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Mojitos Made Up My Mind

Narrowing down her nightlife choices, Dana opts for an evening of art and a minty concoction.
Monday Jul 23, 2007.     By Dana Kavan
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Photo courtesy of Christopher Markin
photo: courtesy of Christopher Markin
Drink of the week: A raspberry mojito at Junior's Sports Lounge.

The damage: $8

Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? I sometimes ponder having the nightlife options of, say, someone who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where I grew up. The bars close at 1 a.m., so you can rarely fit in more than one; there are few cabs and no public transit to shuttle you from party to party; and festivals and fairs happen as infrequently as traffic congestion. And yet, at times this more-modest social life sounds preferable to the bountiful, often overwhelming basket of revelry that is Chicago.

Last Friday, I faced a quandary: kegger, movie or the Pilsen Art Walk, which takes place the second Friday of every month. I took advantage of the more-cultured choice and headed to south Halsted. My friend Jamie and I moved between the high-ceilinged studios, contemplating artwork from the strange (with contorted plastic babies) to the inspiring (travel photography) to the beautiful (a smiling child perched on a bathroom sink). After a couple hours getting my fill of fine art, I needed to fill up on something else. Junior's Sports Lounge, which sits just a few blocks north of the galleries, lured us with its patio, bar food and cocktails.

How it went down: I started off with a pint of Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, a refreshing, slightly lemony brew that matched the breezy evening. After devouring a plate of nachos, which were more like mini tostados topped with tender steak, chunks of tomato, salty cheese, beans flecked with cilantro and sour cream, I wanted a sweet libation to finish my meal. Our waitress recommended the French Martini with blackberry liqueur, pineapple juice and vodka, but the saccharine concoction tasted like a cupcake with an inch thick of frosting. Determined to find a fruity drink I could swallow, I moved on to the mojitos.

Junior's offers orange, peach and passion fruit varieties, but I opted for one made with raspberries. I expected a short rocks glass, but instead a pint glass stuffed to the rim with bright red berries sat before me. The tartness of the raspberries and musky mint masked any hint of alcohol from the Bacardi Razz, the simple syrup and squeeze of lime sweetening it up just right.

Would I want to become a regular? Though I spent little time inside the bar, I discovered two anomalies: The hurricane-like power of the bathroom's hand dryers and the sleekness of the decor. It bills itself as a sports bar, which the countless flat-screens surely attest to, but the plush seating, rich woods and well-dressed patrons hint at its lounge side. Because of its location in a quasi-strip mall in the everything-is-shiny-new UIC area, Junior's outdoor area feels a bit like suburbia—or, perhaps, like Omaha.

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.

 

Explore More

Bars & Clubs

Brand-New Bars

Brand-New Bars

Get divey on Grace; go downstairs at River North's Curio.

Food & Dining

New Restaurants

New Restaurants

Go Dutch at Vincent and satisfy a familiar sweet tooth at BomBon.


What's Happening Today
  • Red Ivy
    $4 Absolut Pepper bloody marys, $4 mimosas
  • Louie's Pub
    $2 cans of PBR, Schlitz & Hamm's
  • Irish Oak
    $2 16-ounce cans of Old Style, High Life and PBR; $2 well drinks
  • Scot's
    $2 off martinis
  • Rockwood Place
    $1 all sliders, $2 all flatbreads, $3 half-slab of dry-rubbed baby back ribs, $8 pitchers of Miller Lite and Bud Light, $10 pitchers of white peach sangria, $12 pitchers of 4 Rebels Dragonfruit Vodka iced tea
  • Sluggers
    $3 drafts of Sam Adams, $3 Bacardi drinks, $3 SoCo and lime shots
  • Nite Cap Lounge
    $3 bottles of domestics, $4 mixed drinks and call shots, $5 bottles of imports and Jager and O bombs
  • Orbit Room
    $3 Alpha King, $4 Powers