As you bask in the glorious day off that has been brought to you courtesy of the United States government, let’s take a minute to toast history and some past Commanders In Chief by visiting a few Chicago pubs that pay homage to our past presidents.
Born 1732. Died 1799. President #1: 1789-1797.
George Washington was a military master and leader whose efforts brought about the American Revolution. Papa patriot was an obvious pick to be our country’s very first President and when he passed away in 1799, our young country was devastated. The following year, he was remembered on his birthday, February 22nd. The day would almost become sacred and, in 1885, it became a true day of remembrance known as Washington’s Birthday. It wasn’t until 1971 that, in attempt to provide several long holiday weekends for our country’s work force, that President’s Day became official.
Head on over to the George St. Pub, a neighborhood tap that once upon a time was known as Gaslight Corner, a pub that catered to locals and the patrons and actors performing across the street at one of the first locations of the Steppenwolf Theater. While you’re at the GSP, toast the fact that George Washington was a home brewer with a fondness for English style porters. He liked the hard stuff too. In 1797, he established the largest whiskey distillery in the United States at his home in Mount Vernon. 2858 N. Halsted.
Born 1734. Died: 1826. President #3: 1801 - 1809.
Tall, lanky and shy, Thomas Jefferson was never a confident public speaker, but he excelled as a writer. His pen was truly mightier than the sword and his composition of documents propelled the patriotic cause. His most famous? The Declaration of Independence.
Make your way to the Jefferson Tap to celebrate all things TJ. Sitting in the midst of Fulton Market District railroad tracks, the Tap, once known as At The Tracks, is a happy hour favorite but also caters to the growing number of residents in the area. The delicious smells of the nearby Blommer Chocolate factory will serve as a reminder that Thomas Jefferson penned the very first American ice cream recipe. An inventor of many gadgets, Jefferson, like many of his fellow patriots, was also a home brewer. But while he enjoyed drinking beer, Jefferson made his own personal declaration that his obsession of science led him to want to make beer. 325 N. Jefferson.
Born 1809. Died 1865. President #16: 1861 - 1865.
Without a doubt, Abraham Lincoln has come to be our nation’s most beloved President. Although born in Kentucky and raised in Indiana, he is an Illinois icon and we boldly and proudly declare ourselves the Land of Lincoln. Over 15,000 books have been written about him. He is the subject matter of countless numbers of cultural representations, from insurance commercials to vampire slayer books and Oscar winning films.
As a young man living in New Salem, IL in the 1830s, Honest Abe was co-owner of Berry & Lincoln, a grocery store that sold liquor. In 1833, the store was issued a liquor license allowing them to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premise. Thus, the most revered president in the history of the United States was also a saloon owner. Yes, Abe was awesome.
Think about how awesome he was while throwing back a few at the Lincoln Tap Room. The building was erected in the 1940s and went from being a divey old man bar to a re-hauled retro lounge. Movie buffs will recognize its exterior as the pool hall where Tom Cruise and Paul Newman racked up in The Color of Money. 3010 N. Lincoln Ave.
Born 1961. President #44: 2009 - Present.
The state of Illinois lays claim to four Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan (the only one born in Illinois) and Barack Obama. From community organizer to University of Chicago law teacher to Illinois Senator, Barack Obama has strong roots in Chicago and continues to make Hyde Park his home away from White House home.
The Woodlawn Tap has been a historic Hyde Park feature since the 1940s. Also known as Jimmy’s, after long-time bartender Jimmy Wilson, the bar has been patronized by University of Chicago students and professors as well as literary figures, scientists, businessmen, and just about anyone else that meanders along 55th St.
Wanting to support the craft beer movement, the Obama White House became the first administration to brew beer. White House Honey Ale, the inaugural presidential home brew featured a pound of honey from White House beehives and was made on-site in the White House kitchens. Indeed, Ale to the Chief! 1172 E. 55th St.