What Happened Last Year

Sneak Peak

Whiskey Soul, 9pm-2am
2771 N Lincoln, Lincoln Park

Koval‘s multi-talented Bridget Smith spins classic soul and rock’n’roll whilst pouring Koval whiskey samples. Delilah’s has all 11 varieties – yes, 11! – and Bridget can’t wait to kick off Craft Spirit Week with you and Mike Miller.

Industry Exclusive

Meet Your Local Distillers, 7-10pm
Jerry’s Sandwiches
1938 W Division, Wicker Park

Learn your local whiskey, gin, rum, and even an agave-spirit (aka tequila!) at one of our favorite local sandwich shops/cocktail bars. Talk to the distillers themselves and taste their locally crafted spirits. Drink specials on craft cocktails all night! Featuring Chicago area distilleries: FEW, Koval, Letherbee, North Shore, Quincy Street, and Tailwinds. This event is only open to members of the trade.

Evanston’s Own, 8-10pm
2771 N Lincoln, Lincoln Park

Temperance movement be damned, FEW brings its handcrafted spirits to try at Delilah’s to start the week off right.

Spirit Specifics

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Whiskey, 9am-5pm
Columbia Yacht Club
111 N Lake Shore, Dusable Harbor

Famed whiskey master Michael Veach brings his four-week bourbon class out of Louisville for the first time. Learn, learn, learn all about whiskey in a condensed, single-day class on the lovely yacht of COLYC. Reservations are extremely limited; tickets available here.

Mezcal Master #1, 10am-5pm
Binny’s Beverage Depot
1132 S Jefferson, South Loop

Utterly intrigued by Mezcal, the smoking sister of tequila? Take the first step to becoming a Master Mezcalier with Barbara Sweetman. One of four day-long sessions (which later includes a trip to Oaxaco), the first level costs $250 and is open to any and all interested participants. Learn more about this unique program and register here.

Up and Down Indie Style, 4-7pm
Updown Cigar
1550 N Wells, Old Town

Communities collide at this outdoor cigar and spirit pairing event at one of Chicago’s great tobacco shops. Featuring Chicago area distilleries: FEWKovalLetherbeeNorth ShoreQuincy Street, and Tailwinds. Only 100 tickets available exclusively at the Updown shop – email them directly to purchase tickets.

Left Coast v Third Coast: American Gin Smackdown, 6-9pm (& beyond)
The Whistler
2421 N Milwaukee, Logan Square

We pit great gins made right here in the Midwest (Chicago’s own North Shore and Letherbee, plus Madison’s Death’s Door) against great gins of the West Coast, home to three spirit-makers that have inspired the craft distilling boom across the US (California’s St. George and Anchor to Oregon’s Ransom). The Whistler’s fantastic mixologists offer six cocktails all night using these special gins as inspiration, while distillery representatives showcase a full-on botanical display from 6-9pm. Live music starts at 9 for those who wish to relish a true gin palace indeed!

American Agave, 6-9pm
Masa Azul
2901 W Diversey, Logan Square

Tequila, agave spirit – what’s in a name? Learn the ins and outs of this traditionally Mexican spirit and how American craft distillers are making the spirit all their own at this Southwestern hotspot. Mixologist Jenny Kessler whips up amazing cocktails (on special!) and distillery representatives talk about their spirits and pour tastes. Featuring San Francisco’s Clase Azul, Del Maguey, new local distillery Tailwinds, and Paqui Tequila.

Running with Sugar, 6-9pm
Evolution Wines & Spirits
1704 N Milwaukee, Bucktown

Its name theorized to have stemmed from the Brits’ slang for “the best” (i.e. Let’s have a rum time ol’ chap!), rum is typically produced in the Caribbean and Latin America, but tonight you can taste and tease your palate with more than a mere spoonful of sugar, domestic and imported alike. Featuring Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Distillery, Madison’s Old Sugar, Lexington’s (KY) Barrel House, and the Cayman Islands’ Seven Fathoms.

