The dance floor at Beauty Bar (Chuan D. Vo/For RedEye )
'Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring—because they were all out at a bar, getting drunk.
That's the story of Thanksgiving Eve, more commonly known as Black Wednesday.
Maybe it's the impending four-day weekend, the influx of out-of-town friends or just the desire to kick off the holiday season with a big, boozy bang, but Nov. 21 is one of the biggest going-out nights of the year. Whether you're looking to throw down—or avoid throwing up like last year—we've put together three party plans to help you do this unofficial drinking holiday justice.
PARTY HARD: "While the turkey gets basted, let's get wasted."
Plan ahead: Before work, stop by Baker & Nosh (1303 W. Wilson Ave. 773-989-7393) in Uptown (open from 7 a.m. to noon) to pick up spiced pumpkin bread ($8) or a dozen rolls ($8) to pass at your family's big Thanksgiving dinner the next day. Because the last thing you'll want to do tomorrow is bake while hungover.
Drink around town: Hop on your choice of trolley pub crawls in Lakeview and Lincoln Park. The Turkey Trolley Trot makes stops at McGee's (950 W. Webster Ave.), The Wrightwood Tap (1059 W. Wrightwood Ave.), Durkin's (810 W. Diversey Parkway), Duffy's (420 W. Diversey Parkway), Redmond's (3358 N. Sheffield Ave.) and Maeve (1325 W. Wrightwood Ave.) from 8 to 11 p.m. The $20 ticket (buy online at bar1events.com) includes two drinks per hour and an appetizer buffet, and you can start the night at any of the six bars. Or sign yourself up for the Black Wednesday Black Light Bar Crawl and down domestic drafts, cocktails and appetizers surrounded by black light decor and glow sticks from 7 to 10 p.m. at Kirkwood (2934 N. Sheffield Ave.), Schoolyard Tavern (3258 N. Southport Ave.) and Crossing (2548 N. Southport Ave.). Trolleys run continuously between the three bars and admission is $20 in advance (buy until 4 p.m. on Wednesday at shop.fourcornerstaverns.com or $25 at the door.
Go balls out: Have a ball at the annual Turkey Testicle Festival at Streeterville bar Timothy O'Toole's (622 N. Fairbanks Court 312-642-0700). If you don't make it in time for the 9 p.m. testicle-eating contest, there's always the pumpkin pie-eating contest at 11 p.m., and deep-fried Buckets of Balls ($6.99) are served all night.
Shake a tail feather: Join the pre-Turkey Day dance party at River North nightclub Bevy (215 W. Ontario St. 312-846-6687), which features DJ-spun house music, $8 Jack Daniel's whiskey drinks and $7 Jameson whiskey shots from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. No cover before 11 p.m.; avoid the $20 cover after 11 p.m. with an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org before 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Grab a late-night bite: Nearby restaurant Burger Joint (675 N. Franklin St. 312-440-8600) stays open until 5 a.m. to serve morning-saving meals such as The Hangover, a half-pound angus burger topped with American cheese, tomato, bacon and a fried egg ($6.99). "We're in the middle of all these bars," said partner Dennis Skiadopoulos. "We've gotta feed the intoxicated partygoers."
LOW-KEY: "I'm still hungover from Black Wednesday 2011."
First, fill up: From 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., craft cocktail bar The Barrelhouse Flat (2624 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-857-0421) serves a new food menu from chef Erik Chizeck, which includes substantial treats such as a burger topped with bacon and crispy potatoes ($15). "It's a good way to fortify yourself before heading out," Chizeck said.
Sample dark brews: Stroll over to nearby gastropub The Monkey's Paw (2524 N. Southport Ave. 773-413-9314) for a flight of three five-ounce dark drafts ($13), including a chocolate-y imperial stout from Danish brewery Amager, served from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sip a one-of-a-kind cocktail: At Trenchermen (2039 W. North Ave. 773-661-1540), beverage director Tona Palomino plans to serve drinks such as the Desperate Vesper, a blend of white aperitif wine, gin and Malort that's been aged in a bourbon barrel since November 2011 ($10). The Wicker Park bar and restaurant is open from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., although Palomino jokingly warns that the party will end "very soon after we run out of Malort."
Party with in-town pals: Head to the Re-Union party at Union Sushi & Barbeque Bar (230 W. Erie St. 312-662-4888) for complimentary black rice sushi from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. "The night before Thanksgiving is a time to reunite with friends," said beverage director Peter Kim, who designed a bottled cucumber and tequila cocktail for the occasion ($11).
IN BETWEEN: "I am a mature adult but tend to drink before attending family events."