Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Toast new West Town taverns


West Town is hot. There's no doubt about that with the recent successful openings of Old Oak Tap, Cat's Meow and Bar DeVille.

So, now comes the latest crop of poppers, promising to keep us entertained through the winter:

Thrillist gives us the dealio on Crocodile, which opens Wednesday. We're looking forward to one of the biggest bargains of the month: For every $5 you spend on alcohol, you get one mini pizza.

The Daddy introduces us to Theory, taking off on Thursday just in time for the big Bears vs. Saints game. You'll get food and drink specials, including $3 sliders and $3 John Daly Irish Whiskey.

And finally, Branch 27's not scheduled to open until sometime in January. A collaboration from noteworthy nightlife vets (Fat Cat, Rockit, Empire Liquors), it's located in a former library branch and will offer small, shareable plates, craft beers and an upscale, yet comfy bar setting.

What's free on NYE?!


That's the most frequently asked question these days around 312DD, as most revelers will not only be recycling dressy wear from seasons past, but clamping down on how much they'll spend to party on the big night.

You could easily head over to your corner bar 'cause likely that's free, but on New Year's Eve, doncha want to step up your game?!

So, we've gathered a bunch of events around town—some free, some not so pricey—and you won't find anything over $60:

Deals abound all over the Bucktown/Wicker Park area, especially at bin wine cafe, which is serving its regular dinner menu of seasonal small plates. For something special, order the Bubbles & Chocolate tasting, which comes with four, 2.5 oz pours of bubbly and sparkling wine, paired with chocolate-dipped strawberries, Marcona-almond chocolate bark, Pop Rock truffles and white chocolate truffles. $25 for one; $48 for two. 5pm-2am.

Since you'll be drinking champagne anyway, why not celebrate NYE like a Parisian?! Bistro 110 rings in the New Year at midnight—on Paris time. They're doing seatings between 5 and 8pm, and if you head here for the first seating, you'll get a complimentary glass of bubbly (5-6pm). The menu is a la carte, with specials such as grilled quails with braised savoy cabbage or roasted scallops. Also: free valet parking.

It'll cost you several hundred dollars to get to Brazil this time of year, but Cat's Meow's festive, Brazilian-themed bash will only cost you twenty bones. The night will feature samba dancers, $5 Caipirinhas, midnight bubbly, buffet and live entertainment from Planeta Azul Trio playing Samba, Funk, Forro and Brazilian pop. Deejays also spin. 9pm-2am. Free parking in adjacent lot.

At Cuatro, in the South Loop, the Latin-American menu is a la carte for dinner, but if you just want to party you'll only pay $10 if you get there by 10pm ($20 after). Deejays David Sabat and Craig Alexander spin deep house, classics and Latin grooves. Cash bar or $60 per person drink package from 10pm-1am. Specialty cocktails include mojitos, blood-orange margaritas, Caipirinhas and Cuatro's signature sipper, the Forbidden Fruit Sangria. 10pm-2am.

The James hotel and David Burke's Primehouse lobby bar transform into a relaxed and liberated party environment, with music by DJ Dani Deahl and a cocktail menu featuring new seasonal winter libations. Biggest bonus: complimentary passed appetizers and champagne for the midnight toast. No cover.

In Ukrainian Village's Enoteca Roma, guests may indulge in a five-course, regional Italian dinner paired with wine for $55. Two seatings: 7:30 and 9:30pm. Those who stay for the late seating (and midnight champagne toast) will be treated to fresh-baked muffins from the adjacent Letizia's Natural Bakery for their New Year's Day breakfast.

Order from the regular menu or chef specials at The Gage, and at midnight, guests get party favors and a complimentary Champagne toast. They're also featuring the Bubble Bliss champagne cart with selections starting at $10 a glass, from crisp blanc de blancs to rich and toasty vintage Champagnes. Those not having dinner can also hang out in the front-room lounge, which is no cover.

The Black & White Party. Think Truman Capote's infamous celebration in the late 1960s that brought out New York elite and celebrities. They're recreating the spectacular event for NYE at In Fine Spirits, with black and white themed appetizers and party favors. Guests, of course, are encouraged to dress in black tie and/or black or white. 4pm-2am. $20.09 in advance; $25 at door (drink specials for $9 all night).

Juicy Wine Co. offers a pretty good deal in River West. For $45, they're hooking you up with a four-hour premium open bar with spirits and wines picked out by owner Rodney Alex himself. Snacks include Harold's Fried Chicken, plus you'll get traditional party favors, midnight champagne toast and music by DJ Puff-e. 9pm-1am.

Deejays spin offbeat dance, '80s and hip-hop at People Lounge, the popular Wicker Park tapas bar. Here, you'll also get a premium open bar until midnight for $60. Also, midnight champagne toast. 9pm-2am.

With spectacular views of the Navy Pier fireworks and its glamorous setting, the Trump Hotel's Rebar will be one hot ticket come Dec. 31. And check this out: NO cover charge. . . . NO bottle service requirements . . . and NO reservations. We recommend you doing something a little different this year and ordering the Winter Magic Punch Bowl, which comes tableside in a heated crock filled with brandy, red wine, cinnamon sticks, cloves, oranges and cognac-marinated cherries. ($115 punch bowl serves four; $13 by the glass). 5pm-2am.

You never know what DJ Uncle Milty is going to do when he's behind the turntables and expect NYE to be no different. His throwdown's happening at the W Chicago-City Center with discounted bottle service and drinks. He's spinning deep house, hip-hop, rock and R&B. 9pm-2am. No cover.