Drink of the week:
Two liters of Spaten Lager served in a boot to share at Chicago Brauhaus
, 4732 N. Lincoln Ave., on a Saturday night.
The damage: $22, or free if you make the "boot game" loser foot the bill (no pun intended).
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? When I was eight years old, my grandmother gave me a genuine German boot she bought in Munich. I loved seeing it rest on top of my dresser between my Funshine Care Bear and Cabbage Patch Kid. Thirteen years later, while eating at a German restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, I learned my boot was destined to serve another purpose—as a beer chugging vessel.
My friends and I have since made up for lost time by playing the "boot game" whenever possible. That's why last Saturday we headed to Chicago Brauhaus to pass around a boot filled with two liters of Spaten Lager. That, and because afterward we wanted to visit the karaoke place around the corner—It had been too long since we heard a stranger sing B-52s' "Rock Lobster" off key.
How it went down: I've heard various sets of rules for the "boot game," but we stick to the following: once the game has begun, the boot cannot be set down; once the beer hits your lips you cannot stop and start again; and you have to drink it with the toe up. These might sound like fairly easy rules to follow, but the thick glass boot weighs about 10 pounds, and once the beer level gets low, the toe of the boot creates an air bubble waiting to splash an inexperienced gamer in his or her face.
Despite the amount of back wash that undoubtedly found its way into our boot, the Spaten still tasted delightful. Its well-rounded, light flavor made it easy to chug, which is a good thing since the second-to-last person to finish the boot has to buy.
Would I want to become a regular? When I get nostalgic about toasting with random Europeans at Oktoberfest in Munich, the Brauhaus takes me back with its lederhosen charm and drunken camaraderie. Wood chandeliers, rows of steins and vintage instruments hanging from the walls give the spacious room an authentic feel that's heightened by the crowd of German-American locals.
One elderly regular walks around the room to hand-pick his dance partners. I had just finished my flaky, warm apple streusel when he selected me to dance disco to the live Polka band. I tried to keep up with him as he spun me around, and I couldn't help but think we should incorporate his moves into the "boot game." Swivel your hips while waiting your turn? Awkwardly pump your arms while passing the boot? And I thought the game couldn't get any more interesting.
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.