by Jeremy Berg

This was going to be the Barhopper year-end special, but then I had too much to drink, so this is what you get. ‘Course, this being only the third column was a factor as well. NESSUN DORMA 2778 N. Weil St. Ambiance: Dark, but not too dark, with high tables and red walls (front room), bright, but not too bright, with normal wood tables and white walls (back room), and neat little framed black and white photographs (all over). Cool and classy. Crowd: Diversity is Our Strength On Tap: Capitol, Lakefront, etc., and Red Seal. I don’t know where Red Seal comes from or why I’ve only ever seen it at Nessun Dorma, and I don’t care. Great beer. Top Shelf: Lots and lots of good stuff in every category (vodka lovers, rejoice!), and an extensive selection of wines. Jukebox: None, it would throw off the ambiance. House sound leans toward groove heavy jazz (think, and sometimes hear, Medeski, Martin, & Wood), but Tom Waits, Wilco, and Queens of the Stone Age have all made appearances. Men’s Room: Red and white, no graffiti to speak of, and pleasantly bright. Also, it has one of those neat glowing light switches. Women’s Room: Lovely Assistant says “The bar has an elegant bathroom. . .I like it.” She also praises the presence of hand lotion. Tampons if you need them. Additional Comments: FOOD. A small menu of panini, spreads, bruchetta, salad, and soup, but it’s all really, really good. Reasonable prices and awesome service as well. THE PUB 2479 N. Fratney St. Ambiance: Mad cozy. Just the right kind of dim light, and the space is only rated for 25 people. Old-school wooden interior. Crowd: 20s and 30s, and incredibly nice and friendly. The Barhopper’s inquiry regarding credit cards (they don’t take them) led to a five minute discussion about where the closest ATM was with the bartender and a patron. On Tap: Riverwest Stein, Point, Bass, Newcastle, Spaten, and, uh, Miller Lite. Top Shelf: Absolut, Bombay Sapphire, Johnnie Walker Black, and something in a science class-esque flask set back in the shadows. Jukebox: Like opening an issue of Mojo. Dean Martin, Patsy Cline, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Iggy Pop, Agent Orange, Grateful Dead, Savoy Brown, Talking Heads, Indigo Girls, multiple funk compilations, Johnny Cash, Jefferson Airplane, and it just goes on from there. Men’s Room: Small, but with a big mirror. The sink is out in the bar, so you have to be all kinds of non-self-conscious, or just really plastered, to not wash. Graffiti of note includes “Wyatt Earp was here” and both “bear hunter” and “vegan.” Does that constitute a dialogue? Women’s Room: Lovely Assistant claims that it was one unisex bathroom. That’s not how I remember it, but my memory of that evening is pretty dim from about a quarter of the way through the second pint, so I’ll not dispute it. Additional Comments: There’s a big alien head thing on top of a vending machine stocked with cigarettes and potato chips. Well, that’s it for December. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Good Kwanzaa, and a very awesome/solemn/soulful anything I’ve left out. We’ll see you next year.