I've celebrated the Cubs winning the World Series here. I've drunk moonshine out of a bag with a group of veterans here. I’ve played the scratch-off lottery tickets here -- and won tens of dollars! Hell, I've even brought my in-laws here. Most importantly, I’ve never had a bad time at Rite Liquors, a decades-old Wicker Park institution filled with the most wonderfully random assortment of humankind ever assembled: doctors, lawyers, hustlers, hipsters, yuppies, criminals on parole, criminals yet to be caught, awkward Tinder daters, construction workers, and everyone in between.
Rite’s most famous attribute is its status as a leading Chicago “slashie,” a combination bar and liquor store where you can down a pint and a shot of Jameson one minute, then walk out with a six-pack of Busch Light or a bottle of Bordeaux the next. They exist in other cities, sure, but for a lot of Chicagoans, they’re as integral to the local fabric as deep dish, sloppy Italian beef sandwiches, and jailed politicians doing shots of Malort.
Once commonplace in the era after Prohibition, slashies are a dying breed thanks mostly to rent hikes. Fortunately for regulars like me, Rite Liquors is owned by a slightly gruff-looking but supremely friendly 71-year-old man named Mike Liacopoulos, who says he won't close his notorious slashie anytime soon.