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Champagne for a Lady

Sexist martinis aside, D.O.C.'s Ladies' Night isn't a bad way to spend a weeknight boozing.
Monday Mar 24, 2008.     By Dana Kavan
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Drink of the week: A discounted glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne at D.O.C. Wine Bar, 2602 N. Clark.

The damage: $10, marked down from $17.

Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? I never need an excuse for meeting friends out on a weeknight for a tipple of wine. But if I did feel it necessary to justify a mid-workweek buzz, a free manicure or massage would do it.

The first Wednesday of every month, D.O.C. Wine Bar hosts Ladies' Night, when gals get pampered while enjoying discounted cocktailsóprovided they can get over the special drink list's sexist assumptions. I would have loved to score a deal on a dirty martini or glass of Cabernet, but, alas, I had my pick of the following cutesy chick-tinis: a Pinktini, Flirtini or Blueberi Creamcicle. Just like I'm supposed to get giddy at the sight of babies and puppies because I'm female, I guess I'm also expected to enthusiastically suck down super-sweet drinks that look and taste like Bubblicious bubble gum? No thanks. Fortunately, the menu listed one redeeming choice: A glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne, a steal at just $10, discounted from $17.

How it went down: My friends and I arrived right before the 7 p.m. start time, only to find that most of the slots for the gratis manis and massages were already full. The room was packed with groups of twentysomething women, cramming into the comfy, lounge-like environs, with wood accents, an earth-tone color palette and low lighting. Most were cracking open bottles of wine (a wise choice) while waiting to ascend to the makeshift salon in the back. I was able to squeeze in for a manicure just after placing my drink order. There were no bells and whistles that came with the job (no moisturizing, cuticle pressing, etc.) but for the cost of no more than a tip, I can't complain.

My nails all dolled up, I joined my friends at a couch up front andócareful to make zero contact between my fingertips and fluteóbegan savoring my champagne. It felt like such an indulgence to sample a spot of bubbly on a weeknight. It tasted pleasantly crisp and dry, more citrusy than fruity, and its finish had a velvety richness to it with a tangy aftertaste.

Would I want to become a regular? We quickly moved on to ordering a bottle of pinot noir to split, and debated about what we wanted to do food-wise. Tired of D.O.C.'s hectic pace and the fact that we were huddled around a coffee table, sitting two to each ottoman, we headed next door to the bar's sister restaurant, Dunlays on Clark, for dinner. My thick veggie burger was extremely hearty and flavorful, and the side of asparagus had a nice char to it. To cap off our night, we all dove into a gooey, warm skillet cookie, fighting over it like a bunch of girls in a pillow fight at a slumber party. That is, after all, what girls do at slumber parties, right?

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.

 

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