Sometimes you want a limited-release bourbon or an 18-year Scotch; sometimes, you just want a shot alongside your PBR. Is there anything better than a great whiskey bar? Roger Landes of is a dedicated whiskey-lover, and while he often works with high-end spirits behind the bar at The Loyalist in the West Loop, he also appreciates a low-key bar and a cheap pour of bourbon. Here are his favorite spots for a few rounds without breaking the bank.
“This place is the stuff of legends,” says Landes. “One of the largest collections of whiskey in North America, not just Chicago. Mike Miller is one of the best professionals in our industry, and offers some of his rarer finds at absolutely criminal prices.” Open 365 days a year, it’s his bar of choice after a family holiday hangout.
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“Another spot that inconspicuously houses an amazing selection of whiskey,” says Landes. “Weller 12 year for $6 a pour and cheap draft beers makes this my favorite bar to watch sports.” And since GO has a retail license, he often finds himself taking “an interesting haul” home.
Longman and Eagle
“I’ve gotten completely out of hand in this joint more times than I can think of,” admits Landes. “Sometimes on $2 shots of Cabin Still, sometimes on their backstock of 1960s Old Grandad, also known as the greatest bourbon ever made.” The happy medium: “An Old Heaven Hill 6 year Bonded.” Added bonus: The rock-and-roll soundtrack.
“Rugged as the motorbikes out front!” Though Twisted Spoke is known for its Bloodies, “they can't overshadow an extremely deep whiskey list, including some really great Scotches and very low markups.” His order of choice: “A Shrimp po' boy and a nice Isla is the way to go.”
“One of the best industry hang outs,” according to Landes. “Sportsman's Club offers cheap whiskey and High Life for their ‘low life combo.’ Have one! Have four! Either way, you'll be elbow to elbow with some of the coolest folk in the restaurant world.”
Japanese whiskey—not cheap. “But Yusho offers a vast selection of its Japanese selections at extremely affordable pricing,” says Landes. “It doesn't hurt that Yusho has some of the kindest and most knowledgeable staff in Chicago. I go for their deep collection from Beam Suntory.”