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Water of Life

A taste of Chicago whiskey

whiskey

Long enjoyed as a winter spirit, whiskey is now experiencing a modern rebirth, with trendy twists on classic cocktails catapulting the spirit into the spotlight year round. Whiskey—commonly spelled “whisky” outside the U.S and Ireland—boasts a long and robust history. Since Prohibition, rye whiskey and bourbon have been increasing in popularity, enjoying the favor of distillers and drinkers alike.

Nowadays, regions around the world from Scotland to Japan are creating their own unique expressions of whiskey, utilizing various grains, blends, barrels, and aging techniques, affording each variety distinct flavors. With blended bottles and small batch rarities best enjoyed neat—not to mention scores of creative whiskey-based cocktails—people of varying palates can get in on the trending whiskey action. En vogue now: the libations that lubricated the generation before Prohibition. Here are our picks for local whiskey gone wild:

Baptiste & Bottle {101 East Erie Street, Chicago; 312.667.6793}

An extensive list of whiskeys, along with flights, infusions, and a bourbon-centric cocktail program, allows guests to experience a wide range of distinct and unique flavor profiles. Local distillers now craft a variety of whiskeys, and patrons can find drinks that showcase these spirits, matching whatever mood they are in. Guests can even keep their own bottle on site in a private locker.
Whiskey count: 75

Sable Kitchen & Bar {505 North State Street, Chicago; 312.755.9704}

Sable’s modern creations are fundamentally based off of classic cocktails with whiskey as a vital component. In addition to inventive whiskey-based concoctions, the restaurant carries a breathtaking collection of whiskeys best enjoyed neat, including bourbons, globally sourced single malts, and varieties from independent producers.
Whiskey count: 50-100 at any given time.

tesori trattoria & bar {65 East Adams Street, Chicago; 312.786.9911}

Legend and history are infused into the multiple levels of the former Chapin & Gore building, where tesori now resides. In fact, the staff can tell tales of Chapin & Gore whiskey being rolled into Lake Michigan during the Great Fire of 1871 to save them from the flames. tesori boasts a whiskey program that naturally celebrates the classic spirit in a multitude of styles.
Whiskey count: 32

Public House {400 North State Street, Chicago; 312.265.1240}

An array of Scotch and whiskey options feature blends from all over the world, including Canada, Ireland, the United States, and other countries. If you are having a hard time choosing one, order a flight of three for a tasting experience unique to this River North gastropub. Enjoy traditional whiskey cocktail favorites with Public House twists, like the Darn Old Fashioned and the Peardon Me.
Whiskey count: 33 Scotches and 51 whiskeys.

The Redhead Piano Bar {16 West Ontario Street, Chicago; 312.640.1000}

The Redhead Piano Bar’s comprehensive beverage menu includes an in-depth whiskey program. Guests can buy a whiskey or cocktail inside and listen to the best piano music in Chicago, or head to the outdoor patio and pair their drink with a cigar. Upcoming whiskey events include the Whiskies of North America showcase in early November, and an introductory Scotch tasting, coming in early March 2017.
Whiskey count: 100 whiskeys, including 35 single malt Scotches and 20 bourbons

BIN 36 {161 North Jefferson Street; 312.995.6560}

While known for its breathtaking wine collection, BIN 36 does not skimp on its whiskey. Wine and whiskey have a lot in common, actually, as 99-percent of whiskey is aged in wine barrels. At BIN 36, the staff ensures each small batch selected is a single malt Scotch, bourbon, Cognac, or Armagnac. The restaurant’s emphasis on educating customers on the origins and intricacies of whiskey enhances the appreciation and experience of the drink.
Whiskey count: Six bourbons, five single malt Scotches, four Cognacs, and three blended whiskeys.

By Nari Ho