Nightlifers, meet Chicago magazine’s new professional barfly, Kate Seamons. Kate, meet our very thirsty readers. By day, Kate’s the managing editor of newser.com, a site that could make us all a little smarter. (Before that, she spent four years at the helm of centerstagechicago.com, a post that required its fair share of bar hopping—you know, for research.) By night, she’ll be trolling the taverns of Chicago, looking for your next go-to spot for cheap/stiff/handcrafted drinks. To help us all get better acquainted, we grilled Kate on the five W’s of nightlife reporting. And check back next Thursday, when The Chaser officially starts calling the shots.
Who do you turn to when you want a healthy pour?
Anyone slinging drinks behind a hotel bar. Hotel bartenders know how to pour a good martini (see Aria) or variations on the theme (see The Bar at the Intercontinental); they aren’t looking to get their patrons tanked on Jagerbombs (see any); hotel lounges aren’t too crowded, or they’re crowded at unusual times (see Potter’s); and the people-watching is top-notch (see any, especially right before bedtime).
What do you drink when you’ve only got five bucks in your wallet?
Disaronno on the rocks, if I’m at a bar that won’t squeeze me for it. It’s a fantastically delicious slow-sipper and packs a decent punch. Otherwise, I default to a cheaper local beer—especially anything by Two Brothers. My still-content last resort is Blue Moon, the poor man’s Allagash White.
When is the best time to snag a seat at the bar du jour?
When it comes to the latest and greatest on weekends, I’m a firm believer in the on-the-cusp-of-8 p.m. drink. My idea of a great hot-spot Friday? The Whistler at 8 p.m. and Lula at 10. Once the bar buzz dies down, flip it.
Where does everybody know your name?
The neighborhood has seen a lot of new openings recently, but I love Small Bar in Logan Square. The enclosed beer garden feels more like an apartment patio than a gimme-your-money-and-get-out kind of spot. The beer list is more than respectable; it’s not too hard to find a seat at the bar; and there are some pretty awesome motorcycle photos on the wall. It’s a Chicago classic: not shabby, not snooty.
Why should we drag our sorry selves off the couch this weekend?
Drinking may not be the best for the body, but this weekend it’s good for the soul, thanks to a multibar benefit supporting New Orleans. The Drawing Room, The Violet Hour, and The Whistler will donate proceeds from the sales of sazerac cocktails—an authentic Big Easy beverage made with rye and absinthe—to New Orleans causes, including the rebuilding of an institution that should resonate with any barfly, the Museum of the American Cocktail. The good times roll through March 31st.