Drink of the week:
A vodka soda followed by a few domestic bottles at Belly's, 3210 N. Lincoln Ave., on a Thursday night.
The damage: $3 for the cocktail, $2 for domestic bottles. Had I been more daring, I could've ordered a Red Bull cocktail or Bomb for $4 and $5, respectively.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? There's really no science to mid-week drink deals in this city, especially on Thursdays. A bar makes a deal, and the drinker takes it or leaves it. This deal can involve free access to a karaoke machine, really cheap beer or both.
Last Thursday, I made a deal with Belly's and it went like this: Belly's caters to a crowd more likely to have 9 to 5's than Philosophy 101. It packs 'em in on weekends but other than a few neighborhood die-hards, weeknights wane. I'm a former fan of Thursday nights out who now has too many responsibilities to make it a three-day weekend. Yet, I'm still a girl who understands opportunity costs. Belly's offers four drink deals paired with half-price appetizers, which was a bargain I couldn't refuse. There was no karaoke, but there was a one-man band singing sappy top 40 hits. Deal or no deal? You make the call.
How it went down: It would be wrong for me to wax admiringly about a well-poured vodka soda or a perfectly chilled Miller Lite—two no-brainer drinks. Any fan of soda water, however, knows that five times out of 10 you get tonic. Belly's got my cocktail right with loads of ice, a fine vodka-to-soda ratio and a huge slice of lime. My Miller Lite was cold and tasted like the mediocre beer it always does.
The appetizers were a different story. You'd be better off hitting up White Castle's drive-thru than ordering the paltry, dry mini burgers at Belly's. They do come with a cup of tomato soup though, which is a nice touch on a chilly day. Instead, go with bar food staples like the mini corn dogs that go into a fryer and thus, can't be ruined too badly.
Would I want to become a regular? Golden paint decorates Belly's mostly bare walls and tall tables scatter around the front bar. Sleek, industrial-looking light fixtures illuminate the tall leather booths that face frontward, perfect for scanning the crowd. The brick walls, track lighting and eight flat-screen TVs make for a sports bar with a touch of class.
Class comes at a price, though. You'll pay for it by watching men with too much hair gel hit on your waitress who forgets your drinks not once, but twice. Still, to end up with a $33 tab for three hours of drinking with three friends, I'll deal with it.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.