Chicago Bar Project since 2000
© The Chicago Bar ProjectWritten by Veronica Wrightwood

Photo courtesy of Valerie

A Cougar's Guide to Chicago

Episode I: An Introduction and Kirkwood Bar & Grill

When I heard they shot a cougar in Roscoe Village recently, I thought, "What? They shot a woman?" While there are many definitions of the "Urban Cougar," here's my take: a Cougar is an older woman, 35+ in age who likes to date, "take care of" and be with younger, "hot" men. You now may be thinking a Cougar is the female equivalent of a Sugar Daddy. Not so! True, Cougars are older than their conquests as with Sugar Daddies and their conquests, but that's where the similarities end.

Cougars have a look about them, a je'ne sais quoi. Sexy, confident, dressed in the latest fashions, in good physical shape and independent – i.e., Cougars have a sizeable amount in their own bank account and they take care of themselves. Cougars don't have to "buy" their conquests like Sugar Daddies, because they themselves are hot commodities. You can think of a Cougar as aging hottie, but in the 35-50 year old age range. To Cougars, younger men are known as "Tadpoles" (before they get older and turn into "frogs") and are drawn to them like little tots to shiny new things. How do I know about all this? It's because I'm a Cougar and I'm going to give you a Cougar's Guide to Chicago…

First stop, a sports bar in Lakeview: prime hunting grounds for young, fresh-faced, Midwestern-raised Big Ten hotties with six pack abs. Sports bars in Chicago are bastions of testosterone, and Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhood bars are notorious for their stock shelf of recent grads (between 2-7 years). Some are Neanderthals with little to offer a woman aside from the aforementioned abs, but there are those cuties that still have all their hair, are in prime physical shape and haven't been jaded by all those years of dating and being out in the "scene." 

Back to the hunting grounds… Kirkwood Bar and Grill has to be one of the best places a Cougar can to go to hook up with… hehe… a Tadpole in the south Lakeview neighborhood. It took over the former site of Pops for Champagne and Star Bar, which had hosted the fabulous, champagne soaked street festival Bastille Days along the side street. Not a speck of those two former "woman friendly" bars can be found in the inner lair of Kirkwood, which is divided into two long bars (on either side), plenty of wooden paneling, a large beer garden, serves beer, and has many 40" flatpanel TVs.

What sets Kirkwood apart from the other post Big Ten/Big Twelve/Big Thousand bars is its outside garden area. Surprisingly (and smartly), the owners/developers combined the outside garden areas of Pops for Champagne and Star Bar, used minimalist (and yes, surprisingly) Zen-like décor. A Cougar can get very comfy in the low, loungey sofas. The menu serves tasty mini-sandwiches.

Wait a sec, we're not here to rate the food or décor. It's all about the Tadpoles! Yes, Kirkwood Bar and Grill has one of the best scenes for Tadpole eye candy. One night a couple of friends ("B" and "N") and I went there and were surrounded by six foot tall, tousled hair Tadpole candy with great, twinkly smiles! The night hadn't started off well because tall, leggy and gorgeous "B" was hit on by an Eastern European guy (not a Tadpole!) who was there along with was his equally hairy friend.

Nothing wrong with Eastern European men as a whole, but these two were kind of greasy and hairy! For awhile, we despaired that our night was ruined. After about ten minutes of chitchat with the EE gents, two hot Tadpoles that looked like they had stepped off the runways of Milan came up to EE guys and us. The EE guys had called in the big guns (the model looking Tadpoles!) because they must have noticed our waning interest. That's the great thing about Kirkwood, you never know if you're going to meet a hot Midwestern Tadpole or an equally hot EE one.

Two bad things about Kirkwood are that they don't serve champagne and have limited wine selection. I was called out for drinking white wine in the outside garden (I could never sip on a beer), but was offered by a Tadpole if I would like another glass. Love the Tadpoles!

Episode II: Cougar vs. Sugar Daddy

~ Have a good story relating to Cougars? Email us. ~

– written by Veronica Wrightwood

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Cat fight?
Photo courtesy of Eric Richards