Looking for someone to warm up with this winter? We can help, as long as your standards aren't too high. These singles-friendly bars share traits conducive to hooking up: 4 a.m. liquor licenses, a clientele with a propensity to over-imbibe, and dark environs perfect for slipping someone the tongue. Call them what you will—meat markets, pick-up joints—these bars are where you should be to score some digits or a late-night rendezvous.
Feeling really desperate? Our Carnal Consultant knows a thing or two about the best spots for hook-ups.
Odds are you'll score at Cubby Bear faster than the Cubs will score across the street at Wrigley Field. The crowd here is about as young as it legally gets, especially on nights that boast live bands or karaoke. (Isn't being 21 awesome?) But, seriously, it ain't all bad coming into the Cubby pre-Cubs game, when it's all sports, sports, sports. It's after the game, when the 30,000-square-feet space (with six bars!) turns into a quasi-dance club for slobbering strangers, who you know nothing about except they were at the game, too.
The female dancers at Manor rock skimpy underthings as they shake like mad on platforms surrounding the V.I.P area—talk about setting a mood. The crowd here falls in the mid-20s-to-mid-30s range, made up mostly of young professionals on the prowl. The dressed-up cocktails (tons of martinis and mixed drinks) are uber-pricey, so kudos to you if you can find some desperate sap to buy you one. The men who really want to pick up women opt to flaunt their pocketbooks by springing for bottle service, which ranges from $300-$3,500.
Most Irish pubs eschew the whole hook-up scene for more of a relaxed, make-some-buddies-at-the-bar environment. But not the Kerryman: The behemoth of an Irish joint in River North packs in an early- to mid-20s crowd looking to grind up against fetching strangers on the second floor's dance space. The oodles of stiff brews on tap—think Guinness, Bass and Boddingtons—provide plenty of liquid courage to get the preppy dudes to ask the girls to dance to the top-40 hits blaring. If you prefer things more low-key, park it downstairs and order up some shepherd's pie.
Need we say more than "lube wrestling" to make a point that this predominantly gay bar puts an emphasis on sex? The monthly event is just one of the parties this dance club throws, including drag nights, ladies' night and appearances by well-known DJs. Thursday nights are home to the Hot Hydrate Male Dancers, gorgeous half-naked men gyrating on the back room's dance floor.
Sure, the 4 a.m. close time aids in its pick-up-joint status, but what further cements its reputation is the cast of drunken students from nearby DePaul who wait in line to get in on weekends. Everyone knows how frisky those college kids can get, especially when cheap drinks, loud music and dark, candle-lit environs are on hand.
It could be said that every bar in the Viagra Triangle has the makings of a straight-up meat-market, but special attention should be given to the loud, debaucherous Shenannigans, which in the later hours turns into a dance party with women dancing all over the place — including on a stage with a pole. The mostly middle-aged crowd gets sloppy drunk here; no doubt many an overpriced and beer-soaked evening at this grungy spot has resulted in a hookup.
Hogs & Honeys
Would you really go to a bar that boasts a mechanical bull without the intention of getting hit on...or hitting on someone? We didn't think so. This Weed Street favorite for bachelorette parties and bachelors alike beckons the scandalous set to ride its bucking bronco in an inevitably sexually suggestive way. This isn't the kind of place you're going to meet Prince Charming, though, with most of the crowd consisting of suburbanites, tourists or lonely men who like to gawk at the hot wait staff. The mix of country and rock tunes and the quasi-Western atmosphere keep things lighthearted and fun, though.
Hamilton's Bar & Grill
Loyola University students looking to get some booty can forget joining a club or hanging out in the Student Union. If they come to Hamilton's, with drinks deals like $3.50 22-ounce jumbo drafts and $4 "Kissable Drinks," approaching someone here is as simple as asking them if you can buy them a fruity, booze-intense cocktail. And you'll be able to afford it, too. The live music, dance parties, college nights and food specials seal the deal.
Sopo is where all the pretty people go on Southport to pick-up members of the opposite sex. You'll most likely find groups of men or women, not ones that blend both sexes, unless they're renting out the upstairs space for a private party. That's because Sopo is every man-on-the-prowl's dream, with its loud music, almost-clubby vibe, somewhat affordable drinks (at least during the week anyway), and crammed-in crowd. You can't help but rub elbows with some fine honeys, and Sopo is less sleazy than most spots conducive to scoring, which may very well be because the single ladies and men are out in equal numbers and with the same agenda.
As one of the only 4 a.m. (5 a.m. on Saturdays) bars in River North, it's no surprise the already sloshed masses that have been boozing at the neighborhood's other mega-clubs book it here late-night. The loft-like environs, with plenty of low-slung couches and loveseats for cuddling, fill up with well-dressed (though, usually in little clothing) patrons in their mid- to late-20s. The dangerous combo of over-served twentysomethings and the safari theme (think horned chandeliers and animal-print stools) will likely bring out the tiger in anyone. So find your prey and attack!
Each week, Centerstage Chicago's crack staff will answer a question you have about the city, showing you some of the best places around in the process. Did we miss something? Tell us. Got a question you want us to answer? Ask us and we'll get right on it.