Stepping off the street into the dimly lit decadence of the Everleigh Social Club is like slipping through a well-hidden portal into 1900’s Chicago. Located in the bustling West Loop, the Everleigh Social Club is a private, members-only establishment that draws its name from the (in)famous brothel run by Ada and Minna Everleigh from 1900-1911. And the comparison is not without merit. The Beautiful Life promoted by the Everleigh sisters is indeed alive and well at their namesake nightspot.
Cocktail Club, the latest in series of public events at the Everleigh Social Club, provides curious cocktail connoisseurs the opportunity to imbibe in the style of a 1920’s Chicago speakeasy. Hosted by a bevy of local bartenders and expert mixologists, each monthly gathering raises a glass to a different prohibition era spirit.
Last month’s Cocktail Club kick-off focused on a beverage dear to my heart (and liver)- whiskey. Whiskey Master Martin Duffy and the lovely ladies of the Everleigh Social Club offered up an evening of spirited education to lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds one of the city’s oldest and most beloved beverages. Barley or rye? Blended or single malt? One ice cube or two? Jack Daniels or George Dickel? There are no wrong answers. But as it turns out, such riveting inquiries are best debated over a glass or two.
For the ticket price of $20, participants were invited to sample and discuss the seven different libations listed below:
- Tullamore Dew- smooth, pot still, blended whiskey from Tullamore, Ireland
- anCnoc- light, citrusy single malt scotch whiskey from Knock Hill, Scotland
- Bowmore- smoky, peaty single malt scotch whiskey from Islay, Scotland
- Famous Grouse- smooth, woody blended whiskey from Perth, Scotland
- Bulleit Bourbon- oaky, rye bourbon whiskey from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
- George Dickel- smooth, mellow Tennessee whiskey from Tullahoma, Tennessee
- Death’s Door- rich, malty white whiskey from Chilton, Wisconsin
The oddball of this selection and the personal highlight of my evening was Death’s Door White Whiskey. Made from 80% wheat and 20% malted barley homegrown here in the Midwest, this concoction is aged in uncharred Minnasota white oak barrels for 72 hours. The result is a surprisingly smooth and sippable whiskey with sweet chocolaty undertones.
Death’s Door and other craft whiskey’s can be purchased locally at such fine Chicago establishments as In Fine Spirits in Andersonville, Warehouse Liquors in the South Loop and West Lakeview Liquors on Addison. Also, remember to check the Everleigh Social Club website to learn which tasty treat will whet your palate at next month’s Cocktail Club gathering.