With its deep red interior, driving techno beats and young professional crowd, Martini Ranch falls squarely on the more modern, Pierce Brosnan side of the Bond trajectory. One of the bar's signature cocktails offers our agent an Ian Fleming-worthy subterfuge. Who's going to suspect the suave chap drinking the 007 Martini ($10), served dry with a twist, is 007 himself?
Old school undercover
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Humboldt Park, Weegee's Lounge would have been a throwback even in the early '60s, back when Sean Connery played Bond. The bar's dim lighting and black-and-white photography display lend the place the air of an Edward Hopper painting. The drink menu leans toward classics such as the Manhattan and sloe gin fizz, with a tasty Ketel One martini ($10) that recalls a time when cosmopolitan was an adjective that meant "worldly."
The spy who loved meat
Bond always knows when to set the guns and gadgets aside for more pleasurable pursuits. With a swinging '60s vibe and succulent ribs, Gale Street Inn is the ideal spot for swapping double entendres with lovely but lethal SPECTRE operatives. A premium vodka martini garnished with blue cheese-, anchovy- or pimento-stuffed olives ($9) and the sexy sounds of live jazz only enhance the intimacy.
Diet another day
One wall of the Chicago Chop House is lined with portraits of Chicago mayors, another with Chicago gangsters. That blend of civil service and disobedience would probably appeal to Bond's sharp sense of irony as much .as the classic martinis ($9.50) and top-grade steaks would tickle his finely tuned palate. In these classic environs, a criminal mastermind could calmly lay out his scheme for world domination to a captive 007 while savoring a 64-ounce Porterhouse.
From Poland with love
From "Goldfinger" to "The Man with the Golden Gun" to "Goldeneye," the 79th element has played a big part in the Bond legacy. Fittingly, the Old Country charm of Golden Duck would be a heck of a Bond setting. The extensive dinner menu goes beyond that of other Jefferson Park Polish joints, but the spirit of intrigue really takes over during the lunch rush. When the place fills up with knots of sharply dressed businessmen conversing in Polish, it's easy to imagine you're in an Eastern European cafe meeting a double agent over a Golden Duck martini ($7).
What's in a name?
OK, so the hard bodies and house beats at Spy Bar may be a tad too hip for a classic cat like James Bond. But, come on, it's a bar for spies! Granted, stealthier secret agents prefer not to advertise their occupation, but the bar's location a smoky downstairs room beneath the Brown Line "L" tracks makes for an air of mystery. And there's something to be said for hiding in plain sight while you suavely sip a Grey Goose martini ($14).
>>For more classic martinis, watch "metromix," only on CLTV, at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight.
[ Ira Brooker is a metromix special contributor. ]
Originally published Nov. 15, 2006.