Chicago already has movie theaters with food and drink options — including the venerable Brew & View at the Vic Theater — but the owners of Alamo Drafthouse are keen that their offerings will please local film buffs who want to enjoy a full meal while at their Chicago location.
At Alamo, servers will bring burgers, wings, chicken tenders, gourmet popcorn, and more to movie-goers’ seats. There are salads and pizza. Cauliflower crusts are available for those hating on carbs and gluten. There are also boozy milkshakes.
But it’s been a rough couple of years through the pandemic for theaters as chains have vanished. ArcLight closed its only Chicago location in Lincoln Park. In March 2021, Alamo, an Austin, Texas-based chain with 39 theaters, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Studios had begun streaming films ticketed for theatrical release at home.
But since then, Alamo has emerged from bankruptcy with a sparkling six-screen theater neighboring another palace for drama and tragedy, Wrigley Field. At the opposite corner of Addison and Clark, the theater officially opens Friday, January 27 with a new trick up its sleeve: A new cocktail menu. Chicago will be the first to serve these specialty drinks from the Video Vortex Bar. Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s will feel at home around the VHS cassettes on the shelves. There are also DVDs on display and more than 11,000 titles on disc available to rent for free, according to a news release. Folks without a VCR or DVD player (or at least a game system that plays DVDs) can rent them. The 200 or some VHS titles are curated by merchants including Bric-A-Brac Records and Strange Tapes Zine.
But let’s talk cocktails. Alamo instantly goes for the jugular and panders to Chicago with a cocktail named for the 1986 John Hughes movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which takes place in Chicago. The concoction, Save Ferris, is also made with malört.
There are six drinks all with movie- or AV-themed names. HDMI refers to the cables and there’s also the Breakfast Club Cocktail named after the ‘80s coming-of-age classic. It’s unclear if the Danger Zone is a reference to Top Gun or TV’s Archer. The bar features 32 beer taps.
Alamo has gained a reputation for special screenings and luring stars. It’s a key component for the ongoing makeover of Wrigleyville, one started when the owners of the Chicago Cubs built the Hotel Zachary across the street from the baseball stadium and added restaurants like Big Star, The Smoke Daddy, and Mordecai. Baseball purists may mourn the neighborhood’s charm, but film buffs may not care. Take a look at the bar below and check out the cocktail menu.
Alamo Drafthouse, 3519 N. Clark Street, opening Friday, January 27.