The Runoff

Before prohibition shut them down in 1919, Chicago’s saloons were unofficial centers of civic life. In factory districts, the local bar would cash your paycheck, and catch you up on news about employment and housing. A bowl on the bar would take charity collections, and for those who could read, newspapers were made available to inspire debate. In the Bridgeport of 2011, Maria’s Dry Goods and Community Bar is bringing politics and booze together again.

The recently revamped bar and liquor store is currently featuring five cocktails inspired by five mayoral candidates. A press release from the bar explains: “Each signature cocktail has been carefully concocted by Maria’s expert mixologists and political insiders to reflect the essence of the individual candidates; their manner, background, temperament and qualifications.” One drink, one vote.

Although the results of the election will remain secret until Election Day, CW has learned from a source that there is a tight race at the bar between the classic “Rahm and Coke”, and Miguel Del Valle’s “Sticker Shock” — a combination of red rum, simple syrup, cranberry, and lime juice named in recognition of the high vehicle license fees during Del Valle’s tenure as City Clerk of Chicago. Our endorsement goes to the third in the line-up, “The Ambassador”, mixed in honor of Carol Moseley Braun. Along with cream soda and a lemon wedge, this delicious candidate features Absolut vodka infused with black tea from Ambassador Organics, a branch of Braun’s company Good Food Organics. Gery Chico’s working class roots were the inspiration for the only non-mixed drink competing in the field; “Chico & Da Mayor” features a shot of Jim Beam and a can of Modelo. The fifth candidate is a friend to the bar: Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritton became iconic as a rock & roll groupie when she cast Jimi Hendrix’s penis in a plaster mold after his appearance at the Auditorium Theater. Albritton is running an apparently satirical campaign (her website emphasizes that she is “hard on crime”), but her cocktail, “The Screw Driver,” is a serious classic.

Since a Bridgeport native has been mayor for all but 13 of the last 78 years, the bar has machine politics in mind. Says the press release, “Using Chicago’s long history of loose voting ethics as a template… every drinker/voter at Maria’s is free to buy as many votes as they like or can possibly handle.” While maybe not the best model for choosing a mayor, Maria’s fluid approach to voting is a good way to whet your political appetite. Cheers.