Citizen Bar. Clocking out.

So this one starts with, “4 guys walk into a steakhouse…”  

And ends with, “…And then decide to close Citizen Bar.”

Yes, it’s true.   Citizen and the surrounding parking lots are most likely set to become the next luxury living space of the future in our now beautiful neighborhood, River North.  Letting the bar go is a tough thing to do as over the last decade we’ve all come to love the place.  We have some incredibly loyal & talented staff members.  We respect them immensely.  Our brothers, sisters & family have worked at Citizen.   We’ve built regulars we now call friends at Citizen.    Our friends have met their husbands/wives at Citizen.  It’s been our bar.

Throwback story:  The first weekend we opened the bar, then named “On the Rocks,” we didn’t have a liquor license.  It’s our contention that no laws were broken in opening because we did not charge anyone.   No joke.  We did this.  Unfortunately, that move may have (definitely) upset a few (more than few) people so we actually had to close down for a month.  In that time, we changed the name to the one you now know, Citizen.

One thing the downtime afforded us was a moment to have some drinks on our rooftop and contemplate the business going forward.  We planned on having a patio to the East of our building but we didn’t necessarily have rooftop strategy right away.

But there was something great about having drinks up there...

  

We were all like, “Wow, this is kind of cool.”  People walking down Erie Street were like, “Wow, that’s cool…can we come up?”   And we were like, “Yep.”  Then the neighbors in the surrounding buildings saw us and were all like, “Hey can I borrow a cup of sugar and have 15 beers on the roof?”  Again, “Yep.”  And in that poignant moment we looked at each other a lot like this and said, "Did we just open a Rooftop bar?”

"Yep."

So we snagged a license for the rooftop and outdoor drinking above street level in Chicago was born!  

Throughout the years Citizen hosted Charity events for groups like The Sue Duncan Chidren's Center & Immerman Angels.  We had viewing parties for owner Jimmy D's Millionaire Matchmaker episodes not once but twice!!!  And for his sister, Nicole D'Ambrosio going all the way to live finale of The Apprentice.  Not to mention, we RARELY made the roof private so YOU, the every day Chicagoan, could throw parties up there too.  

 

Fast forward to the present day and nearly every Chicago publication has a Top 20 List of Brand New, Ultra Hottest, Rooftops for the summer.  We'd like to think we took a small part in making this happen when one decade ago we boldly went where no River Northian had gone before by selling domestic beer and inviting people wearing all kinds of shoes to our rooftop.  Even flip flops.  Amidst all the trends that have evolved over the years, we’ve tried to stay true to form and be the “Come as you are,” rooftop for the City of Chicago.  And it's worked.

But the scene has changed and in many ways passed us 4 dudes in a steakhouse by.  Rather than double down and invest in interrupting people from looking at their phones to serve them drinks, we will fold this hand and take a step away from the table…for now.

Over a delectable seafood tower and a couple of steaks, we got together as bar owners one last time and discussed some of our tall tales from back in the day.  We talked about our times at the bar with friends, family…and even the times we went out solo on a random Wednesday looking for just a little trouble.  We have insane stories from when we were younger.  We did things we'll never see the youth today do. 

We can’t prove ANY of that though because our stories never made it to Facebook or Snapchat.  They’re not documented anywhere but in our minds.  And if we’ve partied together, they’re in your mind too.  

Those stories are beautiful and they happened at our bar.  Citizen.

Chicago, Thank You for all the great times.  We'll cya around.

Some of our favorite photos are below:

Source: finalpost

Citizen Bar 10th Year Anniversary Drink Special

We are excited to be able to say that Citizen Bar has been open for 10 years!  And while we weren't the first rooftop bar in Chicago, we’d like to think that we had something to do with the evolution of the rooftop & summertime scene.  It truly has been a thrill to party with so many of you in our River North home over the past decade.  Let's toast.

Wow, a decade.  What was happening back in 2006?

  • Jonathan Towes was drafted in the first round.  Patrick Kane was still in high school.
  • Facebook switched to open registration, meaning you no longer needed an .edu email address to join.
  • The Target on Division was Caprini Green.
  • Everyone was OK with the DJ playing JT – Sexyback multiple times throughout the night
  • Gas was roughly $2.70 per gallon
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined Lolla like they just did this past weekend.

