Drink of the week:
Jim Beam and 7-Up (though, it's questionable whether the 7-Up actually made it in the glass) at Bourbon
, 3244 N. Lincoln Avenue, on a Friday night.
The damage: $3 all day, every day.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? In a country where people smile and say, "whiskey" when they get their photos taken, it doesn't take much investigating to determine Venezuelans' flask-filler of choice. When I lived in the South American sweet spot, I noticed that people commemorated every occasion—birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, a trip to the dentist—with a swig of whiskey. After four months of chasing shots of Jack Daniels with Cerveza Polar (the ubiquitous Venezuelan beer), I developed a disdain for any liquor darker than tequila's golden hue. That means that for the past six years, with the exception of indulging in a fruity daiquiri or Hurricane now and then, I've tried to avoid whiskey, bourbon, rum and scotch. And, I just can't live within these limitations anymore.
If any bar could get me over this ridiculous aversion, it would be a place that cares so deeply for a certain libation that it honored that liquor with its name: Bourbon. I expected the West Lakeview bar to woo me with interesting Bourbon blends. Instead, it got me schlokered enough to liken Bourbon to candy.
How it went down: If a bar offers the same drink special every day, is it really special or just a well-priced beverage? Bourbon boasts $3 Jim Beam cocktails all day and everyday. With the liquor a no-brainer, I asked the waitress for her advice on a mixer. She convinced me that 7-Up would mask Beam's sharpness—fine logic had the bartender added more than a spit's worth of soda to my glass. The drink tasted so strong that the spicy licorice aftertaste burned my nose. I ordered a bottle of Amstel Light to chase each sip, and by the time only an ounce remained, the Beam tasted as sweet and smooth as caramel syrup.
Would I want to become a regular? While Bourbon's drink selection focuses on Kentucky Bourbons, its decor snubs Southern inspiration entirely. Instead, the minimalist space, with sleek benches, black leather wall panels and flat screen TVs, could be mistaken for any other bar in the neighborhood…and so could its crowd. Though Bourbon's in-the-moment cure for my dark liquor disdain won't last, for $3, I'd be willing to give it another try.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.