Wishing for Whiskey, 6-9pm
Jerry’s Sandwiches
1938 W Division, Wicker Park

An American pastime, far different from baseball, whiskey is growing in popularity with each passing day. Whiskey drinkers have the delight and fortune to delve into a world of mixed up mash bills, odd aging, and handcrafted goodness with a far-reaching list of distilleries big and small. Taste for yourself with the distillers and the knowledgeable folk at Jerry’s. Featuring Balcones, Corsair, FEW, JourneymanNew Holland, and Smooth Ambler. $10 entry includes tastings.

Exploring American Whiskey, 6-9pm
2771 N Lincoln, Lincoln Park

More whiskey wishes brings a second whiskey event at the one and only Delilah’s! Explore the greatness of a spirit that has truly made its way across the USofA. Distillery representatives pour samples and the stellar bar team spins specials all night. Featuring Colorado’s Breckenridge, Seattle’s Oola, Montana’s RoughStock, and Iowa’s Templeton.

The Mystery Unveiled: Apertifs & Digestifs, 7-10pm
1970 W Montrose, Lincoln Square

Koval takes over its neighborhood hangout! Join Koval founder Sonat Birnecker Hart and Fountainhead owner Aaron Zacharias as they teach the benefits of drinking apertifs and digestifs, with help from their Austrian heritage. Taste the apertif, take a bite, and bring it full circle with a complementary digestif – repeat. Enjoy Koval drink specials all night at the bar (and on their heated rooftop patio!). $15 for seminar, spirits, and food. Space is limited – reserve here now!

Bring Your Weird (Late Night), 10pm-12am
Watershed (under Pops for Champagne)
601 N State, River North

Celebrate the unusual at this fantastic cocktail lounge. Six distilleries bring their weirdest (and arguably their best) spirits for you to taste, try in cocktails, and vote for your favorite. This IS Chicago after all, so vote early and often! The Watershed team walks attendees through their cocktail design process as they conjure up new drinks for these unique spirits à la Iron Chef. Featuring Balcones, BreckenridgeCorsair, Great Lakes, Chicago’s own Koval, and St. George. $10 at the door for three tastings, a cocktail, and your vote.

The Main Event

Independent Spirits Expo, 5-9:30pm
Carmichael’s Warehouse
1052 W Monroe, West Loop

Chicago’s version of Indie Spirits is sure to be a blast, with more space than last year, which means more spirits, more cocktails, more music, more fun. Regional, domestic, and international tastes abound. VIP starts at 5, general admission at 6:30. All tickets available here.

Party Like It’s An Afterparty, 10pm-2am
2771 N Lincoln, Lincoln Park

Distillers will be there, industry folk will be there, Mike Miller will be there. Perhaps more importantly, YOU will be there. If you couldn’t get enough at the Expo, or couldn’t make it for whatever reason, the crowd will float onward to our favorite punk-rock-whiskey-Bills haven to kick back and let loose. The party don’t stop til those distillers stop distilling.

Dinner Dates (& a demo)

Tasting, 4-7pm
Warehouse Liquors
634 S Wabash, South Loop

Sample selections from Death’s Door, Mississippi River, and more at this excellent boutique in Chicago’s South Loop.

Tasting & Mixology Demo, 4:30-7pm
Artisanal Wilmette
414 Linden, Wilmette

Enjoy superb cocktails made with The Big O ginger liqueur and other independent, locally produced spirits (North Shore, Tailwinds, FEW) in a modern-day version of an intimate and inviting family-owned neighborhood grocery.

Drink with the Distiller (& eat tacos), 6-8pm
Bullhead Cantina
1143 N California, Humboldt Park

Mr. Chip Tate himself, straight from Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas, meets you yourself for some delicious Paco’s Tacos and whiskey pairings. Two tacos + two whiskeys = just $5, so you can try more than one!

