Drink of the week:
A Purple Haze martini and manicure at O'Donovan's
, 2100 W. Irving Park Rd., on Tuesday night from 6 to 9 p.m.
The damage: $15 for one of seven select martinis and a manicure, and $5 for each additional martini, which I took advantage of. On a regular night, a martini costs about $9, and a manicure at Salon Slice sets you back $18.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? My drinking style follows a "when in Rome" philosophy. At a sushi bar, I drink sake. At a dive, I order Schlitz. So when my friend suggested we head to an Irish pub in the North Center neighborhood for martinis and manicures, I figured the night would turn out like a trip to the GAP: light on drink variety, with flavors as boring as stripes on a crew neck. Still, I couldn't find fault in a night of pampering and boozing.
How it went down: I dislike the color purple. I don't know why, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with my least favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Regardless, all aversions have exceptions, and in this case, the Purple Haze martini was it.
The bartender shook Grey Goose Vodka with Creme de Cassis, a black currant-flavored liqueur, and then dropped in a maraschino cherry to send my brimming blend over the edge. The first one I drank reminded me of the time I swigged vodka straight out of its plastic bottle with only a Jolly Rancher for a chaser. But I've never been one to complain about a drink that's too strong.
The other options range from your standard dirty or Cosmo to the Bull Tattoo, a mix of Red Bull and Captain's Morgan Tattoo Rum. Wanting to try another flavor but not willing to face the consequences of knocking back Red Bull and 92-proof rum on a Tuesday night, I opted to steal sips from my friend's pomegranate martini and order a second Haze, which made me tipsy enough to smudge my fresh paint job.
Would I want to become a regular? The primping took place in the backroom, away from the manly main bar. Chatty groups of women in their twenties and pairs of 50-something wives, whose husbands would wander in during the baseball game's commercial breaks, clogged the waiting list for a manicure. The professional manicurists' skills weren't only worth the hour-long wait, but also worth more than $15, even absent the martini.
The jukebox, clearly spitting out tunes in alphabetical order, first played a Cars album, then Coldplay and closed the evening with Crash Test Dummies, whose repertoire I now know goes far beyond "Mmmm Mmmm." Our martinis sloshed onto a vinyl leopard print tabletop tacked on by crushed beer bottle caps. By the end of the night, I had buffed nails, a buzz and another round on my bar tab.
With ragged nails once again and a relaxed drinking philosophy, I'll venture back to O'Donovan's. And, I won't order a Guinness.
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.