I doubt it.”
While my friends waited for the check, I proceeded to the ladies’ room, where I closed the door and glanced around with a sigh. No purse hook? Come on, boys. You should know better.
Photograph: Chris Guillen