Listen to live music while imbibing at The Whistler. — Photo courtesy of The Whistler
Is it a bar, art gallery, record label, music club or book club gathering place? If you guessed all of the above, then you already know about The Whistler in Chicago’s hot Logan Square neighborhood. Okay, we’ll admit. Its version of a book club isn’t very traditional, but all the other descriptions are on point.
By its own admission, The Whistler is a bar, storefront gallery and venue with an open, malleable space framed by brick walls and wooden fixtures, softened by warm candlelight. Solo acts and bands play almost nightly (without a cover charge), while some of Chicago’s top jazz artists perform every Tuesday during The Whistler’s Relax Attack Jazz Series.
On nights when music isn’t happening live (which is rare), expect other artistic endeavors like its film screenings or its version of a book club (although that features live music, too).
The Book Club at The Whistler isn’t your grandma’s book club. It started in 2010, and the idea was that bartenders would pull a cocktail book off the shelf and serve up their favorite drinks from within it. Past Book Club events have featured classic cocktails from Jigger, Beaker & Glass by the early 20th-century bon vivant Charles H. Baker, Jr. and cocktail historian David Wondrich’s Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.
After a two-year hiatus, Book Club returns on April 30, and this time it’s mixing drinks from Ted Munat’s Left Coast Libations. In true Whistler style, live entertainment will be enjoyed by guests. James Davis will be leading a quartet performing West Coast jazz.
Dopesmoker is one of The Whistler's signature cocktails. — Photo courtesy of The Whistler
While the place hosts outstanding bands throughout the year on its stage, The Whistler is tiny. So if you want a seat, go early and enjoy one of its outstanding, always-changing menu of classics, contemporary favorites and Whistler original cocktails.
Its cocktails really are on the money (and affordable). The Dopesmoker features Old Heaven Hill Bonded bourbon, Duquesne Rhum Agricole, Lapsang Souchong, chocolate bitters and Laphroaig. If you prefer a light and dry sherry, order Dusty Boots with Agave de Oro Reposado Tequila, El Dorado rum, Fino sherry, orgeat, honey, lime and star anise.
The cocktail menu is printed daily, but don’t feel restricted by the choices. Have something else in mind? Let the bartender know what you like and have him choose or create something for you.
When Chicago weather cooperates and it’s warm outside, it’s nice to duck out in the little patio out back.
The Whistler in Logan Square packs a lot of punch as a cocktail bar, live music venue and gallery space. Its creative license serves it and its guests well.