L&L owner Ken Frandsen ticks off two of the reasons that his bar is one of the coolest hideaways in the city: It's conveniently located at Clark and Belmont for easy sneering at the kids coming out of The Alley, and he tries to offer some of the cheapest Pabst around. And at $2 for a long-necked bottle, L&L's certainly in the running.
The long, dark bar is usually comfortably populated, with beat-up tables circled by old punks and borderline addicts, offset by the Ragstock shoppers and Lakeview twentysomethings slumming it for the evening. Elegant tin roof overhead and Pabst paraphernalia everywhere, the L&L is lit by neon signs and the din of two TVs tuned to whatever the patrons holler at the staff to put on. It's not so much the appearance of the place that strikes you, but the atmosphere—you get the feeling that this is a place that has a lot of stories. Hell, Dahmer and Gacy both reportedly drank here.
Stick around long enough, and you'll be in a state of mind to probably create a story on your own. The monthly beer specials will keep you away from the perils of Miller Lite for another night: Bottles like Iron City and Dixie hold steady at $2.50, and there's always a whiskey of the month for $3 a shot.
Libations don't end there. The bar harbors an enormous selection of Irish whiskeys, Sniper (vodka served in a gun-shaped bottle), Georgia Moon moonshine and Chicago's own jimson-weed liqueur, Jeppsen's Mallorts. The bar's special "Absenthe," a 130-proof liquor made to taste like the illegal European hallucinogenic drink, is always available, with or without the hallucinogen wormwood, which you can also buy separately for $7. Order the drink with sugar and you can opt to have it set ablaze for a caramelizing effect. If you're really feeling adventurous, try the wormwood in your Agwa, an extremely rare liquor brewed from distilled coca leaves. Served straight up or with some lime juice on the side, it's worth a shot simply because it took Frandsen a year and a half to find the distributor.
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars