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  • Post #31 - February 18th, 2011, 6:39 am
    Post #31 - February 18th, 2011, 6:39 am Post #31 - February 18th, 2011, 6:39 am
    The Whistler always gets such nice comments about the drinks, but how's the food there?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #32 - February 18th, 2011, 8:10 am
    Post #32 - February 18th, 2011, 8:10 am Post #32 - February 18th, 2011, 8:10 am
    stevez wrote:The Whistler always gets such nice comments about the drinks, but how's the food there?


    Don't we have a "great neighborhood resource" or something category now?
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #33 - February 18th, 2011, 8:20 am
    Post #33 - February 18th, 2011, 8:20 am Post #33 - February 18th, 2011, 8:20 am
    stevez wrote:The Whistler always gets such nice comments about the drinks, but how's the food there?

    The Whistler doesn't have a kitchen, though they don't mind if you bring food in.
    best,
    dan
  • Post #34 - February 18th, 2011, 8:31 am
    Post #34 - February 18th, 2011, 8:31 am Post #34 - February 18th, 2011, 8:31 am
    stevez wrote:The Whistler always gets such nice comments about the drinks, but how's the food there?

    Like GNR Bar de Ville, the Whistler does not serve food, it does however offer a cocktail 101 class for wannabe mixologists and I have to say this is on my list of classes to take. I really like sitting at the bar and watching the bartenders in action. They're always friendly and a wealth of suggestions when I tell them what my tastes are. Their love for what they do shines through and their desire to share their knowledge makes me come back. I happily second this nomination.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #35 - February 18th, 2011, 8:36 am
    Post #35 - February 18th, 2011, 8:36 am Post #35 - February 18th, 2011, 8:36 am
    Having never been to The Whistler, I wasn't sure why no one talks about the food. Now it makes sense that no one has mentioned it. :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #36 - February 18th, 2011, 8:42 am
    Post #36 - February 18th, 2011, 8:42 am Post #36 - February 18th, 2011, 8:42 am
    They may not serve food, but they allow food vendors to sell to customers. Last time I was there I had a couple pretty good tamales and a focaccia.
  • Post #37 - February 18th, 2011, 9:46 am
    Post #37 - February 18th, 2011, 9:46 am Post #37 - February 18th, 2011, 9:46 am
    Another 2nd--love this place (so long as it's before 10:00 p.m. or so :P After that, it's a bit too...too for me). Cocktails here would be an educational experience at twice the price--but thankfully, they're not.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #38 - February 23rd, 2011, 12:11 pm
    Post #38 - February 23rd, 2011, 12:11 pm Post #38 - February 23rd, 2011, 12:11 pm
    Whistler stands out to me as one of Chicago's best cocktail bars. Most importantly, the drinks are consistently excellent. This isn't one of those bars you have to go at off-hours to get proper attention from the bartender. Step up to the bar and Paul, the head bartender, will help you pick a drink, or even better, make one up for you. Sure the drinks from the cocktail menu are excellent, but this is the rare bar where putting yourself in the hands of the mixologist not only yields great results, it's also easy to do. Just name a type of liquor, the flavor profile you're going for, and watch Paul expertly craft a drink to your specifications.

    So many times I've been frustrated when the bartender directs me to a drink on the cocktail list or worse yet says "just tell me what you want and I'll make." Even on Friday and Saturday nights, with a million people competing for the bartender's attention, at the Whistler I can comfortably wait my turn, order an off-menu drink, and let Paul do his thing. Many times if the bar is crowded, they'll even deliver the drinks to you. On top of all that the drinks are astonishingly affordable.
  • Post #39 - February 23rd, 2011, 12:35 pm
    Post #39 - February 23rd, 2011, 12:35 pm Post #39 - February 23rd, 2011, 12:35 pm
    For GNR discussion: I've only been once, but I loved it. Top-notch cocktails. Of course I went on a Monday night and the place was pretty empty. I can imagine it's like a just packed sardine can on a Friday night.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #40 - February 23rd, 2011, 9:21 pm
    Post #40 - February 23rd, 2011, 9:21 pm Post #40 - February 23rd, 2011, 9:21 pm
    turkob wrote:Whistler stands out to me as one of Chicago's best cocktail bars. Most importantly, the drinks are consistently excellent. This isn't one of those bars you have to go at off-hours to get proper attention from the bartender. Step up to the bar and Paul, the head bartender, will help you pick a drink, or even better, make one up for you. Sure the drinks from the cocktail menu are excellent, but this is the rare bar where putting yourself in the hands of the mixologist not only yields great results, it's also easy to do. Just name a type of liquor, the flavor profile you're going for, and watch Paul expertly craft a drink to your specifications.
    Well put!

