Sunday, February 17, 2008

Roll out the Red Carpet . . .


. . . the Oscars are coming, and so are the local events celebrating it.

Academy Awards parties started in Chicago circa 1999, when nightlife impresario BJ Murray decided to host an all-out Hollywood-style glam jam at Marche (833 W. Randolph St., 312-226-8399) with a life-sized Oscar statuette, deejays and celebrity lookalikes.

While he's no longer throwing the once annual bash, you'll still be able to find a host of parties around town when the Oscars air on Sunday, Feb. 24, beginning at 6pm. You'll be able to cheer on your favorite actors and movies at dress-up affairs as well as more casual events at:

10pin (330 N. State St., 312-644-0300). The bowling lounge goes black tie for one evening with this affair that's decked out in gold and silver and the staff will greet guests in old-school glam. Upon arriving, guests will fill out an Oscar ballot, predicting the winner in all categories. The individual with the most correct answers will receive a trip to Aruba. But if there's a tie, there will be a bowl off. Also, fashionistas can show off their glitz and compete for Best Dressed Female and Best Dressed Male with the winners taking home a gold Oscar statuette. Specials include "Juno" (cavatappi baked with Wisconsin smoked Cheddar, fresh herbs and toasted breadcrumbs), "No Country for Old Men" quesadillas, "Atonement" (beer-battered Cod fish and chips), and a host of specialty cocktails.

Debonair Social Club (1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-227-7990). The Pussy Galore Flying Circus Oscars Party kicks off at 7pm, hosted by Music 101. The party will have $5 Stoli cocktails, $10 Stoli Elit martinis and a tribute to 45 years of James Bond with Bond films playing on all screens. Comp appetizers 7-10pm, and of course Bond Girls. DJ Heather Doble spins. 9pm-2am.

Kit Kat Lounge (3700 N. Halsted St., 773-525-1111). Guests are treated to live entertainment by the Kit Kat Divas during commercials, as well as half-price martinis all night. They're also showing the Oscars on five large screens. Dinner specials include The Red Carpet (savory roasted red pepper soup), Acceptance Speech (roasted baby beets with goat cheese and mixed greens with a hazelnut vinaigrette) and And The Oscar Goes to...(pan-seared scallops with truffle oil and sweet pea risotto).

Room21 (2110 S. Wabash Ave., 312-328-1198). The South Loop set benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Admission includes appetizers, signature Belvedere cocktails, wine and dessert. A silent auction benefits JDRF and multiple plasma televisions will be added to the venue. The party's attire ranges from jeans to gems; best dressed guests will be presented prizes by the evening's emcee, NBC's LeeAnn Trotter. $40 in advance; $45 at door.

Sheffield's (3258 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-281-4989). They'll have a 106-inch projection screen and guests will have the chance to win prizes for guessing the night's winners. Also, sip themed cocktails like a $5 Red Carpet Punch.

Viand (155 E. Ontario St., 312-255-8505). The Streeterville eatery features some specialty Oscar creations by Executive Chef Steve Chiappetti. And for those who want to watch the big show, there will be a big screen. One guest who picks the winner for Best Picture category will win a $200 gift certificate to the restaurant. The night's cocktails: Atonement - Romantic interlude (Godiva, Kahlua, brandy, chocolate-rimmed glass), Juno - Teenage sprinter (Zinfandel wine, 7-Up, tropical fruit), Michael Clayton - Give me a stiff one (Southern Comfort and Coke), No Country for Old Men - just for the old guys (scotch, sweet vermouth, dash of bitters) and There Will Be Blood - Bloody Bloody Mary (tomato juice, tobacco, citrus vodka, deep-fried blue cheese olives).