Thursday, December 3, 2009
A New Attitude for Whiskey Bar & Grill
Whiskey Bar & Grill on Rush Street has re-concepted its image in order to bring back its original "cool" crowd. (Photo: Whiskey Bar & Grill)
We all love a good comeback story.
When Colleen Flaherty's diminutive martini lounge was displaced by the city to make way for a new Blue Line stop, we thought we'd never get to taste one of her amazing cocktails again. But she returned with a bigger and tighter mixology program when she relocated Tiny Lounge to the North Center neighborhood earlier this year.
Ousted Funky Buddha Lounge owner Joe Russo disappeared for a few years before he made his triumphant return in the spring with The Shrine, a South Loop nightclub that's successfully drawn the city's top ballers and shot callers.
So now it’s time for Rande Gerber—the guy behind more than 25 Whiskey Bar-branded bars around the world—to step up his game with the Rush Street spot that redefined Chicago nightlife on the Gold Coast.
He's secured a team of local nightlife vets (including former NV Penthouse Lounge GM John Mendez) to bring back the magic that once captured the city's glitterati. Gone is Mexx, a Mexican-themed component with Latin dishes and an expansive list of tequilas. They've returned to what they're known best for—whiskies—and amping that list up in a time when they're more popular than ever.
Plus, they've added a number of cushy leather booths and banquettes, flatscreens, reclaimed hardwood tables, and offbeat black-and-white portraits of legendary music stars Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, giving it a more lived-in setting.
For sure the most significant change will be a new deejay booth set up in a corner on weekends. Look for the city's most popular deejays to spin mashups, classic rock and contemporary hits.
The project's still a work in progress, but to get a taste of what they're up to, hit up Whiskey Bar & Grill tonight for a soft-opening party hosted by Chicago-Scene. There's a Stoli reception 8-10pm, and a deejay spins. No cover.
Also going down this weekend . . .
It's been open for about a week in its third location on Chicago Avenue, but Lush Wine and Spirits hosts a grand-opening party tonight. Free booze and bites. 6-9pm.
Today is St. Nikolaus Day, so bring the kids to celebrate at The Berghoff. They're doing a special holiday menu, face painting and an appearance by St. Nickolaus himself. Also, children (under 12) who find the traditional pickle ornament in Berghoff's holiday tree win free root beer floats! 11am-7pm.
Speaking of the Jolly Old Elf, he'll also be at Empty Bottle for the Rockin' Santa event. The party benefits School Street Arts, a non-profit dedicated to AIDS awareness among youth. There's a craft/bake sale and lots of booze. 2-5pm. $20 adults; $35 for couples; $5 children (accompanied by an adult).
Today is also the 76th anniversary of Repeal Day! Custom House shows its support with $5 cocktails: “Bathtub” Gin Rickey (North Shore Distillery #11 Gin, fresh lime, soda and a candied lime wheel), Presbyterian (Death’s Door White Whiskey, house made ginger beer and a lemon twist) and Rock n’ Rye (Templeton “Prohibition Era” Rye Whiskey, house made vanilla syrup and Crème de Cerise). 11:30am-11pm.
Volo's annual neighborhood favorite returns. The champagne tasting includes more than 30 wines, and will take place inside and on the heated patio. 2:30-5pm. $25.
Legendary New Wave star Peter Hook of New Order plays a rare deejay set at Smart Bar. He'll also sign copies of his book (?!). Dark Wave Disco deejays also spin. 10pm-5am. $10 before midnight; $15 after.
Gingerbread-infused pancakes. The Rudolph Bloody Mary. And the Winter Wonderland—made from bourbon and nutmeg. That's just part of the special pre-fixe holiday brunch on tap this weekend at C-House. We also love the fact that pastry chef Toni Roberts will be sending guests off with jars of holiday cookies, including her recipes so you can make them at home. 10:30am-3pm Saturday and Sunday. $25.
And those entertaining folks from out of town will dig the new Sunday Suppers happening at Blue 13. Make your reservation for 7pm to get hearty portions of Chris Curren's cooking. He'll serve everything family-style, and you'll get a main course, two to three sides, a salad and dessert for $20 each. Reservations only.