(Barry Brecheisen for RedEye )
Like it or not, the countdown to the holidays has begun. Between the family fights, the travel headaches and the present-budget woes, everyone could use a stiff drink. Luckily, there are plenty of new spots popping up in Chicago to accommodate the holiday blues. From comfort food like your mom used to make in Wicker Park to video games with a side of beer in Edgewater and budget-friendly cocktails in Lincoln Park, there's a little something for everyone.
15 W. Division St. 312-337-4349
Finn McCool's is out and The Snuggery is in at this Gold Coast location. The venue joins sibling bars in Edison Park, McHenry, Schaumburg and Union Station. Boasting a late-night license, the sports-focused spot will broadcast major sports games along with UFC events and games on the NFL Sunday Ticket. The food menu leans toward bar favorites with burgers, chicken, ribs and nachos. Expect the tempo to pick up on weekends, when a DJ will be on hand, or head upstairs to The Apartment, the more loungey second-floor bar.
The Norse Bar
6334 N. Clark St. 773-942-6344
As if a good beer isn't enough entertainment, this Edgewater pub keeps patrons busy with plenty of TVs for sports games, trivia nights and Wii, Super NES and Nintendo 64 games. Prefer to sip with your pooch by your side? They're welcome Monday nights. And if brews are all you need keep you glued to your seat, the bar offers 12 rotating draft selections with a focus on craft and import options.
738 N. Clark St. 312-397-1961
"Mad Men" fans take note: Slated to Thursday, this River North lounge is a throwback to the '50s and '60s (think sleek booths and a Tiffany blue women's bathroom) with a focus on classic highball cocktails such as the dark and stormy, moscow mule, Scotch and sodas and more. Owned by Perry Fotopoulos of The Tasting Room, the second-floor lounge has space for a just under 100 patrons and may expand to the third floor in the future. Look for veteran Chicago DJ Joe Bryl to spin Thursday nights beginning Dec. 15.
1725 W. Division St. 773-697-4804
It's hard to find a fresher spot than this Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village sports bar, which officially opened Wednesday. Run by the same team that operates Bangers & Lace just down the street, Anthem embraces nostalgia, from its chalkboard walls and bubble hockey game to fish sticks and Twinkies (above) on the menu and classic sports games on the TVs. But don't be fooled—the spot takes its sports seriously, repping all Chicago teams with the sound turned up for games.
TR Napa Valley
61 E. Oak St., 312-929-2299
Couldn't find time to take that annual trip to Napa this year? Poor you. Luckily for all of us, there's a more economical option. This Gold Coast wine and champagne bar is dedicated to all things about the region, with wine and cheese tastings, classes and even travel info. The tiny space houses only a handful of tables, so don't plan on bringing a group. Think of it more as an intimate date spot to share a few glasses of wine, or a place to grab a bottle (and the story behind it) to go after work.
The Barrelhouse Flat
2624 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-857-0421
Lincoln Park cocktail snobs already have discovered this hot spot, tucked away in the former Déja Vu space on Lincoln Avenue. We predict they'll be returning for the expertly crafted classic cocktails, all $10. It's no coincidence that the spot is helmed by former Violet Hour mixologist Stephen Cole (right), who has packed the menu with more than 70 cocktail options, as well as a few beer and food choices.