Drink of the week:
Dirty Girl Scout Martini at Crew
, 4804 N. Broadway.
The damage: $10
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? I managed to avoid getting cable for five years after moving to Chicago, spending that time proudly trumpeting Channel 11 programming to my Food Network- and FX-addicted friends. A few months ago, though, I cracked, and I'm embarrassed to admit that one show alone did me in: "Project Runway." With feisty, talented contestants and the affable Tim Gunn hosting, the show attracts a fully committed, highly opinionated audience, a microcosm of which shows up at Crew every Wednesday night, when the predominantly gay sports bar turns all of its flat screens and speakers to Bravo.
How it went down: My friend Jamie and I pulled up to the bar a half-hour before show time, giving us plenty of time to take in our surroundings and the smell of freshly fried onion rings permeating the large space. Tunes ranging from '80s Madonna to the Spice Girls to George Clinton set the mood; brightly colored shadow boxes stocked serious sports memorabilia alongside cheeky novelty items—like a football T-shirt declaring, "I like tight ends."
Jamie ordered a brew from the neon-lit beer case, while I scanned the martini list hanging above the bar. I generally steer clear of drinks that masquerade as desserts, but the bartender swore by the Dirty Girl Scout's mint-chocolate combo, even saying it was surprisingly one of the menu's least-sweet libations. Made with four ounces of Svedka Vodka, four ounces of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and an ounce of peppermint schnapps, the drink did taste remarkably tame, thanks mostly to the large portion of plain-old vodka combating the sugar-quotient of the chocolate and mint. Each sip reminded me of biting into a Thin Mint cookie that had been chilled in the fridge, just the way I like them.
Would I want to become a regular? Watching "Project Runway" at a bar added a whole layer of excitement to my Wednesday night ritual, and I'm not just talking about the booze. A few guys at the bar belted out spot-on impersonations of the designers, and we all chimed in with our opinions when the models hit the runway. It reminded me of why I shunned cable in the first place—so I'd be more inclined to get out of the house and socialize. If only I had heard about Crew's viewing nights before surrendering to RCN.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.