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Inaugurate Good Times

You don't need to be in D.C. to celebrate Obama's big day.
Monday Dec 29, 2008.     By Stacy Warden
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

<A HREF=/music/clubs/dunlays.html><A HREF=/music/clubs/dunlays.html>Dunlays on the Square</a></a> Get to Dunlays early to celebrate Obama's inauguration.
Before you spend your life savings on a ticket to Obama's inauguration in D.C. (some scalpers are selling the things at $40,000 a pop), check out the inaugural celebrations at these local spots.

David Burke's Primehouse
In honor of our new president, David Burke's Primehouse will offer a special prix-fixe menu during the entire week of Inauguration (January 19-23). The $20.09 menu (regular lunch prices range from $20-$38) includes appetizers like David Burke's classic pretzel-crusted crab cakes, lobster bisque, wedge salad and Kobe beef sashimi. Electoral entrees boast meaty selections like New York sirloin, Delmonico steak, a 40-day dry aged burger and pan-roasted king salmon. All steak entrees come with a choice of two sides, just be sure to save room for a slice of apple-cheddar pie or a white chocolate ice cream sandwich.

James Hotel
After eating yourself into a coma (in the name of patriotism, of course) at David Burke's, you can walk upstairs to your room in the attached James Hotel. As a special "City of Hope" package, the hotel is offering guests a chance to experience some of the Obama family's favorite things. First, there's the tour of Chicago, taken in the comfort of The James' private Audi, including a trip through Chicago's scenic South Shore and historic Hyde Park. Next on the itinerary is a visit to the architecturally innovative Millennium Park, where you can strap on some ice skates and take a glided tour. Once you're finished, you can warm up in with complimentary hot chocolate and seasonal libations in The James' Lobby Bar. In addition to receiving a copy of Obama's recent book, "The Audacity of Hope," each guest will have the opportunity to dine at one of his favorite restaurants (Art Smith's Table Fifty-Two). The presidential package starts at $219 per night and is available through January 31.

Dunlays on the Square
It's a rare thing for Dunlays to open its doors before dinner on a weekday, but if there were ever a time to make history, this is it. The Logan Square restaurant will open at 10 a.m. for lunch and will air coverage on three 42-inch plasmas from noon-4 p.m. Dunlays will invite guests to partake in a complimentary Obama champagne toast and will also serve up $5 O-Bombs. The menu will feature Dunlays' favorite appetizers like blue cheese and chips, house-smoked salmon and barbecue pork chops ($5-$12). Entrees include a slew of sandwiches like Dunlays' signature BLT, the Kedzie club, grilled fish and a veggie burger ($8-$12). Kids can score free dinner from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The Drawing Room
Master mixologist Charles Joly has crafted a special cocktail in honor of our new president. And he purposely made it minimal so that those celebrating at home can whip it up themselves. Joly's patriotic tipple, the 44th, is a mix of Rittenhouse 100 Rye (1 1/2-ounces), B&B Liqueur (3/4-ounce), fresh lemon juice (3/4-ounce) and simple syrup (1/2-ounce). After combining all ingredients and shaking well with ice, Joly strains the drink into an orange-sugar rimmed cocktail glass and adds a lemon twist. If you're looking for something a little more scandalous, try Joly's Wire Tap, a commemorative cocktail of the recent Blago scandal. The outlaw-themed drink is a special mix of rye, Chartreuse, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, Goose Island 312 beer and aromatic bitters. The Wire Tap gets garnished with a special snake-tongue phone cord, made from an 8-inch piece of orange peel.

Hawthorne Race Course
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; $25-$40 per person
Just before Obama gives his inaugural address, you can fuel up on a political brunch at the Hawthorne Race Course. Each guest will receive a complimentary bloody mary or mimosa while choosing from dishes like scrambled eggs, Midwestern salad, honey-glazed ham and roast beef. More than 175 flat-screen TVs will air coverage, and for an extra $15, guests can enjoy a two-hour open bar with brunch. Reservations can be made by calling (708) 780-7050 or emailing

Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club
Tuesday, January 20; 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $25 per person
We know you probably drank too much bubbly ringing in the New Year, but here's to another champagne hangover with Kit Kat's Inauguration Ball. The swanky cocktail lounge will pass around free champagne to toast our new president, while you witness history on one of Kit Kat's five giant, gold-framed screens. And if that's not enough, the lounge will also offer half-price martinis until 2 a.m. and a special $5 O-Bomb-tini with Bacardi O and Steaz Wildberry Organic Fuel. Tarot card reader Therese Murphy will be on site for those who want to learn about their future under America's new leader ($15 per reading).

