Whiskey at The Gage
Photo courtesy of The Gage 
 
St. Patrick's Day certainly brings Irish whiskey to the forefront of a drinker's mind; but there is no reason to limit your enjoyment of this plucky spirit to only one day (or weekend) a year. Especially in a city like Chicago where it is easy to find eateries and bars for those who are Irish proud (or just want to be Irish adjacent).  

Let's start with a little Irish whiskey trivia from Tullamore Dew's brand ambassador Tim Herlihy, as there is nothing better than understanding what you are drinking so you can appreciate it just a bit more. Plus, you can sound like a real spirits smarty pants when you whip out a few whiskey facts to go with the round of drinks you just bought.
  • Irish are the inventors of whiskey; they did it 500 years before the Scottish.
  • Irish whiskey is thought to be one of the earliest distilled beverages in Europe.
  • Prohibition in America (their largest export market), economic trade wars, and other set backs, almost obliterated the Irish whiskey industry. But the spirit is back with a vengance and demand is soaring.
  • In order to be legally called Irish whiskey, it has to be matured in wooden casks, in Ireland, for at least three years.
  • When there is an age listed on the bottle of Irish whiskey (12 year or 18 year, etc.) that means that everything in the bottle (the entire blend) must be from the same year.
  • Legend has it that the Hot Toddy was created by chemist Dr. Robert Bentley Todd in order to heat the body (and heal what ails you) as creating internal heat cost far less than heating a room. 
 
Now that whiskey class is over, let's take a look at some great bars in Chicago (some are Irish, some are not) perfect for raising a glass.  
 
murphys bleachers
 Photo courtesy of Murphy's 
3655 North Sheffield
Chicago IL   
 
This family-owned Wrigleyville staple features a back bar imported from Ireland, and is one of THE places to go on Cub game days. If you like getting swept up in the crowd, and love the vibe of a sports bar, this is the spot for you.
 
 
gagePhoto by Jetta Bates 
24 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL   
 
This Irish-owned American gastropub, known for a festive-meets-professional atmosphere, has hosted the president of Ireland and regularly enjoys Irish diplomats as visitors. Couple the great selection of Irish whiskeys with their decadent house poutine, or juicy venison burger, and you are in for a tasty time. Try the Whiskey In a Jar (Tullamore Dew, blackstrap rum, white vermouth bitters, cherry, lime and soda) if you are in a cocktail mood. 
 
  
fado
  Photo courtesy of Fadó 
100 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL
 
This pub, designed and constructed in Ireland, features a reclaimed 100+ year old bar from the Purty Kitchen in Dublin. Some of the Irish staff used to drink at Purty Kitchen when it was in the old country and now they are able to enjoy a great whiskey at the same bar... which is pretty awesome. Be sure to pair your whiskey with their Harp Battered Fish Tacos or the shepard's pie.
 
 
deville
Photo courtsey of Bar Deville 
701 N Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 
 
This hip neighborhood hangout, popular with industry folks and cocktail fans alike, is the perfect place for a craft cocktail; in case you are in the mood for more than whiskey "neat" or "on the rocks". Named Food & Wine's “Top 100 Bars” in 2011 and 2012, these folks take their cocktailing seriously, which was evidenced by the sexy, boozy drink I tried called the Tipperary (Jameson's Irish Whiskey, sweet vermouth, green chartreuse, and lemon oil).
  
  
cork
Photo courtesy of Cork & Kerry
10614 S. Western Ave. 
Chicago, IL 
 
Not to be missed by those who seek a robust Irish experience to go with their stiff drink is a trip to a pub on Chicago's South Side. This warm, charming Beverly neighborhood bar, with a wood-filled interior and interesting memorabilia, is a great place to enjoy your Irish whiskey while you make new friends. And in case you feel like throwing a party, they have a private room, complete with a stone fireplace, that makes for a lovely private event. Another option? The Sox Park location at 3259 S. Princeton Ave. just steps from U.S. Cellular Field.