Chicago is known for its nightlife. You can’t drive down any main street without seeing a bar or nightclub and you can find people roaming the streets or in bars any day of the week.
As DePaul students go through their years at DePaul and inch closer to the age when they’re able to join the crowds, they must become aware of what the bar scene is like in the city.
Tom Molitor is a 28-year-old junior at DePaul. He served in the U.S. Navy upon his high school graduation and came to Chicago after his service. As a student in his late twenties, he has spent a few years getting to know the nightlife in the area and has been able to gather up some tips for newbies.
The first bit of advice Molitor wants to offer studnets is that you never question the bouncer.
“The bouncer is always right,” Molitor said. “Even when you are right and the bouncer is wrong, the bouncer is still always right. He is St. Peter at the pearly gates and he is not going to let you in if you throw a temper tantrum.”
Molitor goes on to relay that tipping your bartender is the golden ticket to scoring benefits at the bar.
“Always tip the bartender. Bartenders remember who tips and who doesn’t. This is even more important for a bar that you frequent,” Molitor said. “When you know you are going to be at Kelly’s twice a week for four years, make sure you always tip well, and the bartenders will always take care of you. If you’re paying with a card but you’ve got some cash for a tip, write ‘cash’ on the tip line. Cash tips are always better in the service industry.”
Knowing your limits can also be a concern if you’re just gettting acclimated to the bar scene. Molitor cautioned students to either be mindful of how much alcohol they’ve had. or to take it somewhere else.
“Know your limits. You’re at a bar, not at Tijuana on spring break. If you are going to puke or fight, go outside,” Molitor said.
No one wants to wake up the
next morning and notice their bank account has a substabntial dent from the night before. Molitor advises first timers that there are always ways to cut down expenses at the bar.
“Always accept a free drink. Even if it’s not your go-to beer or cocktail, it’s the thought that counts,” Molitor said. “If it’s coming from a stranger, make sure you watch the drink being made or opened by the bartender.”
If expenses aren’t a concern for students, however, Molitor suggests that every once a while it can be fun taking the tab for the table.
“Buy a round of drinks. Drinking is always better with others, whether it’s close friends or somebody you’ve just met,” Molitor said. “This applies to women too. If you’re a patron of the neon church, this is the best way to improve your beer-karma.”
Senior Hayley Budish, took advantage of the Chicago bar scene by getting employed as soon as she could.
When Budish turned 21, she got employed by Durkin’s Tavern on Diversey Parkway. This Lincoln Park tavern is a hit with college students on Thursdays, with deals like $.50 Bud Light drafts, $3 Bud Light Pitchers, $3 Jim Beam cocktails and $4 Fireball shots.
Budish said she liked the environment of the bar atmosphere and started right when she turned 21. After some time at Durkin’s Tavern, Budish moved to Mad River, a sports bar near the Wellington Brown line stop, just in time for football season.
After starting at such a young age and getting off on the right foot, Budish has tips for newbies wanting to get into the industry.
“Jump in. It’s the only way to do it. Experience helps but it’s really all about attitude and personality. My boss always says he wants people who love Mad River to work at Mad River. And don’t be afraid to mess up. You see experienced bartenders going fast, remembering 12 drinks while making three different drinks at the same time. When you start just take it slow,” Budish said.
But her experience behind the bar has also led her to some interesting experiences that allow for her to give tips for newbies on the bar scene as well.
“We hate when people yell at us for our attention and are super obnoxious. Or when people don’t know what they want in a crowded bar. Or even better, when people are hammered and try to argue with you,” Budish said. “Know what you want when you’re ordering or at least pretend, and take care of your bartenders because they’ll take care ofyou.”
Senior Matthew Dunphey, has worked at Trophy Room and Estate for the past year. He now works at Atlantic Bar on weekdays as well, all of which are bars that DePaul students frequent. He started in the industry through a connection from a friend who managed bars in the area.
Dunphey believes that if you want to know the do’s and don’ts to having a great bar experience, listen to the advice from the people that know the industry the best, the employees.
“There are a ton of people who do it wrong. This advice is straight from bartenders and other service industry workers at a lot of the sports bars that DePaul kids go to,” Dunphey said. “Tip the bartenders. Don’t act entitled. Be respectful of all staff, this is their job. Know your drinking limit. When the lights go on for last call, leave. Don’t ever ask a DJ for a request. Ever. If you ordered it, pay for it. Don’t challenge prices.”
He also says know what you want at the bar and don’t try to ask for things that are too “strong,” to handle.
“Don’t ask for something fruity but strong,” Dunphrey said. “I’ll just make you a Vegas bomb.”
A common theme among the advice from Dunphey, Budish and Molitor was to trust, respect and listen to your bartenders. They know the lay of the land at bars and how drinks and drink-making work.
For students wanting their first time at a bar to be memorable, they should remember that the most important thing is to have fun. Of course, not to the point where the next day is miserable but look at it as a time to be social and meet some great people.