Chicago. February. Delilah’s.
The Cashed Johnnies are on the small stage belting out a
speed-freak, rock-a-billy version of Johnny Cash’s "Cocaine Blues".
Mike Miller, the owner, has just put a glass of Scotch in front of me –
one that I can’t identify.
It’s a Wednesday night, but the place is packed with an interesting
selection of hipsters, rockers, mods, punks, Bettie Page look-a-likes,
and members of various other counter-culture sub-groups. Most of them
are here to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, listen to the band, and
take advantage of the $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon special.
I’m here to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, listen to the band,
talk to Mike and bask in the glow of an incredible Scotch selection.
"What was that Scotch, Mike?" I ask.
"Sheep Dip" is the reply,
as Mike smiles, turns, and walks over to fill the order of a girl with
dyed dreads and her pierced male friend.
Mike returns and gleefully starts pulling bottles off the shelves
and placing them in front of me for comment. I uncork a bottle of Ardbeg Very Young
and take a big whiff. I get some strange looks as other patrons lean
over me to place empty bottles of PBR on the bar and signal the
bartender for yet another round.
Mike and I start to shout over the music of the band about the
upcoming Whisky show season, and I discover that he’ll also be at
Whisky Live London – Delilah’s has been nominated as one of the Great Whisky Bars of the World by Whisky Magazine.
That’s awesome. As you might have surmised, Delilah’s is not your
average whisky bar. It’s not a Scottish/English pub. It’s not Brandy
Library-type upscale lounge. This is what I lovingly refer to as a
"dive bar". And coming from me, that’s not a disparaging remark – some
of my favorite bars are dive bars. Most of them however specialize in
cheap beer and well drinks.
Delilah’s is no slouch when it comes to tossing cheap beer and
shooters down the throats of Generation X – but they also cater to the
tastes of good beer lovers, rum snobs, and oh yeah, Scotch drinkers.
A girl in fish net stockings, pancake make-up and pony-tails slams
into my bar stool, careens into a group of people finishing a round of
mixed drinks, and stumbles off into the frigid Chicago night.
The next bottle Mike hands me is a Lagavulin Distiller’s edition. Meanwhile,
a particularly attractive girl sitting next to me deftly deflects the
advances of two drunk English guys while simultaneously (and
surprisingly) ordering a La Fin Du Monde.
The Miller Lite drinking English guys don’t have a chance.
My last story had all of the events that Diageo was sponsoring in conjunction with Whisky Week.
Mike Miller has his own Whisky week going on. That’s right, every night that week you can put your ass on a barstool and be entertained by Chicago’s funnest whisky bar:
Monday, March 27
We are hosting Whisk(e)y 101 with Diageo Master of Scotch Gregor Cattanach.
Gregor will be showing Bulliet American Bourbon, Canadian Crown Royal, Bushmill’s Irish Whisky and a range of blended, vatted and single malt Scotches – at least one from every region of Scotland. We will then be discussing all aspects of Whisk(e)y – perfect for the novice and expert alike, and free.
Tuesday, March 28
We will be hosting John Glaser, owner and master blender of the Compass Box range of Vatted Malts. John’s firm is quite small and he is doing something that no one else in the world is doing presently.
Jim Beam Brands and Delilah’s host a special Whiskey and Pool Playing event with Jim Beam Great Grandson – Fred Noe and Delilah’s owner – Mike Miller taking on all opponents to win great prizes and learn a thing or two about making and living American Whiskey.
Wednesday, March 29
A special meeting with Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell – he’s been there for 51 years, where we will be tasting 10 different expressions of Wild Turkey, many extremely rare editions and learning from the most infamous man in the industry.
Thursday, March 30
Our fourth annual Whiskeyfest After Party. An excellent opportunity to share some whiskey with the people who make and sell every brand, with Bourbon legend Julian Van Winkle guest bartending.
Friday, March 31
Our favorite Canadian Brewery, Unibroue, kicks off its latest release Chambly Noir, a wonderful black Belgian style beer – first pour in the USA.