CHEAP TO CHIC I used to believe Dolly Parton when she said, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” But after my $10 manicure and martini at Beauty Bar one recent weekend, I’m convinced you can get a cheap-looking manicure, well, for cheap. I arrived at the new West Town bar, surveyed the setup—three mini tables that serve as the manicure stations—and sidled up to the bar to request the $10 deal. After perusing the salon-inspired martini list, I ordered up a pineapple-juice-and-Malibu concoction called “Platinum Blond.” (Dolly would be proud.) My friends and I predicted Popov in a plastic bottle, but the bartender poured quality Three Olives vodka. A weak cocktail it was not. I slid onto one of the vinyl couches and immediately hit it off with my manicurist, Randi, chatting about Ayn Rand and making jokes about the obnoxious bachelorette party that stormed in, yelling “Aww, shit, we gotta get our nails done! Shots first!” My martini glass precariously balanced next to the nail-file jar, I selected one of the two-dozen OPI hues: mermaid-blue, inspired by the glitter-tastic turquoise walls. As for the mani, Randi diligently filed, cuticle-pushed and hand-massaged. Then, with not a base coat in sight, she expertly applied the polish, sealing the deal with a quick-dry spray. Afterward, I compared digits with my friends. Apparently, all manicurists here are not created equal, and I lucked out. With my nails still slightly tacky (in more ways than one), the retro salon chairs along the wall were a perfect place to sit before venturing over to the bar for another cocktail. Two days later, my nails have started to chip, but I’m hooked. I’d be hard-pressed to find another place where a martini, manicure and analysis of The Fountainhead will cost me a mere $10. This is one kind of cheap I’m happy to get behind. $10 mani and martini available nightly at Beauty Bar (1444 W Chicago Ave, 312-226-8828, beautybar.com).
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