Back when smoking in bars was still legal, snagging logoed matchbooks from local watering holes served as a way to chronicle (and vaguely recollect) whatever went down the night before. Each book of matches acted both as a reminder and a memento of that night at [insert bar here] when [insert degenerate friend here] fell off a bar stool and yakked on some girl’s shoes as “Thunder Road” played on the jukebox.
Now that the ashtrays have long been discarded, today’s clues to last night’s exploits often come in the form of check-ins and Instagram photos. But we at the Reader know that Chicago’s bar scene—as divey in spots as it is posh in others, as depraved as it is elevated—deserves better keepsakes. So, what’s the best way to chronicle the high and low points of that south-side drinking tour, that unstoppable jukebox playlist, that lineup of formidable cocktails, that 7 AM bar crawl? Forget the smartphones, forget even the matchbooks—we wrote them all down.—Kevin Warwick
The seven narratives in this year’s Bar Issue are far from the be-all and end-all of the Reader‘s alcohol-induced ambition. Not even close. Check out our Neighborhood Bar Guide for an ever-expanding database of worthy bars across Chicago—along with a few chasers for good measure.