Picks for Craft Spirits Week

North Shore Distillery Tasting Room

North Shore Distillery Tasting Room Photograph: Erica Gannett

Craft Spirits Week, which started last year after local distillers wanted a liquor equivalent to Craft Beer Week, is back with a lineup of events that will keep you in great local booze all week. The event runs September 23–28, and while there are lots of events to attend, we picked the ones we're most excited for.


Midwest Gin Smackdown (Farmhouse Tavern, 228 W Chicago, 6–9pm, free)

Determine which Midwest gin is your favorite in the best way possible—by drinking them in cocktails. The makers of North Shore, Death’s Door, New Holland and Pinckney Bend will offer tastings and a variety of different cocktails.

Bring Your Weird (Watershed, 601 N State, 10pm–midnight, $10)

Hey, we love Malört, so we’re always on the lookout for the next bizarre spirit. Six distilleries are bringing their strangest liquors to taste and the Watershed team will be mixing up drinks Iron Chef–style. Balcones, FEW, Great Lakes, KOVAL, New Holland and St. George will be there.


Indie Spirits Expo (Chicago Hilton, 720 S Michigan Ave, 5–9pm, $60, tickets here)

Independent producers from all over the country bring their spirits to the big tasting event. Eat dinner before you go—last year, the walk-around tasting event got everyone toasted.


Speakeasy at Autre Monde (6727 W Roosevelt, Berwyn, 5–11pm)

The restaurant transforms into a Parisian speakeasy for the evening, with live jazz, classic cocktails made with North Shore and Templeton spirits and a Parisian menu.

Cocktail Bar Launch party (Whole Foods, 1550 N Kingsbury, 6–8pm)

Okay, we’re intrigued. A cocktail bar in Whole Foods? Our bills there are already outrageous, without being drunk on Old Fashioneds. The bar opening features Bittercube/Yahara Bay cocktails from Daniel Beres of Milwaukee’s Blue Jacket.


Open Houses (various locations, 12–6pm)

Midwest distilleries open their doors for tours in the afternoon. Local distillers FEW, Koval and North Shore are participating as are Milwaukee's Great Lakes and Michigan's Journeyman, but we’re most interested to check out newcomers Chicago Distilling Co. (2359 N Milwaukee Ave) and brandy distillery Rhine Hall (2010 W Fulton St F-104F).

See the whole schedule here.

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