The exterior might scream old-man bar, but this dive is a diamond in the rough. The proximity to both the Cell and the Zhou B Art Center means you might just find a debate at the jukebox between South Side regulars angling for “We Are the Champions” and mop-topped hipsters searching for the new No Age record. But Bernice’s welcomes them all with $2 PBRs, assorted imports, local acoustic acts on Saturdays and open mics every Thursday.
Ed Marszewski—editor-publisher of Lumpen, festival host, gallerist and general Chicago indie-art-world guy-around-town—and his brother, Mike, remodeled and renamed Kaplan’s Liquors, the Bridgeport bar that was owned and operated since 1986 by their mother, Maria. The chandeliers built out of bottles and the 300-plus microbrews are notable, but the real standout feature is the welcoming scene: People like each other here.
The Sox sign over the door and the Bridgeport address should clue you in that this ain’t no yuppie bar. Still, newcomers are welcomed by the friendly bartender (who upholds the area’s third-round’s-on-us custom) and a good selection of beers like Delirium Tremens and 3 Floyds Gumballhead.
Representing the first-in, last-to-leave motto of Bridgeport’s diehard Irish-American population, the Shinnick clan has been slinging beer in this building since the day Prohibition ended. St. Pat’s Day and Sox games bring the crowds, but other times you’re likely to find a low-key gathering of locals.