While sitting at the bar at the Berkshire Room, I had a nice conversation with a few locals who told told me I had to go to the Untitled Super Club before I left town – a self-described “Contemporary revival of a Prohibition-era Chicago Supper Club” combining fine dining with a classic social club-feel complete with live music and Cabaret-style entertainment.
The club has a very nondescript entrance, as you might guess. Once inside the door are stairs down to the basement. Behind the stairs is a big glass case filled with whiskey bottles.
Once downstairs I was bombarded with the ambiance of the surroundings – comfortable lounging areas and fun art. On each side of the stairway are two large bars with a spectacular display of whiskies. They claim to have one of the largest collections available. I cannot dispute that fact.
What made the experience even greater was the hospitality of the bartenders. Mick, who asked what I would like, greeted me. I judge a bar by their cocktails and I usually start with an Old Fashioned. Mick was a terrific bartender. He was attentive, knowledgeable and knew his whiskey.
We started talking about what kind of bourbons I liked and I had tried. He suggested I try the Garrison Brothers Single Barrel. It was quite good. I still have not figured out the nose but I said burlap, Mick said top of the rick house.
We then we moved on to a discussion of Japanese Whiskey. I said the ones I had tried did not impress but I knew they were not the best. He suggested the Yamazaki 12 year-old Single Malt. Once again, he hit it right on. I would try this again and I am not a single malt person.
The last one I tried was Widow Jane from New York. Another great selection and bourbon. I will add a bottle to my bar.
We ended the night when Mick brought out the Cynar for those left at the bar. Cynar is an artichoke based bittersweet liqueur known for its distinctive flavor. Its taste is enriched by an infusion of 13 herbs and plants. The name of the drink derives from Cynar scolymus, the botanical name for artichoke. Try it sometime; it’s very appealing.
The Untitled Supper Club is definitely worth a stop when visiting Chicago. I’m looking forward to visiting again when I’m in town next.
I am in Chicago this week for work and the concierge at the hotel suggested I try the Berkshire Room. So, last night, I grabbed a cab and headed to Ohio Avenue and a bourbon lovers paradise.
The Berkshire Room feels like you are walking into a Speakeasy. It is small, intimate and very well appointed. What makes it even more special is the bartenders know how to create incredible cocktails. On the menu, you can ask for a “Dealers Choice-Cocktail.” It is fun because you pick the glass style, the type of liquor, and your flavor preference – and leave it to the bartender!
I chose a rocks glass and bourbon. They asked what style drink I like and I said I like Old Fashions and he took it from there. What I got was an amazing cocktail made with the following:
2 oz. Ancient Age Bourbon
1/2 oz. Averna
1/2 oz. Walnut Liquor
1/8 oz. House Falernum
Three Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Garnished with an orange peel
I was enjoying the drink so much I decided to order the “Pick Any Tree” Chef’s Rotating Artisan Charcuterie & Cheese Selections with Crostini. It was a generous sized appetizer for two before dinner (I made it dinner). I was enjoying the meat and cheese so much I ordered another “Dealers Choice” to enjoy with it.
I like to sit at the bar, especially when traveling alone. You get a lot of conversation and I tend to learn a lot. Several locals were very knowledgeable about Chicago whiskey bars, bourbon, and the Berkshire Room. I found out it is so popular that two guys got a place very close to the bar so they can have a drink after work on a regular basis.
The Berkshire uses a lot of Buffalo Trace products. They had the full Antique Collection and all years of the Pappy Van Winkle Collection. They had a selection of probably 150 bourbons and ryes behind the bar. They also have a selection of very old bourbons from the 80’s, all the way back to the 40’s.
When in the windy city, stop in The Berkshire Room for a unique whiskey experience. You will be taken back in time. It is a very relaxing experience.
I travel a lot for work. Mostly to exotic places like the Midwest and Texas. This week I’m in Naperville, Illinois. It’s been cold here so I decided I needed a little bourbon. I headed to Jimmy’s Grill in downtown Naperville. It’s a cozy little place with an excellent selection of bourbon’s, rye’s and whiskey – by my count over 75 and that didn’t include the scotch.
After looking over the bourbon list, I decided on the Old Forester 1897. I’ve had my eye on it after seeing it along with their 1870 at Hi-Time Wine and decided I should try before I buy; what better chance would I have. I was very impressed. It was very smooth and very full bodied. I really liked this bourbon and I was pleased with my selection. I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle when I get back home.
For locals or those traveling through town, Jimmy’s is a great place to try a bourbon you have not previously enjoyed. The selection is good and their prices are quite reasonable. They also have a good menu with selections that have spice and body to compliment whatever you are drinking. When the weather’s nice you can enjoy the huge patio right on Washington Street right in the heart of Naperville. Jimmy’s is a great place for people watching, or a little mid day food and beverage in the sun. If you want to watch sports or on a cold spring night, inside fits the bill. (Of course there was a Blackhawk’s game on when I was there.)
There are some very good bourbon bars in downtown Chicago, but if you find yourself close to Naperville make Jimmy’s one of your stops. Downtown Naperville has a lot to offer and for a bourbon lover this is a good place to start.