It's crazy how our world has come a long way in the past 10 years and in some ways stayed the same.  The ride has been very cool & we’d like to thank all of our neighbors, local businesses, friends and family for supporting us over the years to make it possible for us to continue serving food and drinks in our community this long.

NEWSFLASH:  Citizen is open year round.  Who's excited about Citizen in the winter???  

Anybody out there???......just a couple of people???(who happen to be our favorite regulars)...........yeah OK we get it.  We're a summer bar.  Which is why we're celebrating our 10 year milestone in August because IT'S SUMMER and we’re so hot right now.  So let's do this!

EVERY NIGHT FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

 from 9:50pm - 10pm

$1 Bud & Bud Light Bottles - $1 shots of Don Julio

So stay a little bit longer for happy hour.  Or start your big night on the town with us.  Or both.  And do it with 10 minutes of prices from 10 years ago!

That’s how we’re doing our anniversary.  Let's enjoy the last month of summer for 10th time together.  There's a table waiting for you on the roof.

Your friends at Citizen Bar

Half Acre's, Galactic Double Daisy Cutter at Citizen Bar

If a brewery is going craft a "Galactic" beverage, we're pretty much mandated to write about it on our "Spaceship." 

Nobody's complaining though as it is a pleasure to cover Galactic Double Daisy Cutter from local brewery, Half Acre.  This 8% ABV IPA is super juicy, flavored with a lot of mango & sweetened with extra malt.  Yet this unique brew still has the classic bitterness of the Daisy Cutter Chicago has come to love.    

While Daisy Cutter is available year round, Galactic Double Daisy Cutter exists only once a year.  We're pretty happy to snag 2 cases of it and make it available to you, our blog reading friends.  Wanna get your hands on one?  Click here to reserve your spot at our monthly Family Dinner.  This month we have 23 spots available, all come with 1 bottle of GDDC.  

Sidenote:  There aren't 24 spots available because these guys want to drink one of the bottles.  

But us bloggers beat them to the punch as we're much smarter (and better looking) by recently taking a trip to both Half Acre breweries to give it a taste.   We were met with nothing but smiling faces, good food & great beer.  Not only do the people at Half Acre know their beer, they're down to earth and very welcoming.  

We did get to take a taste of the GDDC (pictured below) and yes, it lived up to the hype.  Take a look at some of the images we captured on the tour of their Lincoln Ave & Balmoral breweries.

If you're hungry we suggest choosing the Lincoln Ave location where they have a quality brew pub.  Here you're able to try some of their boutique/experimental beers & food items.  Below are a couple items we had.  

The Highlight: Chicken Noodle Burrito.

Now we know we're not first to the table in writing about Half Acre.  We're just taking time to point out how cool it is to sit at the table.  And you should too Chicago.  New York & Philly are the only other places where Half Acre is distributed.  Probably only a matter of time before the secret is out nationwide...

Then GALAXY WIDE. 😜 

So get it in Summer 2016 @ Citizen Bar.  364 W. Erie.  Chicago, IL #PLANETEARTH #SPACESHIP 


Missed out on the Galactic Double Daisy Cutter but still want a Half Acre beer at Citizen.  These four frosty beauties are available RIGHT NOW!

Urban Camping at Citizen

Spring has arrived and with it, the promise of summer patio & roof season!  It'll only be a matter of time before we're writing blog posts 21 feet above street level.  

But before these moments were upon us, there was a dark time.  A cold time.  A winter.  It can be a not very exciting time during the winter when your bar is a "rooftop bar."  

Winter Rooftop FUN

So I got the hell out of Chicago in late March and took a ski trip to Park City with my wife and her family.  Strangely, it was warmer in Park City than Chicago...which was nice but it made the skiing not so nice leading us to do the next best thing; Have a couple day drinks & take a tour of the High West Distillery.  

It is here that we discovered High West Whiskey Campfire, a unique blend worthy of a spot on the bar at Citizen.  This whiskey showcases a combination of sweet, spice & smoke.  Not only that, it's straight rye whiskey, straight bourbon whiskey & blended malt scotch whiskey.  Yes, this item has the potential to appeal to Bourbon, Rye AND Scotch loyalists...I said potential.  True loyalists, keep doing your thing.

To me though, that smoke flavor is what peaked my interest and immediately had me thinking that I want to drink this at my home bar.  My favorite items on the menu at Citizen are the smoked wings.  There's also a  smoked brisket sandwich & tacos coming out of the kitchen so it's only fitting that a whiskey with some smoke to wash eats like that down is on the menu.  

