Fun Fact: Four boutique distilleries've popped up recently around the Chicago area -- including literally-just-opened Rhine Hall -- which'll bring the total number of local hooch-slingers that'll let you drink in their distillery to eight by the end of the month. Way-Funner Fact: Most of them do tours and super cheap tastings (sometimes free, if you sound interested in buying a bottle). Funnest-Of-All Fact: We've put together a definitive guide to drinking at every single last one of them, plus a bonus sneak-peek at Chi's newest booze-dition.
A guide to drinking at every distillery in Chicago
Spirits: Apple Brandy
Tours: In the works; Tasting room open Thursdays 5-9p and Saturdays noon-6p
Founded by a father-daughter, Rhine Hall -- which takes its name from the Austrian ice hockey rink where Dad played professionally in the 1970s -- uses 7-10,000lbs of apples hauled from Bixby Orchards in Michigan to create an Austrian-inspired apple brandy that isn't related to Snoop Dogg.
Rhine's seasonal blend of apples are chopped and mashed in style, by using a vintage exercise bike. Bike-powered mashing for the Schwinn!
Brandy moves from a copper distiller named Stanley (after the good Lord himself), and into bottles and/or cocktails sold on-site. This Bixby’s Double mixes apple brandy with house-made cider and Angostura bitters on ice with
landing-stripped shaved cinnamon.
Spirits: Vodka, London Dry Gin, Key Lime Gin
Tours: Saturdays and every other Tuesday, 530p (reservations)
After finishing a tour with iced shots, pull up a seat to Chicago’s first distillery/bar hybrid for cocktails that're made in-house start-to-finish, and for an Eastern European small plate menu.
Spirits: Whiskey, Gin
Tours: Saturdays 2p & 3p (reservations)
Like you in that Super Nintendo Donkey Kong game when you were trying to cannon-fire yourself across the level, Few’s aged gin and whiskey're housed in... barrels! Pro tip: ask about the specialty micro batches.
Spirits: Whiskey, Vodka, Specialty Spirits
Tours: Wednesdays 7p, Saturdays 1p, 3p, and 5p, and Sundays 2p & 4p (reservations)
This kosher, small batch distillery offers regular tours that include samples of each of Koval’s products, as well as a shop with daily tastings and cocktail demos with demo'd cocktails that will need drinking.
Quincy Street Distillery
Spirits: Whiskey, Gin, Moonshine, Mead
Tours: Fridays 3p, 530p, 730p, Saturdays 1p, 330p, 530p and Sundays 10a, 1130a (reservations)
Moonshine gets a bad rap as bathtub booze that will probably leave you blind, but Quincy Street has more respect for your eyeballs, distilling a limited run of 'shine with corn mash and honey as well as a mead with prairie wildflower honey for you Beowulf fans out there.
Spirits: Rum, Caye
Tours: Saturdays at 1p and 3p (reservations)
Their 5,000 sq ft production facility appropriately dubbed "The Hangar" also has a shop and tasting room to sample three rums (including a seasonal coffee variety) and a pair of agave spirits that are technically not allowed to be called tequila as per
cartel orders Mexican law.
Chicago Distilling Company (opening late-November)
Spirits: Vodka, Whiskey, Amaro
Tours: In the works
Opening on the boom-goes-the-dynamite-ing Milwaukee block in Logan, this cocktail bar + distillery will feature a tasting room with space for 70 to try their grain vodka and barreled whiskey, either straight-up or with house infusions and mixers.
Rhine Hall uses 7-10,000lbs of apples hauled from Bixby Orchards in Michigan to create an Austrian-inspired apple Brandy that isn't related to Snoop Dogg.
CH Distillery is Chicago's first distillery/cocktail bar, serving up house-made vodkas with carefully curated concoctions, as well as small plates from other renowned Chi-town eateries. The distillery makes vodka (distilled 40 times for ultimate purity!), rum, whiskey, and two kinds of gin, all in-house. The bar then pours them into inventive, Chicago-inspired craft cocktails such as the Rhymes With Orange, made with Serrano chili vodka, orange Curaçao, lime, and watermelon. The small plates eats include corned duck on black rye, and charcuterie from West Loop Salumi. Does the CH in CH Distillery stand for Chicago? No! No it does not. The CH stands for the periodic symbols for carbon and hydrogen, the fundamental components that make alcohol. And if you can remember that after you've had a few of these cocktails, you might be almost as impressive as the cocktails themselves.
FEW Distillery is concocting up some classics like bourbon, rye, and American gin as well as some not-so-common options like their barrel-aged gin. Why not try them all!
This craft distillery is family-owned and creates a variety of organic, hand-bottled spirits. You can make a reservation for a tour of the facility, where you'll learn more than you ever thought there was to know about small-batch distilled spirits. Koval creates an assortment of liquors, ranging from whiskey and vodka to specialty spirits such as apple brandy and beer schnapps.
The North Shore Distillery offers wine and spirit tasting sessions both of which come highly recommended. So what are you waiting for? Get down there!
Chicago Distilling Company is a family run operation led by brothers Jay and Victor DiPrizio and Jay's wife Noelle. It's part distillery, part tasting room, and is sure to be serving up some great local home-grown liquor.