The Bad Decision Bar: Where promises of "just one shot of whiskey" turn into "beer bongs of Malort." This past year, we lost one of Chicago’s true sanctuaries of awful-decision making in Nick’s Uptown in Lakeview, but fear not, there are still plenty of places where you can lose your jacket/ credit card/ dignity. And by plenty, we mean 13.
These are Chicago's 13 Bad Decision Bars
Strong, relatively cheap pint glasses of cocktails + You = A 77% chance of you falling down the stairs after an ill-advised confrontation with a pack of ex-Sigma Chi's who just closed down Benchmark and thought they caught you staring at one of their extremely blonde girlfriends. Which you totally were, but come on, it's 3a, give a guy a break.
Beaumont Bar & Grill
After midnight, the Beaumont opens its rear doors to reveal a warehouse called Club 2020, which's also the type of hindsight you’ll have after waking up with a mouthful of cigarette butts and bile.
You'll spend 75% of your time waiting in line for the comically inadequate bathrooms, and the other 25% waiting for a PBR so that you might soon get back in line for said bathrooms. You will repeat this process enough times that you won't remember how "ALeXisS neCK tatToO" got in your phone or why you called her five times between 4a and 5a.
The Hangge Uppe
Near North Side
Have you ever seen a bachelorette sucking face with a complete stranger, both of them unfazed by the guy trying to simultaneously pee in a garbage can AND order a round of shots RIGHT NEXT TO THEM as a sweaty mob somehow made Eddie Money sound even worse? Then you've definitely been to the Hangge Uppe.
Big City Tap
The place might as well just rename itself Big Sh*tty, 'cause everyone else in Chicago already totally has. By now, you may have noticed that a disproportionate amount of bad decisions are made in the general vicinity of Lakeview. It's not a coincidence.
Near North Side
You totally wouldn't remember what month it was when you went here, if not for the date on the $150 fine you got for urinating in the alley between Division and Elm.
Like the urine-scented failure-temple of baseball it sits across from, nobody wins after a late night at Murphy’s when the bar is saturated with salty fans, bad karaoke, and regret. Sticking at Murphy's until close after a Cubs day game will make you seriously question your life's direction.
Tai's Til 4
The full name of the bar is actually “Tai’s Til 4, Regrets Til Forever”. Fact: you will be bumped into by a bro in a backwards cap, and he will try to fight you. The only question is whether it happens in line before you even get in, or in the general area of the grope-tacular dance floor.
Often you'll see someone bleary eyed and miserable at 3p on a Sunday, clearly having been awake for less than 20 minutes. Their glance will meet yours. They'll feebly mutter "Carol's", and you will nod knowingly, for you too have been drawn in by the siren song of cheap alcohol and country music in the wee hours, and you too have felt their pain.
It's a palindrome! It's also the number one answer to "what was that bar where we drank all that cheap vodka while we were hitting on those Russian chicks and it was looking good but then Pete had to go home because the lasers triggered his epilepsy"?
There's a decent beer list. There's also a logo that kind of looks like a tramp stamp, evocative of the quality of female you'll likely be trying to woo at 430a, even though forming actual words stopped a good 90 minutes ago.
It won’t be until the lights come on after last call that you realize you’re in a warm sea of DePaul students, your ears are ringing from a live cover of Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes”, and your collar is (gulp) fully popped.
VIP's Gentlemen's Club
Near North Side
Congratulations, you’ve landed at the world’s premiere topless bar across the street from a Whole Foods! If you were responsible, you'd go home and save those $20s to come back and buy fresh produce tomorrow. You are not responsible, though.
1. Burton Place1447 N Wells St, Chicago
2. Beaumont2020 N Halsted St, Chicago
3. Estelle's2013 W North Ave, Chicago
4. The Hangge-Uppe14 W Elm St, Chicago
5. Big City Tap1010 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
6. Butch McGuire's20 W Division St, Chicago
7. Murphy's Bleachers3655 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago
8. Tai's til 43611 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
9. Carol's Pub4659 N Clark St, Chicago
10. Evil Olive1551 W Division St, Chicago
11. Trace3714 N Clark St, Chicago
12. The Store2002 N Halsted St, Chicago
13. VIP'S Gentleman's Club1531 N Kingsbury St, Chicago
Burton's is a place where any folk that like to linger around cheap booze, good bar grub, and an old-school jukebox, call 'home'.
Beaumont's a full-on dive that's got a DJ, complete booze-access, and a very loud clientele that'll make you happy you're just "staying for one round".
Estelle's... where $2 beer Tuesday's live-on, and the jukebox is chock full of tunes that'll make you feel like you're back in college again.
Getting lost in a bar may never have been so fun. As a Chicago staple for more than 30yrs, this massive dual-level dance haven offers five differently themed bars, three dance floors, and a variety of '50s through '80s rock and disco on one floor and modern hits on another. With drink specials galore and a pair of all-request DJs, we dare you not to break a sweat at the Hangge-Uppe.
Big City Tap is an after-hours Chicago bar, meaning it's open until 4a so you can drink, eat, dance, or myriad of other activities until the sun comes up.
The Gold Coast staple really channels the holiday spirit with thousands of twinkling lights and wall-to-wall decorations, like a working double-decker train and life-sized Grinch.
This historic sports bar is nothing short of quintessential; with celebrity visitors (John Cusack!!), endless jukebox tunes, and proximity to Wrigley, it's no wonder people just keep going back for more.
This lounge is a dualing DJ/jukebox situation that seems to bring ALL of the people you once knew (Becky from Social Studies in the fourth grade still lives in Chicago?!) together into one rowdy place.
Carol's is an old-country, Southern-esque dive bar that has swingin' live bands, line dancing (impromptu, with special appearances by Carol herself), and cheap brews.
Looking for a way to cure the Monday blues? Check out Evil Olive for their reputable Monday night "Porn and Chicken" party. Think half-naked women on the bartop, lots of dancing, and of course good ol' fried chicken. What an amazing way to kick off the work week.
Trace is the place to go for cheap booze, high school run-ins, and loud, invasive Katy Perry remixes.
Avoid Armitage-Halsted's sea of high-end boutiques at this aptly named DePaul dive, which has zero problem letting you maul outside food whilst engaging in a few rounds of Pop-A-Shot, Pops-A-Shot being unavailable due to Mr. Mensah-Bonsu playing in Europe these days.
This "gentleman's" club is where expert-undressers partake in totally PG fun. When we're done being sarcastic, we'll tell you that this place has cheap drinks and uncomfortably-expensive entertainment.