By Alex Barnett
Wrigleyville standout, The Graystone Tavern, has once again transformed this holiday season into Chicago’s only Hanukkah-themed pop-up bar, 8 Crazy Nights. The pop-up takes a broad approach to its celebration of Hanukkah. After all, it began as a counterpoint to the dozens of Christmas bars surrounding Wrigleyville and the rest of Chicago, rather than an immersive Maccabean bacchanal crafted by Jews. Regardless, 8 Crazy Nights is a fun ode to Hanukkah for Jews and gentiles alike.
14,000 blue and white lights thread the walls and ceilings of Graystone Tavern, creating an atmosphere that is nearly as Fourteen Thousand Leagues Under the Sea-themed as it is Hanukkah chic. Beyond said fluorescence, 8 Crazy Nights has done its due diligence regarding themed ornaments—as expected, there are menorahs and Stars of David. But they’re joined by a Mensch on a Bench, an inflated dreidel taller than Lebron James (The Graystone Tavern is still a sports bar with a ton of flatscreen TVs under the candled façade). And have you ever seen a wall Christmas sweater? Because 8 Crazy Nights gives you the Hanukkah version. Same idea, but for Jewnicorns and Matze Ballers.
The ultimate highlight of the bar, of course, was the drinks. 8 Crazy Nights offered a wide selection of signature Hanukkah-themed cocktails, with a great assortment of options. I started off with the “Chag Nog” a tasty cinnamon-forward eggnog concoction. Then I sampled the Gelt Martini (Dorda Double Chocolate Liqueur, Western Sons Vodka, Tippy Cow milk chocolate, gold sugar rim, Gelt coin) and the Mazel Tov (Nolet’s Silver Gin, Mionetto Prosecco, blueberry rosemary simple syrup and club soda). All were great, but in this writer’s opinion, the strawberry-ginger Mensch Mule was a light and refreshing way to begin the evening, and a blue-sprinkled Hebrew Cold Brew was a great way to end it.
In addition to the drinks, the 8 Crazy Nights bar also offered a variety of traditional Hanukkah snacks, including extra-fried latkes (including salt & vinegar and jalapeño cheddar varietals), jelly donuts, and brisket. The matzo ball soup wasn’t exactly like my bubbe makes, and yet, I deeply appreciated its warmth after a frigid stroll from Addison. The vodka-infused jelly donuts were the perfect balance of sweet and tart. If the central bar gets too packed to enjoy your meal, take it to the Tavern’s beer hall for a more relaxed dining experience. Come hungry!
As for entertainment, it’s still Wrigleyville. If you’re expecting a “Fiddler on the Roof” sing-along, the focus of 8 Crazy Nights is more “top-40s” and “National Basketball Association.”
Overall, I had an absolutely wonderful time at the 8 Crazy Nights pop-up Hanukkah bar. The drinks, food, and atmosphere were all top-notch, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a boozy and enthusiastic ode to Hanukkah. 8 Crazy Night opened November 25th and continues through January 8th, so you can enjoy the Hanukkah-themed experience for the next month at:
The Graystone Tavern as “8 Crazy Nights”
3441 N. Sheffield Ave. Chicago, IL 60657
Hours: Monday-Friday: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. | Saturday: 11 a.m. – 3 a.m. , Sunday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Photos: Courtesy of 8 Crazy Nights