The infamous Chicago winter is underway, which means one thing to discerning drinkers: Whiskey season is here. From world-renowned scotch selections to classic cocktails reimagined by the Great Chicago Fire, the Windy City’s whiskey lounges go the distance when it comes to brown spirits. We rounded up the best whiskey watering holes in town, from clubby rooftop lounges to cozy neighborhood taverns.
Just off Michigan Avenue, the unassuming Raffaello hotel is home to one of the handsomest whiskey dens in the city. Take the elevator to the top floor, where Drumbar’s luxe leather banquettes, dim lighting and skyline views set the mood for swirling rare drams from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The members-only society collects some of the most unique barrels in the world, and Drumbar is one of just four bars in the country that offers its limited-edition selections by the glass.
Lincoln Park’s famous punk bar celebrated its 20th anniversary over the summer, and despite its intimidatingly edgy disposition, it continues to dominate as the best whiskey hangout in the city. The entire back bar is lined with shelf after shelf of bottle after bottle of whiskey (and whisky, as the Scottish and Japanese spell it), all of which is available by the shot, dram or drink.
Longman & Eagle
The catchphrase at this trendy Logan Square gastropub is “Eat, Sleep, Whiskey,” and locals and travelers alike make their way here for all three. (Above the dining room, an upstairs inn houses a handful of stylish rooms for let.) A half-dozen whiskey flights favoring American booze are on offer seasonally, so that L&E makes good on its “whiskey for drinking” policy spelled out on its vast menu: Whiskey for your mouth, not for our shelves.
Duke of Perth
Lakeview’s famously cozy neighborhood pub is especially popular throughout the season, as its dual fireplaces (one in the front bar, another in the back dining room) go a long way when it comes to warming up a Chicago winter. On the menu is an impressive array of Scotch whisky arranged by region, lovingly measured by bartenders who’ve likely been to the source.
The Monkey’s Paw
This casual tavern snug in residential Lincoln Park is a sleeper of a whiskey bar. In addition to an impressive list of bombers (oversized beer), its drink menu counts two full pages of whiskey from around the world, including Japan, India and New Zealand. There’s a healthy selection of local bourbon and rye, too, and some delicious whiskey cocktails as well, such as the Sweet Smoke with Ardbeg 10-year-old Islay single malt scotch, tawny port and alpine bitters.
Photos Courtesy of Anthony Tahlier and Clayton Hauck