Wrigleyville bars feed Cubs fever
Wrigleyville during Cubs season is "one giant party," says Lakeview resident Matt Schwartz. Add in a playoff run against arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals, and the bar-filled area around Wrigley Field will be sheer madness.
"Holy cow," said Jim Ammirati, owner of Wrigleyville's Merkle's Bar and Grill. "I think Monday will be crazier in Wrigleyville than I've ever seen. It will be nuts; I can't even put it into words."
The bars in Wrigleyville seem like an ever-flowing, endless beer garden, with countless waiters and bartenders serving beer, burgers and more. North Clark Street south of Wrigley Field has about 35 bars alone. And if you expand to include Sheffield Avenue, plus some Cub-crazy areas such as Southport Avenue to the west and Halsted Street to the east, there are plenty of hot spots for Monday night -- when the city will be focused on the area for game three in the best-of-five National League Division Series between the Cubs and their archrival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Merkle's has temporarily changed its name in honor of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who once said that one of his goals in life -- off the field, that is -- is to someday own a bar called The Pink Flamingo.
So for the duration of the team's playoff run, Merkle's, located at 3516 N. Clark St., has been renamed The Pink Flamingo, with specialty flamingo-inspired drinks, pink signage, lighting and more.
Maddon has even been named an honorary owner of The Pink Flamingo, and yes, Ammirati has reached out to Maddon multiple times to inform him, though Maddon has yet to reply, Ammirati said.
"We want to help Joe achieve all of his goals," Ammirati said. "We thought we could support Joe by helping him achieve one of them, for The Pink Flamingo, and thus allow him to concentrate on his main goal, which is winning a World Series for the Cubs."
The Pink Flamingo will feature specialty, handmade cocktails including Maddon's Mule and its three newest cocktails infused with beer and named "The Winston," "The Warren" and "The Clementine" -- all on top of the newly created, "Joe's Nachos."
Proceeds from the sales of all three flamingo-named drinks will go to Susan G. Komen, a nonprofit organization supporting breast cancer research and outreach.
Merkle's isn't the lone Wrigleyville hot spot jumping aboard the Cubs craziness. At The Butcher's Tap, 3553 N. Southport, for instance, they are trying to reverse the Cubs curse by offering goat tacos throughout the playoff run.
Meanwhile, at Sheffield's Beer & Wine Garden, 3258 N. Sheffield, owner Rocky Albazi confirmed that they will be serving Cubs-themed slushy drinks. Plus, Sheffield's will have a battle of the hometown beers between Chicago and St. Louis favorites.
And at D.S. Tequila Co., 3352 N. Halsted Street, the popular restaurant-bar a short walk from Wrigley Field, throngs of patrons have enjoyed a special Cubs margarita, said D.S.' Pete Augusta. The Electric Blue Margarita is made with house tequila, blue Curacao, lime juice, orange juice and a blueberry red bull floater.
One thing for sure, come Monday, Wrigleyville will be rocking. So get there early, stake out a chair -- if you can claim one -- and brace for hours of emotions.
"The social scene and festive atmosphere of 'The Friendly Confines' is often equaled by the Wrigleyville neighborhood that surrounds it," said Mike Tenay, a Las Vegas resident who was glued to his TV for the Wednesday win over Pittsburgh and recalls past trips to Wrigleyville. "The bars and restaurants in the area are great pre- and postgame hangouts and, if you can't get a ticket to Wrigley Field, a bar stool at the Cubby Bear or Murphy's is the next best thing. And how can I forget about Sluggers, which has batting cages."
Reeve Hauff-Lazar, a Cubs fan since 1983 who lives in Logan Square, celebrated the win over Pittsburgh at Slugger's, 3540 N. Clark St., and was among the thousands who, after the final out was made, flooded the streets around Wrigley Field.
"The streets were overflowing with joy," he said. "We've been kicked so many times in so little post season chances that Wrigleyville came together to celebrate ... even it was only after one game. It was a celebration of hope ... of what could be."
Besides Merkle's/The Pink Flamingo, here are a few of the must-see spots near Clark and Addison:
• Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St.
Though the address is Addison Street, this truly is a Clark Street staple. Directly across from the Wrigley Field marquee. Large space. Hosts concerts. Popular among tourists.
• Slugger's, 3540 N. Clark St.
Welcome to batting cages, skee-ball and several arcade games. Plus, you can redeem tickets for candy and more. ESPN tagged Slugger's as the No. 1 Baseball bar in Chicago and the No. 3 in the country.
• Goose Island Wrigleyville, 3535 N. Clark St.
Known for its food and beer, which includes Wrigleyville White and Cubby Blue, a blueberry ale.
• Mullen's on Clark, 3527 N. Clark St.
Darts and Tater Tots are two of the appeals of this establishment. Fried ravioli also is popular, and two sizes of pizza are served, too.
• Old Crow Smokehouse, 3506 N. Clark St.
Beef is the specialty. BBQ beef, to be specific. Dining room features a retractable roof. Many drinks are served in Mason jars, and one of the most popular is Kentucky Breakfast, featuring Maker's 46 Kentucky Bourbon.
• Casey Moran's, 3660 N. Clark St.
Six bars, a rooftop garden and 52 TVs are among the draws.
Other spots to watch and cheer the Cubs within a 15-minute walk of Wrigley Field:
• Murphy's Bleachers, 3655 N. Sheffield Ave.
• Sports Corner Bar & Grill, 952 W. Addison St.
• Dark Horse Tap & Grille, 3443 N. Sheffield Ave.
• Mystic Celt, 3443 N. Southport Ave.
• D.S. Tequila Company, 3352 N. Halsted St.
• Sidetrack Chicago, 3349 N. Halsted St.