Glascott’s Saloon—also known as Glascott’s Groggery—has been quenching thirsts since 1937, and is still owned and operated by a never-ending supply of Glascotts. The Glascotts have been in the groggery business since the late 1800s, including one Glascott that formerly owned a bar that is now Irish Eyes. Joining nearby Kelly’s Pub and Burwood Tap, Glascott’s is one of the oldest bars in the area, over which time it has acquired a reputation of being the place where hundreds (if not thousands) of couples have “hooked-up” or had their first date, leading to marriage and the inevitable move to the suburbs. Glascott’s also throws a huge St. Patrick’s Day party, pulls a mean pint of Guinness and hosts some pretty wild parties in the back room.
Glascott’s is located at the base of a red-brick, three-flat at the southwest corner of Halsted and Webster in the heart of Lincoln Park. Once literally a meat market, the building served as “James Morley Soft Drinks” during Prohibition – can you say speakeasy? The groggery originally opened in 1937 as “Larry’s Tavern,” named after the original owner, Lawrence Glascott. According to the Glascott’s website, Larry’s opening his tavern was merely the continuation of a Glascott family tradition that started when Patrick Glascott, who immigrated to Chicago from Ireland, opened a saloon in the late 1800s on Ashland Avenue between Lake and Madison streets. Larry’s Tavern was renamed Glascott’s a few years after being opened and has been run by the Glascott Family ever since. One story from back in early Glascott days, is that Lawrence Glascott acquired a racing horse and kept it in the stables up the street, where Laundryland stands today, and once brought it over to the saloon to show it off. The regulars, loathe to extract themselves from their barstools, chided Glascott and told him to bring the equine into the bar so they could have a better look. He did and, presumably after one of the regulars asked the thoroughbred, “Why the long face?”, one good idea was superceded by another when Glascott slapped the horse on the ass to show how fast it could run… inside the bar. The groggery is long, but not that long.
Up until the 1980s, Glascott’s catered to the neighborhood’s blue collar workers looking for a shot and a beer before heading off to work, which was quite common back in those days. Once regentrification began, through Mayor Daley’s neighborhood revitalization projects and the expansion of DePaul University, Glascott’s became more of party bar for young professionals and DePaul students.
Step through the plate glass door and you’ll find a classic Chicago neighborhood barroom, complete with ornate mahogany bar, tin ceiling and white hexagonal floor tile. Large windows that open up in summer months have recently been installed, replacing the ones before that, which replaced the tiny, don’t-mind-us-and-we-won’t-mind-you windows of the bar’s former life. Photos from this darker era can be found on the northern wall, just beyond said windows, along with an article on one of the bar’s longtime regulars, now passed on, and a photo of his Irish wolfhound that used to join him and his friends for weekly cribbage. Also across from the bar, you’ll see an Olympic torch from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, encased in Plexiglas and mounted on the wall amongst several full-size Irish flags that hang from the ceiling. The torch was carried by “Duke” (a Glascott’s regular), who ran the torch through Evanston and somehow refrained from using it to set The Keg ablaze.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Ashleigh Glascott’s offers 15 beers on tap, served from ornate brass fixtures that match the bar’s foot rail, and you’ll find even more in bottles along with a few wines by the glass and a broad selection of booze. Above the back bar hangs an actual shillelagh, sometimes used to “pacify” obnoxious patrons. Grab a high-backed, wooden barstool at the bar or in front of windows overlooking both Webster and Halsted, or head to the back room where you’ll find the obligatory Golden Tee machine, a small pool table, ATM, lighted peanut machine, and the restrooms. There’s also a convenient side exit through which you can get the hell out when you’ve had enough, as you are probably wont to do as the night carries on. While Glascott’s occasionally provides complimentary chicken wings and the like, food is primarily available from the Athenian Room next door. As you can guess, the Athenian Room serves up excellent Greek food like gyros, shish kebobs, spanakopita, and feta charburger. Opa!
Glascott’s attracts a crowd fairly similar to that found at nearby McGee’s (Webster), Lion Head Pub (Lincoln) and Marquis Lounge (Halsted): mostly rowdy neighborhood apartment and condo-dwellers, as well as students from DePaul and even Mark Grace and Ryne Sandberg when they were Cubs. If that’s a bit much for you, you can escape to the relative solace of their new sidewalk cafe. Glascott’s also has a backroom fitted with a wooden bar with stuffed shark hanging above, big screen, pool table, and several tables. The bar is so large that a group of ladies decked out in Coyote Ugly cowboy hats were seen dancing on it at a recent Halloween party, and coaches and staff of the Blackhawks (you know… that strange and elusive sport, hockey) have hosted their holiday party here. If only Glascott’s would open this room all the time, as the front bar gets really crowded but only does so for private parties and special events.
“This corner saloon is the antitheses to all those too loud, too expensive and too trendy bars that seem to have the nightlife down on this end of Halsted Street in a headlock.”– Schecky’s Bar, Club & Lounge Guide 2002
While sometimes promoting itself as an Irish pub, I find Glascott’s instead to be a classic Chicago neighborhood joint to have a pint and swap embarrassing stories, before you head out to the debaucherous Store or Beaumont’s for late night action. For more information check out the Glascott’s Saloon website. Cheers.