Order it neat, on the rocks or by the shot and our team will serve it properly along with a roasted marshmallow so you and your friends can feel like you're camping in the city.  

And a big CHEERS to the folks at High West Distillery, a must see on a day off from skiing in Park City.


Misc note #1:  You should bring the girls with to High West Distillery.  It's not only for whiskey drinkers.  

Misc Note #2:  The pork wings are very spicy.  Like, "holy shit that's spicy."  Doesn't tell you that on the menu but yeah.  Spicy.

Be Enlightened

Ever since the resurgence of unique mustaches and well sculpted beards, a common question around the bar has been:  "Do you guys have any local IPAs?"

The answer:  Yes, we have Hopothesis, Half Acre; Gone Away, Revolution Brewery; Anti Hero, Two Brothers; Sidekick & Founders; All Day IPA too if you consider Milwaukee local.

And while you may have seen and tasted many of the above items, we're willing to bet you haven't gotten into Hopothesis yet.  So we figured we'd put a quick blog post together to "enlighten" you. 

Hopothesis Beer Company, "Be Enlightened"

Hopothesis began in 2012 and was founded by the Chicago based Chempetitve Group, an ad agency focusing on biotechnology & healthcare.  This crew of former scientists turned marketing guys, came up with the idea of Hopothesis Beer Company at a meeting with one of their senior account managers.  He was a home brewer and was winning some national awards on his recipe.  Their idea, take that recipe, fine tune it, scale it up and see if they could get distribution...and well, you're reading this article so it looks like they did.

We asked Chempetive Group Managing Partner & Hopothesis Founder Murad Sabzali about the IPA:  "The IPA is our flagship SKU.  We literally can't make enough of it.  It's the only beer we have that doesn't have a clever name.  It's the Hopothesis IPA!  And people really love it.  Why you ask?  (and we did)  The recipe (and it's the recipe that was winning awards) is based on traditional English-style IPA.  It's not overly hoppy (55 IBU) and more malt forward.  It's much more balanced and maintains a respectable ABV at 7.1%.  It's not sessionable, obviously, but it really does go down easy."

Chicagoans, these brewers possess the ability to discuss another level of fermentation.  They're applying their scientific knowledge to the brewing process and have created an IPA that holds it's own next to the other Chicago breweries you have come repeatedly order.  They clearly love beer and take great pride in their brands (Hopothesis English Style IPA, Drafty Window Farmhouse Ale, Fallin' Oats Oatmeal Amber)

Pictured here:  Brewmaster Tim Quinn with top Sales Associate Nick @ the Hopothesis Hop Farm

Hopothesis is also a brand that connects with customers beyond the liquid.  You'll often times find this beer paired with a cerebral experience.  On Wednesday nights, we have it on special for Trivia.  People come to Citizen for the games but leave fans of the beer and it's approachable, geeky science appeal.  

So come by on Wednesday nights for Trivia, drink a great beer, put down your phone (phones are off limits in Trivia) and let your pallet & brain enjoy the night.

The Manhattan Project: Boozed + Infused

For those with a sophisticated palate and refined approach to life, we at Citizen have concocted the ultimate cocktail. 

Citizen's golden child, our unique yet traditional House-made Infused Manhattan, undergoes a long and complex journey to become the cocktail we know, love, and serve today. To truly understand the transformation and infusion of flavors, we will start with the base of the cocktail, the bold and traditional Old Crow Whiskey. 

From there, it is a long and arduous journey this whiskey undergoes in order to fully come into it's own. Starting off with the freshest ingredients, we bring to the table our house-made grenadine, organic vanilla beans, fresh orange peels, sweet vermouth and bitters. We then begin the week long process of infusing these ingredients with no sunlight to ensure the perfect mixture of flavors. The whiskey inherents the citrus, spices, vermouth and bitters, creating a burst of flavor unattainable by any cocktail that hasn't undergone this intense preparation. 

Once muddled into fruition, our Manhattan can be enjoyed on the rocks or neat. Make sure to sip slowly to enjoy the flavor that comes from it's full maturity. From our family and friends at Citizen to yours. Enjoy. 

Trooper Party @Citizenbar

If you find yourself sitting at the bar at Citizen this winter you can automatically conclude 2 things.

