Not all pub-crawls are created equal, and finding a stretch through which to drink, possibly eat and definitely be merry can take a little planning. While craft beers and quality service are rarely top-of-the list priorities for a crawl, there are probably some goals everyone wants to achieve: don’t get ripped off by a bad bar, don’t be so far from public transit or available cabs that getting home is challenging (or unsafe). Once that’s taken care of, it’s all about the fun. We looked to the city’s North Side into the Lincoln Square and North Center neighborhoods for our beer-based gathering of choice. The historically German neighborhood is friendly, full of history and packed with places to enjoy a beer (or six) with friends.
Black Rock Pub & Kitchen
3614 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-2am; Fri 5pm-2am; Sat 12pm-3am; Sun 11am – 2am
Start things off easy: right near the Addison, Lincoln and Damen buses and the Addison Brown Line, everyone in your crawling crew will be able to get to Black Rock with no trouble. The pub has beer and cocktail specials every night of the week, so start with the bar’s beer of the month or a standby can of PBR. In the winter months, Black Rock fires up the hearth in the back room so you can warm up or just relax until the whole party arrives. If you need to line your stomach in the meantime, we suggest an order of Black Rock’s hand-cut sweet potato fries.
4352 N. Leavitt
Chicago, IL 60618
Mon-Thurs 4pm-2am; Fri 3pm-2am; Sat 9am-3am; Sun 9am-2am
On to the second stop, we class it up a bit with fancy cocktails, specialty beers and spirits at Tiny Lounge. The small spot is easy to miss, but the drinks and lively ambiance will get everyone into a festive mood. Tiny Lounge is a little pricier than a pub, so it’s a good spot for those who won’t last the night to get in one drink and some conversation before splitting off. While the drinks are delicious, they can be pretty stiff as well – don’t forget to pace yourself.
The Grafton Pub
4530 North Lincoln
Chicago, IL 60625
Hours: Mon-Fri 4pm-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Sun 11am-2am
By now you’re in full pub-crawl mode and you’re going to want options. Luckily, The Grafton has it all – strong drink list, tasty food and plenty of room to either squish into a booth or push together an island of tables (and another cold-weather bonus: couch and fireplace). If there’s a big sports event, chances are The Grafton will have it playing, making it a good stop if you want to catch some game highlights mid-crawl. The staff behind the bar is knowledgeable and easygoing – they know their drinks but won’t hassle you if you decide to order your group a round of Irish Car Bombs.
4644 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
Hours: Mon -Thurs – 2pm to 2am; Fri – 1pm to 2am; Sat – 11am to 3am; Sun – 11am to 2am
When you’re several drinks deep, everyone feels like a pal. At Ricochet’s, it’s not just the alcohol playing tricks – bartenders and patrons alike are as friendly as they come in this neighborhood bar. If you’ve moved on to shot-and-a-beer mode, this is your place for no-frills orders. In addition to the darts, trivial games and TVs showing action movies and ball games, Ricochets’ jukebox is packed with solid tunes to power an impromptu dance break.
St. Pauli Club
5109 N Lincoln
Chicago, IL 60625-2501
Hours: Daily 10pm-4am
It’s the end of the night, you’ve set your standards at “whatever” and just want to keep drinking. Last stop? St. Pauli club, the 4 a.m. dive that stocks a minimum of beers at dirt-cheap prices. If you can scrounge up $4, pick from your tap choices of a mystery beer, Spaten or the eponymous St. Pauli Girl. Play some Johnny Cash or trucker favorites from the jukebox with whatever’s left in your pockets or try to keep your shirt in a game of pool against the bar’s regulars. If your pub crawling friends tip well and behave, a special stash of obscure German liqueur from the bartender might be your late-night reward.