Only the brave enter Patrick's (known to locals as Roger's), a South Side workingman's bar with an Old Style sign on the outside. Once inside, there's no turning back; you just find a stool at the emptiest spot of the bar and hope no one notices your presence (or anxiety). But it doesn't work. Some of the patrons look over, whisper and sniff you out. You think, "Let me just leave." But then Roger Patrick (the 66-year-old owner/bartender) deposits your Captain and Coke ($2.75) on the bar, and now you must stay.
A television, atop an unused piano littered with emptied six-pack cases, contributes little. An imitation fireplace flickers aside two older gentlemen admiring a box of Snickers behind the bar. Instead of the jukebox holding up a poster-riddled wall, a radio blasts from its spot on top of the pool table. Blinded windows and a ceiling not too high off a linoleum floor remind you of your claustrophobia. Not a moment too soon, Roger brings you over a shot of Jeppson's Malort Liqueur (also known as "Roger's shot"), compliments of four college graduates who visit regularly, "getting hammered" before returning to their daily lives. You down the shot; you're one of them.
Kevin Brennan, an accountant in his 20s and obviously the leader of the pack, has come to Patrick's regularly, following in the footsteps of his father and maybe even his father's father. Legend has it that men once came on horses at a time when the bar was surrounded by fields. Apparently pride and Roger keep them coming back. "Roger is family," boasts Brennan. "We all grew up in this neighborhood, so we’re all going to drink in this neighborhood."
Come Thursdays for Rogerpalooza. Beer on tap is $1.50 and bottled beer is $2.75. Remember, you're not one of them until you swig a shot of Malort ($2), "found nowhere else."
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez