The ladies night -- an old-school bargain dressed up in brand-new shiny shoes -- is alive and kicking at bars around the Twin Cities.
Molly Schnell (middle) and a group of about ten girlfriends, including Katie Moylan (left) and Joanna Gilkeson (right), had a "girls night out" at The Wild Onion in St. Paul. The Wild Onion caters to women on Thursday nights by providing ladies-only drink specials and prize drawings.
Put on your hot pink Bebe polyester-blend party dress, crank up the Britney Spears (or maybe the Debbie Gibson, depending upon your age) and slip into your highest of Steve Madden platform shoes -- it's ladies night and all around the Twin Cities lurk both amazing drink deals and eager dudes ready to join in on the action.
Yeah, yeah, so people are quick to stereotype ladies nights as "trashy" or "yuppie," but isn't that the charm? Have a drink (or three, if they're free), get on the dance floor, and let loose, ladies -- it's all about dim lights, blaring pop music and push-up bras!
Most establishments have some sort of deal for dames; they're a good marketing tool (the ads offer ample usage of the color pink and heavily made-up, scantily clad models) and the feminine mystique lures a gentlemanly crowd, as well.
"I attend ladies night frequently," said Wild Onion patron Carissa Engesether. "There's nothing more fun than getting together with a group of girls to get caught up on life."
Engesether brought a gaggle of girlfriends and said she spends $40 to $60 in a journey. "Our night started at Señor Wong's in downtown St. Paul; just a few of us gals enjoyed some drinks and apps. From there, we went to Billy's for a while and then, of course, the Onion."
What's the allure for dudes, then? "I attend ladies night to have a good time and to meet new people, especially girls, although I often go with girls -- for them to get me drinks," said Kyle Bongers, 24, a faithful attendee of Sally's Saloon.
We've narrowed the range of options to a few standout stars, so tease that hair and slick on the lip gloss, honey!
According to the bar's bodacious female gopher mascot, "The party's always at Sally's." At least it is on Wednesday nights, when chicks drink free. Sally's is one ladies night that almost always delivers a good time and a packed house. Since it's snugly tucked within the embrace of the University of Minnesota campus, expect a bar of sorority types in True Religion jeans and their fratster boyfriends. The scents of hairspray and fruity perfume waft through the air, mingling with the mysterious aura of possible, and probable, hookups.
The friendly staff slides away the dining tables to make room for dancing, and if there's one thing tipsy college students love to do, it's dance to Top 40 radio gems. It's even busier on Gopher game nights, so stake out a spot. A little older than the target crowd? No matter -- revisit your glory days with a vodka cranberry or a cherry bomb.
10 p.m.-midnight Wednesdays, 712 Washington Av. SE., 612-331-3231, www.sallyssaloon.net
As soon as you walk in, you hear the call of the wild: Lady GaGa, Britney Spears, Salt-N-Pepa. Not only does the Wild Onion offer a fabulous ladies night, with $2 champagne, $2 bar pours and $5 cosmopolitans -- perfect for indulging your innermost "Sex and the City" fantasies with your own posse -- but it also arranges "bachelorette specials" for party-hopping brides-to-be.
If you're about to tie the knot, bring at least four friends and receive a free gift bag of "bachelorette accessories," a souvenir glass filled with one fruity cocktail or another, and a group photo of you and your ladies-in-waiting. Since bachelorettes are known to let loose pre-nup, a night at the Onion can get crazy. And for the rest of you, ringless or not, the live DJ gives out prizes every half-hour (such as Wild Onion gift certificates), with a grand prize at midnight.
8 p.m.-close Thursdays, 788 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-291-2525, www.wild-onion.net
"It's lame here," said a Wild Onion patron. "We're totally going to Jersey's after this. Free Smirnoff!"
True enough: the Inver Grove Heights club, home of a potent cocktail called the Train Wreck, has what most twentysomething young ladies would be impressed by: free drinks (with a $3 cover) and not just burned rails, either. Jersey's offers its female clientele free mimosas, martinis, beer and Bacardi, too. Dudes, if you're feeling the burn of injustice, don't worry: You get free beer from 10 to 11 p.m. The bar has hosted events with that ultimate symbol of extreme femininity, the Playboy Bunny, and did we mention there's a pole?
9-11 p.m. Thursdays, 6449 Concord Blvd., Inver Grove Heights, 651-455-4561, www.jerseysbar.com
Dive Bar, always a favorite of ladies who love the tanning bed, offers said patrons free drinks from 9 to 11 p.m. with a $5 cover on Saturday nights. And with $1 shots all night, well, things could get a little out of control. Luckily the staff at Dive Bar is well-equipped to deal with any rowdiness and the atmosphere is an appropriate mix of swanky and club-happy, with KDWB's Party Zone spinning every Saturday night.
3035 N. White Bear Av., Maplewood, 651-779-2266, www.divebarmn.com
Martinis for only a dollar? That's what Brothers offers women from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Who would Carrie Bradshaw be without her trusty martini? Lots of pretty (and often scantily clad) ladies frequent this bar, which gets packed on the weekends by a young crowd attracted by the dance floor, pool tables and trusty drink specials. So what if one online reviewer called it a "douchebag bar" or another said that Brothers occasionally resembles a college-era basement party? Live a little!
430 1st Av. N., Mpls. 612-339-4240, www.brothersbar.com
Kara Nesvig is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.