Contrary to what it might conjure up in your imagination, Double Bubble is not a fashionable club that somehow works bubbles into a titillating scene of lechery. The Bubble is instead a humble, old-school den of inebriation serving the Edgewater neighborhood. Because it does not explicitly cater to area students or try to attract North Siders based on some kind of theme or half-cocked ghost story, the bar could be considered on “the bubble” of the Chicago bar scene. Whatever, the case Double Bubble is a great laid-back hang for cheap drinks.
Double Bubble, known by most locals simply as, “The Bubble,” is located on Broadway, just north of Ole St. Andrew’s Inn, Thorndale Avenue, and Moody’s Pub. To find it, just look for three windows choked full of neon beer signs and a Bud Light sign that hangs from the green and white tiled façade. A tiny sign mounted over the door with “The Bubble” written on it along with the address, is the bar’s only advertisement or promotion. Step through the door and you’ll find a solitary barroom with beige linoleum tile and a white-paneled drop ceiling with two overhead fans. A long wooden bar runs almost the entire length of the south wall and sports a smattering of black-topped barstools, a mirrored backdrop, both a Chicago FIRE and Police box above the bar back, and a barkeep nicknamed “Bacon.” Tiffany-style lamps and circling Budweiser horses hang over the bar. $1.75 draft beer from one of two Michelob taps (you don’t see that every day) are served in frosted mugs and bottled beer, served from the cooler full of imports at the end of the bar, is served in a regular glass mug. Need to make a call and haven’t yet emerged from the 1980’s? (i.e., no mobile phone…) You’ll find a pay phone next to the Jays potato chips fixture at the front of the bar. Speaking of food, you can also get some basic pub grub at The Bubble, including hamburgers, Italian beef, and bratwurst all for under $5 each.
Up front, you’ll find two cocktail tables and cases of Bud Light stashed under the windows like at the Burgundy Inn. This actually happens to be the “No Smoking Area,” but both tables had ashtrays and someone was smoking a cigar during my last visit. A few more cocktail tables can be found in the back, just before the two one-seater johns, of which the men’s features a surprisingly satisfying swinging door. A jukebox full of classic rock can be found halfway along the faux wood-paneled north wall. The owner once gave me $3 (almost two beers’ worth of cash here at The Bubble!) to put into the juke so my group and I wouldn’t be “scared off.” My girlfriend selected a slow, sappy song by Santana to be played and this did not go over well with the locals. We rebounded with a steady diet of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Foghat. Additional entertainment can be had from the electronic dartboard up front, a Golden Tee “Classic” machine (circa the mid-1990’s) next to a video slot machine just past the juke, and a few televisions can be found scattered around the room. In the spirit of “to be forewarned is to be fore-armed,” the Bubble supports the White Sox.
The Bubble is also located downwind from Hamilton’s, Sovereign and the Pumping Company, making it a popular stop for Loyola students as well as the occasional Red Line/Uptown pub crawl. Otherwise, you’ll find a fair number of crusty locals that are somewhat less than inviting as you walk in. Don’t worry, as long as you’re not obnoxious, they’ll warm up to you pretty quickly. It should also be noted that, even though it offers down-and-dirty drinkin’, The Bubble is actually one of cleanest bars in the ‘hood. They even have potpourri in the can. Overall, The Bubble is a great relaxed place for a couple of beers when you’re with friends and employs a rather friendly staff. In recognition of this, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce awarded The Bubble “Best Bartender” for 2002. I’m not sure how they came up with the name for this tavern as they don’t do anything with bubbles, other than serve Michelob on tap. On the other hand, the bar might be on the financial bubble as even Edgewater and Uptown “succumb” to gentrification, forcing property values up and rents higher. Double Bubble doesn’t have a website, so give them a call for more information. My advice: head over there before the bubble bursts.
Chicago’s other “bubble,” also known as “The Bean” or its actual name, “Cloud Sculpture,” found in Millennium Park