    I'm lucky enough to live right in the middle of a boozy triangle formed by The Violet Hour, Bar DeVille and The Whistler. Of the three, The Whistler has become my go-to for great cocktails. I have a bit of an obsession with bitter, and Paul has been more than willing to help me explore cocktails with a bitter edge to them (including this great cocktail).

    The beverages themselves aside, I like the space, I love the music, and always feel extremely comfortable at The Whistler. To me, it is a GNR (or GNBAR...)

    -Dan
  • Post #41 - February 27th, 2011, 1:09 pm
    Post #41 - February 27th, 2011, 1:09 pm Post #41 - February 27th, 2011, 1:09 pm
    I've posted effusively about The Whistler many times on this thread but now that it's come up as a GNR nominee, I'd like to restate my support for it. Please consider this post no more than an extension of my previous comments, updated in light of the new context of the discussion.

    The Whistler is one of a (growing but still relatively small) handful of places in Chicago where one can enjoy top-tier, craft cocktails. It's a charming and comfortable place in which it's very easy to spend time. Even though they do not serve food, it's entirely culinary in its aesthetic. Mixologist Paul McGee has a fluency with spirits that mirrors a chef with a perfect palate or a musician with perfect pitch. His broad and deep knowledge of spirits shows up in the glass (and on the shelves). He knows what works together, takes successful risks and also self-edits like a true master. Last week when I was there, he made a 'dealer's choice' cocktail, tasted it and dumped it in the sink. As successful as the drinks at January's Tiki Night event were, Paul plans another Tiki Night because he feels that he could have done a better job with it. In chatting with him about it, he mentioned wanting to revise details that most people probably didn't even notice. Paul's unending quest for excellence is the engine that powers The Whistler. It's the heart and soul of the place. In this sense, it's as chef-driven as restaurant I can think of.

    I routinely see other top Chicago mixologists having cocktails at The Whistler. This peer respect is, perhaps, the highest respect an individual can earn. For me and other customers, though, it's merely further confirmation that The Whistler is one of the best places in Chicago to enjoy expertly-made libations. In my personal opinion, The Whistler is entirely deserving of GNR status.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #42 - February 28th, 2011, 8:58 am
    Post #42 - February 28th, 2011, 8:58 am Post #42 - February 28th, 2011, 8:58 am
    It took about 3 minutes into my first visit to turn me into a big fan of The Whistler last night. Completely BS-free, unpretentious staff and atmosphere along with superb cocktails at more than reasonable prices. I asked Billy, the bartender who took care of us last, to make me something with bourbon and a sour slant to it. He made what he said was called a Gristmill, and while I don't really know what went into it (some bourbon, some lemon, some clove perhaps, some other stuff) - it rocked.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #43 - February 28th, 2011, 9:12 am
    Post #43 - February 28th, 2011, 9:12 am Post #43 - February 28th, 2011, 9:12 am
    I've wanted to go, but pictures make it look like it's mostly a "stand around" sort of place, as opposed to a place where you might have a chance at getting a seat. Is this true, or am I mistaken? Or do they only move the seating out when there is a popular band playing there?
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #44 - February 28th, 2011, 9:14 am
    Post #44 - February 28th, 2011, 9:14 am Post #44 - February 28th, 2011, 9:14 am
    leek wrote:I've wanted to go, but pictures make it look like it's mostly a "stand around" sort of place, as opposed to a place where you might have a chance at getting a seat. Is this true, or am I mistaken? Or do they only move the seating out when there is a popular band playing there?


    It's a small place, but plenty of cozy little tables and chairs last night at around 7:30. There was a band coming later, so maybe that changes things.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #45 - February 28th, 2011, 10:16 am
    Post #45 - February 28th, 2011, 10:16 am Post #45 - February 28th, 2011, 10:16 am
    If you're going for the cocktails and to watch the craft involved in making them, go early and sit at the bar. After 9:00 or so, weeknight or weekend, it will be too busy, loud and crowded to do much of that. Make no mistake--these are all good things for a bar so I'm not knocking them. Just saying that if you want to focus on the drinks, earlier is better.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #46 - February 28th, 2011, 11:30 am
    Post #46 - February 28th, 2011, 11:30 am Post #46 - February 28th, 2011, 11:30 am
    boudreaulicious wrote:If you're going for the cocktails and to watch the craft involved in making them, go early and sit at the bar. After 9:00 or so, weeknight or weekend, it will be too busy, loud and crowded to do much of that. Make no mistake--these are all good things for a bar so I'm not knocking them. Just saying that if you want to focus on the drinks, earlier is better.

    I agree with this, though I'd say that it's true of just about any bar -- not just Whistler. If you want to geek out and chat about cocktails, early during the week is your best bet.

    As for busy-ness at Whistler during the week, I think it's hit or miss. No doubt, it's a popular place and becoming more so. I've been there during the week and found it jammed but I've also found it very mellow on other occasions. I guess it just depends on what band is playing, how the weather is, etc. Last Wednesday, for example, we arrived there at about 9:30. We stood around for about 10-15 minutes, after which some seats opened up at a table. At no point during our stay was it ever extremely crowded, though the flow was steady.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #47 - March 7th, 2011, 7:30 am
    Post #47 - March 7th, 2011, 7:30 am Post #47 - March 7th, 2011, 7:30 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Mixologist Paul McGee has a fluency with spirits that mirrors a chef with a perfect palate or a musician with perfect pitch.
    While more a bourbon one cube kind of guy I have deep appreciation for the care and craft exhibited by the Whistler and Paul McGee. The cocktails are pitch perfect and they will lean in any direction, I tend more toward the bitter spectrum.

    I should note I was a bit snarky about my first visit, but have since come to realize I was witnessing obsession not affectation. I still leave when the music starts though :)

    The Whistler, count me a fan!
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #48 - March 7th, 2011, 10:44 pm
    Post #48 - March 7th, 2011, 10:44 pm Post #48 - March 7th, 2011, 10:44 pm
    Last week during a very well-attended spelling bee at The Whistler, 4 of us decided to team up and order 'dealer's choice' cocktails with rum as the main spirit. We thought this would be easy for Paul to turn out, since he could make 4 of the same drinks at once. Instead, however, he proceeded to mix up 4 entirely cocktails, each one with its own entirely distinctive character. Yes, I tried them all and thought that there wasn't a miss among them. Dinner plans took us away at about 9:30 but after dinner, when I returned to pick up my car, my friend and I decided to stop in for a nightcap. Again, a couple rounds of great, custom drinks were served up for us. It was a joy to experience such clever and successful improvisation.

    If I lived closer to The Whistler, I'd simply refer to it as "the bar," as in "honey, I'm heading over to the bar for a while." :D

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #49 - April 19th, 2011, 1:07 pm
    Post #49 - April 19th, 2011, 1:07 pm Post #49 - April 19th, 2011, 1:07 pm
    Book Club at The Whistler
    Tiki Night #2
    Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide by Victor Jules Bergeron
    11.0406


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    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #50 - April 20th, 2011, 9:29 pm
    Post #50 - April 20th, 2011, 9:29 pm Post #50 - April 20th, 2011, 9:29 pm
    I was wondering what the flavor of the El Dorado 151 was like?
  • Post #51 - April 22nd, 2011, 12:36 am
    Post #51 - April 22nd, 2011, 12:36 am Post #51 - April 22nd, 2011, 12:36 am
    Image
    Paul McGee of The Whistler (right) accepts their GNR Award (from some drunk guy) - 11.0420

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #52 - April 22nd, 2011, 12:39 am
    Post #52 - April 22nd, 2011, 12:39 am Post #52 - April 22nd, 2011, 12:39 am
    butters wrote:I was wondering what the flavor of the El Dorado 151 was like?

