Walk into this Division Street establishment and you will find the Chicago equivalent of “Cheers” . That is , unless it is Christmas time.. Walk into this bar , and even the meanest of Scroogest will be singing Christmas carols. Another great thing about this place is that they will bend over backwards to make your visit special. But beware, this 55 year old bar and grille fills up fast and even though it is open until 4 am, it is SRO during the holidays and that includes a two hour wait to get in. This place is that popular.We have Jen responsible for finding this fun place with great food , cool cocktails, and most of all, a place as Christmassy as the Mag Mile. Dominique was the girl that was our passport to this Chicago landmark and with her family, they restored my faith in the holidays. They made me feel like that little girl back in Ohio again.
Of course, you are treated like family. That is the basis of Butch McGuire’s dream of owning a saloon. Doesn’t every little Irish boy dream of being a saloon keeper? I mean, even old grumpy Archie Bunker wanted to own one.Butch’s was also a speakeasy at one time in the tradition of Prohibition, the roaring twenties and a certain gangster named Al Capone. This dream came into fruition in 1961 (one year after a certain ABC President was born) . Rush and Division’s bar corner began with this bar. It is also has the claim of being the first bar in America to serve the legendary Guiness and also the first singles bar.Butch’s was also the first bar to employ female bartenders and is responsible for that brunch staple, the Bloody Mary. So the next time the server places that glass of vodka , tomato juice, and celery , you can thank this humble bar right here in town. They pride them selves on creating cocktails that are works of arts. Unfortunately, we couldn’t try them because of the unseasonable cold. They included a spiced cider and Butch’s Irish coffee. Jen stuck with her soda and with my voice I warmed up with a cup of hot tea. The mugs are the glass ones that you swiped from bars in college. But enough with the history, let’s get to the bar.
The Christmas that we see today started out as just a few balloons on the ceiling. But Butch had some REAL Chicago fire fighters. (No not Taylor Kinney!) help him by hanging these trains from the ceiling. The decorations were originally bought from old Chicago store Goldblats when they closed. The firemen volunteered to put up the decorations. The best part is they are updated yearly to reflect pop culture that year.
Here we can see the Disney and penguins. The tradition started with an Italian fix it man who worked at the bar. He began with balloons hanging in the bar. Today it takes 14 days to assemble the decorations. It also occupies the bar in more than one room.
Here the classic “Year Without a Santa Claus” is celebrated with Heat and Cold Miser and lights. There are also penguins and minions. Parents love to bring their kids for lunch and grandkids as well. Great place for those Instagram pics and we even made a video there. But enough about the decorations , let’s get to the food.
Everything that is made here is one hundred per cent fresh and one hundred per cent homemade. We got the real royal VIP treatment there. But hey! everyone is family. No television here unless requested. But you got to know that people were watching when a certain Ohio team was getting slaughtered by our Cubbies. Many of them through the years have visited and consider the Blackhawks frequent visitors. (We were told that nearby at another pub, that old “Luscious” himself was there a few nights ago. Wow Terrence Howard himself.) Another thought came to my mind. My late father, Bill Ferguson always said that the best food came from bars. This place holds to that tradition. We started out with a parade of sliders. The cutest thing was the baby reubens. As an Easterner and NYC born, I fell in love with these little sandwiches. How can one not love corned beef, swiss cheese and homemade thousand island dressing with sauerkaraut? Well Jen hates sauerkraut, so this one was all mine.
The sliders were a little piece of heaven. The corned beef was as tender as it could be and the swiss thick and melted. The rye was perfectly toasted and the dressing homemade. Sauerkraut was piled on the sandwich . This was the perfect warm up on a day in Chiberia at ten degrees. They have a lot of flavors of sliders to choose from as well.
As a good Irish Catholic girl, it helps to know where to find a place where you can get awesome fish and chips. After Christmas, Lent is next. They really make fish that reminds me Ohio and Lake Erie. The cod is coated with Samuel Adams beer and deep fried. In Ohio, we do perch from Lake Erie. The tartar sauce and cole slaw are yummy . Oops almost forgot the hand cut fries on the plate. Yes, you can count on us in about three months. Oh and for being on Rush in the main part of the Windy City, prices are not bad.
Jen is our burger expert. This one was a mouthful with eight oz of USDA angus beef with a bun and loads of toppings. You can pick your own toppings, but Jen was boring and got the American cheese with lettuce tomato and a pickle. On the side was a yummy chipotle mayo and huuuge onion rings Bring a knife, you’ll need it for the burger. Wait, they will give you one to cut it. They have a great menu filled with all of our favorite sandwiches. There is even a black bean burger for vegans and Lent.
I know wings because I am a harsh judge of wings. I am a fan of what I consider the best place for wings outside of buffalo. These wings are what you would consider for a town known for sports. Pair it with a beer or cider and you have it made. They are also made right at Butch’s and name your sauce as well. They got medium, bbq, honey teriyaki, jamaican jerk, and others. I had the jamaican jerk and it wasn’t too spicy and I also love my Asian tastes when it comes to wings. I also tasted the sweet honey teriyaki. We also tried the ribs and the pizza dough was made fresh with all the fixings like fresh peppers, onions, and meat.
Hey don’t be a grinch. If you are an out of towner or this is your first visit. (trust me this won’t be our last. Where else would two Irish lassies go on St Patty’s day in Chicago after they dye the river? ) There is plenty of goodies to mark your visit and the cutest is the Ugly Sweater for fifty bucks to benefit Mercy House for Boys and Girls
Doesn’t the minion look festive? You can to0 with this ugly sweater at Butch’s .There are also ornaments for your tree. Butch’s keeps the spirit of Christmas alive. They were so cool with us by giving us our very own Butch’s shirt to add to the collection. And I had to be photographed with the Queen of Butch’s , Dominique . Butch McGuire’s is located at 22 W Division in Chicago
Thanks to Dominique and staff for a wonderful Christmas lunch and the shirts. We will wear them proudly . Great for the gym ….or casual. Merry Christmas from Chitownstarconnections