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Chicago nightlife resolutions for 2012

January 04, 2012|By Emily Van Zandt | RedEye

Ah, 2011. Dozens of bars visited. Multiple hangovers endured. Lessons mostly learned. But it’s a new year and with it comes the opportunity to fix a few things in my social routine.

In 2012, I vow to…

… BYOB with care. Know what cheap champagne pairs well with? Anything. At least that was my motto in 2011. Know what it really pairs with? Well, not mole sauce, that’s for sure. All it takes is a quick Google search or a chat with a more wine-knowledgeable friend to figure out a better pairing for sushi, pasta or enchiladas.

… not fear the restaurant bar. Sure, they might close a little earlier, ordering shots may not be standard practice and the clientele may be a little older. But some of the best drinks in Chicago can be found served up at restaurants. Sepia and Maude’s (pictured) offer amazing cocktails, yet I always think of them as restaurants first. Who’s stopping me from popping in for just a round?

… keep PBR in its place. When you’re looking for a cheap 12-pack to bring to a party or trying to save money for cab fare on a Saturday, there is rarely a better choice than cans of PBR. But when there’s something with more flavor (and more punch) on the menu? It’s time to break away from the herd.

… pre-hydrate. Forget getting back to your apartment and chugging a Gatorade. In 2012, it’s all about the water pre-game. If I’m starting out the night under my optimum daily water intake, there’s no way I’m going to wake up the next morning without a headache. A few glasses before the night even starts? It’s gotta help a little.

… let my friends dance. I’m not saying I’m a buzzkill, but when it comes to a empty dance floor, I can be a little hesitant. But my friends? Forget it. The floor may be wide open, but they’ll risk the stares as soon as TLC’s “Creep” comes on. This year instead of my typical eye roll and “Uhhhh, let’s wait a minute,” it’s time to let them start the party on their own … even if it’s only 9:30.

… remember to buy tickets. Or get on the list/RSVP/whatever. I’ve got to stop giving into the naive thought that nothing in Chicago will sell out that fast. People in this town love going out. And if there’s an open bar involved, forget it. This year I’ll sign up, call somebody, buy tickets—whatever it takes. If I see something that looks awesome, clearly I’m not the only one thinking that.

… leave. Friends are hanging out at a bar that’s too crowded? Just got handed a skunked beer? Disgusting bathroom? Leave. Even if it’s something as arbitrary as the background music or the temperature, if I’m not happy at a bar, I’m going to go. No use sitting around bashing it when there’s going to be another bar right around the corner.

… go the f*** to sleep. 4 a.m. is friend to no one. And those text messages to come out to such-and-such bar where people are having “the best time ever!!!!!” when I’m already warm at home in my sweatpants? When have those outings ever been worth it? Just go to sleep, Emily. You’re not missing out on anything and your liver will thank you in the morning.

Emily Van Zandt is a RedEye reporter. She probably made these resolutions in 2011 as well. evanzandt@tribune.com | @mmxbars

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