The Whistler

Cocktail Bar / Live Music Venue / Lounge
The Whistler Free nightly concerts and an intense but unpretentious dedication to mixology distinguish The Whistler, a small bar popular with a young crowd of hipsters, musicians, and connoisseurs of classic cocktails. Chicago United States 41.925442 -87.70095
3.9 8
The Whistler - Cocktail Bar | Live Music Venue | Lounge in Chicago.
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Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Free nightly concerts and an intense but unpretentious dedication to mixology distinguish The Whistler, a small bar popular with a young crowd of hipsters, musicians, and connoisseurs of classic cocktails. Once patrons... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    M–Th 6pm–2am, F–Sa 5pm–3am, Su 5pm–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth The Whistler Review

The Scene

Free nightly concerts and an intense but unpretentious dedication to mixology distinguish The Whistler, a small bar popular with a young crowd of hipsters, musicians, and connoisseurs of classic cocktails.

Free nightly concerts and an intense but unpretentious dedication to mixology distinguish The Whistler, a small bar popular with a young crowd of hipsters, musicians, and connoisseurs of classic cocktails.

Once patrons pass through the door hidden in the storefront façade – which doubles as a gallery featuring an ever-changing selection of works by local artists – they’ll find themselves in a dim room full of creative couples chatting over $2 cans of PBR at candlelit tables.

Tattooed students settle in at the small wooden bar to discuss the latest musical acts and peruse the list of craft cocktails created by owner Paul McGee – a well-known presence on the city’s cocktailing scene – who can often be found whipping up intricate egg white and Aquavit drinks like the Viking Funeral or the sweet gin and honey Busy Bee.

Once sufficiently sauced, music lovers crowd close to the stage in back to check out the night’s entertainment, which can range from laid-back solo acoustic shows to dance-inducing DJ sets, with a wide variety of indie rock, blues, and soul in between.

Anyone looking for a slightly quieter vibe early in the week can escape to the quaint garden patio, though even that space is packed to the rafters once Thursday rolls around.

Eclectic and artsy, The Whistler is a humming hangout whether patrons are in the mood for classy cocktails and conversation or cheap beer and loud music.

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Tip from Jonah:

The Whistler is not just a live music joint; it’s also a record label! The cocktail menu includes a changing selection of new CDs and LPs available for sale, and artists on the label can often be found performing or just hanging out at the bar.

  • Crowd

    Young crowd of Logan Square hipsters, tattooed artsy types, easygoing couples, and laid-back music lovers, early 20s to early 30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Live music or DJ sets nightly featuring a range of acoustic, indie rock, soul, jazz, and electronic styles. Sets normally begin between 6:30pm and 10pm. Check venue calendar for latest lineup.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    No food. Owner and head mixologist Paul McGee offers cocktail classes throughout the year.

  • Prices

    Beer $2–$8, wine $6–$7, specialty cocktails $8. Cocktail classes $95/person. Records/CDs $2–$12.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Hipster casual: skinny jeans, high-waisted skirts, plaid, flannel, band t-shirts, strappy sandals, Vans.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Whenever there’s a band of interest, though the venue is most crowded Thursdays through Saturdays, when there can be a half-hour wait to get in.

  • Close By

    Boiler Room (2210 North California Avenue) serves up thick slices of New York-style pizza, perfect for soaking up The Whistler’s cocktails.

The Whistler User Reviews

Average rating:
One of the best spots in the city
Craig B. Dec 12, 2012
The Whistler is worth more than whatever you're throwing down. I went at least a dozen times, almost always on off-nights, but even Friday nights from 6-8 pm with Leroy Bach, a phenomenal guitarist who used to played with Wilco for more than a decade, weren’t too hard into if you got there on time. And there’s no cover, so you should try to grab the performer before the show and find out if they’d like a drink. I didn’t go to the outdoor patio except once, but it’s nice enough (it’s often decorated). But you always get your drinks at the bar. And finally, a big shout out to The Whistler for showing art exhibitions by Willy Chyr from my alma mater (woo balloon art!)
New Yorker Turned Chicagoan
Godwin C. Dec 11, 2012
The Whistler made me fall in love with Chicago. This place encapsulates everything I like about the city. Quality, nay, world-class cocktails within reach of the everyman - a place where taste can be acquired without pretension. Feel free to get raucous with your drink because the floor is for dancing and the soul is bumping. I recommend the third Thursday Slo' Mo when they play soul and R&B tracks from the 90's, DJ Leroy Bach, or DJ Shredd One. When I want to sip excellent drinks and get my groove on, Whistler is the place to be. Make sure you check the calendar on their website to see their performances ahead of time (never any cover). But beware, be prepared for lines at this little joint on any given Friday/Saturday. Get there by 9:30 and you should be alright. The patio out back is open through the shoulder months, great for kickin' it with friends.
My favorite bar in Chicago
Christina W. Dec 11, 2012
From the moment I first stepped inside (and to this day), The Whistler has been my favorite bar in Chicago. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that it is one of the most comfortable places i have ever spent time in. The first time I went was a busy evening, and I went to see a DJ set (all vinyl, all 80s beats) because I had heard it might be fun. Despite the fact that there was a line outside and I had to wait to get in, the moment I entered I knew I would be back. The bar is small and there are not a lot of seats (especially when the elevated area is blocked off for performers/DJs), but the vibe is completely laid-back. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, or why you are there, everyone is just happy to be there and you will never feel judged. I used to go regularly on Fridays to see LeRoy Bach (of Wilco) play live solo guitar from 6-8pm. He basically just played whatever he wanted, oftentimes just trying the same new thing over and over to see how he liked it. It was so lovely. I wish I still lived in Chicago just so I could visit this place again.
Blue Collar Cocktails
Andrew C. Oct 5, 2012
A minor-league music venue that also happens to have the best boozy rye drinks in the city. Basically, it's a cocktail bar for people who would otherwise never think to pay more than two bucks for a drink. One of my friends also once saw Aziz Ansari here. So, there's also that.
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