Beer Barrel Bourbon, 6-11pm
Small Bar Division
2049 W Division, Ukrainian Village

Our favorite big Small Bar teams up with Michigan’s own New Holland for a double feature of the great boozemakers’ beer and spirits. Taste their Beer Barrel-Aged Bourbon, have a pint of their renowned Dragon’s Milk, and enjoy a cocktail (or two!) – one featuring their rum (and local Koval‘s Jasmine Liqueur) and the other their Knickerbocker gin.

FEW Can Eat, 7-10pm
1970 W Montrose, Lincoln Park

Evanston’s first distillery since Miss Willard said no way Jose, FEW Spirits makes a mean Naval Standard Gin, a hearty American rye whiskey, a white whiskey and a bourbon. Master Distiller Paul Hletko tells his story and pours the spirits for you, while the Fountainhead team cooks up special drinks behind the bar.

A New Orleans Riverboat Soirée, ca. 1930, 7pm
Big Jones
5347 N Clark, Andersonville

Join the folks from local North Shore Distillery at this great restaurant dedicated to the art and craft of Southern cuisine. Chef Paul Fehribach creates a special four-course menu with cocktails designed by resident mixologist David Devaney and North Shore’s own Sonja Kassebaum. It’s sure to be a night of good stories, lots of laughs, and of course great food and drink. Call Big Jones to reserve your spot, 773.275.5725, $50 including tax and tip.

Red, White & Green: Two Hours of American Absinthe, 10pm-12am
The Savoy
1408 N Milwaukee, Wicker Park

Untie the knots circling around this historically enigmatic spirit. Illegal no longer, absinthe is enjoyed in homes and cocktail bars the world over. Learn what it is, how it’s made, why it was banned and why it’s back with contemporary absinthe makers. Enjoy samples and absinthe cocktail specials all night by Deidre Hay and her incredible bar team. Featuring Great Lakes, Philadelphia Distilling, North Shore, and St. George.

Try & Buy

Tasting, 4-7pm
In Fine Spirits
5420 N Clark, Andersonville

Sample selections from around-the-corner Koval, Journeyman, and Mississippi River at this excellent boutique in eclectic Andersonville.

Tasting, 4-7pm
Printer’s Row Wine Shop
719 S Dearborn, South Loop

Sample selections from nearby New HollandNorth Shore and more at this neighborhood wine and spirits shop in the South Loop.

Tasting, 5-7pm
Gentile’s Wine Shop
1160 W Taylor, University Village

Artisan Beverage introduces Tailwinds to Little Italy! Sample for yourself at this delightful wine and spirits shop.

Fall Flavor Festival Dinner, 7pm
2 Sparrows
553 W Diversey, East Lakeview

The folks at this great breakfast/brunch spot and the team from North Shore Distillery join together for a celebration of great fall flavors.  Enjoy four courses with great food and cocktails for just $50 plus tax & tip.  Call the restaurant to reserve - 773.234.2320.

In the First Person

Distillery Open Houses, 2-4pm
IL – WI – MI

Taste the spirits made on location at distilleries in and around Chicago. See how spirits are made and how they taste too with the hard-working folk behind them. Visitors are encouraged to stop by anytime 2-4pm. Get to two if you can!

FEW Spirits
918 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL

Great Lakes Distillery
616 West Virginia Street,  Milwaukee, WI

Journeyman Distillery
109 Generation Drive, Three Oaks, MI

Koval Distillery
5121 N Ravenswood, Chicago, IL

North Shore Distillery
28913 Herky Drive #308, Lake Bluff, IL

Quincy Street Distillery
39 East Quincy Street, Riverside, IL

Tailwinds Distillery
14912 S. Eastern Avenue #103, Plainfield, IL

Tasting, 5-7pm
Evolution Wines & Spirits
1704 N Milwaukee, Bucktown

Meet FEW‘s brand ambassador and taste the full FEW lineup at the original Evolution location.


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