2421 North Milwaukee Avenue
The Whistler is one of the reasons I started actively pursuing screenless spaces. The humble postmodern industrial design conveys a minimal sophistication while incandescent light cast over exposed brick and electrical conduit forges a climate of hipster tranquility. From the outside the unambitious facade suggests a nod to the speakeasy but the executed intents are more autonomous than that. The space seems to have lived its former life in the retail realm and the purveyors of the Whistler have kept the glass-enclosed display along the sidewalk in tact for a gallery of rotating local artists. This refreshing display of mores on this gentrifying stretch of Milwaukee avenue is enough for one to walk right by if not specifically looking for it. The subtle frosting of "the whistler" on the glass door to the right of the gallery is all there is to tip off the potential patron.
Once inside the clean lines of the wooden bar shine out against the rough masonry like a welcoming beacon in the distance. In the absence of live music something eclectic likely flows from the speakers. The front of the space is elevated; and with church pews, tables, and and a few chairs it serves as a subdued seating area offering respite from the bustle of the bar proper. More recently however, a look at the Whistler's website will show live entertainment booked nearly every night of the month filling the area with musical instruments, turntables, microphones and monitors. A few other tables and chairs sprawl along the perimeter of the entry way clearing the way for the beckoning bar.
Cubic yet warm the glass and wood bar dominates the rear of the space, housing the finest in local craft brews and spirits, as well as neighborhood favorites like PBR and Malort. A brief glance at the bar menu reveals that the pride of this public house is the cocktail menu. The legacy of former barmaster, Paul McGee lives on in the innovative and progressive, seasonally rotating cocktail menu. Every single drink I've had the privilege to quaff on the premises has been fantastic - and i am not normally a cocktail fan. Despite the Whistler’s demure exterior the place is no secret, so if at any point the sometimes audacious atmosphere becomes too much, simply head out the back door to an intimate beer garden for some fresh night air. Plain and simple: great brew, the best cocktails in the Chicago, $2 beers, live entertainment, never a cover.