    I don't know. I didn't try it. Afaik, it was mainly used as fuel in the Scorpion Bowl and Zombie serving pieces.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #53 - May 5th, 2011, 11:39 pm
    Post #53 - May 5th, 2011, 11:39 pm Post #53 - May 5th, 2011, 11:39 pm
    The Whistler unveiled their new cocktail menu on Wednesday. I was there with friends to check it out, and we nearly knocked out the whole menu:

    http://whistlerchicago.com/cocktail-menu/

    The Southern Exposure was my favorite for the night. I can see myself returning regularly for this as we approach warmer weather. It's a perfect summer sipper and it impressed the whole table. The Viking Funeral was another crowd favorite. The Roman Spring was a big hit too. I was delighted to see extensive use of Cynar and the always welcome Aperol. If you're a fan of the Whistler, it's worth stopping by to check out these new drinks.
  • Post #54 - May 6th, 2011, 9:35 am
    Post #54 - May 6th, 2011, 9:35 am Post #54 - May 6th, 2011, 9:35 am
    I was also there on Wednesday night for the debut of the new menu, which is compelling to say the least. Even though I'm not typically a mezcal drinker, I thought the Southern Exposure (Tabernero Pisco Quebranta, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Luxardo Maraschino, Raspberry Syrup, Allspice Dram) was the best of the best. The funk, smoke and sweet all synergized perfectly in the glass. It's the trump card in a deck of aces and faces.

    Between the few drinks I ordered and tastes of my companions' drinks, I tried all 8 of the cocktails on the new menu and each one was delicious. My other top favorites were the Roman Spring (El Dorado 12 year, Old Fitzgerald, CAF, Cynar) and the Busy Bee (Bols Genever, Hayman's Old Tom, Combier, Honey, Lime, mint). I really appreciate how Paul creates layers of flavors by deftly combining base spirits that one might not initially think of pairing. Also, the Pago Pago (pineapple-infused Flor de Cana White rum, Green Chartreuse, Creme de Cacao, Pineapple Gum syrup, lime), which was on the menu for the first Tiki Night, appears on this menu and it's as refreshing and complex as it ever was. At $8 each, considering the quality of the craft, the spirits and details/touch they deliver, these cocktails are a major value.

    I also learned that there are plans for a small bar to be open on the back patio once it gets warm. It'll be open on Fridays and Saturdays (the bar that is, as the patio is open every night) and Paul told me he plans to spend as much time out there as he possibly can. :D

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #55 - May 6th, 2011, 9:47 am
    Post #55 - May 6th, 2011, 9:47 am Post #55 - May 6th, 2011, 9:47 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I was also there on Wednesday night for the debut of the new menu, which is compelling to say the least. Even though I'm not typically a mezcal drinker, I thought the Southern Exposure (Tabernero Pisco Quebranta, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Luxardo Maraschino, Raspberry Syrup, Allspice Dram) was the best of the best. The funk, smoke and sweet all synergized perfectly in the glass. It's the trump card in a deck of aces and faces.


    A couple months ago I drank three mezcal cocktails at the Whistler. I love mezcal (though I'm hardly an expert) and I was impressed not only by how balanced the cocktails were (while highlighting the smokiness of the mezcal, which is critical), but that they could produce three such cocktails without breaking a sweat.

    I'm signed up for the cocktail class this Sunday. I'm pretty excited about it.
  • Post #56 - June 5th, 2011, 2:48 pm
    Post #56 - June 5th, 2011, 2:48 pm Post #56 - June 5th, 2011, 2:48 pm
    Tiki Night #3 at the Whistler last Wednesday was, IMO, the most enjoyable of the 3 so far. In addition to the weather finally coming close to matching the theme (lol :D), this time around, rather than go back and apply his considerable artistry to the classics, Paul went contemporary and created a menu comprised of current takes (from noted mixologists and others around the globe) of recipes that are compiled in Beachbum Berry's Remixed. On hand for a portion of the evening was noted Rum maven Ed Hamilton (Ministry of Rum), who, I believe, helped Paul work out some of the supply logistics for the evening.

