I can’t imagine a better bar than the Twisted Spoke.
It’s one of the first Google results that pops up when you search for whisky bars in Chicago, and given that it boasts over 500 varieties and a storied reputation, we assumed it was going to be some stuffy joint that we’d make a quick, expensive stop at on our way to more affordable debauchery. After setting foot in the front door, I knew we were home. I could have brought a sleeping bag and just slept there for my entire trip.
Yeah, there’s 500 whiskies alright, but this joint is a punkrock biker bar at heart. When we walked in Black Flag was blasting from the stereo, and our server, a dude with a big thick handlebar mustache, sat us at big silver table in the back. The walls are all exposed brick, and the menus are just stained pieces paper stapled together. On Saturday nights they show porn on the TVs. “Stuffy” is definitely not an apt description.
It was a Wednesday night, which meant that every whisky on the list was half price. That meant the already generous American pours of lovely Buffalo Trace were only $3, and that was the cheap shit.
While I did my fair share of sampling, I stuck mostly to Angel’s Envy, an amazing bourbon I brought back to Canada for my wedding last year (one of only a few that weren’t confiscated by a certain boner Canadian border guard.) At only $8 for a stiff free-pour, you couldn’t really beat it. The bourbon itself has just the right balance of smoky and sweet, like an elevated, elegant Maker’s Mark.
The most popular brands were actually on tap, in wooden barrels that sat stacked on the bar. This is a place that seriously goes through whisky.
Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention: Twisted Spoke also has an amazing Cajun food menu to boot. The shrimp Po’boy came most highly recommended and it did not disappoint, absolutely stuffed with crispy seasoned prawns which were balanced by a really bright, crunchy slaw. It was a mammoth - I felt bad not finishing it but I had to leave room for the bourbon, which wasn’t going down slowly.
We were back the next night… and the next one…