While most of his co-stars and Hollywood’s elite were dressed up and experiencing the pageantry unfolding before them at the Oscars, Michael Shannon was a proper Chicagoan, wearing a winter coat and watching the awards show on mute in Chicago’s best dive bar: the Old Town Ale House. He was probably sipping a Lagunitas IPA.
Roger Ebert once described the Old Town Ale House as “the best bar in the world that I know about,” and if you’ve spent time there you know its unique, stinky, NC-17 charm sinks its dirty hooks into you. The jukebox has only the most appropriate Tom Waits albums ready to go, and the walls are lined with famous comedians who have performed across the street at The Second City while oil paintings of naked politicians show off their junk. In fact, Michael Shannon’s face, painted by the owner, looks down on one of the best booths in the whole joint.
It’s no surprise Shannon was huddled there. He’s a regular. Newspaper clippings about the actor, next to articles about Anthony Bourdain (another famous drinker who sidles up to that old bar), line the window where most denizens smoke their cigarettes around the corner. Bar owner Bruce Elliott, who literally wrote the book on the Ale House: Last Night at the Old Town Ale House, nabbed a picture of the mustachioed Shannon Sunday night, taking in The Shape of Water‘s win for best picture.
Look at that $5 shot list. Fireball, Malort, Sobieski. Why would anyone want to be anywhere else? Shannon blends right into the Chicago crowd. Quiet, cold, letting the eclectic jukebox be the soundtrack to his drinking, all while watching a too-small TV as cocktails are spilled on the second-hand furniture around him. It’s perfection, and to someone in the know, there’s no better place in the word.
He probably wishes he had a chance at that jet-ski, though.