The recently opened rooftop bar at Chicago's Affinia Hotel is planning an inauguration bash, complete with live music from the Josh Burke Duo (7 p.m.-9 p.m.), complimentary canapes by Executive Chef Seth Siegel Gardner and Executive Pastry Chef Toni Roberts. Highlights include treats like barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, chorizo mac 'n' cheese, chocolate brownies, stars and stripes cupcakes and peanut brittle and specialty cocktails like the bon voyage and the all American.

More Inaugural Events:

InterContinental Chicago
Thursday, January 1-Tuesday, March 31; $209 and up
The popular downtown hotel is offering a Presidential Perks package including overnight accommodations, two tickets to the Freedom Museum and a classic breakfast buffet.

Meanwhile, the hotel's lounge celebrates Obama with a three-day deal featuring some of his favorite things (January 20-23). The $15 Presidential Pairing includes a glass of Graham Beck Brut and a piece of Gail Ambrosius' dark chocolate-covered caramel topped with fleur de sel. Drop the Prez's Secret Service code name to the wine manager and you'll get the two for just $10.

Watch the inauguration in style while you sip on a flag-inspired margarita with layers of red, white and blue. The patriotic tipple, made with coconut, pomegranate and Blue Curacao, is $10 and will be served in Carnivale's lounge, where event coverage will air on two flat-screens.

Cityscape Bar
Sling back $7 Obama-tinis (mandarin vodka, Blue Curacao, Red Bull and sprite) or $4 domestics while you watch history on one of Cityscape's four flat-screens.

Stretch Run
Witnessing the inauguration on over 240 flat-screens should help you feel a little closer to those celebrating in D.C. In addition to its comprehensive coverage, Stretch Run will offer themed drink deals including Barack on the Rocks with Blue Curacao, orange juice and Sprite and Barack's Blue Martini with vodka, Blue Curacao and lemonade, $5 each.

Evanston locals can enjoy half-price martinis (regularly $8) with their lunch while Koi airs coverage of the inauguration. Later in the evening, Koi's sister restaurant in Wrigleyville, Chen's [3506 N. Clark, (773) 549-9100], will offer half-price wine and recaps of the big event.

Le Lan
Le Lan is celebrating Obama's first day on the job with a $38 prix-fixe special. The three-course menu includes soup or salad, one entree and one dessert from the restaurant's regular menu.

For about $10 ($28.95) less, you can head over to Opera for another three-course prix-fixe dinner, including an appetizer or salad, entrée and dessert.

Bill's Blues Bar
This Evanston joint celebrates all day long (beginning at 11 a.m.) with drink specials and live blues from the likes of Melvin Taylor and Mr. G. Free admission.

Abbey Pub

The music club's Chicago-style inaugural ball includes food and one drink per person with the $15 admission fee. Coverage will be shown on a giant TV screen.

17/West at the Berghoff/Berghoff Cafe
The Berghoff will be offering a $4.44 Brat Obama complete with an American Flag pick, available at the lunch counter and lower cafe (all sandwiches at the lunch counter will be $4.44). The Change Ale will also be available in the bar and restaurant for only $2 - great for some noontime sipping as you watch the inauguration on one of the many TVs.

The Silver Room
Inauguration Day coverage starts with free coffee in the morning and ends with free beer and wine in the evening.

Fizz Bar & Grill
This Lakeview joint's inaugural celebration includes $4 drafts and glasses of wine and a free buffet from 6-9 p.m.

Like martinis? Maeve's Red, White and Blue Ball is serving up $5 inauguration-themed martinis.

Who said Republicans can't have any fun during this historic event? They are the grand old party after all. From 5:30-8 p.m., the Chicago Young Republicans Inaugural After-Party at Dugan's include cocktails and appetizers. If you find the $20-$50 fee too pricey, just sign up since members get in for free.

Whiskey Sky and the Living Room
The bars at the city's two W Hotels will be serving four $10 cocktails on Inauguration Day. We'll let you guess what's in 'em: the Obamagranate Martini, the I Do Solemnly Pear, the Ginaugural Martini and, of course, the Ciroc Obama.

