Enjoy watching curling in the Olympics? Try it out at suburban, Chicago bars
The shuffleboard-like sport of curling, which originated in 16th-century Scotland, involves sliding a stone over a sheet of ice to try to land it in a series of circles. A sport in the upcoming Winter Olympics (it starts Wednesday, Feb. 2), it's also become a popular way for suburban and Chicago bars to entice guests to brave the cold and have a fun night out.
The Itasca Country Club was looking for something for their members to do in the winter when the golf club was covered with snow. They found their inspiration at the Chicago bar Kaiser Tiger, which sets up curling lanes every winter. The Itasca club first offered curling only when the ice naturally formed, but last year they installed machines to build the lanes (sheets) themselves, allowing them to host leagues and tournaments for their members. The activity proved so popular that they opened it up to the general public, who can reserve a lane for up to four people for $30 per person per hour at foxandturtle.com/barcurling or by calling (630) 361-8066.
Itasca Country Club director of recreation Steve Curtin said that the experience is similar to bowling, with players enjoying drinks between turns, whether it's hot chocolate or one of the 36 local craft beers on tap at the country club's Fox & Turtle pub, which is open to the public. The lanes have been full even when temperatures dipped to the single digits, and the new technology should allow the club to keep them going through March.
"I think people like the outdoor atmosphere, being able to gather and do something that's easy and fun to learn," Curtin said. "We added the LED lights into where the targets are this year. That has really added the Instagram-worthy pictures, which we know is huge. While you're curling, you're looking out at a golf course, which is covered in beautiful snow. We have propane heaters, which makes for a very nice ambience. They spread a ton of heat."
The Fox & Turtle is at 400 E. Orchard St., Itasca. Curling hours are after 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays (reservations and walk-ins welcome) and after 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (walk-ins only).
Want to get in on the fun? You can also find curling at these local spots.
Bundle up for a game of curling on the rooftop at The Gwen in Chicago.
- Courtesy of The Gwen
521 N. Rush St., Chicago, (312) 645-1500, thegwenchicago.com/
Book a spot on the hotel's terrace bar for up 10 people to play on their artificial curling rink. The $30 per person fee includes a hot cocktail like the Ski Patrol, made with rum, buttered batter and apple cider, or Thin Ice, hot chocolate spiced with peppercorn and chili amaro and spiked with reposado tequila. Grab a seat at the fire-topped table or, to be even cozier, reserve a firepit surrounded by couches on the rooftop's perimeter for a $75 deposit for two hours.
Sip on a spiked cider while curling at Harry Caray's on Navy Pier.
- Courtesy of Harry Caray's
Harry Caray's on Navy Pier
700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, (312) 527-9700, harrycarays.com/
Book 45 minutes of curling on synthetic ice on the lakefront patio for $5 per person for up to six people. Warm up with a $12 spiked cider or a hot toddy, or get a heated thermos for $44 with enough cocktail for two to four people. You can also book a warming hut equipped with an electric fireplace and blankets for a $100 deposit.
Kaiser Tiger in Chicago offers curling in the heated beer garden.
- Courtesy of Kaiser Tiger
1415 W. Randolph St., Chicago, (312) 243-3100, kaisertiger.com/
Up to four people can reserve a curling lane in their heated beer garden for 40 minutes for $70. The bar also recommends making a table reservation so you can have a place to take advantage of their menu featuring warming food and drinks, including hot whiskey with honey and orange liqueur ($12) and Czech-style beef goulash served with German-style spaetzle ($16).
Enjoy a cocktail while curling at Kennedy Rooftop in Wicker Park.
- Courtesy of Kennedy Rooftop
1551 W. North Ave., Chicago, (773) 270-6770, kennedyrooftop.com/
For a $20 deposit, you can book an hour of curling and a spot at the nearby fire pit. The Wicker Park spot's Winter Wonderland also features rentable igloos with bottle service.
Friends figure out the score during a game of curling on the rooftop at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness in Chicago.
- Courtesy of Lakeshore Sport & Fitness
Lakeshore Sport & Fitness
1320 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, (773) 348-6377, lakeshoresf.com/
Dine at Harvest, the Lincoln Park gym's rooftop restaurant and bar, and your party of up to 10 people can also reserve a 30-minute curling session for $30. You can eat in the heated outdoor dining area or book a dome that fits up to four adults or a family of six. The domes have a two-hour time limit and require a food and beverage minimum of $100, with a $20 per person deposit applied to the bill. From 5-8 p.m. every Friday throughout the winter you can drop in for open curling, drink specials and music from a DJ.
The curling court is popular at Chicago's Whiskey Business.
- Courtesy of Whiskey Business
1367 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, (773) 698-7362, whiskeybusinesschicago.com/
Between two and 10 people can reserve a curling court on the Wicker Park bar's 3,000-square-foot rooftop for $25 an hour and play while taking advantage of the '80s- and '90s-themed spot's selection of more than 100 whiskeys.