[from The A.V. Club Chicago, with David Wolinsky / October 28, 2009]
Perhaps nothing unites humanity more than our need to just have a goddamned drink. Cheers’ George Wendt, who portrayed barfly Norm Peterson for 11 years (plus a cameo in its spin-off, Frasier) knows this, and has recently released a boozy memoir: Drinking With George: A Barstool Professional’s Guide To Beer. While doing press for his book with the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago-born actor recited a few of his favorite local watering holes, including the Old Town Ale House (219 W. North Ave., 312-944-7020). This got The A.V. Club thinking: Where might some of Norm’s drinking buddies opt to wet their whistles were they in Chicago instead of Boston?
Sam Malone and Diane Chambers
Local go-to: Sam’s baseball-and-broken-hearts lifestyle clashing with Diane’s upper-crust upbringing fueled the first few seasons of the show. The pair’s blend of high and low culture is reflected locally in the epic craft beer selection and Saturday night Smut ‘n’ Eggs party (breakfast served as ’70s porn fills the front-room TVs) at The Twisted Spoke (501 N. Ogden Ave., 312-666-1500).
Why they’d still go back to Cheers: Recovering alcoholic/sex addict Sam wouldn’t do himself any favors with Twisted Spoke’s beer list (or equally lengthy whiskey list and aforementioned porn), but aspiring writer Diane would have trouble of her own dealing with the unresolved narrative arcs in Twisted Spoke’s film selections.
Local go-to: A country boy needs a country bar, and few serve it up as loudly or as late into the night as Carol’s Pub (4659 N. Clark St., 773-334-2402)—although with Chicago a mere five-hour drive from his hometown of Hanover, Ind., Woody’s off-center logic would probably tell him to make the trip home to the Electric Lady.
Why he’d still go back to Cheers: Carol’s raucous crowd and Johnny Cash covers drowning out Woody’s folksy observations would undoubtedly drive him back to Cheers, free to ask how the world is treating Mr. Peterson or refine his theater skills.
Ernie “Coach” Pantusso
Local go-to: A one-time Boston Red Sox coach and avid fan in his post-baseball career, Coach would find himself at home among the rabid Boston sports fanaticism at Nic and Dino’s Tripoli Tap (1147 W. Armitage Ave., 773-477-4400).
Why he’d still go back to Cheers: Coach is a pretty basic guy and even Tripoli Tap’s moderately fancy beer selection would overwhelm a man known to throw himself down the dugout stairs to gain sympathy from female baseball fans. Even worse: They don’t know how to make his signature drink, the Contikki Tiki.
Frasier Crane and Lilith Sternin
Local go-to: As the long-running spin-off Frasier showcased, Dr. Frasier Crane always kept his stylish condo stocked with wine, and especially sherry. That’s one of many reasons the snobby and sophisticated psychiatrist and his reserved but passionate ex-wife would flock to Rhapsody (65 E. Adams St., 312-786-9911), a bar that touts its musical theme and has one of Crane’s favorite dishes: seared ahi tuna. Its proximity to the Art Institute, the Harold Washington Library, and the Civic Orchestra are all bonuses.
Why they’d still go back to Cheers: Frasier and Lilith were big fish in a little pond back at Cheers. Their superior intellects demand to have dimmer bulbs around to not only feel in touch with the average man, but also to make them feel even more average.
Local go-to: A letter carrier with an astonishing retention rate for useless trivia considering the amount of beer he deluged his poor brain cells with, Cliff Clavin would relish the opportunity to pit his knowledge against Chicagoans’ at any of the local bars with a trivia night. Ginger Ale’s House (3801 N. Ashland Ave., 773-348-2767) wins out because it fosters a family vibe ideal for Cliff and his roommate/mother Esther: The contest is hosted by an older man and his daughter, who together seem to spit out whatever facts they want to challenge bar goers with.
Why they’d still go back to Cheers: Like Frasier, Cliff was an integral part of that bar’s subculture. At Ginger’s, he’d be just another Cliff in a sea of know-it-alls.