Missed the actual oath-taking? Stop by this River North spot to watch the coverage and grab some free sangria from 5:30-7 p.m.

Morse Theatre
Starting at 6:45 p.m., watch rebroadcasts of the swearing-in, videos from his presidential campaign and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches at the Morse's Theatre giant screen. Afterwards, the Dee Alexander jazz quartet will be performing.

Enjoy a meal of hot dogs and sliders at Moonshine's free buffet while watching a rebroadcast of our new president's inaugural ceremony.

DuSable Museum
Catch the swearing-in ceremony live after a continental breakfast ($10-$44) with fellow Obama supporters.

Bull & Bear
Celebrate with the Uhlich Children's Advantage Network's inauguration party at this new upscale sports bar at River North. Eat half-priced appetizers while sipping on wine.

You won't be watching a rebroadcasting of the swearing-in here. Instead, come with friends and win prizes while testing your 2008 world events knowledge. We have a hunch there will be some Obama-related questions on this one.

Sully's House Tap Room & Grill
One of best new watering holes in town, Sully's will be serving presidential-themed cocktails to commemorate our newly-elected president's swearing-in - including the Blow Job shot, a nod to our 42nd president.

Garrett Ripley's
Polish up your presidential knowledge to win prizes while watching the inauguration coverage.

Poag Mahone's
Watch the coverage while munching on 44-cent wings, $8.25 Obama burgers and $4.40 O-Bama cocktails.

McCormick Place
After watching the swearing-in during the day, attend the Chicago Inaugural Ball in the evening. Snack on appetizers, sip on champagne and watch the Chicago Catz and Deals Gone Bad perform.

Cat's Meow
Enjoy the $2 PBRs, $6 wine, cheese plates and apple pies in this West Town neighborhood hangout while watching the inauguration ceremony.

Catch re-runs of the inauguration ceremony in this cozy west suburban wood-framed roadhouse. Get a free glass of champagne and enjoy the music of the Western Wingers.

People Lounge
With $5 Obama bombs and $4 premium drafts, there's no shortage of inaugural celebration in this Wicker Park lounge.

SushiSamba Rio
Sip on $11 red, white and blue cocktails in this fancy River North sushi joint while watching all of the inauguration festivities.

Chicago's premier gay sports bar will be showcasing the inaugural address, so enjoy their lunch special of a half sandwich and one side for $7.

In Fine Spirits Lounge
This north side wine bar is hosting a two-day inaugural celebration with $9 glasses of sparkling wine on inauguration day and a $44 three-course red, white and blue dinner on Wednesday.

Catch the ceremony on their big-screen projectors in this '40s-style restaurant.

Cafe Ciao
Enjoy the cafe's lunch special of $5 panini and pasta while watching the inauguration. In the evening, enjoy the Hawaiian-style $5 Obama Mama tropical cocktails and aptly-named $3.99 Bailout Burgers.

Crimson Lounge
Sip on $8 red, white and blue cocktails while watching rebroadcasts of the inauguration.

Watch the coverage of the inaugural festivities while enjoying delicious New Haven-style pizzas, $2 red, white and blue Jell-O shots and $5 InaugurAle pints.

Watch the swearing-in on big-screen TVs in this amusement park-size night club.

Sidebar Grille
Enjoy $8 fried egg sandwiches and $5 bloody marys while watching the inauguration festivities.

Quennect 4 Gallery
Laugh your way into the Obama presidency. Stand-up comics Robert Buscemi and James Fritz are just two of the performing in this late-night variety show. It costs $5 to get in.

Losing can still be fun. From 6 to 9 p.m., Chicago Young Republicans host its inauguration after party with an appetizer buffet. It costs $25 to attend while members get in for $15.

The Galaxie
Bring a shirt you wouldn't mind transforming into political art to this gathering in celebration of Obama's inauguration. This free art fest begins at 8 p.m.

Ethiopian Diamond
Just because it's an inauguration for an American president doesn't mean you can't celebrate it with a different ethnic flavor. This Edgewater restaurant is celebrating with Ethiopian beer and Ethiopian dance music.

Town Hall Pub
What better to celebrate this historic political event than in a place called Town Hall Pub? This dive-bar in the center of Boystown is offering up $2 PBRs, $5 "Presidential Punch" and free Jell-O shots. There's also a life-size cutout of the new president, so don't forget your camera.


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