Empty Bottle

Let's face it: the last couple months of winter are the hardest ones to get through. You may have lost your motivation towards the "Winter's not going to slow me down!" mantra. Don't succumb to cabin fever. Get out! Enjoy the last few crisp, cold days. 

Ukrainian Village bar and venue the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.) has never been one to let a little chilly weather dampen its spirits. Each year as the temperate drops, the Bottle is there to warm you back up. 

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This Sunday, February 15, the Empty Bottle hosts its fifth annual Chili Synthesizer Cook-Off. Sure, chili cook-offs are pretty common during the snowy months but we promise you've never been to one like this before. Sonic musicians bring their synth sounds to the Bottle's stage-we're not taking MIDI pads or laptop creations; true synthesizers-and their chili recipes to the audiences mouths. 

This year, defending champion and Virginia-based artist Travis Thatcher returns to take on Chicagoans Wesley GrovesTyson Torstensen and Peter Speer. A $5 cover (which you can pay in advance) is all it will cost you to heat up your ears and your belly. 

If you prefer to take winter head on, get back to the Bottle on the final Saturday of the month (February 28) for its OUTDOOR winter block party! That's right. Chicago parties in the streets regardless of what it's like outside. 

The corner of Western and Cortez avenues will host a slew of Empty Bottle's favorite bands like our post-punk Detroit neighbors Protomartyr, Chicago metal rockers Oozing Wound and fellow locals Ne-Hi. Dark Matter coffee, hot apple cider and, of course, plenty of Goose Island beer will be flowing to keep the party toasty and the snow-melting fun rolling.

The event is totally free for anyone brave enough to bear the cold (you deserve it!) and it's open to all ages. Things move back indoors and get even hotter at 9 p.m. when one of Chicago's best dance parties Windy City Soul Club takes over the turntables. You'll hit the dance floor so hard you may not wake up until spring! 

Photo: The Empty Bottle by Señor Codo via flickr