  1. You're not from Schaumburg in town for the weekend to visit our Chicago famous rooftop.
  2. The bartender standing across from you likes to drink Robinsons Trooper.

Trooper is an Extra Special English Bitter (ESB) served in a tallboy can.  This is atypical of English Bitter beer as they're supposed to be poured straight from cask.  But the people at the Robinsons Brewery went out of their way to get this beer to taste right by adding extra Cascade American hops & CO2.  The result:  a creamy, refreshingly crushable beverage that can be consumed by the half dozens.

So what's up with the Iron Maiden artwork on the can?  Bruce Dickinson (yes, rock legend Bruce Dickinson) & the band sought a brewery to partner with to craft "a proper, real, long term beer."  They chose to put a patriotic piece of their work on the label, Trooper, a song inspired by a British battle in year 1854.  Watch the video of Bruce introducing the beer below:

Want more from Robinsons & Trooper?  We do too.  So this winter, when they launch a special edition of Trooper, called the 666 (due to it's 6.66% ABV), Citizen Bar will be hosting a tasting event for this frosty beverage complete with live music and a super awesome tallboy koozie giveaway.  You want this coozie.  

The event is on Wednesday December 16th with live music from the Band, Driven Under.  RSVP to sam@citizenbar.com


Mac & Trees Bites & The Superhero Collective @ Citizen Bar

The holiday season is once again upon us and we just can't help but get into the Christmas spirit at Citizen Bar.  In doing so, we've taken one of our most popular menu items, The Mac & Cheese bite, and with the help of a simple house hold cookie cutter we've all used to make Christmas cookies when we were kids, we created the "Mac & Trees" bite.

Though this menu item is special due to it's cute holiday themed appearance & and oozing cheesy deliciousness, it's even more special because we're donating $2 from every order sold to the Super Hero Collective for the entire month of December.

This noble charity's focus is on children who have been hospitalized. They visit them dressed as their favorite superhero while they receive treatment with the idea that if they can make them forget about being sick, even for just 5 minutes, it's worth it.  Additionally, the donate toys to these children.

So come on by Citizen Bar this holiday season for the ooey-gooey-fried cheese bites.  Come for the drinks.  Come to hang with our local crew of River Northians.  And add we're now proud to say that you can come for the kids.

To see more from The Superhero Collective, check out their Facebook page.

5 Questions we have about your upcoming Company Holiday Party.

We're coming up on our ten year anniversary and over the years we've hosted A LOT of River North's company holiday parties.  As people of the bar industry, many of us are clueless to the perils of your 9-5 lives.  We really can only image what happens inside those company walls given the way you sometimes get after it outside of them.

With the holiday season approaching, we thought we would take a minute and ask you 5 questions about your upcoming Company Holiday Party.

1.  The itemized receipt.  You always ask for it but how do you explain it?  Who questions what you consume?  Is it the accountant?  Can't be the accountant.  Accountants aren't cool.  There's no way you're explaining the receipt below.

2.  Who's going to be the Elaine Benes?  This exists.  Trust us.  Often times someone dances and other co-workers stand back and laugh.  Whether or not this does damage to their ability to get people to put cover sheets on their TPS reports, we will never know.  Shout out for losing themselves in the moment though.  We got nuthin' but love for these professionals and can't wait to see who's got next.

Elaine Benes

3.  The left behind work bag.  We get it, people forget things when they drink.  If there are 50 people attending a company party, one of them is bound to leave a work bag behind.  That's not what we're questioning.  What we don't understand is how do you not come to get the bag for 3 days!?!?   SOMETIMES A WEEK?!  How can you go a week without your work bag?  Or worry about it's contents.  And what happens when your boss is like, "Timmy, where's the Thompson file?"  Do you say, "I left it at Citizen at company party and haven't been back to get it.  BUT, I wore my favorite tie today."  And then he's like, "Nice tie."  Is this real life.  

3a.  The left behind Black Amex?  Dude.

4.  Who's going to be the (unwilling) party planner?  We can always tell when someone would rather be WORKING at work so here's a tip for you.  Get a veggie item, a meat item and mac & cheese bites.  Gotta have the bites.  And introduce yourself to us when you come in.  We'll make your drink a double.

