Attention winter-weary, “Can we just move somewhere warm already?” gentledudes of Chicago:
We may be besieged by the frosty couloirs of winter, but succumb we will not.
Not this hour. Because this hour, we have this:
The Drinker’s Guide to Indoor Sport, our round-up of nine fine Chicago boozing establishments boasting all manner of cold weather-friendly activity.
Beyond, of course, the boozing itself.
Not included below: all those small dives you’ll find sporting ping-pong tables (see: Happy Village), old school pin alleys (see: Timber Lanes) or beer-stained billiard tables (see: Galway Bay). Because, well, that would’ve made this list unforgivably long and difficult to put together.
Additionally, no Dave & Buster’s. Because no.
Rather, a tightly curated offering of the best ways to have your shot-and-a-beer with a side of friendly competition.
A Chicago tradition. What other sport so capably combines bumper cars, jai alai, basketball and drunkards? No sport, sir. No sport at all. And at WhirlyBall’s sprawling new location, you can hop in your WhirlyBug in any of the three spiffy courts. Also there: bowling and multi-level laser tag, not to mention an ace craft beer list.
The Game Room
Perhaps the best reason reason to drink downtown. Inside: world-class cocktails, food and atmosphere. The centerpiece: the room-long bocce ball court. Plus: billiards, shuffleboard, chess, foosball and more. All free and open to the public. Yeah, definitely the best reason. You'll wanna bookmark this page to stay updated with all the events happening here and the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.
The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Ave. (map)
A proper Logan Square dive with skeeball in the front, dance parties in the back and a laid-back ‘70s cocktail fern bar upstairs. Yes, we consider the Slope’s dance parties a full-contact sport. Younger crowd. No frills, but none necessary.
2357 N. Milwaukee Ave. (map)
Because man cannot live on golf alone. He needs beer. A one-of-kind in Chicago, this multi-level bar with four reservation-only HD Golf simulators is straight out of an Arnold Palmer dream. That’s upstairs. Downstairs: shuffleboard and delicious pub grub.
Clark St. Karaoke
Our Chicago Editor demanded we have a karaoke spot. “It’s a sport,” he said without irony, gesturing casually at a framed photo of that guy from Only God Forgives. So here’s a new one in the former Blokes & Birds space, just underneath one of the better seafood bagging spots in the city. Enter through there. Private karaoke rooms you can rent by the hour. “Sweet Caroline” strictly forbidden.
A true old-school indie arcade with a big thing for mashing flippers and tilting boxes. Inside: the city’s deepest roster of vintage pinball machines. Also home to VEC9, the first vector arcade game to be released in 30 years.
HQ Beercade River North
Same deal as its Lakeview counterpart, except bigger and the food menu will appease River North revelers. A 14,000-square-foot game room lined with more than 65 vintage arcade and pinball cabinets — from Punch Out to Wayne Gretzky Hockey.
Emporium Logan Square
Once upon a time, Emporium’s Wicker Park locale was the only barcade in the city. Their Logan Square outpost boasts an ace selection of craft beer cans and tabletop games like air hockey and Super Chexx bubble hockey and oh did we mention Super Chexx bubble hockey? You need that.
1366 N. Milwaukee Ave. (map)
Punch Bowl Social
Okay. Let’s get this fact out of the way: this is in Schaumburg. So, if you ever find yourself in Schaumburg, this is your place. Read: this is the best family option on the list. A brand spankin' new four-level paradise housing everything: bowling, darts, billiards, shuffleboard, private karaoke and arcade games.