Saul Bellow referred to his adopted hometown as "Chicago, that somber city" — and six days of the week it may well be. But on Sunday, denizens of the City of Big Shoulders root for a certain football team, which has carved out a special place in the pantheon of professional football greats, known the world over as Da Bears.
Arguing which fan base is the best is a fool's errand. But few are more hyperbolically supportive of their team than Chicago rooters. It's a pride that copious amounts of booze can only buttress, and Bears fans these days have enjoyed no lack of either. News reports out of Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month noted that not only did legions of Chicago fans travel to the city and outcheer the locals during the Bears' 51-20 laugher over the Titans, they outdrank the locals, too. "Bears fans drink Nashville bars dry," read a headline on Yahoo! Sports.
The San Francisco 49ers host the Bears on Monday in a matchup of National Football Conference powerhouses. Who will win the contest is anyone's guess. But whether Chicago fans will face their Waterloo of booze here in the City by the Bay is easier to predict.
"San Francisco has never been drank dry, even during Prohibition. But we would love for the Chicago Bears fans to try," says Rob Black, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Black played up the city's plethora of top-caliber breweries and distilleries — "an amazing diversity of alcoholic beverage choices at very high quality." Fair enough — but can San Francisco withstand a legion of Bear backers hoping to get shitfaced on Old Style? Black is confident here, too. "Yes we can! Just look at the Marina."
Longtime city movers and shakers expressed confidence San Francisco will not be drunk dry on this or any weekend. "If there's one thing this town's got, it's a limitless supply of booze," says former Mayor Art Agnos. "I don't think the Bears fans are gonna touch us. And if they try? They'll have a good time."
The epicenter of Chicago-related drinking and singing of "Bear Down Chicago Bears" figures to be Dirty Trix saloon in the Inner Richmond, your midway away from the midway. Owner Lee Parmelee says 25 Chicagoans are flying in to join 35 locals on a bus between the bar and Candlestick Park. Asked about Bears fans' prodigious drinking, Parmelee says she began stocking up in mid-October. "San Francisco has historically been a city that's always ready with a cocktail," she says. "We can stand up to these Bears fans and provide a nice, cold, refreshing beverage. We're not gonna run dry."