    While all the libations I sampled instantly transported me to that 'mythical tiki place,' I was especially enamored with a few: the Dead Reckoning from Martin Cate of Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco. This gem was comprised of Barbados rum, ruby port, vanilla liqueur, maple syrup, pineapple, lime and Angostura bitters. At first glance, this might seem like a sweeter drink but it was beautifully balanced and struck those quintessential tiki notes for me. Another favorite was the Gantt's Tomb, by Brian Miller of Death & Company in NYC, which was served in a punch format. This boozy and bodacious bowl contained rye whiskey, Barbados rum, overproof Guayana rum, pineapple, lemon, orange and allspice. Another creation that left a lasting memory was the Kon Tiki Ti-Punch from Sean Muldoon of The Merchant Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was a deft and nearly irresistable combination of Nicaraguan rum, Guyana rum, guava jelly, pineapple and lime.

    Interestingly to this tiki neophyte, several drinks on the menu showcased base spirits other than rum. For example, the Opaka Raka from the aforementioned Brian Miller contains London dry gin and genever. Max's Mistake from the aforemetioned Martin Cate contains modern gin as its only spirit. The Mexican Headhunter, from Rikki Brodrick of Trailer Happiness in London, England, deploys both blanco and resposado tequilas.

    Paul told me that he was strongly considering making the next Tiki Night one entirely comprised of his original recipes. I have to say that the thought of such an event is monumentally exciting and it's hard to describe how much I'd look forward it. Experiencing this theme, for which Paul has such passion, expressed entirely through his talent and imagination would most certainly be one for the ages and I really hope it happens.

    Next up for The Whistler's Book Club is going to be David Wondrich's Punch: The Delights (And Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, July 6.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #57 - June 11th, 2011, 1:19 pm
    Post #57 - June 11th, 2011, 1:19 pm Post #57 - June 11th, 2011, 1:19 pm
    I'll be going to the Whistler on Monday evening. I need some recommendations. I understand they do not serve food. Any good restaurants nearby?
    Also drink recommendations. I don't drink much so I need something that is kind of sissy ish if you know what I mean...kind of like a planters punch.
    Also do they serve mocktails? We'll have someone who does not drink alcohol. Pls advise.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #58 - June 11th, 2011, 1:46 pm
    Post #58 - June 11th, 2011, 1:46 pm Post #58 - June 11th, 2011, 1:46 pm
    Most of the cocktails I've had at the whistler are serious business, don't think they have mocktails but I haven't really looked either. I would recommend folklore for eating, it's on division just east of clemente high school. It's owned by the people who own tango sur and is also an argentine style steakhouse.
  • Post #59 - June 11th, 2011, 3:45 pm
    Post #59 - June 11th, 2011, 3:45 pm Post #59 - June 11th, 2011, 3:45 pm
    toria wrote:I'll be going to the Whistler on Monday evening. I need some recommendations. I understand they do not serve food. Any good restaurants nearby?
    Also drink recommendations. I don't drink much so I need something that is kind of sissy ish if you know what I mean...kind of like a planters punch.
    Also do they serve mocktails? We'll have someone who does not drink alcohol. Pls advise.

    There is a set, seasonal menu on which 8 cocktails and a Punch of the Day are offered. Within this menu (cocktails $8 each, PotD $7), there is usually a good range of options from light and refreshing to serious and boozy. The friendly staff will be quite helpful if you tell them what you are after, so just let them know. A friend of mine often orders fernet and soda, which is relatively low in alcohol. As for mocktails, I've never seen them there but at least a few of the cocktails contain fruit syrups and fresh juices, so I'm guessing it's quite possible that they are offered. Again, just ask when you get there (or maybe call ahead) to find out.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #60 - June 11th, 2011, 4:06 pm
    Post #60 - June 11th, 2011, 4:06 pm Post #60 - June 11th, 2011, 4:06 pm
    toria wrote:Also do they serve mocktails? We'll have someone who does not drink alcohol. Pls advise.
    I'd be very surprised if you weren't cheerfully accommodated. I'd personally avoid use of the term mocktail, though.

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