Red Lobster, Wicker Park’s Mirai Sushi, and Lincoln Park punk bar Delilah’s are three seemingly disparate venues. However, they have something in common—all three have hired graduates of American Professional Bartending Schools of Illinois to mix their drinks and man their bars. The schools have been landing graduates at notable Chicago establishments for more than 60 years, but their connection with alums doesn’t end with their first gig. Graduates receive lifetime, personalized job-placement assistance and can call the school’s career hotline 24 hours a day to find out about job openings or trade meatloaf recipes.
The schools' focus on employment also shows in their bartending classes, which are modeled after on-the-job training and led by teachers with an average of more than 20 years of industry experience. Taught at bars complete with realistic faux liquor, the sessions cover topics from mixology to presentation and etiquette.
A smattering of 20 sauces and seasonings dripping from handspun wings coats patrons' fingers as they cheer on their favorite professional sports teams broadcast on Buffalo Wild Wings' TVs. Eyes are torn between watching teams dribble a ball, shoot a puck, and land a grand jeté, and plates of plentiful wings, burgers, wraps, salads, and ribs. For more entertainment, trivia games exercise brains, and the Blazin' Challenge offers recognition for those brave enough to down a dozen wings slathered in the eatery's hottest sauce in 6 minutes.
Golf with friends is the best kind of bonding. There's nothing like being out in the open air, hearing the wind blow through the beautiful old trees lining the fairways, and refusing to grant your compadres a mulligan. The satisfaction of a well-played hole is amplified by the amusement you get from your partner's three-shot spectacle in the woodsy rough. Today's Groupon gets you and a friend 18 holes with cart at River Oaks Golf Course for $40 (up to a $88 value, depending on the day you go). Your Groupon is good for any time Monday through Friday and after noon on weekends.
Castaways Bowl caters to its clients with 32 lanes, a full-service eatery, billiards, and other games while retaining the same family-run charm it’s had since 1950. They host competitive bowling tournaments as well as bowling programs that teach the game to children as young as 2, before they can develop the ability to feel empathy for maltreated pins. To fuel further pin-pummeling exploits, Windy City Pizza—an on-site eatery—cooks up a hefty menu of chicken, pasta, and pizza for famished bowlers.
FansEdge bestows sports enthusiasts with a selection of more than 1 million officially licensed NCAA, NFL, NBA, and NFL products to proclaim team loyalty. Cubs fans can brandish a personalized jersey ($99.99), and time-displaced youth can bask in the familiar glow of a Baltimore Colts Johnny Unitas T-shirt, emblazoned with an original logo ($21.99). Bulls fanatics can enshrine their laptops in bold Chicago colors inside a 15-inch laptop sleeve ($39.99) or seat a workplace mouse atop a Bulls graphic mouse pad ($9.99). Not content to outfit people and electronics alone, FansEdge also carries a selection of mantelpiece collectibles, including signed football helmets and the costumes of retired mascots.
Bravo hits the road with reality-television powerhouses, delivering an interactive Real Housewives gathering at the Horseshoe Casino’s spacious venue. Four Real Housewives from four cities—Sonja from New York City, Gretchen from Orange County, Kathy from New Jersey, and Phaedra from Atlanta—discuss their most talked about on-screen moments, answer audience questions, and share cast secrets, such as pressing gossip and gym-locker combinations. Orchestra seats place reality-television junkies in the middle of the venue and the VIP-ticket seats guests in the first 10 rows. In addition to up-close viewing, the VIP ticket includes an exclusive reception hosted by The Real Housewives with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a separate red-carpet entrance to the venue, and a limited-edition tour laminate with matching lanyard. Attendees must be over 21 or a master of fake mustaches to participate in the Red Carpet package.