As our venerable editor Bill Lascher mentioned in the Sept. 6th Straight Up column, working at the offices of the Reporter has its perks. Swag is one of them (although while Lascher tends to get foodstuffs, I’m mainly sent odd things like single shoes exactly in my size — such a tease).
But throwing down the news is not without its stresses, and there are some days (namely, Tuesdays) when an honest staff writer needs a quick liquid lunch to take the edge off.
Luckily, our office has been located in the heart of downtown for over a year now, increasing my lunchtime drinking options tenfold.
So I asked myself, where is the best place to get an early afternoon libation? Never one to drink with complete abandon, I had to take a scientific approach, beginning my midday drinking series (yes, Mom, it’s for work) with a trip to the nearest watering hole, Chicago for Ribs, and a checklist.
Chicago is also an oasis during deadlines and inexplicable cravings for good, down-home, authentic cornbread.
After a discussion with a fellow Reporter staffer about the death of the three-martini lunch, I decided I ought to take in at least one, for the sake of a dear, departed business practice (Otherwise I might’ve gone the equally effective “spiked coffee” or “dessert drink” route).
Chicago gets creative with its martinis; I myself have enjoyed a “Starbucks” concoction in the past, as well as an inspired twist on the old mojito. But given the favorable state of the weather, and in honor of a friend now on a tropical honeymoon, I decided to pick something with a bit of Midori.
I landed on the Midway, which combined the somewhat exotic feel of nuclear green, melon-flavored liqueur with the dependable, uber-efficient Scandinavian sensibility of Absolut Vodka. With a dash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a cursive-like garnish of raspberry sauce within the glass, we were in business.
Atmosphere: I give this one an 8. I’ve always enjoyed Chicago’s faux-Mobster hideout feel, although when taking in hard alcohol in the early afternoon, one does wish for a bit more dimness.
Service: 7. Prompt. Water was offered without my having to ask, and wait staff seemed to reserve judgment about my drinking at a time that wouldn’t be socially acceptable in any of our nation’s time zones.
Quality of Drink: 8. Original, and the Midori/touch of raspberry combination was inspired.
Expediency with which drink was prepared: 7, which allowed for ample time to text a friend, but again, I did head over at around lunch time.
Originality of Drink (where applicable): 8.
Comments: Drink pairs well with early afternoon malaise and/or a quick, cursory reading of a friend’s master’s thesis, which I promised to copy edit over a week ago.
I have to conclude that a glass of white wine or a respectable pint of beer might feel more apropos during a lunch break, and am happy to report that Chicago offers a fine selection of each. Still, if you’re feeling whimsical — and if you happen to work or live within walking distance of this fine establishment — Chicago hits the spot. With patio dining, you can even enjoy your 12 o’clock fix in the relatively sunny privacy of one of downtown’s best bars.