Mac & Cheese Bites

5.  Who's going to give the inspirational speech?  No matter what happens at a company party, someone almost always gives a speech. The words of this commander in an alcohol enhanced environment echoes in eternity... or at the very least, until a shot is ordered, cheers has taken place and a joke is made about how this one is going to be explained to the accountant.

Citizen Squad

If you know anything about Citizen you know that we take our Halloween seriously. From our resident bar patron, Gus the skeleton, to our terror inducing cocktails and frightening decor, we do Halloween right. So it's a no brainer that on Saturday the 31st you bring your favorite comic book hero to life and join us for a night of comic book fun. Say hello to our very own Citizen Squad Joker and make sure to ask for a complimentary shot as he will greet you at the door with twisted smiles and laughter. 

To aid in the terror we've snagged DJ KiceDJ Agent Forte and DJ AK to invoke your frightening zombie dance moves . Open bar and dinner is included with all packages. Call us or email for more details. For tickets and event info email info@citizenbar.com.

Moonshine Sundays

Presenting our newest Citizen brainchild: Moonshine Sundays. You heard right. Moonshine is legal and we will be sipping, chugging and consuming copious amounts of it every Sunday here at Citizen. With $8 Moonshine Ricky cocktails, $6 Moonshine shots and $18 Miller Lite buckets, no whistle will be left dry. Leave your Sunday funday to us.

In addition to Moonshine and drink specials, we've prepared a brand new menu featuring a Bloody Mary garnished with everything but the kitchen sink. Is your mouth watering too?

 

While you're sipping and dining away, our very own resident DJ and Chicago's finest DJ Kice will be serenading you with a special Citizen mix of country songs. Take a listen ya'll:

Don't think that we forgot that Sunday is a sacred day. By this we mean football. Watch your Bears one of our big screens if it's gameday, or just sit back, relax and enjoy food and libations with DJ Kice from 1-5.  As always, bring your best and worst dance moves and we'll supply the juice.

See you Sunday. 

 

Fall & Halloween Themed Cocktails & Music at Citizen Bar

Accept it Chicago:  Rooftop season has all but come to a close.  Solid summer everybody.  You all did phenomenal work on drinking craft beers & tequila under the sun for the past 5 months.  But it’s time to move on…

…so let’s talk Fall.   Enter this year’s October Liquid Chalkboard, featuring The Monster Mash.  A cocktail made from one of our most popular vodkas, local brand Effen Black Cherry, shaken with blue caraco, melon & OJ.

 

Liquid Chalkboard.jpg

The drink is a party starter so we went a little further and had our long time resident DJ Marcus Shadden create the audio version of The Monster Mash.  When you order the drink, it comes with a USB with his latest mix on it.  Music AND a drink?  We got you Chicago. 

The mix is a blend of classic Halloween jams, modern Pop & Hip Hop music.  Perfect for any Halloween party.  (All Clean edits so can get it in at your office)

"I kinda wanted to do more of Halloween mix because the Monster Mash drink is Halloween themed cocktail.  And plus I feel like a lot of people don't do a lot of Halloween mixes.  And when they do you just get the classic songs.  I tried to take it this mix to the next level and play around with song titles.  If you look at the track list you'll see that not every song is necessarily a Halloween song, but the song titles go with the holiday theme.  And I wanted to have a mix that people could play for the holiday at their Halloween parties."

The other cocktail, the Tootise Roll, is Jim Beam, Kahlua & butterscotch served with said Tootsie Roll.  We think this cocktail tastes like Trick-or-Treating and it is to be enjoyed with friends followed by discussions of your childhood’s worst fitting Halloween costume.  And that weird neighbor who gave you pennies.  Why did she do that?

Tootsie Roll Fall Cocktail

This is a cocktail for a cause as a portion of the proceeds from this drink will benefit the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.  We really admire how hard their members work to support the organization and we are happy to contribute.  You can too by coming by and ordering this Fall Themed Cocktail.  For more information on the Leukemia Lymphoma Society go to lls.org

2 Beers on this menu:

1.  Ace Pumpkin Cider.  Notes of pumpkin but definitely a cider.  An adult trip to the patch & the orchard.  Brewery:  Sebastopol, California

2.  Two Brothers Ebel's Weiss.  Admittedly, this beer was on the summer menu but didn't make the cut for the fall menu.  But we really like it and we want to drink it when we come in.  So we ordered it again.  The hints of banana clove just do it for us.  So does the 16oz can.  Brewery:  Warrenville, Illinois